Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Camp Randall Was Just As Rowdy 25 Years Ago

I saw the following letter in today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Students: Be quiet and watch the game

I have regularly attended UW football games since 1967. In recent years, student conduct before and at games has eroded to the point that many fans are considering other activities on Saturdays.

During the recent high school band day, with a thousand or so high school students in attendance in addition to thousands of other fans, we were once again regaled by the students' chant "eat s---, f--- you." It's loud enough to be heard on national TV, and surely loud enough for young ears to catch. This chant occurs at every game. And as a loyal, ticket-purchasing fan, I'm offended by this student conduct.

Half the student attendees party until well into the second quarter, then stroll into their seats to shout obscenities. Their team, meanwhile, plays to a half-empty student section. Where's the loyalty?

I'm told by fans from visiting teams who walk through the beer parties on Regent Street and Breeze Terrace that they're subjected to the same foul language. The UW is better than that, and it is time they step up to correct the situation.

Phil Grimm, Madison

Either Mr. Grimm has selective memory, or he used to sit farther from the student section. As a high school student, I regularly attended Band Day back in the early 1980s. I can assure Mr. Grimm that we heard obscenities from the student section even back then (and witnessed cup fights, which we found highly entertaining).

As a college student in the mid-80s, I had student season tickets. The student sections tended to fill early in the first quarter, but that was because (1) most games started at 1:00 p.m. in those days (few Badger games were televised) and (2) students could bring booze into the stands with them. While it was not legal to do so, there were no searches, the legal drinking age was 19 (so most students could stop at the liquor store on their way to the stadium), and the rent-a-cops were more concerned about removing empty bottles to prevent breakage than ejecting the students who brought them. They were there to protect and to serve. During one game, the guys behind me literally brought enough (full-size) bottles to stock a bar. They all wore trench coats to smuggle them in. None of them got thrown out.

Obscene chants were just as prevelent back then, including "Who Gives a Shit? We Came to See the Band!" (shouted when the game wasn't going well for the Badgers). How's that for loyalty? Things finally got out of hand when, in either 1984 or 1985 if I recall correctly, fans started tearing up the fiberglass bench-covers and passing them. One asshole threw one over the top, narrowly missing a pedestrian below. He was sentenced to several weekends of cleaning toilets at the stadium the next Fall (which was really inconvenient, since he graduated and moved to California in the interim -- he had to fly back on home football weekends to serve his sentence).

And as for the complaints by visiting fans that they are subjected to obscenities on their way to and from the stadium, that's tame. Back in the 1980s, Iowa coach Hayden Frye was allegedly showered with peppermint schnapps by UW students as he emerged from the tunnel.

In short, Mr. Grimm, the UW is not better than that, and it hasn't been for over two decades. If you are just starting to notice now, I commend the efficacy of modern corrective lenses and hearing aids.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Helluva Catch

When Donald Driver made that 40-yard reception with just his left hand and held on all the way to the ground, I was impressed. But I also thought he was being a hotdog for not bringing his right hand up to secure the ball. Then I realized the Ram defender was holding on to his right hand.

Kudos, Mr. Driver. I'm glad I got to see that play before Fox's video feed went haywire.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hoosier Daddy?

I can't believe Indiana came so close to beating Michigan today. Who'da thunk?

And are the Badgers really as good as they looked against Michigan State today? Maybe Dustin Christopher is onto something with his Gridiron Biowarfare theory.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Advice for Tea Party Organizers

If you want politicians, the media and the general public to take your concerns seriously and treat your tea parties like political demonstrations rather than wing-nut circuses, here are a few things you could do to help your cause:

1. Stop inviting Joe the Plumber to speak at your events. The man has proven himself to be a complete idiot on the subjects of economics and foreign policy. If you continue to treat him like a pundit, you will continue to be considered ignorant by the rest of us. You might as well invite Britney Spears -- she'll draw a bigger crowd, and nothing she says can be any stupider than many of JtP's past public proclamations.

2. Stop harping on Obama's birth certificate. That fake issue has been completely discredited. He did produce the birth certificate. He was born in the U.S.A. If you keep peddling that snake oil to the wingnuts, your events will continue to be looked on as medicine shows rather than political rallies. I've noticed that very few birthers were concerned about the fact that John McCain was born in Panama (I'm just sayin').

3. Invite Jesse Ventura to speak at your events. He shares many of your concerns with the growing U.S. tax-and-police state. He also has cross-over credibility and is truly independent of any political party or media empire (although he does have a book to plug).

