Thursday, March 30, 2006

Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Easter

It looks like the Colbert Report had a story on the St. Paul Easter bunny caper. Has anyone seen a mention on the Daily Show? Any other comedy shows?

This is what is known as a "bleg" -- a blog writer begging for information from his readers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Johnson, Hinderaker, and Melendez II

Remember this post on an intra-law office squabble? Minnesota Lawyer has this update:

The blog of war

Last month, Bar Buzz ran a piece on Powerline blog about a war of words between DFL Chair Brian Melendez and blogger/ attorney Scott Johnson posted on the Powerline blog. (See “Has someone gone overboard in this war of words?” in the Feb. 27 issue.) However, the words attributed to Johnson apparently were posted by his blogging partner, Minneapolis attorney John Hinderaker.

As Bar Buzz readers will recall, the dispute was over ads running in Minnesota supporting the military mission in Iraq. Melendez, arguing the ads were misleading, had said at a press conference that they should be pulled from the air. Hinderaker posted a transcript of Melendez’s comments on the blog and posted a response that the “hatred and fear” with which liberals were treating those trying to get a message out in support of the mission in Iraq was “sickening.”

Thanks to faithful reader Peter Swanson, also a Minneapolis attorney, for pointing out the attribution error. The fact that Hinderaker and Melendez are both partners at the same firm, Minneapolis-based Faegre and Benson, makes the “war of words” even more interesting, as Swanson points out on his own blog, http://swanblog.blogspot. com.

Hmmm. Bar Buzz wonders what Melendez and Hinderaker talk about when they bump into each other in the elevator. Whatever it is, we hope a qualified neutral is present at all times.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bill, Jon, and Laura

Bleg: Does anyone know if the St. Paul Easter Bunny controversy has been covered on the Daily Show? Bill O'Reilly has covered it. This information will be used to complete my long-overdue Daily Show review.

The reason I ask is that Laura Billings has written that this would be a good story for Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.

Another interesting side note is the protest of peeps candy at the City Hall "Vision of Peace" statue. That statue was a source of controversy in 1994 when it was called "God of Peace."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sorry, Sorry, and Sorry

Today is the day for Senator Dean Johnson's apology. Predictions:

1. Apology for any "confusion" rather than lying
2. No details whether a conversation a court member actually took place
3. Some sort of statement about moving forward with the business of the state

Speaking of "embellishments," I saw a billboard last week for Hamline University. It said, "No need to 'embellish' your record." It probably predates Senator Johnson's claim that he embellished the truth, but it was funny nonetheless. Here is a blurry picture of the billboard:


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flak, Literal and Figurative II

Remember the body armor issue? Well, it looks like some marines are not wearing the new, larger plates because they are heavy and cumbersome.

Did I call it or did I call it?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (3/24)

Open thread Friday. Remember, this is an opportunity for you to post a blog entry, not to tell me what to blog about.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iris, Dionne, and Tanika

Two defendants in the Minnesota Vikings "Love Boat" scandal are alleging racial discrimination. They claim that black football players were charged, but white boat employees were not.

I wonder what color the, um, dancers were. Recall that the "courtesan" from the incident, who was interviewed on KSTP, is black. And the apparent list of dancers' names found in the trash included names like "Iris," "Dionne," and "Tanika." Those may very well be stage names, given their occupation.

None of this is to say that a white boat captain would not be attracted to a black woman. But if the dancers were exclusively one race, it could say something about whom they were hired to, um, entertain. And it may bolster the claim that the boat employees' conduct was minor compared to the players and spurred on by peer pressure. If the women were hired to entertain veteran players, who are mostly black, it makes sense that the defendants would be black. This, coupled with the remorse of the boat employees, should be enough to defeat a claim of selective prosecution based on race. A clearer cut case of discrimination would be if (equally famous) white players were involved in lewd behavior, but were not criminal prosecuted.

