Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'll have mine with double krout

That's right two doses of kraut salad inside half an hour. Not going to be sick are you?
  • Chris Briem posted this scary YouTube video that shows the expansion of WalMarts over the past 30 odd years. I don't know whether to be pissed, scared or impressed.
  • Jeff Reed has the best job in the world. He gets to be a Steeler without getting hit, working out, or in any way curbing his drinking. He proved the last of these points at his bachelorette party.
  • Hillary Clinton is going to go on Bill O'Reilley tonight. It's always fun to see two excessively stubborn people on opposite sides of the spectrum on TV. They both have to make their own fan base happy by half hating the other, but neither wants to alienate the other's fan base altogether. At any rate, it's a shame I'll be at another dinner meeting.
  • I also noted, the UPMC sign on the Ranger's boards on the FSN/Pens telecast. Unfortunately since I am in Hotlanta, this is from the highlights. I wonder though, if this is a TV trick that only shows up on Pittsburgh telecasts, like the signs behind home plate at Pirates' games which FSN doctors up.
  • The Pensblog had a FANTASTIC wrap up of yesterdays game. They, unlike traditional media, can express the emotion that all of us who enjoy the sport of hockey are feeling about this potentially historic team. They express the wonder and amazement of watching college aged kids own a league of professionals that traditional news can't adequately express. If you haven't been following the Pens through their site, you should start.
  • Last, but certainly not least in my thoughts is this critical review of the Trib's critical review of a NY Times editorial. While Dave makes some great points the thing that pisses me off is how a "newspaper" that uses expressions like "Leave it to liberals to", "atrocious, political-speech restricting campaign finance laws", and calls opinions around hoping to prevent disenfranchisement "laughable" can pass itself off as a real newspaper. It's ok in a blog, but some people actually get their NEWS from this joke of a paper.
  • As for an opinion on the subject at hand. There were, as Dave points out, 24 documented cases of voter fraud that might have been prevented by the required showing of ID over the last 3 YEARS. The problem with requiring IDs is that if you don't fly or drive anywhere you may not even have ID, and a disproportionately high percentage of people who don't fly or drive anywhere are poor. So requiring ID, if it's not done carefully, ends up being a way of disenfranchising the poor. I acknowledge that verifying identity would be ideal, but not more ideal then hearing every person's vote. That is my "laughable" opinion.

Googlicious Sour Kraut

Inspired by PittGirl's (see point 7) regular pondering of the odd search terms that leave people stumbling across her blog, I thought I'd do a little poking around of my own. All of these people came to the site through google or yahoo:
  • "Jon Kraut" - Someone googling themselves? Sorry Jon Kraut, since I share your first name and I have an odd fascination with the scrumptcious (I spelled that so poorly that Google didn't even care to guess what I meant) German deliciousness that your great great great grandfather probably invented you'll forever have my blog at the top of your google search.
  • "Kraut Salad" - Sorry no recipes for Sour Kraut here, I don't even know how to make it without bullet points.
  • "sour kraut pirate" - What the hell was this guy looking for? He was only on the sight for 4 seconds, so he didn't find it... Does someone steal sour kraut?

Other non-cabbage based searches:

  • "burgher blog", "burgher jon blog", "blog of burgher jon", "burgher jon" - You people were actually looking for me, awwwww. I love you too.
  • "woodland hills elementry school teacher blog" - Hmmmm, ya, you're in the wrong place unless you want to hear about the 2000 WPIAL championship game again.
  • "were was mayor luke ravenstahl born" - Well Spelled, you have the same knack for grammer that I do.
  • "" - Yes Bob Mayo, I link to you. Oops, I did it again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet

