A blog . . . in spite of how pathetic blogging actually is.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wellllllllllllllllllll, look at what the GOP went and did!

Michael Steele is the new RNC Chairman.

Didn't someone say something about this a while back?

Sorry, I'm . . . . working on the modesty thing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

How I Benefit Personally from Governor Blagojevich's Removal from Office

I grew up 12 miles from Pontiac, Illinois, whose economy is largely tethered to the maximum security prison that sits there.

One of the most pathetic aspects of blogging is when people get too personal . . . . so, to avoid this, let's just say that the better Pontiac does, the better I do. ~JDJ

PS--I still believe that the former Governor of Illinois would have done best for himself to allow the former Miss Teen USA contestant from South Carolina to represent him on the State Senate floor.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Death of Talk Radio Cometh

Leonard Pitts says it much better than I'm capable of saying it, but mark my words: Prediction #16 will be correct come December 31, 2009.

It's already happened in many ways. The decoupling between what Rush says and what we think began round about September 15th of this past year (and it's picked up steam ever since).

You can check it against any number of polls, the place on the political spectrum where you'll find this trend is more true than ever is most definitely right of center. The left rarely if ever gave credence to Cape Girardeau's favorite son; thus, any digging you do with those people won't reveal much of a shift.

The phone call is coming from inside the house, Mr. Limbaugh!

Indeed, talk radio in general is moving to relic status. Its ability to influence actual political realities is simply ending. What's worse, it has only one option as per the preordained terms of its market. There's no better bellweather of this industry than Rush Limbaugh. He's the King. The only move he can make to try and stop his own 'relevance bleeding' is to introduce more and more hyperbole to the product he sells. More and more hyperbole ensures only that he'll become less and less relevant . . . which leads him to again exercise his only option of bringing on more and more hyperbole . . . and so on . . . and so on.

It's a downward spiral of a different sort, to be sure, but nothing that should surprise us. The history of media suggests that these types of trends do ultimately end . . . and by "end" I'm hardly referring to profits. Please do be sure to read the full prediction on #16. I'm not claiming a loss of listeners. Quite the opposite, in fact: Talk radio will do better than it's ever done before in terms of ratings--and that will actually be its problem.

Judge Judy is damn entertaining . . . but no one I'd look to for an understanding of our legal system.~JDJ

Losing a Literary Giant

John Updike


R.I.P.

Let's Make it 21!

Sorry to be all Alumni-ish on you lately, but I just really am enjoying being this good and having no one really know about it. We're #19? Ummmm, I really do think you're still undervaluing our product.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Recession Proof Cloud Computing . . . and Just Change in General

A Really Pathetic aspect of many blogs is to simply say, "Hey, I found this mind-boggling article that you all should read."

Why do we still have televisions?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are There Really Two Sides to Every Issue?

So, I was talking with a friend the other day about the concept of legacy in Presidential politics. That somehow got turned into a discussion over the idea of balance in political discourse (Hint: Both MSNBC and FOX News came into the conversation----NOTE: If you rely on either for your primary news, you're being played like a fool. And if your solution is to watch both, then you're just being silly. Now, if you're watching one or both for entertainment . . . and you KNOW that's the reason why you're watching . . . then I think I sort of like you).

Watch this.

The point of that scene is to deny the existence of the hackneyed cliche, "There are two sides to every issue."

There aren't.

Know of any issues that would fit this criteria? Share please. Give us an issue (or set of issues) that have, for all practical purposes, one side. When we see the "other side" being brought into mainstream media or a personal conversation, they (the media and/or the conversants) are entertaining us . . . giving the appearance of being fair . . . but not being realistic (in any reasonable sense of the word).

Good stuff

Always warms my heart.

Friday, January 23, 2009

WARNING: This is addicting

Check this out.

Here's the Really Pathetic Poll: Which one do you like the most? The least?

I'll get things started in the comments section.~JDJ

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The GOP in White and Black

This post comes on the first full day of the Barack Hussein Obama Administration. Consider it an open letter to his political rivals.

In 1948 retired General Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked about the possibility of running for public office. His response revealed the efficiency you'd expect of someone who planned Operation Overlord, "I just don't believe military men should get involved in politics."

OK, then. That was that. Or so the nation thought.

