Proud Papa

This morning, at 6:48am CST, Sam Hinshaw -- aged 26th months -- pointed to the above Caped Crusader and said:

Who wants a cigar?


And, confidential to the unknown person or persons who may have helped themselves to 4 Brewers tickets from my work mailbox: You are a bad person. You've likely brought tears to the faces below.

For shame.

(If it turns out that the tickets were misplaced by administration, then hey, no hard feelings, it's just a game. There'll be others.)


How Are We Going To Keep Them Off the Farm?

Grampa Jim found a John Deere riding tractor at the church rummage sale. The boys had good fun plowing leaves and filling the front-end loader.

While we were getting ready for day care this morning, they both complained about how Agri-business is suffocating the independent farmer, particularly those interested in organic or pesticide-free produce. They were also saying stuff about ethanol subsidies and the myth of the estate tax, but as a lifelong city-dweller, I had no idea what they were talking about...


Ruination Day

I don't care for the month of April, and not because of taxes (which provide funding for infastructrure!) or the weather (which brings May flowers!) or T.S. Eliot (he wrote "The Wasteland"!)

  • April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis.
  • April 12, 1861: The Confederate army bombards Fort Sumter, effectively beginning the Civil War.
  • April 14, 1865: Writer, emancipator, and re-unifier Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theatre.
  • April 14, 1912: The Titanic sunk.
  • April 14, 1935: Twenty dust storms swept through the plains on a day known as "Black Sunday." In the following days, dust darkened the skies as far east as New York and Boston.
  • April 16, 2007: Seung-hui Cho rampaged at Virginia Tech, killing 33 students and teachers, wounding 29, the country's worst school shooting.
  • April 18, 1775: The Redcoats landed, and Paul Revere rode, effectively beginning the Revolutionary War.
  • April 18, 1906: The San Francisco earthquake killed an estimated 3,000 and destroyed 80% of the city.
  • April 19, 1993: The FBI/ATF siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX, ended with 79 dead, including 21 children.
  • April 19, 1995: Timothy McVeigh car-bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, OK. The blast and collapse killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured 800 more.
  • April 20th, 1999: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 Columbine High School students and one teacher before turning their guns on themselves in the U.S.'s most notorious high school shooting prior to Virginia Tech.
  • April 29, 1992: The L.A. riots broke out following the verdict in the Rodney King case. Of the more than 50 people killed over the next six days, about half were African-American.

Bad things happen in April. People do stupid and inhumane things.

In his books on writing, John Gardner put forth the idea that one should always strive to be life-affirming in what one writes, on the basis that within the audience for any particular piece of writing there may be a person who is quite seriously considering suicide. With that as a possibility, Gardner suggested that the only moral requirement of writing is that it nudge -- to the extent it can -- towards tomorrow and possibility and humanity.

Every now and then I like to take out that idea of Gardner's and walk it around a little. It makes the world seem brighter, particulary on a sunny Spring day by the lake...


We're In The Jailhouse Now

Last week, Grampa Jim took the boys to visit their Aunt George Ann and ended up in the dog house. (Not to be confused with the Dogg Haus, a hot dog joint near us on Brady Street.)
Also, how fantastically great are the Backyardigans? A new episode last Friday ("Blazing Paddles") reconfigured the familiar Wild West shoot-out/Lone Ranger story by replacing guns and bullets with ping pong, all set to Algerian Rai music. That the Lone Ranger analogue (Uniqua, the Pink Fury) is pretty clearly voiced by a young African American girl, and that Rai has a rich history among Middle Eastern women, is just the radical icing on the awesome B-Yards cake.

Next week's episode, "Le Master of Disguise," is due to play with Pink Panther/Orient Express 60's caper movie tropes, featuring songs set to Nigerian Juju. (Which is right up my current alley. I've been listening to the Highlife music of Ghana and Sierra Leone since introduced to it in the "Mission to Mars" episode.)

I just hope that Sam and Caleb don't mind missing another "Face the Nation" so that their Daddy can watch cartoons.



Over and over again, I get excited by upcoming elections. This is where it's all going to change, I think to myself. The choices seem so clear and so logical, and I'm convinced that everybody else sees theses things, too. (This is where the construction of the idea of "common sense" comes from -- the idea that everyone else understands things just as we do.)

Then election results come in and I have to recognize my complete disjunction with the majority of the electorate.

I voted yesterday and all of the candidates I supported lost (but for some uncontested races). These were good people who valued things like civic services and public transportation and human beings, and they lost to conservative, corporatist, intolerant japeholes.

And here I thought we were on to something.

After looking at returns before work this morning, I compared counted votes versus census population for Milwaukee County and the city. About 166,160 votes were cast in our race for county executive, with the incumbent keeping the seat. (He's a city services slashing japehole of the type I mention above). The 2006 Census lists the population of the county at 915,097. With 26.7% below the age of 18, that leaves 670,760 eligible voters -- this means a turnout of 25% of the electorate in the county.

Turnout from the city worse: 81,339 voted for mayor; Barrett was a shoe-in, but the votes offer a good indication of total voters. The census lists the city population at 586,941, with 28.6% below voting age. This leaves 419,076 eligible voters, and a turnout in the city of Milwaukee of 19%.

By these numbers, it's clear that most of the county executive japehole's votes from outside of the city, which may help to explain why he's totally willing to cut city services to spare county taxes.

Good grief.


Here's a palatte cleanser, clearly left over from yesterday: Muppet bloopers!


The Third Way

Given the recent in-fighting in the Democratic party and the liklihood that we'll lose to McCain in the general election, I'm incredibly pleased that Wisconsin's junior senator has decided to run as an independent candidate for president. I've always liked Feingold, and I think it's time that we had a viable third party contender in American politics.

It'll be particularly interesting to see what McCain's reaction will be to Feingold's announcement, given that the two worked closely together on campaign finance reform. It will also be interesting to see whether Feingold sticks to his dollar-per-voter budgeting in such a contested, ad-heavy election season.

Show your support for Russ Feingold and the Progressive Party!

This was an April Fool's thing. Feingold is not really running as a third party candidate.

Unless he is.

But he isnt.