This posts ambitious title is the title of the book being reviewed, not something I intend to attack in this space. After all, Daniel J. Solove (a law professor at GW and author of the book) had 256 pages to tackle the issue and he failed to get at the heart of it. It's not that Solove's book was not a compelling read, it was, it's just that it did not live up to its title.
Instead of providing a view of the FUTURE of reputation on the internet it begins by providing horror stories from its brief past... a juvenile offender who can't outrun his crimes in adulthood, a guy whose sexual exploits are revealed on a national blog, etc... These stories are interesting and well researched, and reason enough to read the book if you're either interested in case studies in the power of the Internet or a little perverse and want to see if you missed out on any of the ones he considers huge breaches of privacy.
Then in the section I'm sure he considers about the future of reputation, he describes how he would limit breaches of privacy using the law as an instrument. The essence of his recommendation is a tort-based enforcement of the existing codes around "making private information public." He also suggests, without suggesting a reasonable way of doing it, encouraging parties to settle before going to court. Unfortunately, as plain as the essence of the arguement is, the devil is in the details. Solove himself considers many of the ways his essential plan would have to be nuanced to get over various legal and practical hurdles. The problem at the end of the day (in my opinion) is that their are too many necessary nuances for his vision to ever be implemented. If a law that is intended to protect the common man from the common man requires a law degree (or even the reading of Solove's 256 pages) then it will never be followed. Imagine if speed limits were not posted, but had to be inferred from several different characteristics of the road. Every speeding ticket could be contested by a skilled lawyer and you and I would have no idea how fast we were supposed to go on most roads. With all of the necessary nuances, I think Solove ends up in this type of situation.
While I have issues with his conclusions/recommendations the book is worth reading for an explanation of the dangers and a good (in the opinion of an untrained eye) view in to the laws (or lack thereof) that govern internet privacy today. Unfortunately, at the end of reading this I know little about the future of Reputation on the Internet, having only managed to form the opinion that a well nuanced tort will be too complicated to protect it. When I told Mike of Pittsblog that I was reading this book he, a law professor himself, recommended the work of a third law school professor by the name of Lior Strahilevitz. I have downloaded a few of Strahilevitz's legal papers and am trying to make my way through them to see if he makes a more reasonable arguement for the actual future of internet privacy. If he does, expect to see some updated thoughts.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Slacker Jon Reporting, Finally

All I have is a little Sporty Sour Kraut to go with your Three Rivers Stadium Hot Dog...
  • Well, the Steelers drafted. I watched the draft for about 10 minutes... then I changed the channels so that I wouldn't grab the nearest available pencil and poke my own eyes out. Fortunately for you, the guys at Mondesi's House have more patience.
  • One of the Steelers draftees was Ryan Mundy, a Woodland Hills product. While I love it when the Steelers dip in to the local talent pool, the main reason for this bullet point is to point out that Mundy was part of the 2000 Woodland Hills team that LOST to my Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils in the WPIAL Championship game.
  • Jim Russell has an interesting take on an old subject, how/when people from outside Pittsburgh will be taking over opposing stadiums this season.
  • Paul Maholm went all 9 innings without throwing 100 pitches. I'd imagine the bullpen enjoyed remembering what it was like to have a day off.
  • Oh ya, a couple words on the Pens so far this post season... HELL YEAH!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Me, You, Cousin Bill and the Treasure Chest

Here's an editorial that no politician will write, but I've been thinking about it and promising it for weeks. So here you go, my liberal ass is going to give you a reason to love campaign finance and the fact that politics is now run by money.

First, background information... This is a scary political world we live in. You're reading this blog, so it's not likely that you're part of the problem, but look across the desk, there's a good chance that person is making the world scary. The world is scary because of how easily the world can be manipulated by campaign buttons, lawn signs and (worst of all) TV commercials. Which do you think will get Obama more votes in November a REALLY good platform on foreign policy or a snappy TV add? Scared you didn't I? He'll get my vote for foreign policy, he'll get your vote for foreign policy, but what about your dumb cousin Bill?

Money wins elections, or at least greatly influences them. As long as televisions exist, and probably longer, money will continue to be a deciding factor in elections. The overwhelming majority of people consider this a bad thing. While I can certainly see why campaign contributions like the $12,500 donations to Ravenstahl's campaign are a bad thing; What I want to do in the next paragraph is explain why campaign finance can be a good thing and in the last paragraph offer a few ideas about what can be done to ensure campaign finance is a positive force in Pittsburgh.

If money buys elections then the important question is, how do candidates get money? Some are independently wealthy, but most get money from you and I. Cousin Bill's vote is 100% purchasable, because he watches a lot of TV and he's not that bright. However, if I buy his vote then I get to cast two votes in the election (mind and his). If the money I donate buys 1000 votes, then I get to vote 1001 times. So the way to think of it is that you can vote twice, once with a ballet and once with your wallet. If you're like me, you're not going to vote with your wallet unless you feel pretty strongly about it because it's harder to earn money then it is to touch the new voting machines. That seems to me to be a good thing, when I really feel strongly about something, I can make an impact that really matters on an election with my wallet. On the other hand when I haven't done the research, don't know the candidates or don't feel strongly about either one I'll have a nice night on the town instead of voting with my wallet.

