Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fly Me to the Moon

You have to give Elon Musk credit, he certainly likes to dream big.  The owner of SpaceX announced yesterday that he plans to send two people on a flight to the moon--in less than 18 months from now.  Musk says he has two passengers who are paying "a considerable sum of money" to take part in a flight that will blast them off from Earth on a path that will swing around the moon and return them home--all in about a week.

For anyone over the age of 50, Christmas Eve 1968 probably sticks out in your mind.  That was the night the crew of Apollo 8--Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders--became the first humans to orbit the moon.  They were the first to see the "far side" and they were the first to see an "Earthrise" over the lunar surface.  The live broadcast back to Earth from lunar orbit is iconic--as the astronauts took turns reading from the Book of Genesis, and the image of Earth just floating in the vastness of space really put an incredibly tumultuous time in our history into perspective.

Apollo 8--and all of the Apollo missions (until Americans got bored with going to the moon)--galvanized not only the United States but the entire world.  Those men represented "us".  Yes, we made sure to put USA on every single item we took up there--but those missions captured man's innate sense of exploration and discovery.  "We" were going to the moon "with them".

The problem I have with the SpaceX moonshot is that it doesn't have that same sense of collective adventure and achievement.  This is going to be two rich folks taking an incredibly expensive joyride just because they can afford it.  Musk refused to identify his "astronauts" yesterday--saying only that they are "not from Hollywood"--which means we can rule out Oprah, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.  He added that they will undergo training to survive the trip--but all control of the spacecraft will be done automatically from the ground.  No one will be "flying the ship".

Which is another thing I don't like.  Most of the Apollo astronauts were military combat or test pilots.  They were selected for their ability to handle pressure, think on their feet, react in an emergency by automatically following the training they were given before the trip and they fully understood the science that went into getting them to the moon and back.  Their training took years with actual "stick and rudder" simulations.  That's why Apollo 13 made it back to Earth when the odds were that all three astronauts on board were going to die in space.  Does Elon Musk really expect someone with no such background to perform with the same aplomb if SpaceX has a "major malfunction"?

Of course, all of this is talk.  The rocket needed to attempt this moonshot hasn't been tested--and the crew capsule has never carried a person into space yet.  Plus, Musk has made splashy headlines before by announcing very aggressive timelines for the development of new technology--and usually he doesn't meet them.  So his 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 target date will likely be missed as well.

And what famous line should our space tourists use as they pray the 21-year old coder that programmed their spaceship's lunar orbital injection firing sequence goes properly?  "That's one long trip for a man.  One giant bill for a rich guy".

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mother Nature Strikes Back

I like it when nature reminds us that man cannot control it.  The massive ice shoves that piled up on the western and southern shores of Lake Winnebago over the weekend and threatened to engulf buildings were great reminders of that.  We can put up breakwalls, piers and bridges--but just a little bit of ice plus wind can overpower those easily.

Another reminder has come in California this winter.  Record drought has been nearly wiped out by almost daily heavy rains.  Reservoirs that were dangerously low are now filled beyond capacity.  Dams designed to hold back the water are failing because engineers never expected to get that much rain all at one time in an area that is for all intents and purposes a desert.

It's these little reminders that show the fallacy that we humans could ever hope to control the climate.  In California, the alarmists were positive that water levels would never return to what is required to sustain the hundreds of millions of people that live there.  Water controls and rationing were going to be the law of the land for the rest of time.  Remember when Tom Selleck got in hot water (pun intended) for using too much water on his pistachio orchard?  That doesn't seem like such a big concern anymore does it?  Of course Governor Jerry Brown isn't about to ease water restrictions--because then he and his liberal co-horts cant't cause people to live in fear and put up with Government over-regulation anymore.

And remember, it took just a few months of rain to bring everything almost back to "normal".  Or at least the definition of normal that we like to use for the relatively short period of time that we humans have had the scientific knowledge necessary to measure and record what is going on around us.  I look forward to the "hockey stick" graph of California rainfall to project 100-feet of precipitation annually by 2040.  It's also why I don't worry when we talk about "record hot years" on planet Earth--because I know the dinosaurs enjoyed even hotter years while they roamed the earth as giant cold-blooded animals--and thick rain forests and jungles covered nearly all of the continents.

So the next time you get the urge to demand that the Government "do something to control the climate"--head on down to Lake Winnebago first and stop the ice shoves from forming.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Listen to Your Brain, Not Your Heart

As the Milwaukee Brewers get ready to play their first exhibition game of Spring Training down in Arizona today, the hot topic around camp is whether the team will trade outfielder Ryan Braun.  Braun currently has a no-trade clause in his contract--which runs through 2021--which would allow the team to send him to a limited number of franchises with Braun's okay.  But in May, he becomes a 10-5 player--meaning he has played ten major league seasons, the last five with the same team--and can therefore veto any trade--even if it was to a team that he had earlier approved in his no-trade clause.

That is leading to speculation that the Crew will try to ship Braun to his hometown LA Dodgers or Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before that May date.  The move would free up S20-million in salaries and likely get the Brewers more prospects to build for the future.  But it would also send a message to the fans that management has no belief that the team will compete for anything this year--or for a couple more years.

