Saturday, June 28, 2008

Side of Sour Kraut

A few things not worth their own posts:

  • If you didn't read Chris Briem's thoughts on the Real Estate market and by extension the Pittsburgh Media, check this out. Essentially, his point is that there is plenty of good news out there about the Pittsburgh Housing Market, certainly more then most places, but the news prefers to cover the negative.
  • Jay (that's Joe's son) Paterno got harassed on his blog on No surprise there, he's had a history of coaching mistakes at PSU. What struck me was Jay's response:
  • "The fact that you are on here posting and have yet to create a public profile makes me wonder about your motives. The fact that everything you post--(along with all the other pseudonyms you have used all without public profiles)--is negative makes me question whether you're really with us or not.

    You and your "friends" can attack me all you want--it is a common tactic by those who have run on the right. It is a shame because you should be commenting on ISSUES that relate to the future of this country here."

  • For a guy who has made as many enemies with his coaching career to assume that people who mock his coaching on ANY sight with a comments section (in this case a political sight) is just naive. I'm surprised Joe (a well known republican) hasn't slapped his son upside the head and made him shut up yet.
  • When did peddle bike racing become such a big deal? It took me AN HOUR to get from Oakland to my house in the Southside because I first tried the Hot Metal Bridge and found it closed. Then the Birmingham Bridge. When I finally reached the Southside off the 10th street bridge traffic was so backed up on Carson and Sarah I actually detoured through the slopes to get to 18th. This was all an hour after the race finished! I love having major happenings in the Southside, but I wish somebody would have told me how big of a deal this thing was.

Grocery on the Hill

There are plans in the works to put a Kuhn's in the Hill District. I am a huge fan of this. I live in the immediate vicinity of the Giant Eagle in the Southside and I see the surprising number of busloads full and jitney cabs full of people from the Hill that have to come down to get groceries. In addition to being glad to get rid of the jitney cab corner of the Giant Eagle parking lot, I will be glad to see what is almost an injustice corrected.

Forget City Council

Either City Council or the press that covers them is broken. All I ever see is legal fees, billboards and Pat Ford. When we're not talking about we're wasting our time with what they think about penguins billboards or Schenely (that is not a comment on how I feel about Schenely, just whether it is Council's business). So if you're surprised to see that I didn't cover them this week, don't be. I'm waiting for PROGRESS on anything.

Friday, June 27, 2008

You're the SUPREME Court

Gun Control is not really a Pittsburgh issue, I'm aware. However, it is an issue that I feel very strongly about. First, a couple disclaimers:

  1. I am FOR hunting. I would feel squeamish about killing an animal, but if you don't, then go ahead.
  2. I am FOR gun collecting. I collect cigars and scotch whiskey and I spend a lot of time grumbling about the laws that prevent me from easily expanding those collections.
  3. I think you can EITHER protect yourself and your family by keeping a gun loaded and under your pillow OR keep your kids from blowing their fingers off by using a trigger lock and storing the ammo in another room. You can't do both and almost everyone is better off with the later.
  4. You can't possibly claim to be safer with a gun if you're not trained to use it. We have drivers ed and a test to pass, why not with guns?
  5. Countries that don't allow hand gun laws are SAFER, there's no disputing it, check the crime stats.

Ok, those are just the disclaimers. The real point of this post is this quote from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security and where gun violence is a serious problem," Scalia wrote. "That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct."

I'm not a legal scholar, but it seems to me that there's an article of the constitution that gives the Supreme court the power to do just that. They can read the amendment, say, "Sorry buddy, this amendment is for militias and you aren't in one." If that's not the role of the Supreme Court, then whose role is it?

This is just a thought, but I wonder if a state (or district) were to pass a law that said, "You can't own a hand gun unless you're in a well-regulated militia." Then make a rule that a well regulated militia is by definition an organization that trains one weekend a month and two full weeks a year, has ranks and has uniforms. Wouldn't it be difficult to declare such a law unconstitutional since it would mimic the language of the constitutional.