Of course for this to be a good thing, the following conditions need to be true:
  1. The people who vote with their wallets must be using the system to vote for the "right" reasons. There could be a lot of debate here over what the "right" reasons are, but that's a different discussion. For the time being let's just acknowledge that there are "right" (This woman will do the best job for our city) and "wrong" (If Jimmy gets elected we'll get the contract without even bidding) reasons to be voting. As often as possible, the people that vote with their wallets need to be voting for the "right" reasons.
  2. Everyone should have an equal, or as close to equal as possible, opportunity to vote with their wallets. This obviously can't be 100% true because people earn different amounts of money, but it should be as close as possible.

Ensuring those two things is where campaign finance reform comes in. I'm not for publicly funded campaigns because that takes away my "right" to vote with my wallet, then it's just a contest of whose PR consultant can best manipulate dumb Uncle Bill with the state provided money. I am for creative ways of solving problems 1 and 2, some thoughts for example.

  • First and foremost there need to be hard limits on how much money various entities can give to campaigns. The lower the limit the more equitable the voting by wallet is.
  • What if companies were simply not allowed to participate? I think the primary role of local politics is to serve the people in the constituency. Obviously this means bringing jobs and that means helping companies, but I don't think the companies themselves need a vote to do that. We don't give them a vote by ballot why give them one by wallet? I think this would help with problem #1.
  • If my reasons are "right" (see point 1), then would I care if the candidate knew I voted by wallet? What if all the contribution checks were written to the board of elections with a note about which candidate should receive them, then the elections board wrote the candidate an anonymous check?

I'm sure brighter minds then mine can come up with many many more. Let me know if you come up with any.

Nate McLouth's hitting streak is over, but at least the Pirate's losing streak is to. I get to go to the game on Friday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Linkless Sour Kraut

I had a few reflections that require no links. So consider this a little Sour Kraut without the fries.
  • About my anonymity, or lack thereof. I had linked over to Blog Lebo and had posted a comment there. The comment was later removed because I do not give out my name and Blog Lebo has a policy of only accepting comments from people who state their name. I have no issue with the policy and wrote Mike an email that I respect it, an email I signed with my real name. I also wanted to be clear about why I'm anonymous or at least not public about my identity. I am only anonymous because I have found it's in my best interest for my employer, any potential employers and random stalkers to not be able to do a quick Google search on my name and find out that I blog regularly, am a democrat and find the details of any other random stance I take. That being said, I'm really only concerned about people knowing who I am without me knowing they know. Most of my friends and family and even some of my colleagues are aware of my blog and there's nothing here that I wouldn't gladly repeat in public. If you really want to know who I am, I'm not holding any secrets, just email me and I will be happy to introduce myself. I'll just ask that you don't link myself and Burgher Jon anywhere Google crawls to.
  • No one should be allowed to whine about Pittsburgh Traffic until they've been to Atlanta. I am currently writing this post from my client's office because I do not have the slightest inclination to be on the road to my hotel between 4pm and 6:30pm. I arrived here on Sunday night at 8:30 and there was bumper to bumper traffic for a two mile stretch from the airport to the hotel. BUMPER TO BUMPER AT 8:30 ON SUNDAY NIGHT. Atlanta is a great case study in the dangers of building a big city without maintaining and improving public transportation.
  • I'm feeling guilty about being in Georgia on election day. I was supposed to be in Pittsburgh, but I found out on Friday last week that my presence was required down here. So if you are reading this post over dinner and haven't voted yet... do me a favor and get out there and vote for Barack.

Nate McLouth's hit streak is at 19 games, but the Buccos are officially the last place team in the NL Central.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sour Kraut