The Brewers don't always make the best decisions when it comes to which middle-aged stars to keep--and which to let go.  After the 1992 season, both Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were free agents.  Bud Selig decided to keep Yount--because it was clear he was going to reach 3,000 career hits, and that would be a great draw at the gate for a team that was on the way down.  So Molitor was actually offered a pay cut and instead signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Yount did in fact get to 3,000 hits--getting the historic mark at County Stadium in front of a packed house.  But he didn't hit .300 and retired the next year.  All Paul Molitor did was hit well over .300 his first two seasons in Toronto and win the World Series MVP award in 1993.  Oh, and he too  reached 3,000 hits--with his hometown Minnesota Twins a few seasons later.

Let's not forget that there are two Ryan Brauns to consider as well.  There is the pre-PED bust Ryan Braun that was an unstoppable offensive force--and the post-PED suspension Ryan Braun that has seen all of his offensive numbers drop off (especially power numbers) and who has struggled to stay healthy.  By all accounts, Braun is Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio's favorite player (since they are both LA guys)--and that could mean that the ultimate decision from the front office may be based more on emotion than advanced analytics.  Let's just hope the Brewers don't let sentimentality overrule the possibility of building a better team for the future.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

You Wanna Move It Along?

It took a couple of seasons, but Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is proving that he knows as little about what is good for his game as his predecessor Bud Selig did.  This week, Manfred announced his agenda for "speeding up the game".  The "major change" that will get everyone out of the ballpark faster this year?  You no longer have to throw four pitches for an intentional walk--you can just wave the guy to first base.

Let's say you have one intentional walk a game, that will save you a whole 45-seconds!  Wow!  That should have millennials flocking back to the game!  I should note that Manfred also decried the lack of players union cooperation in accepting additional changes like pitch clocks and limited trips to the mound by coaches and managers.  But none of these changes address the real reason that baseball can drag on.

For starters, I take exception to the whole concept of "Baseball games are too long".  Regulation college football games now last four hours (unless they feature the Wisconsin Badgers--who still play some games in less than three hours because they RUN THE DAMN BALL!).  Part of the beauty of baseball is you could be there for 2 hours or you could be there for five hours.  Plus, we can have one sport that isn't in-your-face up-tempo action every single second of every single game.  It's called variety--and it's a good thing.

Baseball will never address the real cause of longer games: TV.  The between-half-innings break is two-minutes and thirty seconds.  Trim that to just two minutes and you have saved yourself nine minutes of playing time.  Make it 90-seconds--and you've cut a whopping 18-minutes off the game time.  But Budweiser, Miller and Coors are paying big bucks for the additional 30 or 60 seconds--so you know that will never be cut.  Which brings us to the easiest way to move the game along--and it requires no changes to the rules:  CALL MORE STRIKES.

Major League Baseball has a decent strike zone.  The problem is, umpires don't enforce it the way it is written.  According to MLB's own website, the top of the zone is the "midpoint between the shoulders and the top of the pants"--while the bottom of the zone is "the bottom of the knees.  I can tell you that the men in blue are not calling that zone--especially at the top end.  I don't know how many times I've seen a pitch four inches above the belt called a ball and thought "Where did that miss?'  And then two pitches later, a ball in the same exact spot gets crushed 450-feet for a home run.  Again, on a pitch that would not have been called a strike had the batter taken it.

Before you think that calling more strikes would just lead to more strikeouts and a "boring low-scoring game", give Major League hitters some credit.  As I've mentioned, they can handle pitches above the belt--and when those are getting called strikes, they will come to the plate ready to swing.  You will actually see more balls put into play earlier in counts--which will also reduce pitch counts and allow starters to stay in the game longer--reducing the multiple pitching changes from the sixth inning on (which is also a major contributor to longer games).

Calling more strikes also makes pitchers that don't throw every pitch at 95+ miles an hour more effective--which may reduce the number of arm injuries suffered every year (which is also supposed to be a priority with Commissioner Manfred).

So let's stop requiring pitchers to almost put the ball on a tee for the hitters--even if it means teens and twenty-somethings don't get 7-6 games every night.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Farewell, Friend

As Bob Burnell mentioned in passing on Tuesday, we lost an old friend here at the Radio Ranch last week.  Kevin Backstrom was an occasional fill-in here on WOSH and often worked the control board for our sports broadcasts on several stations. 

Kevin also taught communications at UW-Oshkosh, and we shared a frustration with the appalling lack of knowledge and skills with which today's high school and college graduates leave school.  Kevin would always note the low scores he received on RateMyProfessor.com--as students complained about him actually marking down papers and presentations for poor grammar, lack of punctuation and sentence structure that made you think that the writer had used some free Chinese-to-English translation website to copy the paper off the internet.  He also didn't buy too many excuses for not getting assignments done on time--or requests to retake exams because "my cousin's best friend's sister died and I was on SnapChat all night trying to make her feel better so I was really tired when I took the test the first time".

Kevin almost got fired at UWO for "cultural insensitivity".  He made the mistake of holding a discussion in his class about stereotypes in entertainment and culture and asking if perhaps those stereotypes were so successful because there was an element of truth to them.  That led to a student complaint--because who needs to be "confronted" with the possibility that Apu the convenience store clerk on The Simpsons might be like an actual convenience store clerk here in America.