Easiest Headline EVER

Did anyone else notice that the Titanic exhibit at the Science Center's Sports Works Building is closed because a water main broke in the building? That's right some lucky reporter at the Post-Gazette (and probably one at the Trib, but I didn't see it) got to write the headline: "Line Break Sinks Titanic" I imagine you can spend a whole career in journalism and not get another lob pitch like that one.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two Game Winning Streak

That's right, we've beaten the Yankees each of the last two times we played in Pittsburgh. Those two times were last night and 48 years ago when Mazeroski had the single most exciting moment in Baseball History. Seriously, he's the ONLY player ever to hit a walk off homerun in the bottom of the 9th in game 7 of a world series. It's a feat that is his and his alone (well, and everyone who ever played wiffle ball against their brother in the backyard).

Read the Where Have You Gone AVS article, it's fantastic.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Laid Over

I was catching up on the Pittsburgh news while sitting in Atlanta's MASSIVE airport waiting for a flight to Columbia, SC and thought it would be a good opportunity to comment on Pittsburgh's Air Travel situation.

Our airport is FANTASTIC. It really is, security is quick and courteous (particularly if you're in the know about the "alternative security checkpoint), the selection of stores and restaurants rivals airports twice its size, there is plenty of room to sit and plenty of gates. A few of these have primarily to do with the fact that it is under utilized, but many of them are simply because the airport was well designed. Additionally, there are more direct flights then you realize. This project in Columbia is the first time in the last 2 years I've had to accept non-direct flights. Ok, that's all I've got on good news.

Now the bad. It's hardly even an international airport is the biggest one. In researching, I checked US Airway's map and Delta's Map and found only 1 oversees flight (a Delta flight to Dusseldorf Germany). This needs to change and the best way to do it is with international carriers. If we can attract foreign airlines who only want to have a few flights to the states to include Pittsburgh in their plans, we can leverage that to encourage affiliated domestic airlines to have more Pittsburgh flights. For example, US Airways is part of the Star Alliance. If Pittsburgh did whatever it took to encourage Asiana and Air New Zealand (fellow alliance members) to fly to Pittsburgh. It would increase the demand from those customers to have connecting flights all over the US.

More bad news, we don't have the exposure to domestic discount airlines (primarily Jet Blue and Southwest). While Philadelphia is building a new terminal for Jet Blue, we have exactly two direct destinations, TWO.

So will this get any better. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know for sure. What I do appreciate though, is that Captain Drink Tax (Dan Onorato) is doing all that he can to address both the first issue and the second. I don't hear the mayor talking about it as much, though this may have to do with the airport not being within the city limits. I am hopeful that things will improve, we have far to nice of an airport to be used as little as it is.

Friday, June 20, 2008


It's official, Pittsburgh (and the rest of the Comcast world) will be getting the Big 10 Network. I realize that 95% of the people that read this blog, could not possibly care less, but for me this is HUGE. My only question, will it be in HD?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Will PUMP You Up

Jim Russell made a note about PUMP on his blog and it got me in the mood to chat about it. If you don't know about the Pittsburgh Urban Magnate Project (PUMP) read about it here. Russell points out that PUMP claims 30+% of its members claim that PUMP is one of the reasons they are still in the burgh. I have a bit of a hard time believing that its that high, however I imagine between the Pittsburgh Sports League (a PUMP initiative), the PUMP social activities and the policy changes PUMP has saught more then a couple young Burghers are here because of PUMP.

Even if you find the numbers hard to believe, these are Burghers who are DOING something. They are getting out there and finding ways to make Pittsburgh more attractive for the people who will carry it in to the second half of the 21st Century. So go on, join us. Even if you're not going to be that active, buy a $20 membership (the weekly newsletters are worth that).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Too Hot for the UK

Joan Rivers is too "salty" for the UK, but not for the Byham. She got fired from her job in the UK in a commercial break for using explatives to describe the fucking awesome Russell Crowe. She'll bringing that potty mouth to the Byham on saturday, and since she's lost income she'll really be hoping you go. Maybe if it wasn't $40 for cheep seats...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Back

I was taking a weekend at a beautiful lake in Northern Michigan the last several days, blissfully unconnected to the world wide web. There was one small TV that I managed to watch a tad of the US Open on, but mostly I water skied, I bathed in the cool waters, I ate homemade spaghetti sauce, I reacquainted myself with family I hadn't seen in 18 years, I played corn hole and I ate barbecue. It was fantastic.