Mmmmm. Cabbage
  • Jon Stewart on Western PA. Mike thinks you should wait for 2:20, I think 5:00 to 5:45 is the good part.
  • Finally, the trib made an endorsement for the democratic primary. Thank goodness, I didn't know who to vote for until Richard Mellon Scaife told me. For those of you who don't get the sarcasm (I hope there isn't anyone), Scaife who owns the Trib and has the final say on who the Trib endorses is the guy behind much of the right-wing Clinton hating bullshit that got Hillary's hubby impeached
  • The link in the above bullet is to the Arkansas Project because wikipedia chose to call "right-wing Clinton hating bullshit" the Arkansas Project instead of its proper name.
  • Does anybody know if the Carbolic Smoke Ball photoshopped this picture? If not, it's sad sad sad. If so, it's funny funny funny.
  • Over on Blog Lebo the commissioner (the head position in Lebo), said that municipal meetings would be Cablecast and not Webcast, because webcasting carries an annual hosting bill of approximately $28,000. $28,000? How many people do they think are going to watch Mt. Lebanon municipal meetings? Is there some law that states that Local Governments can't use YouTube? Until local governments get a clue we're going to have to keep waiting for good old Rauterkus to video tape his TV. What do you suppose it cost him to put that video together? about $28,000?
  • Mark Rauterkus's blog, in case you somehow managed to know about my blog and not his.
  • Hilarious prank call from B94 to the Ottawa Senators before game 4.
  • PittGirl is hating on the buccos. I want to disagree, but I can't, she's right. Thank goodness for the all-you-can-eat section. But the good news...

Nate McClouth Hitting Streak at 18.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Imigration, The Burghosphere Divided

I noticed over on Pittsblog some interesting feedback to a post on immigration. There is a guy who has apparently seen some large Pittsburgh firms use the H1-B process to find cheep replacements for local talent. A few people, like myself, who shoot for something in the middle. Lastly, a woman whose husband is facing some fairly serious immigration issues.

At the end of the day, marriage aside, I think we have a responsibility to look out for Pittsburghers (and by extension Americans, as this is a national issue). However, I think when you look at the macroeconomics, the upcoming medicare shortages and the education gap it becomes necessary to find a way to infuse our labor force and our economy with skilled immigrants, particularly here in the Burgh. It elevates the jobs we have available here and brings the worlds best and brightest to the US where their work will doubtlessly lead to more jobs for less skilled Americans as well.

The problem with the system of course is that if you add additional competition to the labor pool, some Americans will feel it negatively. The problem to me is not whether we allow workers to come in on H1-B visas, there is little doubt to me that it is best for MOST Americans, and certainly most Pittsburghers. The question is how we can help the people who don't fit in "MOST Americans" or "most Pittsburghers." Perhaps use all income tax paid by H1-B visa holders to fund continuing education for those affected? I don't know how feasible that is, but it will take something creative to bring people like Shultz (the commenter from Pittsblog, if you didn't link over) on board.
  • Nate McClouth has hit safely in 17 straight games

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sour Kraut...

... and you know what, since I forgot to post yesterday, go ahead and grab yourself some kielbasa too.
  • I've been watching a fair bit of television this week (light week) there appear to be some political adds... among the things I've learned:
    - It seems that both Hilary and Barack are practically married to the oil companies.
    - I own a hand gun and am much more religious then I thought.
    - Unlike Hilary, Barack runs negative TV ads.
    - Unlike Barack, Hilary runs negative TV ads.
    - I'll be poor if Barack gets elected.
    - I'll be jobless if Hilary gets elected.
    I'm so glad that our democratic process is reduced to how many easily manipulated people see 30 second spots (I promised more on this phenomenon and how it links to campaign finance, and I will write that post someday, I swear it).
  • I'm so over billboard-gate (or one of the 47 other nicknames the Burghosphere has devoted it's last 3 weeks to generating). Mayor Ravenstahl should just fire Pat Ford and let us go back to blogging about interesting things like the city/county merger, h1-b visas, Act 47 and any of the 100 other issues more important then 4 downtown billboards.
  • Does that picture even need a caption? Look at the poor little goalie. He had a good series, but when you face 40+ shots per game (40.25 to be exact) from a team with Crosby, Malkin AND Hossa you're likely to end up feeling like someone just tricked you in to eating a bug.
  • Is that the best analogy I can come up with? Well yes, tonight it is, and I apologize to anyone who reads this post).
  • I went to 7 straight Blue and White games (the Penn State Spring Practice Scrimage). I don't have time to go this weekend, but it's nice to see if I HAD gone, it would have been the first one I saw with good weather.
  • The Pirates are (finally) getting a Sabermatician... I know what you're thinking (those of you who aren't returning from Google at least), "What the hell is a sabermatician?" It's a fancy name for a Stats Geek. A guy that knows ALL the statistics and how to make a solid, impartial decision. If you haven't read MoneyBall yet, get it. It explains how Sabermath was a key element to how the Oakland A's becoming successful.
  • The new Sabermatician is a former writer for Baseball Prospectus (a Sabermath publication). In his former role, he pointed out that our current shortstop sucks.
  • One thing you don't need to be a Sabermatician to see is that Nate McClouth is on fire, as I pointed out here. My favorite record in Baseball (since Big Bad Barry Bonds broke all the good records) is Joe Dimaggio's 56 game hitting streak. Can you imagine, 56 GAMES in a row with a hit! Well Nate McClouth is at 15 so I'm going to assume he's going to break the record. With that in mind, I'll close each post with how he's doing. Also, McClouth got his own article in Sport's Illustrated.