Except, as we know, Eisenhower was elected President of the United States just four years later. Today, we'd hear an answer like the one he gave and chalk it up to the game: Deny ambition for office as a first step toward pursuing it. Except, if you really study the man in this particular case, you come to realize that he was probably telling the truth. Four years before taking the biggest job in the world he was of the belief that it would have been inappropriate to go after it.

What changed his mind? The Republican Party.

The GOP's brass came into the General's home and dealt with him on his own terms, straight up. Eisenhower was asked to save the nation a second time. If the Democrats won a sixth straight term to the Oval Office, the two party system in America would likely buckle (they contended). What would be left of the democratic process was anyone's guess. Maybe a new party would form, maybe we'd see a fluid stream of coalitions efforting a challenge to the Democratic Party hegemons. Who knew? Uncertainty reigned. An Eisenhower candidacy would deliver stability to a tenuous system that had grown addicted to a political party duopoly.

The pitch worked. Depending on which story you choose to believe, it took Eisenhower anywhere from an hour to a day to agree. The rest is history.

At that moment, the Republican Party was probably at a high point in terms of its national appeal (Reagan in 1984 competes quite nicely, though). Eisenhower energized the base, but, more importantly, brought the Republican brand to corners of the country that hadn't considered it for a long time. We spend a lot of academic and pundit-ish energy lauding over Nixon's Southern Strategy as a transformative moment for the GOP. We put far less focus than we should on Eisenhower's comprehensive appeal. Nixon may have changed the rules for his party's foundation, but Eisenhower effectively wrote the original draft of those new rules for post-War America. In simplest terms, without Ike, Nixon wouldn't have had a strategy to execute.

The idea of nationalizing a party's brand without a unifying crisis like the Great Depression or the biggest war in the history of humanity wasn't really even in the playbook back in 1952. Few campaign operatives considered it as a priority-one strategy. America's two party system had, up until Eisenhower, largely been a reflection of regional politics. Lincoln didn't even bother to campaign in the South in 1860. The Republican Party was a genuine regional party whose epicenter was squarely in the North. A half century and one monumentally bad electoral cycle later, it's effectively a regional party of the South.

And it's in trouble. (And if you're a fan of democracy, even if you're a Democrat, this should bother you).

The current geographic trajectory of Eisenhower's resurrection handiwork will have a new epicenter in the Gulf of Mexico or, if they're lucky, Tijuana . . . by next week. These aren't bad destinations (provided you have a boat for that first one), but they'll be problematic on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November during even numbered years.

The issue this time is far more complicated than it was in 1952. We're talking about a challenge that's organic and quite likely beyond the day-saving capacity of a war hero. In simple terms, the GOP is not diverse at precisely the time in America's history when diversity is to party viability like jet fuel is to a 747.

What's to be done? That's easy. The GOP needs to . . . get diverse.

How? Don't ask me. But take the advice, Republicans. You need to get diverse. And you need to do it yesterday.

Get diverse, or, regardless of what Newsmax says . . .

. . . it will be over . . . and that scares me more than a "Palin 2012" yard sign.

The Democratic Party got schooled like a bunch of skateboarders trying to run a mile in gym class back in the 1980's. America had shifted right underneath them and they had no clue until it was too late. History may very well judge that it took a quarter century to fully recover from that Reagan tsunami . . . but oh how the Democrats HAVE INDEED recovered. Would anyone wanting to be taken seriously dare question the death spiral of the GOP after reviewing the numbers from 2006 and 2008? The convenient answer (if you're a Republican and want to sleep at night) is to just blame it all on now former President George W. Bush. The 'take a good long hard look in the mirror and reach for a Lunesta' answer is much worse, though. America has shifted again, but in a more profound manner than what we saw in 1980.

This is where a lot of Democrats I know get smug. Some of it's understandable. I'm of the group who believes President Obama was referring to several things at once when he said, "It's been a long time coming," last November 4th. So everyone needs to grant a little chest-beating 'boo-yah' endzone dancing, but it should stop there. If the smugness lasts much past Valentine's Day then it's time to get worried. Now, this would be where you'd expect me to write something like, 'If the Democrats get all full of themselves then they'll get beaten up by the electorate in 2010.'
I wish that's the point I was trying to make. What I fear is worse: The Democratic Party might be heading into another era of being bullet proof, just like 1932-1952, whether it's smug or not.

This wouldn't be a good thing.