Getting up on Monday morning in time to throw dress clothes on, hop in the rental car and make it to the airport in time to be back in the office yesterday afternoon was one of the more difficult things I have EVER accomplished.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm a Genius

Based on this post, either Char reads my blog or great minds think alike. Either way, I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

Seriously though, read her post instead of mine. She has a better breakdown of Luke's responses as well as some input from City Council members.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thunder Stolen

So, I was going to make a post on this I-Week article on Pittsburgh as a Start-Up hub. I packed the magazine (which I'm a subscriber to) in my bag and figured I had time, I mean who else is nerdy enough to read Information Week? Turns out, Gary Rosensteel from over at Pittsburgh Today is nerdy enough.

This prompts me to make two comments. The first is that the article is a GREAT thing. I was especially happy to see the Southside called out as a leader. I've noticed that friends and family in Pittsburgh have started thinking that these companies, with only a handful employees, are an inadequate replacement for Mellons or Alcoas that leave the area. The truth is, big companies don't move to cities to be by themselves, they move there to be with bright people making bright decisions.

The second comment is about the Pittsburgh Today website. It rocks, so much interesting stuff. If you're a fan of our city and are curious about things like jobs, buses, education and the environment you MUST check it out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Campaign Finance - Vetoed

Here's the news story. I would like to see some statistics on what portion of Ravenstahl's Campaign War Chest was obtained from donations that would have been made illegal by this bill. The Post-Gazette pointed out (in nonscientific style) that he gained $299,000 from people/organizations that gave over $10,000 each. In a previous post I noted that two separate Lamar executives gave him $25,000 each. They would have been limited to $2,000 each if this law were in place.

Anyway, the mayor clearly couldn't say that. So instead I'll analyze the reasons he DID give:

  • Luke:: "It provides an unfair competitive advantage for the wealthy"
  • Analysis: It does, a little bit. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has stated that you can't limit campaign contributions of an individual to his/her own campaign. The law tries to fight this by doubling campaign limits if a self-funded candidate raises more then $250,000.
  • My Thought: Unfortunately, this is going to be a weakness of any campaign finance bill. If anyone funds their own campaign it will be up to the opponent's contributors to find a way to raise enough money.

  • Luke: "will have a chilling effect on the labor movement."
  • Analysis: I suppose that's because it will limit campaign contributions made by unions?
  • My Thought: Oh well, this just means that individuals within the union will have to decide who they want to contribute to, rather then having their dues piled up and given to one candidate. Score one for Democracy.

  • Luke: "True reform would cap City Council races at one-ninth of what may be contributed in races for citywide offices"
  • Analysis: This is, of course, based on the logic that their are 9 council districts.
  • My Thought: 1/9 is a bit extreme. Especially since council members are frequently gaining donations that they will one day apply to a mayoral run. Using a fraction though is ok with me, maybe 1/2. The numbers that are in the bill should be used for Mayor though, they are plenty high. I wouldn't disagree with chopping each number by half and calling them Council Numbers.

There are some valid points, and it's not a perfect bill. However, if we wait for the perfect bill before we do anything, we'll never have campaign finance reform. I wonder if some people are waiting for the perfect bill for that exact reason.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Personal Kraut