4. Put some emphasis on issues that liberals can't (or won't) argue with. There is a lot of common ground on the subject of civil liberties (such as the current proposal to collect DNA from anyone arrested, before conviction). If you spend some time talking about the things you have in common with the ACLU, liberals will stop laughing and do you the courtesy of listening to what you have to say. They will be much less likely to tune you out when you bring up your other concerns if they have already treated you like fellow citizens deserving of respect.

5. When you see some idiot at one of your events carrying a homemade "Obama = Hitler" sign, ask that individual what, specifically, Obama has in common with Hitler. Then explain why Hitler is in a class which invites few legitimate comparisons. You don't have to censor anyone, but at least try to educate the ones who are making you all look bad.

I disagree with many of your positions, but I think that one-party rule is bad for democracy. Watching the Republican Party become a shrinking, marginalized joke troubles me. Without a credible opposition, I shudder to think what the Democratic Party may become. Ideally, I would like to see several viable parties hold seats in Congress, with a coalition required for a working majority. That would keep the radicals in any party from ramming things down everyone's throats (because the minor parties would abandon the coalition in that case).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Classic Videogame Comes to Life on East Wash

An idiot boy on a skateboard zigzagged across East Washington Avenue, by Walgreens, during rush hour today, acting like a live-action cross between the protagonists of the classic 1980s videogames Frogger and Paperboy.

Luckily for him (and my insurance rates), he didn't get splattered. It was a near miss, though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Marcus Theatres Provides Metaphor for Cap and Trade Legislation

Last year, Marcus Theatres proposed a new, larger multiplex (with an Ultrascreen) to replace Eastgate Cinema. It would be in the same vicinity, just a bit farther east along the Highway 151 corridor.

The City of Madison felt that the development would not be in keeping with their policy goals of reducing emissions, since it would not be on a bus line, nor would it be pedestrian-friendly, requiring patrons and employees alike to drive there by car. Marcus must create a pedestrian-friendly development around their new cinema, with affordable housing options, if they want Madison to approve their plans.

The supporters of the project pointed out that most people drive to Eastgate by car already, and if the city makes it too difficult or expensive, Marcus will simpy build a few more miles east, in Sun Prairie. That will result in just as many car trips, but most of them will be a few miles longer (since Madison will still provide the majority of the cinema's patrons). How will that reduce emissions? It will, in fact, increase emissions.

That is exactly what cap and trade legislation will do. I am not a global warming denier. Neither can I deny the economic impact of cap and trade legislation. It will result in major increases in manufacturing costs (especially in Wisconsin, where most of our electricity is generated with coal). The result of that will be to move most manufacturing overseas to places with lax environmental standards, as well as lower labor costs, like China and India.

That will result in a lot more container ships making the trip across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Container ships burn barely-refined fuel and spew great volumes of filthy smoke. China is burning exponentially more coal every year.

I have heard the argument that we have to take the lead and set an example for the developing world. I don't buy it. China has not emulated our example of the last four decades and created anything like the EPA, or OSHA. They are motivated more by short-term economic development concerns. They will laugh at our cap-and-trade legislation. Then they will build more factories and power plants and mine more coal in the cheapest, fastest way possible (interrupted only by the occasional fatal mine collapse).

The only thing that will stop the flow of jobs and container ships is if the growing pirate problem makes it less cost-effective to manufacture all of our consumer goods in China. Say, maybe the Pastafarians have the right idea about pirates and global warming.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lions and Bengals and Bears, Oh My!

For a while there, it looked like the Detroit Lions might actually make a game of it. Didn't last, though. It's going to be another bleak year in Motown.

The Bengals, on the other hand, thoroughly embarrassed the Packers, proving the old adage that pre-season games don't mean a thing. Aaron Rodgers looked like a different (lesser) quarterback. All of his receivers had trouble holding on to his passes, even when he hit them in the hands. Did Rodgers put more on the ball in the game than he does in practice? Was he throwing knuckleballs? At least some of those passes looked like they were wobbling on the axis, rather than flying in a perfect spiral. I don't know if he's suffering from performance anxiety, or if the Bears injured his shoulder last week when they threw him to the turf.

While the Bears didn't look as good as the pundits predicted last week, they managed to beat the reigning Superbowl Champions, so I guess they really are the power in the NFC North this year.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Surprises at Dollar Tree

I stopped into Dollar Tree to buy paper goods for a party. Unlike some other "dollar store" chains, everything really is $1 at Dollar Tree. So imagine my surprise, while standing in the checkout line, to see the New Choice Pregnancy Test.