When Kevin and I weren't weeping for the future of America, we were usually on the golf course.  At one time KB was actually a pretty good player--and even worked for Jack Nicklaus in Florida.  But age and physical ailments had left him pretty frustrated with his game in recent years.  We would always do match play--and he refused to take enough handicap strokes to actually have a chance to win.  "Pride goeth before the fall" I would tell him.  The usual bet was a simple milkshake after the round--and usually by the eighth hole he was asking me what flavor I would be getting that day.  I'm going to miss that.

Kevin had no family here and a small circle of friends--but I didn't want Oshkosh to be unaware of his passing.  Farewell, my friend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This Democracy of Which You Speak....

One of the favorite chants of the protesters that have taken to the streets since the election of Donald Trump as President is "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOK LIKES!"  It's been used by illegal immigrants and their supporters as they refuse to go to work or school for a day.  It's used by the idiots that tie up traffic on busy highways and roads to "send a message" by inconveniencing as many people as possible.  And it's been used by the rioters that torch limousines owned by Muslim immigrants and loot the Starbucks that actually support many of their causes.

So here we are on Election Day in Wisconsin, and where are all of these "social justice warriors" and "defenders of democracy"?  I can tell you they certainly aren't on the ballot.  The vast majority of races in our area and across the state today feature the minimum number of candidates needed for the April General Election--or have just one candidate that will run unopposed for another term.  Where are the people so concerned that "Flint Could Happen Here" and who literally weep in the streets when Scott Pruitt is confirmed as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency--but who don't run for the City Council that actually oversees the water utility in their own city?

We aren't going to see them at the polls today either.  Those that repost every single fake news story link, meme and quote taken out of context about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos can't be bothered to vote in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction--which is the actual governing body of Wisconsin schools--and which sets the standards for education in our districts.  And yet turnout for that race will be in the single digits--and probably even less for most school board races--which have the greatest direct impact on education in a community.

I'll admit, voting in non-partisan races is "hard".  There are no convenient "D's" or "R's" next to candidates' names to facilitate mindless party-line voting.  There are no attack ads on radio and TV to define a candidate--sometimes even before they officially join the race.  No one is sending dozens of flyers to your house with scary headlines and more taken-out-of-context quotes about candidates.  You have to actually research where these candidates stand on issues, attend a debate or listen to interviews on the radio to decide whom to vote for in these races.  And who can be bothered with all of that when there are protests to plan, clever slogans to draw on signs and memes to circulate on the internet?

Perhaps if TV cameras were set up outside of all polling places today showing the five or six percent of us "bothering" to voting today, more people would be interested in what democracy actually looks like.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Let Justice Be Done

The removal of a sitting politician is certainly not a matter to be taken lightly.  As the "recall mania" of 2011 and 2012 proved here in Wisconsin, residents don't like having their political decisions overturned or challenged before the terms of the winners are concluded.  But I still hope we do get a hearing before the Green Bay City Council tonight on the removal of Mayor Jim Schmitt from office for campaign finance violations.

For those not familiar, Mayor Schmitt accepted campaign contributions in excess of legal limits for his re-election campaign--falsified the reports provided to the Government Accountability Board--and then tried to get his campaign contributors to change their statements once an investigation into his finances was launched.  He pleaded no contest to a couple of charges and avoided jail time or probation.

One resident--Scott Vanidestine--felt that wasn't a suitable punishment for a politician that knowingly broke the law and made efforts to cover up his crimes, so he circulated a petition to have Schmitt removed from office and got enough signatures to force tonight's hearing--maybe.

You see, Mayor Schmitt--in a move all slimy politicians would love--claims that taking the illegal campaign contributions and falsifying the reports and trying to change donation documents after the fact were all done while he was "Jim Schmitt Private Citizen--and not as "Mayor Jim Schmitt"--so the City Council has no right to remove him from office.  He's even found a lawyer willing to defend that claim in court--in an effort to block tonight's hearing.  The case has been assigned to an Outagamie County Judge--because all the judges in Brown County cited a potential conflict of interest--who decided to wait until the last minute today to decide if there will be a hearing.

Hopefully that Outagamie County Judge will allow the hearing to go forward so that the people of Green Bay can seek more suitable punishment for their small, petty and vindictive Mayor.  If only the City Council could also vote to remove his equally small, petty and vindictive political adversary--Guy Zima.  That would be a double win for good government.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bread and Circus

In the movie Gladiator there is a scene where Maximus dispatches a bunch of other slaves in a staged battle before a small crowd in some remote outpost of the Roman Empire.  After there is little reaction from the fans, Maximus turns to them and yells:

Every time there is a White House press event now, that is the scene that comes to mind.  Government operations should be boring.  Doing the "work of the people" works best when the people don't know its actually getting done.  Everything government does should not be fodder for the next round of late night talk shows or the next Saturday Night Live.

But since day one of the Trump administration, I have expected the Gladiator rhetorical question to wrap up every press conference--whether it be from Sean Spicer or from the President himself.  The only problem is, they are not in the entertainment business--they are in the serve the people business. 