Wow, that's a lot of Sour Kraut, go take a Tums, I'll do a rant tomorrow.

Nate McClouth has hit in 15 consecutive games.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Feel Good Story of the Spring

Nate McLouth is batting .381 and has a 13 game (that's all of them) hitting streak. He was the primary photo on ESPN's baseball page this morning and leads the entire league in hits, by 3.

Unfortunately he's a Michigan fan, but if the Pirates go .500 this year I'll forgive even that.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nothing Cures Your Hangover Like a Little Sour Kraut

Let's go straight to the kielbasa:
  • Is it ok for Sour Kraut to point to Pot Luck? I'm linking yinz over to Null Space, where Chris has unearthed two interesting perspectives on how Pittsburgh is doing. Whine as we like to in the city, apparently Detroit (Detroit Free Press) and Wheeling (Wheeling News Register) are jealous.
  • The Buccos are 6-6 and 2.5 games off the pace in the NL Central. Listen, I'm aware this isn't a great thing. It is however better then the kick in the crotch we get most Aprils.
  • Mike Madison brought around the immigration issue again. Not a whole lot of new stuff here, but until this thing gets fixed it's worth bringing up again and again and again and again. We can have our fun in the blogosphere, being distracted by a big billboard, but I'm glad we're not forgetting this important issue in the excitement of lamargate.
  • The Post-Gazette has some pretty nifty 360 degree pictures in their online edition. Check out the one at Opening Day.
  • Even though I blasted Chad Hermann for one of his Obama posts. I'm a little disappointed that he's sticking with his self-imposed week away from Obama. I was interested to hear what his thoughts on what was said in SF were. Ed Rendell, of course, couldn't keep his mouth shut.
  • I'm in a good mood, I hope you enjoy your Monday as much as I intend to enjoy mine.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Comet Comment

Bram Reichbaum is getting a lot of credit for unearthing the connection between Pat Ford and Lamar executives. For the most part though, I'm not that impressed. He was sent an email by one of his readers with the information in it. If it were sent to this blog, it would have appeared in much the same way. I think it is impressive for Pittsburgh Blogs in general, but not necessarily for Bram's Comet.

Bram's post this morning on the comments Barack Obama is receiving heat over, is one reason I read his blog regularly. The fact that he actually attends things like the Lamar hearing is another. So for that, I say bravo Bram, thanks for your dedication to your blog (and the Burgh Report) There is no doubt that you greatly improve the Pittsburgh News/Opinion Scene.

Really do check out the Obama post from this morning. It does an excellent job of comparing Clinton and Obama's way of addressing PA Voters and honestly questions just who is insulting us.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Damnit Sean Lee

There has been SOOO much bad news out of the Penn State Football Program this year. The Black Shoes Diary is even considered giving up off season blogging. I can't blame him.

Let me describe to you just how PSU killed my night. I had gone down to Primanti's on the Southside (which by the way has a sick number of HUGE TVs) to watch the Pens kick the Sens Ottawan Asses. I thoroughly enjoyed the game even leading a "Let's Go Pens" cheer in the bar. As we leave the bar to head back to my house for a few beers before heading out, I check on the Buccos on my cell phone. We're winners 1-0. Call me a nerd, but here's what I'm thinking, "This is going to be the best FSN Highlight show EVER." We get back to my place, crack open the beers and throw on FSN. First story, "Sean Lee out for the season."


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pittsburgh Voter Guide in the PG

One of the things I hope to accomplish by having this blog is to attract and engage readers who don't read every article in every paper in the burgh. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy debating fellow newsies and hopefully doing my part to elevate that debate... But I also recognize that most of the votes in Pittsburgh belong to people who woke up this morning unable to name their City Councilman and totally unaware who might or might not be running against them.

That being said, I urge you to check out the Post-Gazette's voter guide. You can put in your address and they will tell you exactly which elections you can vote in and a brief description of the candidates running in them (in their own words).

