Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Soccer ballot

I've been trying to decide on how to vote on this $75 million soccer complex proposal.

That doesn’t make me special. Lot’s of people have been weighing in on it. Cara over at JustCara gave a pretty good (though not-so-objective) point-by-point breakdown of her opinion on the matter. And Tony has published a well-produced video which backs the initiative for its ability to add to Johnson County’s cultural diversity.

I'm not vehemently against the proposal, as Cara seems to be. I'm actually okay with the County paying for parks and rec and other quality of life-type amenities. Anyone ever been to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead? Ever walked/jogged/biked along the Indian Creek Trail?

These are the kinds of amenities that keep property values high. These are the kind of amenities that contribute to healthy lifestyles. These are the kind of amenities that separate us from the barbarians who live in KCMO.

But let’s face it, $75 million is a lot of money for a soccer field – even in Johnson County. And, while we don’t suffer the fiscal ineptitude that KCMO and Jackson County, Mo., are plagued with, it’s always a tough sell to get people to volunteer even more of their hard-earned money.

What I would like to hear (it might be out there and I might find it with a little research), is whether there is some kind of revenue opportunity here. As Tony points out, there is definitely an opportunity for increased visitors and tourism.

Is there a plan to leverage this for additional income? Can the soccer complex be used to host tournaments to help retire the debt? Is it possible to have some kind of special sales tax on concessions, etc., to help pay for maintenance?

I think these questions have been overlooked in the campaign efforts of the measure's proponents. And they are definitely questions I'll have to have answered before I'll vote yes.

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YouTube Tuesday: Happy Halloween

Halloween is a special time of year. The air is filled with brotherhood, peace and goodwill toward men.

And of course, there's the spoiled brats raiding every home in the neighborhood for candy, and you have to pay or your home will be vandalized. Ah, sweet extortion.

Anyway, be careful out there tonight, kids.

And to you parents, here's another public service announcement from Three O'Clock in the Morning:

Every year, we like to decorate our homes with Halloween fare, including the ever popular jack-o'-lantern. But please be sure to clean up that carved pumpkin in a timely manner. There's nothing more disgusting than the rotted corpse of a carved jack-o'-lantern -- with the possible exception of the rotted corpse of Phill Kline's political carreer.

Don't believe me? Well take a look at this time-lapse demonstration, courtesy of YouTuber Hirnduebel:

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Campaign Ad nauseam

Why do candidates even bother with campaign advertising?

I know, I know. I can answer my own question. They bother with it because it works. They make horrible ads – I mean c’mon the amateurishness of these ads is downright offensive – because a PR firm or election consultant told them that they can get n percentage of a lift in the polls if they do.

Trouble is, the ads are all the same. And I don’t just mean that the Democrats ads are just like all the other Democrats ads or that the Republicans ads are just like all the other Republicans ads. I mean all ads are the same, they all say the same thing and they have for years (I’ve been voting for nearly 20 years now).

In a year when we’re finally seeing a little original creativity out of Hollywood (a drama show about a comedy show? Now that’s something I can watch), the advertising firms are sticking to the same old hyperbolic, melodramatic bullshit that they know will appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Here's one example. The original poster noted that “who say’s Democrats aren’t fighting back.” I’m not sure what that means, but when Dan points to an ad, I go and watch. The ad is a bunch of hyper-emotional drivel about how if you don't support stem cells, you daughter is going to die of diabetes, your son is going to die a car crash and your wife is going to develop Alzheimer's. You shouldn't vote for Rep. Chocola because he didn't vote for stem cells.

Let me be clear on this. I'm in favor of stem cell research. There's a lot to be learned just for the sake of basic science, let alone cures for every disease known to man. And besides, the state of Missouri has enough excess chromosomes to keep pharmaceutical companies busy for years.

But the way that ad slaps you in the face with a fake emotional appeal just makes me want to gag on a cloned fetus. What happened to the so-called rational, scientific community supporting this initiative?

(I also get a kick out of the people, many of whom rant daily about the Bush administration being in bed with big corporations, who don't see that the big pharmaceutical companies are going to make tons of dinero on this stem cell thing. Hypocrisy can be so subtle sometimes.)

Anyway, the problem with this approach is that it works on the mindless sheep who think CSI is compelling television. At the same time, it's a huge turnoff to people who want real information about where candidates stand on any given issue.

Imagine this fantasy world: Instead of hearing how Mr. Candidate wants your baby dead because he didn't "vote for stem cells" (I didn't know stem cells could run for office), how about telling me specifically how Mrs. Candidate would use her position to support stem cell research.

But I guess campaign advertising is a good proving ground for when candidates are actually elected. They have to learn how to speak without actually saying anything.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Are you in, genius?

Saw this quiz on TFK and Blog Meridian, so I thought I'd give it a go.