I know folks on the Left like to call the Trump administration "fascist"--like we are back in 1920's and '30's Europe--but it's actually more like the days of the Roman Empire in the first century AD when the rulers provided bread and circuses to keep the masses entertained--and distracted from the slow decay of their government.

Even in yesterday's press conference--where the President again appeared to be woefully under-informed as to what is going on both inside and outside of Washington--he brought up the fact that he "still get great ratings".  He wasn't talking about approval ratings--he was talking about TV ratings!  Who cares if Saturday Night Live is seeing a revival by mocking you and your Cabinet every weekend?  Turn your attention to the stuff you were actually elected to worry about! 

And stop with the obsession over "winning the press conference".  It's like watching loser NFL coach Rex Ryan.  He always "wins the press conference"--yet he has never won a game of any consequence.  Meanwhile Bill Belichick says the absolute minimum amount required in his press conferences--and he's got five rings.  The President is a Patriots fan--maybe he should take a lesson from the team.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thank You, Global Climate Change!!

If I get a chance to play some golf on a local course this weekend--or the next week given what the forecast looks like for the next ten days--I will not feel the least bit guilty about it.  I won't feel bad for sturgeon spearers that can't get out to their shanties or Battle on Bago folks stuck on the shore.  My thoughts won't be with the Ski-Plane Fly-in with no ski-planes.  There will be no empathy for snowmobilers, skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers having to pack their winter toys in storage.  You know why?  Because those folks had their days in the past.

I remember the brutal winters we had to deal with here in the Midwest back in the 1970's and '80's.  There were years we celebrated highs in the 20's at this time of year like they were the first sign of spring.  Brewers fans can remember season and home openers snowed out at old County Stadium.  A couple of years in high school we had to shovel off our baseball field just so we could get a game in--in April--after spending the entire pre-season practicing in the gym.  And many a Masters were watched with snow still on the ground here--and golf courses weeks away from even starting to prepare to open.

Those were the "glory days" for winter sports.  When ice fishing lasted into the spring.  When snowmobilers had snow covered fields and trails from Halloween until Easter.  And when kids actually had enough time to grow tired of the sleds or inner tubes they got for Christmas.  But now, it is the "glory days" for those of us who enjoy being outdoors--and not having to dress like we are attempting to scale Mount Everest.

One thing I will keep in mind on the links here in February is that the weather is cyclical.  As hard as it would have been to believe high temperatures could reach the fifties during the winters of my youth, it's not that hard to imagine record low temperatures for these same dates coming back.  I will celebrate every stroke taken without cold-weather gloves on--or a stocking cap.  I will soak in the warmth of the sun on my face knowing that many more gloomy days are on the horizon.  I won't get frustrated by errant shots or putts that bobble and miss the hole--because HELLO, I'll be playing golf in February in Wisconsin!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We're Going to Wish This Was Fiction

Michael Crichton, James Patterson and Jeffrey Archer can step away from the keyboards for awhile--the next great political thriller featuring espionage, computer hacking, blackmail and maybe even a little sex will be written by reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post and on Politico.com.  And, unfortunately, it's not going to be a work of fiction.

Chapter One was written last week, as the National Security Advisor is forced to quit his job just a few weeks in after those reporters learn that he was in contact with foreign officials while still a private citizen--and then flat-out lying about it.  The Advisor resigns in shame--and the ball is set in motion for the "discovery" of more nefarious backroom dealings.

Chapter Two appears in the newspapers today--as we find out the FBI has documents showing continuous contact between high-ranking officials in the new President's former campaign staff and foreign intelligence officers in the months leading up to the election.  Right now, our writers can only speculate as to what those conversations may have entailed--and who initiated those contacts.

Chapter Three is likely a flashback to that heated campaign, where the President's opponent is badly hurt by emails that her campaign manager allowed to be accessed from his account.  We learn a little bit more about how the initial hacking attack took place--and then we follow the complicated paths by which the information made its way back to the West--and onto the internet. 

In Chapter Four, things start to get serious, as the connection to the foreign intelligence operatives moves inside the White House itself.  A close senior advisor is discovered to be compromised.  His termination comes quickly--but that is not enough.  Now Congress wants an investigation.  The President appoints an "independent investigator"--but when that probe starts hitting a little too close to home, he (or she) is canned as well.  Now Congressional hearings begin, high ranking officials close to the President are subpoenaed--but plead the Fifth and refuse to testify. 

Chapter Five brings in a national crisis.  Even the most-ardent supporters of the President can no longer publicly support him.  Protests are daily occurrences across the country.  Rumors swirl of military leaders ready to act unilaterally to protect US interests from this external threat--as the motives of the Commander and Chief cannot be known or trusted.  And just when it seems the tension can't get any thicker......

Well, I don't want to spoil the ending here--so we will just all have to wait for those chapters to be written.  In the meantime, let's make sure the First Lady isn't showing the President any Queen of Diamond playing cards.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Don't Deserve This!