In order to create this, it appears the people at the Post-Gazette purchased and set up a service from I haven't noticed something like this from the Post-Gazette before, but I am a HUGE fan of this service. Check it out and if you agree with me, write an email to the editor urging them to continue using this service.

Thursday Kraut Salad

  • I'm flying home tonight for good (or at least a couple weeks)! I have been on the road monday-thursday every week so far this year and I will finally get a chance to spend the week at home next week. Will that mean more blogging? less? Guess we'll just have to find out.
  • Because I was in New York, instead of watching the Pirates 15 inning drama or the Pens thrilling shut out (both available in HD on the nice big TV that sat unused in my house), I watched Criminal Minds. Why? Because it took place in Pittsburgh! It was clear that it wasn't actually filmed in Pittsburgh or at all based in fact, but there were a few references to Burghish things.
  • I should devote a whole post to Alecia Sirk and Pat Ford's downfall, but I'm disinclined. There's too much out there already. I don't think it's THAT big of deal. I understand that there needs to be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to gifts from people who can/do receive favor, but I think this, much like the McCain thing is a little bigger then it needs to be. Ultimately, it was a stupid risk for Pat Ford and Alecia Sirk to take and they paid for it. (PG Story)
  • Chris Briem, has an interesting thought on how the story of the gifts from Lamar Executives to Pittsburgh Executives may have been uncovered. (Briem Post) (The Burgh Blog Post, this has more background on what actually went down, without the speculation)
  • Some old friends of my family back in Lebo are being honored by the United Way, thought I'd give them a quick shout out.
  • My City Councilman, Bruce Kraus, is apparently urging people to not only call 311 when they want to report vandalism, illegal dumping, abandoned cars, etc... but to call HIS OFFICE. I'm going to have to agree with Mark Rauterkus here and link to his post rather then the original article. I think my City Councilman, especially with all that's going on in Council right now, has more important things to do. I think Councilman Kraus is doing a good job so far, I hope he doesn't get distracted from his "real" job.
  • Great Picture from the Trib of the Pens Last Night

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Little Sour Kraut to Get You Through Your Wednesday

I had to be at work at 7am this morning so I could meet with a couple German guys. In their honor I present, Sour Kraut (if you're new to the blog that's what I call posts that are a collection of links/comments):
  • The Washington Post ran a story on Luke Ravenstahl. For the most part it's the kind of "isn't Pittsburgh a quaint little city with a cute little mayor" story that I'm tired of hearing. There are a few amusing quotes including Mayor Ravenstahl's spokeswoman calling him the "Brittney Spears of Pittsburgh."
  • I do think Ravenstahl is working hard to do what he can (the article says he's rarely home before 9), but one wonders as they read his long list of transgressions in a national newspaper, at what point we should expect him to be our "experienced Mayor of nearly 2 years" instead of our "young Mayor"
  • Another PSU Football Player in trouble. Actually, it's one of the 6 that destroyed some kid's apartment back in October. His status went from "suspended" to "kicked off the team." As the Nittany Line points out the embarrassing part is the "see also" section of the ESPN article.
  • Nittany Line also points out that things might not be as bad as they seem. Apparently the other 5 are learning their lesson.
  • Bob Mayo had his blog attacked by well intentioned robots. I'm serious. I wonder what he said that sounded spamish?
  • In case after listening to an hour of CNN, an hour of FOX News and spending an hour reading Two Political Junkies you thought, "My view of American Politics is really incomplete, I wonder what Alec Baldwin thinks." He has a blog.
  • Speaking of Two Politcal Junkies, check out this Hillary video they posted a link to. It makes you wish we could have a woman president just to shut everyone up. On the other hand if you (like me) think she might not do a very good job as president, that video makes me want to wait till we have a good female candidate who can put Keith Olbermann in his place, back on ESPN.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Definitely a Wordsmith and Occasionally a Madman

From Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman:


and nothing.

More required reading from Christopher Hitchens. Every last word of it.

It seems all the more necessary and instructive today, when we read in the New York Times that 62-year-old men are being swayed in matters of great social and political and historical importance by the insights of their seven-year-old grandsons, but one day after a twenty-something former student of mine had both audacity of hype and paucity of perspective enough to write on his Facebook page: [I] would have stood alongside MLK 45 years ago. 45 years from now will you have to explain to your children why you didn't stand alongside Barack Obama?

