Sunday, December 27, 2009

Halftime Snarks

Even against a team that had no sacks in its last two games, Aaron Rodgers is earning more money on his back than Sunset Thomas.

Does Mike McCarthy get a dopamine rush from throwing that red flag? I can think of no other explanation for his seeming addiction to making bad challenges. Maybe Chantix would help...

A Tipping Point in Iran?

As many analysts anticipated, the annual Ashura holiday in Iran (the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hossein -- grandson of the prophet Mohammed -- and his followers at the hands of the Ummayyad regime) has inspired renewed protests by the green opposition movement that emerged after Iran's bogus elections in June. The intensity of the protests may have been boosted by the week of mourning for respected opposition cleric Ayatollah Montazeri.

The news coming out of Iran is brutal. According to this website, these are the most intense protests to date. Several people have been killed by security forces, and there are numerous examples of protesters fighting back and winning local clashes against the regime's thugs. There are also unconfirmed reports of police refusing to fire an protesters.

The government suppressed the massive demonstrations that occurred six months ago. Fear and a sense of helplessness kept more and more people inside, and the size of the protests waned. However, they seem to have come back now with a vengeance.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wisconsin Threat-Down for Santa's Reindeer

Threat Number 5 - Cougars. A DNR camera photographed a cougar in Dunn County last week. The big cat recently killed a whitetail fawn, which it stashed under a pile of cornstalks and periodically returned to munch on. A reindeer could feed that cat for a month. However, a full grown male reindeer weighs between 220-700 lbs., much too big for a cougar to take down. Not much of a threat.

Threat Number 4 - Wolves. Some hunters in northern Wisconsin blame the state's increasing wolf population for this year's poor deer harvest. It's true that wolves are very good at hunting deer, and some wolves have been known to kill even moose. However, wolves are opportunistic hunters, and even a reduced whitetail population offers them much easier opportunities than eight healthy reindeer who will stand their ground together (since they are all harnessed to the sleigh). Not much of a threat.

Threat Number 3 - Bears. Because no threat-down would be complete without bears, and Wisconsin's bear population is growing. But black bears rarely prey on adult deer, so they are not really a threat to Santa's reindeer.

Threat Number 2 - Hunters. There is a holiday deer hunting season in the CWD management zone from December 24 through January 3. Santa may want to outfit his reindeer with blaze orange vests just in case they are still out after sunrise. While reindeer are visually distinct from whitetail deer, the occasional hunter with buck fever has been known to shoot an elk or even a cow, so better safe than sorry.

Threat Number 1 - Snowmobile Thrill Killers. Unfortunately, the law has not done enough to deter this despicable practice. Santa should take advantage of J. B. Van Hollen's published opinion and openly carry a firearm (loaded with lumps of coal) in his sleigh for personal (and reindeer) protection.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Bingo :-(

I feared that the city council bingo cards were too easy to fill. But after reading through the invaluable Laptop City Hall liveblog, Brenda Konkel's excellent commentary and the highly amusing Isthmus "Live Blog" (actually live chat), I can find no evidence that any Bingo combination was achieved.

Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the meeting live, so I do not know if any council members were wearing red and green, or if Bruer was in his seat when the meeting started. The cards were actually designed for the night of December 8, when snow was in the forecast, and before I knew Alder Pham-Remmele would be absent due to the death of her mother, so a few of the squares were unachievable to start with.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Iconic Nightspot on the Block

Oh, if only some philanthropic tycoon with money to burn would buy the Gobbler and re-open it as a celebration of Wisconsin's cultural heritage. Where are the Johnsons and the Menards when we really need them?

When I was a child, my grandmother used to let me play with a colorful plastic swizzle stick from the Gobbler. She enjoyed the occasional outing there with some of her friends, and she described to me the wonders of the place -- the bright colors, the revolving bar, the fancy drinks.

Alas, I never had the opportunity to visit the place myself. I had to settle for virtual visits via the various online tributes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

It's a good night to order a pizza.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Fun and Games for Tuesday Night







Dustin Christopher came up with an amusing drinking game for those of us watching Tuesday night's City Council meeting at home.

In the interest of giving people more choices, here is an activity that can be adapted for either teetotalers (are there any of those in Wisconsin?) or competitive drinkers:

City Council Bingo

Here are half a dozen cards that you can print out and distribute at your Council-watching party, or feel free to create your own:

Friday, December 4, 2009

They Should've Gotten Michael York to Cut the Ribbon









Which of these pictures are from the brand-new City Center complex in Las Vegas, and which are scenes from the 1970s sci-fi film Logan's Run?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hoist By His Own Petard

Last night, the Madison Landmarks Commission blocked the Hammes Company's bid to improve the Edgewater Hotel (with the help of $16 million in TIF money). Daring to adhere to the actual language of the city ordinance, the commission declined to give Hammes a variance for the project.

Now Hammes has to choose whether to ask the City Council to overrule the Landmarks Commission. It would take a 2/3 super-majority of the Council (14 out of 20) to do so. Hammes has already spent money on a Lambeau Field junket for neighboring fraternities in order to get them on board, as well as a dog-and-pony show for the public at the Brink Lounge. Too bad they didn't foresee the need to grease the wheels of the Landmarks Commission.

Mayor Dave is hoping they don't give up. On his blog today, he had this to say: "...the decision of a handful of unelected individuals on the Landmarks Commission can only be overturned by a supermajority (14) of the twenty elected representatives of the people on the Madison City Council. This is fundamentally undemocratic."

Just who appoints those unelected individuals in this fundamentally undemocratic system anyway? Oh, that's right...

Alder Bridget Maniaci was the only Landmarks member willing to issue a certificate of appropriateness (which, I believe, would preclude the need for a variance). While she is that district's elected representative on the City Council, she is also the Council member (and probably Landmarks Commission member) most personally beholden to the Mayor, as he recruited her to run against former alder Brenda Konkel and threw all the weight of his endorsement and connections behind her candidacy.

In hindsight, I wonder if he knew the Hammes proposal was in the cards even before the Spring election season. Brenda Konkel would have been a thorn in the side of the Hammes Company.

In the end, though, it was a few citizens appointed to a "fundamentally undemocratic" body by Mayor Dave himself who spiked his wheels.

Update: The Hammes Co. will appeal to the City Council.