It's a good thing there are just a couple of weeks left in the entertainment industry's self-congratulations period--because I don't think our celebrities can handle getting any more awards they don't think they deserve.  The awards show acceptance speech now features an almost-required opening segment with the star just honored for their work saying they didn't deserve to win.  They then list every other nominee as being "more deserving"--before moving into the also-required laundry list of producers, personal trainers and other hangers-on "without whom none of this would be possible".

The pinnacle of "I'm not worthiness" came Sunday night at the Grammys--as Adele accepted her award for Album of the Year.  Instead of thanking the Academy of Recording Arts and Science for honoring her excellent work last year, Adele instead questioned why fellow nominee BeyoncĂ© didn't win--and all but ran down into the audience to give her the trophy.

It should be noted that in 2013 Adele swept the Album, Song and Record of the Year Grammys as well--but the perception of her win (by liberals) was very different at that time.  Those awards were seen as "justification" for a woman who didn't fit the "mold" of a typical female Pop Star.  Adele is a "larger woman".  She doesn't wear outfits that show off her breasts and her behind.  She doesn't grind on stage with male backup dancers and her songs aren't filled with misogynistic lyrics about how good she is at pleasing men.  So when she won all those Grammys the first time--it was because she was "taken seriously as an artist".

But this year's Grammy wins for Adele were "tainted"--because she beat BeyoncĂ© (who does wear outfits exposing her breasts and behind.  Who grinds with her backup dancers.  And who sings misogynistic lyrics about pleasing men--but who also happens to be Black).  This year's Adele wins were greeted with howls of "White Privilege!!"--along with how the Academy is "racist" and can't bring itself to honor work done by an African-American woman--and that other white people should learn from Adele's "realization" that she "didn't deserve to win".

All of this passive/aggressive self-aggrandizing comes to an end later this month with the Oscars--where I can guarantee that whomever wins Best Actress will say Meryl Streep deserved the award because her usual flat performance with a fake accent was "sooo amazing!"--and the Best Actor winner will say that Denzel Washington should have won. 

Here's a suggestion for the stars that don't think their performances are that worthy of peer honors: Don't submit your work for nomination.  The academies that give out these awards don't handpick the nominees--the studios submit them.  So just tell your studio "I don't want to be considered for a Grammy or an Emmy or an Oscar" and you won't have to worry about taking the trophy away from the "more deserving winner".

Monday, February 13, 2017

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

As someone who gets up before 3:00 AM everyday for work.  I detest the day we "Spring Forward" for Daylight Saving Time every year.  It is a devastating blow to the metabolism to lose that one precious hour of sleep--and it takes several weeks for my body to adjust to its new wakeup time.  (As you might expect, "Fall Back" is much easier to handle--and I feel great the first few days after DST ends).  So that is why a bill co-sponsored by Representative Mike Schraa of Oshkosh calling for Wisconsin to no long observe Daylight Savings caught my eye.

At first, it seems like no longer "springing ahead" would make sense--as we are no longer an agrarian society and the energy savings is negligible.  But there would be some prices to pay.  For starters, I like having those long summer days.  I don't need the sun to come up before 5:00 am in June and July.  I'd much rather it be light out enough to golf until 9:00 PM or sometimes even 9:30.  It's those long days that make the short, cold, dark gloomy days we have to deal with at this time of year tolerable.

Not observing Daylight Savings, would also put Wisconsin in a very awkward "timing situation".  For the majority of the year, we would be on "Mountain Time"--a full hour behind Illinois and Minnesota--and two hours behind neighboring Michigan.  For some perspective on that, consider Green Bay Packers games.  The NFL doesn't start Sunday home games before Noon local time.  That would mean in September and October, the Packers would have to start games at Lambeau at 2:30 "Non-Daylight time"--like they are Denver or Arizona.  Road games played against teams in the Eastern and Central Time Zones would then start at 11:00 am on Sundays--which I can guarantee most churches would not appreciate.  But once the rest of the country went back to Standard Time, kickoffs would resume at Noon or at 3:30 in Green Bay again.

If we were to become a "single time" state, I would prefer that we go to Daylight Saving Time one year--and just never go back.  That would keep us more in line "timing wise" with states around us.  For the spring, summer and early Fall, Wisconsin would be on Central Daylight Time.  For the late fall and Winter, we would become part of the Eastern Standard Time Zone.  That gives us later daylight in the summer--and the winter--but at the expense of much later sunrises in the winter.  It would also mean that the aforementioned Packers games at Lambeau in the second half of the season would kickoff at either 1:00 PM, 4:30 pm or 8:30 pm for primetime games. 

Regardless of what we ultimately decided to do--and I'm betting it's nothing--that alarm is still going to go off way too early.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bad Luck Bucks

In March of 1969 the Milwaukee Bucks experienced the greatest stroke of good luck in basketball history when they won a coin flip against the Phoenix Suns to secure the number one pick in the NBA Draft that year.  The Bucks would select Lew Alcindor out of UCLA.  Alcindor would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar--and would lead the Bucks to an NBA Championship in 1971--and another appearance in the Finals in 1974.

But since then, the franchise's luck has been less than stellar.  Kareem would become disenchanted with life in Milwaukee and he forced a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers--where he would win 5 more NBA Championships.  In that same period, the Bucks never made it back to a single NBA Finals.