On the other hand, this would be a wonderful opportunity for the legal system to alleviate some white guilt. By dismissing some misdemeanor indeceny charges, the system gets to be racially sensitive without releasing violent criminals onto the street. Unfortunately, the alleged claims by female boat employees that they were sexually harassed would be swept under the rug. If the legal system alleviates some white guilt, it may create some male guilt that will have to be alleviated in the future.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Promises, Promises, and Deanisms

The Star Tribune finally acknowledges the elephant (switched to a democrat donkey) in the room about Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson. The story comes on the heels of Senator Johnson's admission of "sanding off the truth" in describing conversations with Supreme Court members. Johnson was secretly recorded in making statements about pledges he received from the former Chief Justice and others, pledges which apparently never happened. Star Tribune reporter Mark Brunswick delicately relates that Johnson is "known for changing his mind."

But there is one story that they missed. Recall that Johnson promised, in the presence of witnesses, that he would not bring former Minnesota Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke's confirmation to a vote unless the votes existed to confirm her. Then he brought the vote to the floor anyway, where her confirmation was rejected.

Yecke said she was shocked when she heard the vote tally. She said Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, told her in a private meeting earlier this month that he would not call up her confirmation for a vote unless she had the votes necessary to prevail. But Johnson said he phrased it more as a challenge to Yecke to go out and gather the needed votes as opposed to a pledge that her job was safe.

Perhaps Dr. Yecke wishes she had a tape recorder at the meeting.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Vendetta, Visitor, and Victory

I saw V for Vendetta over the weekend. For a letter grade, I would give it a C-minus. There are some holes in the plot, but that can be forgiven. The main problem is that it is predictable and a little boring. The references to current political issues are tiresome.

The basic plot is that of a horribly disfigured man is befriended by a beautiful young woman. He wears a mask and resides beneath the streets of London. We have seen this theme before in everything from Beauty and the Beast to Phantom of the Opera. One unintentionally funny aspect of the whole mask thing is that the actor, Hugo Weaving, is forced to over-act with his gestures to compensate for the lack of facial expressions. It is like the animatronics in the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland. He slowly and unnaturally gestures just to prove that he can.

Like Leonard Maltin, I want to use this film as a springboard to discuss similar films from the past. The graphic novel was written throughout the 1980s, so it is unclear whether this story predates the NBC miniseries V. The 1983 miniseries was the story of the French resistance with aliens taking the place of Nazis. One obvious similarity is the letter "V" spraypainted in red to resist a totalitarian regime. Viewers will also notice similarities between the miniseries and Independence Day, including alien ships hovering over major cities in sync with a countdown. More on the miniseries here and here.

Another aspect of V for Vendetta is the protagonist planning a spectacular finish to spur on a movement -- bombing Parliament on November 5. This is reminiscent of the Frank Capra classic, Meet John Doe. The John Doe character plans to jump off the roof of City Hall on Christmas Eve to protest societal problems. Hundreds of "John Doe Clubs" spring up around the country until it is found that the initial newspaper story was a hoax. The hobo who was recruited to play John Doe sincerely believes in the movement and considers actually jumping off the City Hall roof to redeem himself.

Meet John Doe was updated when John Ritter played the lead in Hero at Large. The 1980 film continues the pattern of hoax, sincerity, and redemption shown in the Capra film.

As Leonard Maltin would say, rent one of these other films instead of seeing V for Vendetta.

UPDATE (3/21) Marty Andrade has a review here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Roundabouts, Traffic Signals, and Socialized Medicine

Some guy named Wayne Sandberg is pushing European-style roundabouts on Metro roadways in Minnesota. He says that, in 10 years, they will be as common as traffic signals.

I knew a guy named Wayne Sandberg, but he would never be pushing European socialism on us. It must be a different guy.

The other thing that comes to mind is a scene from National Lampoon's European Vacation.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 3/17

Your turn. Open thread Friday. What's on your mind?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Democrat, Farmer, and Labor?

Here is a story on Dean Johnson's statements to church leaders about alleged statements by Supreme Court justices. Check out how blogger Eva Young is described:

Eva Young, a DFL activist who attended the December meeting at Bethlehem, said Johnson did say that Blatz had told him they would not hear the case, but "I didn't think about it at the time. Now that I think of it, that was a weird thing to say. On the other hand, people do have informal conversations. I think that's all this was.