For those two men, and for the millions more like them making the same myopic mistakes, here are the money sentences from Mr. Hitchens' final paragraph:

This is a lot sadder, and a lot more serious, than has been admitted. Four decades after the murder in Memphis of a friend of the working man—a hero who was always being denounced by the FBI for his choice of secular and socialist friends and colleagues—the national civil rights pulpit is largely occupied by second-rate shakedown artists who hope to franchise "race talk" into a fat living for themselves... Who now cares to commemorate Philip Randolph or Bayard Rustin or the other giants of struggle and solidarity in whose debt we live? So amnesiac have we become, indeed, that we fall into paroxysms of adulation for a ward-heeling Chicago politician who does not complete, let alone "transcend," the work of Dr. King; who hasn't even caught up to where we were four decades ago; and who, by his chosen associations, negates and profanes the legacy that was left to all of us.

No matter what his elementary school fan base might tell you.

That's reproduced exactly as possible from TWM. I have two primary issues with the post. First, Barack Obama MAY be as significant or even more significant then Dr. King, only time will tell and until time does tell, people should be able to respectfully argue both sides. Second, there is something to be said for age and the accompanying experience BUT there is something to be said for youth and the accompanying spirit and enthusiasm. More importantly there is something to be said for mutual respect.

To the first issue, the significance of Obama compared with Dr. King. I want to be clear, I have no problem with people who think that Barack Obama is in no way the next Dr. King. I have no problem with people who feel that his work will not be as profound as Dr. King's. I have no problem with people who firmly believe that he lacks the nobility of Dr. King. I don't think they are in the same category either, at least not yet. However, I am confident that there were plenty of Teachers Wordsmiths and Madmen who thought that King's work was insignificant in the early 1960s. They had every right to think at the time, that he would fizzle (though it would be an impossible position to defend in hindsight) and I would have a certain level of respect for a man or woman who would admit to me today that when they heard King at a rally in 1960 or 1961 they thought he wouldn't amount to much. They had every right to speculate about what they must then have considered King's followers' "audacity of hype" and "paucity of perspective." However, if these skeptics had looked down their bespectacled noses with the incredulous level of contempt that Hermann employs here then all they did was reduce the level of conversation and I have nothing but contempt for them. Not because of the position they took, but because they lowered the level of discourse.

To the second issue, a lack of respect for younger people. I am not old enough to have heard Dr. King's dream in person, in fact my father may well have watched it on TV from my Grandfathers lap as a boy of 7. I lack the perspective that the 62 year old grandfather in Hermann's NYT article has and I must (and do) respect the insight that someone who lived through that period has gained. On the other hand, I am too young to have heard anyone refer to a black man who wants equal rights referred to as "uppity." That also gives me a lack of perspective, a lack of understanding for a whole school of thought. Would you not agree that my lack of understanding for how someone could possibly consider a man "uppity" for seeking equal rights is an advantage of perspective that the 62 year old grandfather should respect me for? Does age/experience have an impact on any political discussion? Yes. Does a greater age and more experience generally make one more qualified in a political discussion? Yes. Do age and experience give one person the right to disregard the opinions of another as those of an elementary school student? NO. Should one assume that Mr. Hermann would tolerate that sort of disrespect from his elders? Does Mr. Hermann suggest that the voting age should be continually adjusted to his age?

I generally have a great deal of respect for Hermann's postings (disagree with many of them as I might) and I read them as faithfully as all of the other blogs on my roll (Lord knows he is far more eloquent then I am), but today he swapped "Wordsmith" for "Grumpy Old Man" and I felt the need to call him on it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Free Loading Burbs

First off, the latest news and valuable opinions on the merger:
  • Post-Gazette Article on "the Plan" of Ravenstahl and Onorato
  • Analysis of the "the Plan" from the P-G

While I still haven't figured out the logistics of the city/county merger I am willing to weigh in on one issue right now. That issue: should the 129 municipalities in Allegheny County be included in the merger? YES. Of course they should. We have roads that are used as much (if not more) by suburbians as city residents. We collect the trash that burbians leave around when they work. When I lived in the suburbs, my Dad spent as much time in the city as he did in Lebo, but guess where his income and property taxes went? How can the city or the county be expected to improve without the help of some of its wealthiest residents?