The Bucks of the 1980's were one of the most successful franchises in the league--but as luck would have it--they were in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics-during the Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish era--and the Philadelphia 76ers--when they had Doctor J and Moses Malone.  The Bucks just couldn't beat both of those powerhouses in the same season.

It looked like the Bucks fortunes may turn for the better in 2001 when they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals behind "the big three" Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell.  Unfortunately, Milwaukee had to play Philadelphia with Alan Iverson--whom the NBA was trying to promote as "the next big thing"--and game 7 of the series was in Philly--so you know every call went against the Bucks and they lost.

It looked like the Bucks may have something going again when they drafted Michael Redd in the late "aughts"--but he kept getting hurt--and the team has been in a "barely in the playoffs/barely out of the playoffs" cycle since.

There was a bit of irony on Wednesday after the Bucks announced their D-League team is coming to Oshkosh.  They hosted a big watch party at The Bar for their game against the Heat to drum up more support in the community.  What happens?  Jabbari Parker--expected to team with Giannis Antetokounmpo to power the Bucks franchise for the next decade--suffers his second major knee injury of his short career.  And the team gets blown out.

Greg Pearce and his group might want to make sure that the roof on that new Oshkosh arena is double the strength necessary--because when it comes to the Bucks, they seem to have used up all their good luck.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Driving While Old

There are a couple of court cases making their way through the system this year that you may want to keep an eye on.  They both involve criminal charges filed against elderly drivers accused of causing crashes that involved deaths and serious injuries.  In a Marquette County case 90-year old Albert Sieg is charged in connection with a crash that saw him run over a married couple that were riding their bikes along the side of the road and then continuing to drive on.  The other is in Oconto County and involves 84-year old Dolly Yashinksy--who ran a stop sign and was broadsided by a car that had the right of way--killing her husband and two elderly friends.

The filing of criminal charges in each of these cases mark a departure from the attitude of the legal system to serious crashes involving older drivers.  For the most part, seniors who run stop signs, drive the wrong way on one-ways or divided highways or hit things and drive off not knowing anything had happened have been treated with kid gloves.  Families agree to take keys away.  Prosecutors say the offending drivers "have suffered enough".  And we all act like there is nothing wrong with having dangerous people behind the wheel just out there driving around.

The attorney for Yashinsky calls the filing of charges against his elderly client "cruel"--given her age and how much she has suffered.  But to his credit, Oconto County District Attorney Edward Burke is defending his decision by pointing out the simple truth: "You can't just arbitrarily draw a line based upon somebody's age".  If Yashinsky had been a 44-year old woman playing with the radio or talking on a cellphone and she ran that stop sign and charges were filed--nobody would bat an eye.  But because she is 84 and probably shouldn't have been behind the wheel we are to just excuse the same actions?

And what happens with these cases becomes more important every day, as Baby Boomers continue to age.  These are people who have been driving since they were 16.  They sang songs about their cars.  They had "special moments" in the back seats of their cars.  They have gone everywhere in their cars--and they will be the last people willing to give up their cars--even when it endangers the rest of society.  But maybe, if we get enough "driving while old" criminal cases--we might be able to talk some sense into them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

If You Build It, Use It

Now that the worst-kept secret in Oshkosh history is out--and that we will be the home of the Milwaukee Bucks D-League team--let's get to work on using that new arena as much as possible.  The primary tenants will obviously be the pro team--but that's just a couple of hours a day from November through March.  So how to maximize the value of the development beyond that?

I would hope that the new arena will revive the former practice of holding the Oshkosh North-Oshkosh West girl-boys basketball doubleheader that used to be held at the Kolf Sports Center.  Oshkosh should also be the permanent home of the sectional finals for the boys WIAA basketball playoffs as well.  Talks should begin immediately with the D-League to make sure those March dates are blocked off for those games.

A long-range plan should be put into place to install an ice-making system as well.  There is no reason this new arena couldn't host something like a pre-season Milwaukee Admirals game--or a college hockey showcase tournament in November and December.  We could also host ice skating competitions or maybe WIAA sectional finals for boys hockey as well.

A promotions company should be lined up immediately to start booking concerts.  I know there are a bunch of artists that Joe Ferlo would love to book into the Grand Opera House--but it just wouldn't be a money maker because of the limited capacity at the theater.  There are plenty of acts that could draw three to four-thousand people a night that are still out there touring.  And let's sign a contract right now that allows Waterfest to move its shows to the arena in the event of inclement weather.  It shouldn't be that hard for attendees to figure out they need to head a little farther down Main Street for the show.

The best news today is that the D-League team will be owned by the Bucks franchise itself.  That means much greater financial stability.  NBA owners have shown they are willing to commit cash to keep their side interests afloat--look at how much money they have lost on the Women's NBA over the last 20-years.  That means we don't have to worry about the new team being here for a couple of years--not making enough of a profit and heading somewhere else for greener pastures--leaving us with an empty arena. 

I know it doesn't sound great to promote yourself as a "Minor League City"--but it's sure better than being a "no league city".

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Would You Like Some Inclusiveness With Your Beer?