I am not on the "ban Eva" bandwagon. But is this a mistake regarding her party affiliation?

UPDATE 12:01am Thursday: The newspaper changed it to erase the DFL label.
Yarons, Centons, and Microns Part II

I still am waiting for a satisfactory answer to my question about Battlestar Galactica. How did the Pegasus survive the Cylon virus? The premise of the show is that the Galactica was an old museum piece that was about to be decommissioned. Its lack of updated computers saved it from the Cylon virus that plagued the other ships. Please explain the survival of the Pegasus.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Johnson, Hinderaker, and...Melendez

Check out this excerpt from the "Bar Buzz" feature in the February 27 Minnesota Lawyer.



There are a couple of interesting points. First, the words attributed to Scott Johnson were actually penned by fellow blogger John Hinderaker. Hinderaker and Melendez are both partners at the Minneapolis law firm of Faegre and Benson, which makes the "war of words" even more interesting.

In addition, the Minnesota Lawyer story left out Melendez' statement that the ads by veterans and their families were "un-American." Click here to read the entire exchange. Judge for yourself which side went "overboard."
40, 60, and 75

I am concerned about lightbulbs. Not the bulbs themselves, but the packaging they come in. The old model was two bulbs in either end of cushioned rectangular packaging. Two of these rectangles were combined in a square outer packaging to create a four-pack of lightbulbs. The genius of this method was that one could replace as few as two bulbs, using the rectangles as storage for the spent bulbs.

So-called "progress" has given us a new four-pack of lightbulbs. Gone are the cushioned rectangles of old. The new four-packs are single units made completely of cardboard. The cardboard must be ripped to remove the new bulb, meaning they can't be used to hold the burned-out ones.

I'm not against progress. But why mess with perfection?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (3-10)

Once again, it's time for a Friday open thread. What's on your mind?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Republican, Democrat, and Misdirection

Last night I was the site coordinator for Golden Valley (SD 44) precinct caucuses. Both parties were at Meadowbrook Elementary School. The wife of our state senator, Steve Kelley (D - Hopkins), stopped by our table, which was filled with Republican literature. Kelley is running for governor in Minnesota. I told her that we were supporting her husband for the Democrat endorsement, but not in the general election. I didn't think it odd that she would talk to us, given that Senator Kelley stopped by the Republican booth and shook hands at the 2005 Juneteenth parade.

Sophie Kelley stuck around and kept chatting. Then she thanked us for all the work that we do. Finally I asked, "You know that we're Republicans, right?" She excused herself and went to the other part of the school.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Scotty, Gilligan, and Dodger

Who got the most applause of the recently departed on the Oscar telecast? Shelley Winters. I guess that's OK, but Richard Pryor only got a polite applause.

In a show filled with montages, Bob Denver, James "Scotty" Doohan, Jack "Artful Dodger" Wild, and Nipsey Russell were not mentioned. Now, I guess I'll have to watch the Emmy telecast.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

From now on, I will open things up on Fridays and let the readers blog about whatever they want in the comments section.

In other news, it is unclear how much applause the late Jack Wild will get at the Oscars. Your guess is as good as mine.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Levees, Breached, and Topped

There is discussion that a video of a FEMA briefing supposedly proves that President Bush had been warned that the levees in New Orleans could be breached. If you listed closely to the briefing, they talk about the levee being "topped."

Click here for a discussion of "topped" vs. "breached." As I understand it, a levee being topped means that you have to pump out the water that spilled over, but the levee is still sound enough to keep the rest of the water out of the city. This "topping" would be like spilling some coffee from your cup into the saucer. A breach, on the other hand, means that the whole coffee cup is broken and the coffee suddenly spills everywhere.

When the storm turned out not to be a category 5, it seemed reasonable that the levees would hold. So the President's assertion that no one predicted the breach is not contradicted by the video.

Am I missing something here?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

G, Super G, and Downhill

I am willing to believe that Bode Miller wants us to participate in sports while not worrying about coming in first all the time. But why is it Miller on the Nike advertisements instead of some weekend softball player from Nebraska? Could it be...perhaps...that there is some benefit to winning (at least in prior years)?