The results were encouraging. Contrary to what my Super Model Wife says, I'm not stupider than 98% of the country.

Although in the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should point out that when the third-to-last question asked -- "Without looking, what is the second question that you answered?" -- I did scroll up to look.

I figured, if James T. Kirk can reprogram the Kobayashi Maru test, then I can do the same for some dumb Internet quiz.

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YouTube Tuesday: Et tu Mr. Pringles?

Jeffrey Skilling has been sentenced, Mark Foley was forced to resign, and Mel Gibson has been eating crow since his drunken outburst. Now yet another public figure is facing embarrassment in the media.

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Enter the smoking chimp

Hoards people have noticed some major changes to the 3AM blog.

And what I mean by "many people" is one or two. And when I say "major changes" I really mean a single very minor change.

But it was enough to prompt XO to ask about it, so I figure here's a quick explanation:

Hey XO, thanks for noticing my monkey.

The previous profile image was a self portrait of me as a South Park character. Although, since my eye surgery, it was a bit out of date.

So I decided to shake things up a little (you know how I like to shake things up) and use a new profile image, one that closely resembles my personality. Enter the smoking chimp.

I've been considering adding another pseudonym for the chimp. My first choice was Jack Maimunkie, but that name is taken. Let me know if you have any better ideas.

While your thinking about it, go ahead and check out Jonathan Coulton's My Monkey.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Minor dilemma

JD at Evolution gives a good (as usual) quickie analysis of the Kansas Attorney General race.

I have to agree that Phil Kline is acting like a complete idiot (Al Gore) with his fundraising and memo-writing. But unfortunately, all of the focus on this fundraising issue makes it difficult to judge who would do the best job in the AG's office.

As a JOCO resident, I'm familiar with Paul Morrison (even had lunch with him one time at Jose Pepper's in Olathe). He’s got a great record on criminal prosecutions, winning convictions of rapists and serial killers and all. But I've heard lawyer-types say that he lacks background and experience in constitutional law. Also, do I want to vote for someone who's willing to switch political parties just to get elected?

At the same time, do I want to support Kline if he's showing this amazingly poor judgment in campaign fundraising? And if his own staff/party doesn't support him, why should I (not to mention his apparent lack of respect for individual privacy rights).

Maybe I'll just wage a write-in campaign for JD.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Mr. Livingston I presume

Or, "I've got a meeting with the Bobs"

Your local neighborhood mobile phone company announced the other day that it has hired actor Ron Livingston to be it's new spokesdude.

You might remember Livingston from such TV series Band of Brothers (one of my all time favorites) and Sex in The City (one of my all time least favorites).

But perhaps his most-remembered and beloved role was that of Peter Gibbons, the original cube drone. One can only imagine what scenarios Sprint Corp. will place this guy into. The press release says he would be featured "as a straightforward, relatable guy" in the new TV ads -- but you just know the YouTubers will have their own take on the subject.

Which is why I wanted to post this little chestnut in honor of Livingston's return to the corporate world.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The End is Near

The end of the universe as we know it is imminent.

Astronomers (for those of you in Arizona "really smart space watching guys") have observed through the Hubble Space Telescope the fate of our galaxy.

They snapped this picture of a galactic collision that began 500 million years ago and continues to this day (at least as far as we can tell through the HST).
"Nearly half of the faint objects in the Antennae are young clusters containing tens of thousands of stars. The orange blobs to the left and right of image centre are the two cores of the original galaxies and consist mainly of old stars criss-crossed by filaments of dark brown dust. The two galaxies are dotted with brilliant blue star-forming regions surrounded by pink hydrogen gas."
Scientest say this is a picture of what will happen when the Milky Way collides with the cosmically close Andromeda galaxy. Pack your bags and head for the giant space ark, because we only have six billion years left.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Segregation still alive in Kansas

And I have to say that they make a strong case. You have to keep the riff raff away from the respectable kids in the group.

Note: You might have to enlarge (click) the picture to get the joke.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Nature v. Nurture

The thing about Jack Russell Terriers is that they were bred to hunt. They were bred to go after small animal, chasing them into their burrows with tenacity and bringing them back out dead or alive.

It's important to remember this if you decide to take your Jack Russell to your parents' house in the country (thinking he'll enjoy the chance to explore "the wild"), and they have a litter of two-month-old kittens that you're 4-year-old daughter is smitten with because the kitties are so damn cute.

It's important to remember this because even though you've had your Jack Russell Terrier for six years and have been diligent about training and obedience, when the Jack Russell sees the aforementioned fury little bundles of cuteness he can't help but be what he is. He will dart over and snatch the nearest kitty in his mouth and run off with it, shaking it violently trying to outrun you and break the kitty's neck.

And he'll do this right in front of your aforementioned 4-year-old daughter.