When I started reading words like "permanent Republican majority" back in the Rove Era, I got scared. The words 'permanent' and 'majority' have no business being together if you also hope to use the words 'healthy' and 'republic.' We should cheer for a two party system.

And that's where the GOP needs to answer the wake up call. Here we are, January of 2009, and one of our two major parties is based almost exclusively in the South with ever-dwindling fuel levels in the rest of the nation. Save for two Bush Administration Secretaries of State, they have no national figure minorities to speak of. They're a party whose face is principally a bunch of white men with a few token white women; moreover, they appear to be completely unwilling to listen to the alarm bell that's ringing. Why Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal isn't constantly having rose petals thrown in front of his anticipated path by Mike Duncan is beyond me.

So here's a reading assignment. But before you start, buck up, especially if you're a Republican. It's heady stuff that will actually require you to abandon the notion that anything complex is de facto liberal blather. That approach to life has worked well for mediums like talk radio for a good decade now, but (as I predict in number sixteen) the game is changing. You have to throw this simplistic script in the trash and start over . . . in more ways than you can probably imagine. Getting through Hua Hsu's piece without punching your computer screen will be a nice start. And if you're a Democrat, the first temptation will be to take a long nap because . . . why bother?

You're set, right?

Unfortunately, the answer just might be . . . maybe.

Being a registered independent is freedom to write what you want and feel pretty damn good about it when you do. So let me be clear, I'm cheering for the Republicans on this one. All hands on deck, white boys. All the lifeboats are gone. You need to patch the hull or go down with the ship. Might I recommend tooting your horn toward the S.S. People of Color? But be advised, you're going to need to make some changes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Former President George W. Bush in Midland

There's some good stuff here. It's worth a view.

I Didn't Want to Say Anything At the Time

I watched the oath of office with a room full of people who were, save for a couple of colleagues who stopped by, younger than Malia Obama the last time we had a day like today (an inauguration that was a full transfer of power) . . . . so I bit my tongue when I saw and heard what I thought I saw and heard.

"No," I thought, "Must be some older version, tried and true, adapted from the mid-1800's or something. Who says we have to go verbatim off the Constitution? I'm witnessing a throwback gesture. Maybe this was Lincoln's oath."

But something about President Obama's face (the smile in particular) and the body language suggested otherwise.

Turns out I was right. The Oath of Office got a little mussed up today.

And, for those who would ask (as several of my students did after class), the answer is no, you can't use this technicality to argue that Barack Obama isn't the President of the United States. The Oath is required by the Constitution, but his Presidency began at Noon, or about 7 minutes before John Roberts, Jr. butchered his lines. For that matter, President Obama got the launch codes at 10 AM, a full two hours earlier (A thought that doesn't at all remind me of the day when I first started at Shorewood High School and they gave me . . . classroom keys).

Incidentally, what you saw today between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts was historic in another way (other than the cue-card-less version of the Oath submitted for our disapproval). It was the first time that a President took an Oath of Office from a Chief Justice whose nomination the President formally rejected. President Obama is the first person to be elected to his office from the U.S. Senate since John F. Kennedy (who was sworn in by Earl Warren who was Senatorially approved to the High Court when Kennedy was just a Congressman from Massachusetts). Senator Barack Obama voted against the nomination of John Roberts, Jr. That's a first in U.S. history.

Then It's Not a Bad Idea to Watch It Again

I'm looking toward an outcome, and it's the one where we deeply think about what was said.

That's it. I swear. It's an agenda-less ambition.

The Speech is Worth Reading

You may have watched it. I recommend you read it.~JDJ

Following is the prepared text of President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Today is About Transition

I always tell my students (typically when teaching the concept of habeas corpus) that the things we find boring (or the things we take for granted) count as the ultimate compliments given to this great nation. The fact that we simply assume there will be a handing off of power a little later today, sans tanks and guns and bombs and chaos, is an assumption we're entitled to make, but that doesn't make us special. Indeed, all of humanity is entitled to this same assumption. They simply don't get what they're entitled to. We do, and we rarely take a moment to reflect upon it because we're spoiled. We've relegated the whole consideration to the realm of the trivial.

The legacy of this nation is multifaceted, and way more than a blog post can muster. Suffice it to say, we're a complicated bunch, we Americans. But we never cease to amaze the world with our feline-nine-lives capacity for renewal. Today is about that, for sure.