Yo Yo Yo, I'm too lazy (and now too pressed for time) to read the news and give you a post about current events, I do have a few personal points:
  • I've been invited to participate in the Pittsburgh Men's Bloggin Society. I'm stoked about the invitation and I highly encourage all of you (well the ones with a Y chromosone) to check out the blog.
  • I was at the buccos game last night and saw both Evgeni Malkin AND Jeff Reed. I think it would be great for the baseball team if the guys from the sports that actually field a good team start attending.
  • Seeing everyone fuss over Geno and Jeff got me thinking... If you were to rank the top 20 celebrities in Pittsburgh how many of them would be athletes? Perhaps a handful of news anchors? maybe a politician or two? A CEO of one of our Fortune 100 companies? For the most part this is a sports town.
  • My brother may be joining this blog, this should excite you. He's a smart guy with some cool opinions.
  • What do we think of the Cargo Container Arts Fest? I can't wait until it's back in the park.
  • Was the Arts Fest less promoted then in previous years? I didn't notice it until I stumbled in to it on the walk to the ballpark last night.
  • The new bar in station square is sleezy, but if you're a sleezy person... It seems to be popular. (I was in there Friday because friends of a friend are sleezy)
  • I'm going to be in Columbia South Carolina for most of the week the next few weeks. I'm going to be interested to see (if I have time to get around town) how it compares to the Burgh.
  • I am NOT going to be interested in seeing how HOT it will be.
  • Speaking of heat, I work in 11 Stanwix a lot of the time. I was in there this morning and the air conditioner was broken. Unfortunately, I had to make a few copies so I was in there for 45 minutes. I was gross.

Wow, I had a lot of random Sour Kraut today. See you at the bars.

Friday, June 6, 2008

An Additional Note on the Pens

This note is about the Pens age, which continues to baffle me. Some of the ways it baffles me:
  • The Pirates drafted yesterday, they took Jason Alverez in the first round and will likely take 2-4 years to prepare him for the big leagues. He is older then Sydney Crosby who has 3 seasons under his belt, is captain of the team and nearly won a championship.
  • Gary Roberts (42 - 5/23/1966) is older then any two of Evgeni Malkin (21 - 7/31/1986), Sidney Crosby (20 - 8/7/1987), Jordan Stall (19 9/10/1988), Tyler Kennedy (21 - 7/31/1986) and Kris Letang (21 - 4/27/1987).
  • I (25 - 5/16/1983) am older then 7 Penguins. Damn, I'm old.
  • Crosby and Stall couldn't have had champagne if they'd won the cup. (At least until they got back to their native Canada).
  • The Penguins don't have a single center iceman who was born in 1980 or before. Max Talbot is the oldest at 27 (2/5/1981). If he leaves in the offseason, I would be the oldest center iceman on the Pens.
  • I also noticed, only three players from the pens are under 6'0" and only 3 players are below 200 lbs. That's a lot of hockey player.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Silver Linings

Some things that maybe you knew and maybe you didn't:
  • Wayne Gretzky lost his first Stanley Cup final in his fourth season (Sid's only in his third) and then proceeded to win the cup 4 of the next 5 years.
  • Lemieux didn't make his first Stanley Cup Final appearance until his 7th year.
  • I'm not going to start watching hockey next year until Christmas, I'm all warn out.
  • I know I might be the only baseball fan in the city, but for those of you who don't know what to do with your evenings now, the Pirates are quietly putting together a better then expected season.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, hold on to your seats... I present a world premier, "City Council News that Has Nothing to Do With Banners, Billboards, Pat Ford, Bodyguards or Hockey Trips."

Bruce Kraus today dropped a mini-bomb on Council, proposing legislation that would allow for "domestic registry of unmarried couples" in the eyes of the city. The law would NOT sanction homosexuality, it would simply allow any two people (siblings, couples, parents with adult children, AND unmaried couples) who can prove that they share financial responsibilities to be registered with the city as people who share financial responsibilities. That's it, it's that painless.

Let me jump out in front of this and make no ifs, ands or buts about where I stand as a Deacon in my church, a faithful Christain, a straight man who will likely never qualify to use this bill, and a lover of our fair city. This bill is GOOD. Regardless of what you believe about homosexuality and pre- or pseuo- marital cohabitation, you won't be able to find any Bible verses that imply people who share bills out of wedlock shouldn't be allowed to share health insurance.

Also, I think Councilman Kraus is dead on when he says, "It makes us a much more desirable location for young, bright, cutting-edge people who want to come in and live in progressive areas."

I hope not to have to post in the next few weeks how disappointed I am with Pittsburghers for rejecting this kind of FAIR legislation. It makes me proud to have voted for and live in the district of Councilman Kraus.