Evidently, there are women who trust a $1 pregnancy test, either because they are that poor or that foolish. Either way, it is a bit frightening to realize they are facing parenthood.

Even more frightening, however, was the New Choice Ovulation Predictor. There are two reasons why a woman would want to predict her ovulation: either she is actively trying to get pregnant, or she is using the rhythm method of birth control. In either case, it is unfortunate that a woman would choose to buy a $1 ovulation predictor instead of going to Walgreen's and spending $10 for a trustworthy one.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Really, Barry?

The Woffard Terriers? Why not just schedule games against Edgewood College and Upper Iowa University? At least you might fill some of the empty seats in Camp Randall Stadium with friends and relatives of the visiting team.

And why was the ball so damn slippery today? It's not like it was cold or raining. Did the UW ink a deal with KY to replace some of that lost beer advertising revenue?

Just Another Weeknight at Wiggie's

This is the third bizarre police call at Wiggie's this year. Is underage drinking really a bigger problem than violent crimes in bars? If so, what about that 17-year-old with the baseball bat? Will the ALRC ever investigate Wiggie's? It's like the wild west on Madison's north side.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Piranha? In Wisconsin?

Quick, everyone out of the lake. A fisherman on Lake Winnebago caught a carnivorous tropical fish that was (mis)identified as a piranha. One of the commenters claims it is actually a pacu, which is a similar (but larger) species. I don't know if johnsam is an icthyologist or just a bullshitter, though, so take it with a grain of salt.

Presumably, some jackass dumped the fish into Lake Winnebago, since the DNR says they can't survive our winters (so there couldn't be a breeding population in the lake).

Still, it makes one reluctant to swim in Wisconsin's lakes. Another commenter claims that piranhas don't really attack people, but that's what folks used to say about otters.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

R.I.P., Patrick Swayze

You were a hard-working actor, and you demonstrated to America that short ballet dancers can be butch. You will be missed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Deja Vu

Does anyone else get nostalgic watching Badger football games with players named Toon, Borland and McFadden?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Maybe We Need More Bookies

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran an article yesterday about political contributions from the payday loan industry and how they might influence attempts to regulate the industry.

They quoted Rep. Pedro Colon (who received no such contributions) saying: "If you make these guys disappear, you'll have bookies making loans - because banks aren't going to make these loans," he said.

Actually, most people are better off borrowing from bookies or loansharks (assuming they pay the loan back on time) -- they charge much lower interest rates than payday lenders, and they may offer value-added services to good clients.

Many years ago, a relative of mine borrowed money from an unlicensed, locally-based financial services entrepreneur when she was a struggling single mother. She brought a list of her personal property that could serve as collateral. He let her keep her things, saying that anyone who took the time to itemize their property was a good risk. She always made her payments on time. When her crazy and hostile landlord locked her attic storage space, she went to the local financier in a panic, saying that she had lost access to all of the items she listed as collateral. He told her she was a good customer, and that his business was pro-family, and that he would talk to the landlord for her. She never had trouble with her landlord again.

You won't get service like that from a pay-day loan establishment.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

About that Sears Commercial

I laughed when I saw the Sear's commercial with Brett Favre looking at the new LED TVs. The salesman touts Sears' on-site price-checks, to help those guys who just can't make up their mind. Favre seemed sold, then said "I don't know..."

Yes, very funny. However, Sears is basically rewarding Favre for being an indecisive a**%#$^ who wastes everyone's time. I used to make a habit of shopping at Sears when I needed a new appliance or piece of luggage or bathrobe, because I knew they were struggling, and I wanted to see them stick around. Now, however, I don't think I'll bother.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Romantic Poetry

With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

In Madison did Mayor Dave
A stately library decree.
His reasoning was firm and brave:
On building costs we'll surely save
If we move now, said he.

A hundred-five-thousand square feet of space
With glass and steel will be built apace.
There will be sunlight bright shining in all year
And far more space for citizens to use.
On days with weather that is warm and clear
We'll all enjoy the patio on the roof.

But oh, that steep taxpayer burden which landed
Twice as hard as Edgewater's sixteen million.
A savage fee the citizens were handed,
An island of public debt on which we're stranded
With no rescue from a Frautschi or a Goodwin.

And when the old library is vacated,
With scavengers and wrecking ball both sated,
A brand new hotel hopefully will rise,
To further clutter downtown's shaded skies
With empty rooms and yet another bar.
At least there'll be someplace to park your car.

The ramp will not fill up with out-of-towners;
Our airport is not major -- what a downer.

(I planned to finish it, but I've spent too much time on it already.)