Super Bowl LI advertisers are being criticized for being "too political" this year.  Some think that too many companies were trying to "make a statement" with ads that didn't really sell their product--but instead were trying to "push an agenda".  Because the game was so good, I honestly don't remember the content of many of the ads--which should be a profound statement for those that spent $5-MILLION per 30-seconds with the promise of getting my attention.

On several of our programs here on WOSH Monday, there were calls to boycott companies that went political and not commercial on Sunday--but let's be honest, there is really no need.  For instance, we don't have an 84 Lumber anywhere near us--so how am I going to "stop shopping there"?  You couldn't pay me enough to drink the swill that Anheuser-Busch produces--especially Budweiser and Bud Light--so you could say I was already "boycotting" them in the name of good taste.  I'm a Jeep guy, so the underperforming Kia wannabe four-wheel drives already have no appeal to me.  And I doubt that I will ever be able to afford an Alfa-Romeo with cash--Dave Ramsey style.

There would one tough one to give up.  Could I live without Coca-Cola?  I probably could.  But Pepsi is not good--so I'm not giving them my business--and the alternatives like RC or store brands are even worse--so I guess I'm stuck with a Coke and a smile even if they support illegal immigration.  I haven't ever used AirBNB--but I have checked out their site and considered it for vacation travel.  And there is really no "business" to boycott--as those using the site are independent contractors--who reserve the right to refuse to rent to whomever they wish--so who is to say the guy with the apartment in the Bahamas doesn't agree with me on everything else political?

While we are on the topic of the ads--it is clear that the enormous price tag just to get on the air Super Sunday has hurt the creativity of the commercials themselves.  What could be funnier with a bit more time is rushed through because a firm can only afford 30-seconds of ad time.  And when it costs you $5-MILL just to get in the door, not much is left for the creative or production elements.  Maybe that is why those companies decided to go with an "inclusive" theme instead of comedy.  It's a lot easier to be political that it is to be humorous.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Change at the Top

For the last 30-years or so, I have maintained that Johnny Unitas is the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL.  Unitas was revolutionary in the way the position was played.  He retired with nearly every NFL passing record--many of which stood into the 1990's and the 2000's--despite playing in a run-heavy era where defensive backs could hit receivers as far downfield as they wanted and when offensive linemen couldn't use their hands to block rushers.  Unitas pioneered the seven-step drop for passes in the pocket and invented the two-minute offense.  He also called his own plays--which set him apart from today's quarterbacks who need to call a timeout and head to the sidelines when the speakers in their helmets go on the fritz and they can't get the play from the offensive coordinator--who double checked with the offense quality control coach and the head coach after consulting a play sheet that looks like a 24-hour truck stop menu.

But after last night's unbelievable performance, I am ready to acknowledge that Tom Brady has replaced Johnny U as the greatest of all time.  Even when it was 28-3 early in the 3rd quarter, I stayed with the game only because it was Brady at QB for the Patriots.  You just expected that he would at least will the Pats back to a one-score game late--maybe with possession of the ball and needing to go the length of the field to win or tie.  And that is exactly what happened. 

At any point in the furious rally did you think "This is where Brady throws the killer interception to seal New England's fate"?  I think most of America was in shock that he threw a Pick 6 near the red zone in the first half.  And when the Patriots won the toss to receive the ball to start overtime, you have to admit you knew Brady was going to march them right down the field again and end it with a touchdown--and not a weak field goal to give Atlanta a final chance.

Brady will not retire with any NFL passing records.  He won't catch Peyton Manning's yardage or touchdown marks--and he certainly won't eclipse Brett Favre's interception record.  But he easily outdistances their three combined Super Bowl titles with FIVE of his own.  And Brady has done all of this with no top-line offensive talent around him.  Johnny Unitas played with Hall of Famers like Raymond Berry, John Mackey and Lenny Moore.  I would be hard pressed to name any Patriots receivers or running backs that are on their way to Canton from the "Brady Era" (you could count Randy Moss--but he was in New England for just a couple of seasons at the end of his career and didn't exactly light it up).

Consider that Tom Brady is miracle catches by David Tyree and Mario Manningham away from being 7-0 in the Super Bowl.  Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw can always point to their 4-0 records in the big game--but I don't think anyone can hang the two Patriots losses on Tom Brady's performances in those contest.  So the time has finally come for one of the staunchest supporters of "The game was better back then" to admit the current superstar really is the greatest of all time.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Logical Next Step

A popular "protest position" making the rounds today is the "When they came for the Muslims, I said nothing. When they came for the gays I said nothing.  Yada, yada, yada.  When they came for me there was no one left to speak against it"  The meaning behind it is that you have to speak out against anything that could some day be used against you when it first starts--not when it is finally going to affect you--because by then, it will be too late.

That's why Oshkosh homeowners may want to consider jumping onto the opposition bandwagon against the Rental Registry Program--or at least the requirement for inspection of all units every five years.  The arguments made by city officials in defending the inspection reqirements are "Everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy environment" or "Not everyone realizes what their rights are when it comes to living conditions".  And the inspections are being applied to all rentals in the city because "we aren't allowed to just target the bad parts of town".