But, more than anything else, it's about the peaceful transition of power. I'm biased. Sorry. Peaceful transition of power is the big #1 for me (and I'd of written this if McCain had won). My mentor of many years, Sonja Ivanovic, taught me to appreciate the moment and what it really meant.

Try this: Take a map of the world and throw a dart at it. Overcome the 70+% odds of hitting water (in other words, manage to hit a land mass) and I'll give you a coin toss chance that you'll land where peaceful transition of power is a remote notion at best.

Seriously, try it. See how you do. Then reflect on how lucky you are to be here.

I just did it. I hit Indonesia.

~JDJ

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow is about Today

A good friend got me doing this years back. I'll try and pay it forward right here.

I read the great letter on this day. It's a personal tradition (which, again, was suggested to me by a friend who's been doing it his entire adult life).

Recognize the achievement of the man we honor today and I think there's a more refined perspective to be had regarding tomorrow. In past years, the word tomorrow was meant in the figurative sense. This particular year, it's also meant literally.

Peace~ JDJ

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goodness

This is stunning.
(NOTE: Wait for it)

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Need the Following Two People to Have Large Egos

1--My doctor (Most recently, my cardiologist)

2--Anyone flying the plane I'm on


C.B. Sullenberger, you are the man! Nicely done, sir.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Coolest Al Franken Poster Ever

Thanks to Special D for passing it on. You probably won't get it if you're under the age of 35.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Embrace the Moment (aka, the Horror)

Steve Buscemi is a chronic scene stealer in the awesome flick, 'Armageddon.'


One of his great lines comes when they're on the asteroid and things aren't looking good: Broken drills, time running out, all sorts of strife between the civilians and the soldiers. Buscemi puts his arms in the air, literally faces earth, and says, "Guess what guys, it's time to embrace the horror! Look, we've got front row tickets to the end of the earth!"

Fortunately, in spite of his character's genius status, the suggestion is ignored, Bruce Willis blows himself up (along with the asteroid), Ben and Liv get back in the same bed, and we're all living happily ever after by the time the credits role (over creepy funeral footage of Owen Wilson, et al).

Today's New York Times might, if you were a crazy, gambling addicted genius, help you find your inner-Armageddon-Buscemi.

So here's the deal: This is the real world. The asteroid is whatever we're supposed to call the locked up credit market. Barack Obama is Billy Bob Thornton.

Who's Bruce Willis? Help me, because I'm starting to get a "wild hair" as they say, and I'm thinking that maybe it just might be time to go a little crazy.

We can't all live forever, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Long Would You Do This Job?

If you could get it, for how long would you be willing to do this?

Sign me up for a year, with an option to renew for two.

Then I'd be done.

Friday, January 9, 2009

OnStar Nation

Here it is . . .

. . . the new ride.

Before I get a bunch of hate email, let me explain. It's a Chevy HHR (Which stands for 'Heritage High Roof,' basically a
Honda Element in back and, I kid you not, a 1949 Chevy pickup truck in front). It gets 31 miles per gallon (Which I confirmed in a test drive). It's the only vehicle in our household (We're bus riders). It's a GM product (Don't blame me if #6 comes true). And it suits a lifestyle that ought to help keep your health insurance premiums lower (Two bikes fit nicely in the back when the rear seats are down).

I like it. My wife doesn't like it. She agreed to buy it without me having to do any Jedi mind tricking. We've decided to stay married. How I pulled this off . . . I'll never know.

It has XM Radio, a hands free phone, and
OnStar which was a surreal way to drive off the lot since the dealer actually reached inside the window and activated it as I was preparing to roll up my window.

"Let's get you up and running," he said as he pressed the little
OnStar button on my rear view mirror.

"Thanks," I replied, thinking that maybe he'd just activated something so I could use it if I got caught in an avalanche or locked my keys in the car.

I rolled out onto
Silver Spring Drive in a snowstorm . . . feeling good . . . the new ride . . . ohhhhh yeahhhhh.

And then I almost went
Depends right there on the new driver's seat . . . . . .

"Hello Mr. Jacobson, my name is Marsha. How are you enjoying your new Chevy HHR?"

The voice was coming from inside the car.

"Fine," I said, while glancing into the back seat because of
that one urban legend.

"I'll tell you what, my aunt bought one last year, and she just loves it."

"Oh," I'm three seconds into meeting Marsha whose bodyless voice is talking to me in a snowstorm in a new purchase that, since I don't own a home, is the most valuable material item I now have, "Awesome."

