Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Words for an Old Jingle

Hammes will rebuild the Edgewater (Water)
With the help of TIF, sixteen million
Thank you, Dave Cieslewicz
Screw Monona Terrace

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ritual Goat Sacrifices?

Over a hundred goats have been stolen from farms in Dodge and Green Lake Counties this summer. Authorities are baffled. What are the goat-rustlers up to?

This seemingly-unrelated case in Winona, Minnesota may provide a clue. A woman painted a goat purple and shaved a #4 into its side. She trussed it up and put it in her trunk prior to slaughtering it. The goat was rescued, however, when the woman had to stop to buy a tire. Presumably, she obtained the goat legally (the article doesn't say). The goat has since been adopted by a Wisconsin couple after sheltering temporarily with a Winona veterinarian.

My theory is that the Wisconsin goat-thefts were perpetrated either by enraged Packers fans who intend to curse Brett Favre and his new team, the Vikings, or by desperate Cubs fans who are trying to lift the curse of the billy-goat. If a flock of goats are turned loose to graze in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, at least we'll know where they came from.

A Lot of Alliteration Award

Rock County Family Finally Finds Flooding Fix

Too bad they don't live in Orfordville.

Golf with a Super Bowl Champion

The Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells is hosting a stop on the Green Bay Packer Super Bowl XXXI Reunion tour. For $125, you can participate in a Friday golf outing, and for an additional $250, you can have a Packer player on your foursome (while supplies last). For another $125, you can participate in a Saturday cocktail meet-and-greet with Mike Holmgren and LeRoy Butler, then have a steak dinner. The proceeds go towards breast cancer research.

Neither Brett Favre nor Jim McMahon will be in attendance. Mark Chmura will, though, so you might want to leave your teenage daughters at home. Or at least keep them away from the jacuzzi.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

When Did McDonald's Start Hiring 12-Year-Olds?

I swear that kid who waited on me looked to be 10-12 years old. He couldn't have been working there (or anywhere) for very long, but he was more efficient and competent than some of the adults who have been working there for years. He rang up my special order without hesitation, not needing to hunt for the proper buttons on the keypad, and counted out my change quickly and accurately.

Kudos, young man. Stay in school. With your work ethic and quick mind, you could go far when you grow up.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Can't You Smell That Smell? Woman Found Mummified in Wisconsin Garage opposed to decomposing on a Wisconsin toilet or on ice in a Wisconsin freezer. Honestly, what is it about this state that encourages people to conceal (or dig up) corpses?

Although the Dane County Coroner, John Stanley, believes she died of natural causes, he can't even tell how long she's been dead, so that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his professional opinion. He works in a city with a major research university; can't he find an entomologist who can tell him how many generations of cockroaches have been feasting on human flesh in that garage?

And the County's mental health and social services also seem to have fallen down on the job. On July 17, a mental health worker went to the house to ask after the missing woman. The woman's nephew was already known to have under-treated schizophrenia. The mental health worker noticed a terrible stench coming from the basement; she did not go down there. That was wise; it's not her job to investigate a potential chamber of horrors. However, she presumably reported her observations to the proper authorities.

The man's mother (the dead woman's sister) had recently been removed from the home, partly because of the filthy conditions, and partly because of alleged elder abuse (reported by the neighbors). The dead woman's nephew denied killing his aunt -- apparently without having been asked -- to at least two different people, on July 31 and August 2. By this time, the man and his mother had, on at least two separate occasions, refused to allow someone to enter the garage.

Shouldn't the police have obtained a search warrant by that time? She'd been missing more than two weeks, her nephew had been less than cooperative, and his house was known to be squalid (usually grounds for the County to declare the property a public health hazard). Instead, it took the cops two more weeks to get around to properly searching the place. They did "check the house" on July 17 but didn't enter the basement, and they did not yet notice the odor of decaying flesh (it makes one wonder what the terrible stench the mental health worker noticed the day before was). It appears that the 70-year-old woman died in the filthy basement and was later moved into the garage. At least she wasn't made into lampshades.

No word yet on whether anyone cashed her most recent social security check (the usual motive for concealing the death of an elderly relative).

Instead of asking for money to hire more cops, perhaps Madison Police Chief Noble Wray should focus on better training for the ones he has. Here's another tip -- women are known to have a keener sense of smell than men, on average. Perhaps you should send a female officer along when you are checking a house for a possible missing or deceased person. If a police officer had noticed a terrible stench coming from the basement on July 17, perhaps that would have led to a search warrant in a more timely manner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Creative Fundraising Ideas

Zach W over at Blogging Blue distilled a Journal-Sentinel article listing the amount of cash various Democratic politicians have on hand for a potential gubenatorial run. The gist of it is that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett could purchase all of the other campaigns combined six times before running out of campaign cash.

As a concerned public citizen, I would like to offer the following ideas to help the lesser politicians catch up. I won't even charge a consulting fee to any campaign(s) that use any of them. Consider it my contribution to a free exchange of ideas (which will no doubt come back to bite me in the ass in the form of robo-calls at suppertime).

1. Set up a dunk tank at the Taste of Madison. Put a volunteer in a Dick Cheney mask in the tank. Support the troops by giving a free throw to any Iraq War veterans who happen by.

2. Dancing with the Pols. Tom DeLay has made it acceptable for politicians to dance in public for money. Have a "dollar dance" at the Cardinal Bar when it re-opens next month. It's a Midwestern wedding staple, so no one should be offended. If you charge $10 a minute to dance with the candidate, you will only have to endure about 16,000 Depeche Mode songs to catch up to Barrett.