That being said, it will take some creativity to pass a city/county merger that includes the municipalities. The merger would require a referendum and there are 900,000 people in the county that don't live in the city and only 300,000 that do. Virtually all of those 900,000 have lower taxes now then they would in the city, so what is their motivation to join this metropolis government? Any ideas about how we could give them some motivation? Threaten to cut back on county services that primarily benefit suburbians? A short term freeze on income tax rates for county residents? I don't know anything about the logistics of either of those thoughts, they're just that, thoughts. Damn, sounds like I still have more reading to do.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Solid Post on the City/County Merger

Bram gives a good review here.
The actual report is here.
A good DeSantis article talking about the possibilities is here.

I'm a little short on time to write my opinion, I'm also a little short on opinion. I haven't quite wrapped my head around how this is supposed to work. I, like you, keep thinking I'm one article from "getting it." I'll let you know what I think when I do.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thursday's Goodies

This post is going to be a sour kraut one, but you're going to get a healthy dose of opinions.

First, the politics. Today is shaping up like quite the interesting day:
  • City Council yesterday, decided not to cut there own budget. There's a surprise. They actually did the responsible thing though and got a letter from the Act 47 recovery team that said that they were within the budget specified by Act 47.
  • That article points out that many of the member of cit council claim they drive 400 miles a month on council business and receive $150 in reimbursement per month. 400 miles over 20 business days in a month is 20 miles per day. The city (according to wikipedia) is about 58 square miles. If you live in that box and presumably have most of your business in that box, an average of 20 miles seems high.
  • Chris Briem noted that there is a report forthcoming on the possibility of a city/county merger. He also points us to his "primer" on the distribution of government in SW PA.
  • Apparently, Mayor Ravenstahl was reading Chris' blog this morning, because no sooner had I finished reading Chris' post then Ravenstahl announced he now supports the merger.
  • An interesting post on the Burgh Report about the leanings of one of the really good bloggers in Pittsburgh. It's important to remember that the people who write blogs (silly silly people) are presenting to you, what they want, when they want and how they want. Every blog should be taken with a huge grain of salt.
  • Interesting write up on Hillary's chances or lack thereof from two political junkies. I don't think enough is being said about things like this.

Ok, I now have an urge to get a few sporting tidbits out there:

  • Most important news in the Burgh today: The Pens Clinch the Atlantic. Ok, maybe my priorities are a tad skewed. However, I know the Bucs lost as Sid Briem slid home in game 7 and the Pens won Lord Stanley's cup in 1992. Can anyone say what city council was bickering about without looking it up? Maybe this is the most important news, or at least the most memorable.
  • The Buccos lost, ending our perfect season. Damaso Marte (a middle reliever) has an ERA of 81. This means that he averages giving up 9 earned runs per inning he pitches. I don't provide a link for this, if you want to read more you need a therapist not a newspaper.
  • A Penn State Basketball Player is being charged with sitting behind a girl in the library, trying to make conversation and when that failed beating off. You read that right. One half of me says, "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?" the other says "indecency is better then assault, I guess"
  • Cleveland fans now have their own line of motivational posters. On a related point, this website is fantastic, it has a ton of related demotivators.

See, I warned you there was a LOT of good stuff out there today. Look for some comments on the City/County thing tomorrow. I want to do some more reading from Chris' Primer before I issue any thoughts.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sorry, it's more sour kraut

I'm quite short on time this morning, so I only have time to report to you the best places to travel on the Internet this morning. I have a few issues that I'd like to sound off on, but that may have to wait until tomorrow (or perhaps later).
  • My HS Gym Teacher makes $83,483.00 per year. If memory serves he doesn't even coach anything. Two thoughts. 1) Why the hell am I working so hard? 2) Be careful what you wish for when you say the way to improve education is higher teachers salaries. Did you know there are 10 MATH (as opposed to gym) teachers in the Pittsburgh Public schools with MASTERS degrees (as opposed to bachelor's degrees) and not one of them makes that much? AHHHHH, you may see a rant on this later.
  • Barack Obama won Texas somehow. I mean I know how, because I'm a loser who follows such things, but I should be able to explain it to my friends without using calculus.
  • The 2 Political Junkies bring us this little tidbit. I'd comment, but my head hurts.

[Governor Rendell] went on [Fox News] this morning and first said, "During this entire primary coverage starting in Iowa and up to the present, Fox has done the fairest job, has remained the most objective of all the cable networks. You hate both our candidates, no I'm only kidding." And unfortunately he did not stop at, "I'm only kidding." Going on to tell the Fox Noise people that, "You actually have done a very balanced job of reporting the news."

Have a Good Tuesday.