Scratch My Back with a Hacksaw

Scott Burnside said it as well as it can be said:

No matter how this Stanley Cup finals series ends, whenever it ends, this 4-3 Pittsburgh Penguins win, on the road, at 9:57 of the third overtime period, stands as a testament to a team's courage and hope when many believed they had none to offer.

No matter how this suddenly compelling series ends up, this was a night Marc-Andre Fleury will remember for all time, a night in which he turned aside 55 of 58 Detroit shots, the most in a Stanley Cup finals game since 1998.

No matter how this series turns out, this Pittsburgh victory will be remembered for the will and determination of players.

Players like Ryan Malone, who took a Hal Gill shot to the nose in the second period, the same nose that was broken earlier in the series by Niklas Kronwall, and still played most of his 29:37 minutes with a piece of cotton batting protruding from one nostril. And by Sergei Gonchar, who crashed headlong into the boards late in the second period while trying to break up a scoring play and, was in such pain, he could not play in the overtime, but was on the bench nonetheless when the third extra session started. And when Jiri Hudler was whistled for clipping Rob Scuderi with a high stick at 9:21 of the third overtime, Gonchar went gingerly over the boards and helped control the play that led to Sykora's winner, drawing an assist.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Blogging and Privacy

I have taken a rather keen interest in Internet Privacy over the past few months. I'm not a lawyer, but I think it's an area where there are exciting (and scary) things happening. The latest one to come to my attention is a Pittsburgh story. A local young woman was tragically murdered a few days ago and the Post-Gazette quoted her blog in its article. PittGirl has the details of the P-G article and other sections of her blog they might have chosen, I believe she's covered this adequately and this post is not a study of those things. My question is wether they should have used the blog at all. I think PERHAPS the fact that she did post to her blog a couple weeks before she died is noteworthy, but the contents of her blog AND its location (Myspace) are not necessary, not even close.

I think this goes back to the controversy about Bob Costas and the Deadspin Guy, the bottom line of both stories is that traditional media does NOT understand Web 2.0 (a generic term for blogs, wikis and other such things). This is particularly true of the social functions of Web 2.0. This is why one can't say enough about being cautious about what you post, where you post it, and who can tell that YOU posted it. It's a reason I post annonymously. If I get run over by an over-zealous PAT bus driver on my walk home today I don't want anyone to say, "On the day he died he said Gina Carano was hot." If the P-G decides to run an article on me I hope they call my friends and familly and hear what a great guy I am (I hope they think I'm a great guy).

So if the bottom line is that traditional media doesn't understand Web 2.0, I have a suggestion for the Post-Gazette... Wherever you can, avoid quoting a blog, ESPECIALLY if someone has passed. If it's a necessary fact or opinion for a news story, then you have to, but most people don't want to be known by their blogs.

Sour Kraut

There's quite a bit since I have been negligent for a couple days, so buckle in and enjoy:
  • I like Gina Carano (Crush from American Gladiators who also is a Mixed Martial Artist). However, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be in a relationship with someone who could kill me that easilly. I know, that's random and I don't normally get so off topic... but I was just discussing it with a colleauge and thought I'd share.
  • The Pens have been down in a series 3-1 before and come back to win it... On the way to their second cup.
  • Chris Briem is right, not enough is said about how well Pittsburgh is represented in the field of nucleur science. It's an important skill for the 21st century that Pittsburgh leads the nation (and most of the world in). I'm not sure we want to be the nucleur city instead of the steel city, but we should still be bragging more.
  • Apparently I'm one of the people that has missed this for weeks after it became news. The hottest thing in Japanese Music, is a Pittsburgher.
  • My old HS (Mt. Lebonan) kicked some ass.
  • I was going to do a whole post on this clip from Bob Mayo, but I've run out of time. The clip shows Ravenstahl getting edgy in defense of his publically funded car and fuel and body guards in Detroit. I think the most important thing is that Mayor Bob O'Conner didn't take any body guards or a city car to the superbowl in Detroit a few years back. Was Luke in any more danger then Bob? Certainly, as a Pittsburgher I would expect my mayor at the superbowl more then games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.