"You'll have a lot of fun."

"Yeah, I, uhhh, hope to." Screw this. "Hey Marsha?"

"Yes, Mr. Jacobson."

"Where are you right now?"

"I'm at the OnStar call center." This meant nothing.

"Oh. OK." I froze. I couldn't do it. "I guess that makes sense." I couldn't subject her to the harrassment I reserve for telemarketers.

I backed down and submitted. She already had all my information but needed to confirm it. She even knew where I was at.

"I see you're getting ready to get onto the interstate highway," This left me just shy of freaked. I felt like Jack Bauer. I wanted FBI files patched in as I headed out toward the sleeper cell's safehouse.

Except I was going to the
Target in Grafton to get winter floor mats.

It kept snowing. Marsha and I kept talking. When we finally said goodbye to each other I went ahead and found all the swear word stations on XM. The Target snack shop popcorn was real good.

Later, I got an iPod jack for the stereo on sale at Best Buy. I tried to find Marsha to tell her about it, but I got some other guy at a different call center. He didn't know her.




A Screenshot of an Online Version of a Major Newspaper Tells a Thousand Stories

Oh dear . . .

Thursday, January 8, 2009

College Football is Stupid

I voted for Barack Obama for one reason: He's promised to "throw [his] weight around" in an effort to get an eight team Division IA college football playoff system in place.

Tonight is silly, and here's why. I'm not watching. You shouldn't either. It means nothing. It proves nothing. It's a game set up by a glorified ping pong ball lottery bin. ~JDJ

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Minnesota U.S. Senate Pool

Remember this????

We're close now.

Entries are still being accepted (but you have to go to the original post to submit them).

~JDJ

Saturday, January 3, 2009

College Educations and the Economic Meltdown and the End of the Grand Illusion

Megan McArdle and Daniel Drezner had a candid conversation about what the past several months might mean for colleges and universities that aren't state affiliated. Check it out:

I'm a graduate of the University of Illinois, so I'm biased. I don't get it. I unapologetically subscribe to the results of just about every study that's ever been done on the subject: There's NO correlation between what you'll earn in the real world and what you pay for your college education. Furthermore, as a public university graduate, I wholly reject the argument that there's something magical about the learning experience of a private school. My classes were taught by mind-blowing professors who challenged me on a daily basis. I never felt like a number. I never "got lost" in any system. It was worth every state government supplemented penny for all the right reasons.

Since last September I've sent out 112 letters of recommendation for various high school students. 73 of them went to private schools (some Ivy, some small liberal arts, etc.). Public universities don't get as hung up on particulars when it comes to the admissions process, so my data is skewed. [I've seen just about every application there is to see over the years and I'm here to share the news: Private colleges and universities are much more demanding of students when it comes to the game of APPLYING to get in.]. What's the shot of this situation? Are my students having the rules of the game changed on them . . . in the middle of the game? Is yesterday's private school aspiration tomorrow's public school reality?

Drezner's most interesting comment dealt with the economics of brain power. If the best and brightest begin to move toward less expensive (aka, public) colleges and universities then won't those establishments become de facto academically elite (which, again, I'd like to suggest is already the case)? If so, what will be the long term consequences for private colleges? If the big secret gets out then what incentive will there be to pay $50,000 a year when $15,000 will get the job done better? When times get tough, adhering to tradition has its limits, and tradition (not academic superiority) is what fuels the private college and university system in this nation.

I attended a dinner party on New Year's Eve. It was a small gathering of remarkably successful friends: Private sector executives (some VP's, some partners, etc.), a couple of engineers, me (a teacher), and a flight attendant. The degrees at the table? UW Whitwater, UW Milwaukee, UW Milwaukee, UW Madison, Southeast Missouri State, UW Oshkosh, and the University of Illinois. We had a wonderful time.

And we felt quite adequate.

I don't mean for that to sound defensive. The theme of this post is simple, and if you've digested it, then you know that if I feel anything, it's as if I've gotten away with something. We're not exactly talking Will Hunting dressing down a Harvard kid in a Boston bar. A distant relative to that classic scene? Perhaps. Illinois did cost money, and it was considerably more than late fees at a public library.

But it was less . . . . wayyyyyyy less . . . than what Dartmouth would have set me back. And, if I may, it was worth every dollar saved.