3. Hold a fundraiser at a sports bar with a dart board. Place a big #4 on the dart board (numerals are in the public domain, after all) and charge people to throw darts at it.

4. Hold a "Win a Dream Date to the Frostiball" contest. Donors who contribute $100 or more are entered into a drawing to accompany the candidate to the 2010 Frostiball, with dinner at a fancy downtown restaurant beforehand.

5. Offer to host a debate between spokespersons for PETA and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Place the podiums (podia?) inside a kiddie pool filled with mud, surrounded by a cage. Sell tickets.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cleveland Was a Better Man than Edwards

I voted for John Edwards in the 2004 presidential primary. I thought his policies were mostly centrist and pragmatic, and that he was more charismatic (and therefore electable) than John Kerry. Still, I realized that his trial lawyer background made him likely to lie even more than the average politician, and I noticed that he had a habit of blinking way too much (which tends to make one seem less than trustworthy).

When The National Enquirer first broke the story about Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter, I wasn't surprised. Mickey Kaus had reported the rumors, given traction by the bizarre suppresssion of the video footage that Hunter was hired to shoot for the campaign, months earlier. I hoped that Edwards was a savvy enough politician to learn from Bill Clinton's mistakes. I hoped he and Elizabeth would take the opportunity to usher in a new political era, where people stopped focusing on politicians' sex lives because most voters really don't care, and the United States freed itself from our unfortunate Puritan legacy.

When the Lewinski scandal broke, Clinton followed the politician's natural instinct to Deny, Deny, Deny. However, the cover-up proved worse than the initial transgression, bringing about an impeachment trial for perjury. In the end, the affair became public knowledge, and Hillary's belief in a "vast right-wing conspiracy" became a source of humiliation for both of them.

John and Elizabeth Edwards seemed like intelligent, educated individuals. They had made their family life and relationship a focus of John's campaign. They could have continued in that vein. Elizabeth could have given a press conference and said something like: "There is no doubt that my cancer treatments put a strain on our physical relationship. While, ideally, John would have chosen celibacy over adultery, he is only human. Out of respect for me and our children, he made every effort to be discreet. I would ask everyone to please respect our family's privacy and allow us to handle this situation in the best way that we can."

John could have said something like: "Out of respect for my wife and children, as well as Ms. Hunter, I will not comment on this situation except to say that I am making child support arrangements out of my personal fortune, and no campaign funds will be used. Any campaign donors who feel personally offended by this situation may contact the campaign and request a refund of their donation."

It would have been a brave stand for privacy rights. It would have played well with America's youth, who have much more libertarian attitudes about sex. And it might have even resurrected his political career. After all, Grover Cleveland survived a paternity scandal and won the presidency.

But, as it turns out, John Edwards is a spineless idiot, and Elizabeth Edwards is a drama queen. She apparently forgave him enough to remain in the marriage, but not enough to refrain from writing a tell-all book about her reaction to his affair. They deserve each other (and political obscurity).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Red Dawn" Will Stay Red

I've been morbidly curious about the upcoming remake of Red Dawn ever since I first heard about it last year. Will it take place in the present, the near future, or in some alternate version of 1985 (like The Watchmen)? If the present, who will the invaders be?

While the script has undergone at least two re-writes (never a good sign), reports are that, in the remake, the invaders are the Russians and the Chinese (h/t ScreenRant). I'm not even sure why they need the Russians anymore; it might have been scarier and more topical if it were the Chinese and the North Koreans.

Anyway, I'm still morbidly curious. Will it be a deliberate allegory on our invasion of Iraq? If so, it would be hard to top the original in that respect. Seriously, get it from Netflix sometime (or fire up the old VHS if you actually own the video) and watch it with these substitutions in mind:

Americans = Iraqis
Russians = Americans
Cubans = Brits

Vaya con dios.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Seems Tacky, Even for Las Vegas

I was surprised to learn that the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas held a "Family Fun Day" event on Saturday. I thought Las Vegas gave up the family-fun business model back in the 90s.

While I realize that a lot of families live in Las Vegas, and it is not inappropriate for an educational museum like the ATM (the only Smithsonian-affiliated institution in Las Vegas) to try to attract their business, it just seems wrong for "Family Fun Day" at the Atomic Testing Museum to be subtitled: "Journey Through Japan." Activities include Japanese dancers, sushi rolling and origami folding.

It might be more appropriate if the Atomic Testing Museum dealt seriously with the effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the museum mostly avoids that by focusing on the bomb tests conducted by the U.S. government (especially those conducted in Nevada). It briefly mentions unfortunate health effects to workers and those who lived near testing sites but assures visitors that the government made every effort to minimize them, and that the tests were necessary to national security.

The short documentary film on Operation Crossroads does not discuss the devastation of the Bikini Islanders culture following their removal, nor the horrific effects of the unnecessary and deliberate exposure to radiation of thousands of U.S. Sailors.

The museum does not mention the filming of John Wayne's film The Conqueror and its legacy of cancer deaths among almost half the film's cast and crew.

With all of those omissions, holding a "Family Fun Day" celebration of Japanese culture at the Atomic Testing Museum is rather like having a production of Fiddler on the Roof at Germanfest would be. Hopefully, the folks in Wisconsin will always have more sense than that (at least outside of Washington County).