Keep in mind that it wouldn't be that hard to apply the very same arguments to all of the private homes in Oshkosh as well.  Not every house in a dumpy neighborhood is a rental.  There are plenty of homes that may be unfit for human habitation that the person living there owns.  It could easily be argued that they too "deserve" to live in a health environment.  How many homes have wiring that is over 100-years old and could fail or catch fire at any time?  How many have heating systems that are faulty and could produce carbon monoxide?  You could definitely argue that a house in disrepair is just as "dangerous" as a rental unit with all of the same problems--so wouldn't it be a matter of "public safety" that city inspectors get a look at those too on a regular basis?  Yes, homes can be inspected already on a complaint basis--but that is true for rental units as well.

Plus, think of the added revenue the city could garner (not that inspection fees are IN ANY WAY the driving force behind the Rental Registry) as inspectors find little "do it yourself" projects that homeowners never bothered to get construction permits for.  Add to that "re-inspection fees" after minor changes are made to the wiring job you did yourself in the basement--or the gas line you ran out to the patio grill and fire pit.  And don't forget that inspectors wouldn't even have to get into your house to conduct their "inspection"--or at least bill you for it.

So don't brush off concerns about the Rental Registry Program as "not my problem"--or defend it by saying "It's for the good of the city"--because it's just a matter of time before they come for your inspection fees--I mean "preservation of your safety".

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sicking it to Goodell

I shall be rooting for the New England Patriots on Sunday to win Super Bowl LI.  It's not because they beat my Pittsburgh Steelers and "I want the team that beat my team to win it all so I can mistakenly think that my team would have won too if they had made it".  It's not because I'm an "AFC guy".  It's not because the Atlanta Falcons beat the Green Bay Packers and that somehow makes them bad guys.  It's not because I think a Patriots win will somehow "solidify" Tom Brady's status as "the greatest quarterback ever" or Bill Belichick as "the greatest coach in football history".  And it's certainly not because I want the Pats to draw within one win of the Steelers record of six Super Bowl championships.

I shall be rooting for the Patriots for just one reason: I want to see NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have to hand the Vince Lombardi Trophy to owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady in what promises to be the most awkward moment in NFL history.  Since handing down his ridiculous punishment on the Patriots for "Deflate-gate"--and then having to take Tom Brady to Federal Court (and almost all the way to the Supreme Court), Goodell has been ducking the franchise.  "Scheduling conflicts" have prevented the Commish from attending any games in Foxboro since the scandal.  He decided that the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta was a more important place to be two weeks ago.  He even refused to answer questions this week about "Deflate-gate", the punishments handed down and the legal battles involving Brady.  So a Patriots win on Sunday would force Goodell to stand there and at least acknowledge the franchise still exists.

I shall also be rooting for Tom Brady to win the Super Bowl MVP award.  On the Monday after the Super Bowl, the Commissioner does a press conference and photo shoot with the MVP--and I want to see the look on Goodell's face as he poses with the QB that he took to court to suspend for the first four games of the year.  I'd also like to see if Brady decides to rub Goodell's face in it while taking questions from the media.

I don't know if its a prop bet available in Las Vegas, but I'm putting the over/under on split screen shots showing Goodell and Patriots personnel during the Super Bowl broadcast at 9 and a half--especially if it appears that New England is going to win.  Of course, if things go against Brady and Company, I fully expect to see a shot of Goodell cracking open the champagne and toasting with everyone in his luxury box.  Although, I'd much rather have to see him squirm like the worm that he is.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

No Sure Thing

President Donald Trump has fulfilled the one hope that actual conservatives had when some of them voted for him--he has appointed what appears to be a Constitutionalist to the Supreme Court.  Those on the Right are finding little not to like about Judge Neil Gorsuch--and his original nomination to the Federal bench was unanimous in the Senate--with Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein all voting in favor of him.  It would appear that the narrow Conservative majority on the high court is being preserved in the wake of Antonin Scalia's death nearly a year ago.

But those of us who believe in limited government and strict interpretation of the Constitution shouldn't be celebrating just yet.  You see, recent Supreme Court nominees put forth by Republican Presidents tend to be far more unpredictable than those put on the court by Democratic Presidents.  There is never any doubt as to how Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagen and Sonia Sotomayor are going to rule on cases that split the court.  Inevitably, they will side with whatever party provides greater control to the central government.  But some "conservative" justices aren't nearly as predictable.

Remember, it was George W Bush appointee John Roberts that not only cast the deciding vote to find the Affordable Care Act constitutional--but he went out of his way to find a legal principle backing up that position which the Obama Administration never actually made before the court (that it is a "tax"--not a "requirement to buy something in the private market").  George HW Bush appointee David Souter actually became a reliable liberal vote on the high court--even after John Sununu guaranteed that he would be a "slam dunk conservative".  And Sandra Day O'Connor would swing her vote after Ronald Reagan put her on the court in the 1980's.

Obviously, these "mis-reads" are due more to Constitutionalists coming to the court with fewer hard-line biases--and a willingness to consider each case on the merits and arguments presented--and not with the notion that the power of the government to control our lives is paramount.  But conservatives shouldn't be counting their "5-4 decisions" before they hatch--if Democrats don't filibuster Gorsuch's nomination for the entire four years of the Trump presidency.