She held up well, my 4-year-old daughter. As she approached the twitching body of the kitty lying in the grass after I had the dog under control, she just said "Daddy, I almost cried a little bit."

I told her to leave the kitty alone. It was probably scared and needed to sleep a little to heal itself. As for the dog, he received a severe spanking and was sent to timeout in his kennel.

I took my daughter inside the house to get cleaned up and get her interested in something else. Half an hour later, I went back out into the yard to clean up the kitty carnage.

But the thing about kitties is that they can be very resilient. There was no kitty body to be found. In fact, the little guy had managed to crawl under a pile of wood and was licking his wounds. He was in surprisingly good spirits. I suspect he had a broken leg, but he was spry enough to leap up on a log and dart into a hole to get away from me.

Some people might be tempted to look for an allegory in this situation, to point out that, like the scorpion in the parable, it's difficult for people to be different from what they are. Some say that if it's in your nature you will sting the frog carrying you across the stream, dooming both the frog and yourself to death by drowning.

But I think that allegory is a bit shallow. People aren't Jack Russell Terriers after all (or scorpions for that matter). We all have the choice to sting or not sting, to break the cat's neck or leave it alone in its sickening cuteness.

And, given the thing about Jack Russell Terriers, we have the choice to not let them loose around baby kittens anymore.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Get out of town

A report in today's KC Star revealed that Kansas City is one of the best cities to get out of.

In the event of an emergency (nookular strike, bird flu, violent robot uprising, mutant zombie attack, etc.) the metro area's abundance of paved roads and urban sprawl guarantee that we'll be able to head for the hills, spreading all sorts of pathogens and genetic maladies across the fruited plain.

But the area's "evacuation capacity" has another benefit. It allows most residents to leave town on weekends, avoiding death by boredom-induced over masturbation because of a lack of anything exciting to do anywhere in the city.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's pronounced "newkular"

Nobody wants a war with North Korea.

Certainly the South Koreans don't want one, not after their last experience. And the Japanese, with only a token military, aren't prepared to go to the mattresses, as the Corleons would say.

The Chinese, traditional allies to the NorKs, don't want to start a war either, though they're none too happy with their "brothers and comrades."

And the Americans? Well, we all know that 1) we can't afford another war from a fiscal and military resources standpoint and 2) we don't have the national intestinal fortitude to do so even if we could afford it.

No. Nobody wants a war. Except perhaps for North Korea, which announced today that any kind of international sanction would be considered an act of war.

So the international community has turned to the UN, which luckily has taken up the challenge to deal with the NorKs.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has announced a series of tough measures to deal with Kim Jong Il (and his brother Menta Lee Il). The measures are built on the successful programs that have worked in the past to reign in renegade leaders. They include:
  • The imposition of strong economic sanctions including forbidding the import of Knight Rider episodes and Rubik's Cubes into North Korea.
  • Eliminating all import of strategic materials such as Nerf, Floam and Play-Doh.
  • If sanctions fail to produce the desired results, the UN has authorized diplomatic officials to speak very harshly, using words like "impose," "eliminate," and "authorize."
  • The UN is also in the process of drafting the dreaded "U.N. resolution."
  • If all else fails, as a final measure, the UN will drop its collective pants, lube its collective anus, and allow the NorKs to continue with "missile tests."
I think we all feel much better about the situation with the UN involved. If you know of anything else the UN is planning to do, please let us know in the comments section.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fake NorKs

All the news about the North Koreans (NorKs) is disturbing.

Assuming the recent explosion was the detonation of a nuclear device and not -- as The Onion posits -- simply a celebration of Underground Independence Day, there is now a bigger chess piece on the global grid.

But there are also a lot of people wondering how genuine the NorKs announcement is. One arms blogger thinks the device was a dud. Instapundit thinks the NorKs are just trying to get attention.

I mean, there's plenty of precedent. The Chinese are particularly pissed about an influx from the NorKs of counterfeit US dollars, counterfeit Viagra and counterfeit cigarettes.

Fake drugs, fake smokes and fake greenbacks. Possibly a fake nuke. It all makes me want to fake drink.

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YouTube Tuesday: Important announcemet

The creative geniuses behind the smash YouTube hit Chad Vader have published this important announcement. Be sure to set your DVR to capture the premier of Chad Vader: Episode 4.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Hypnotized, mesmerized

Wichita blogger extraordinaire John B. has published this week's Kansas Guild of Bloggers roundup over at Blog Meridian.

This is a great collection about what area bloggers have to say. Always entertaining, often informative, you won't be able to tear yourself away. So go check it out and then plan on submitting a post of your own for next week's carnival.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Eye of the beholder

I just noticed an interesting phenomenon while blogsurfing yesterday.

Plenty of bloggers are taking the opportunity to lob some well-deserved righteous indignation at Rep. Mark Foley, rightly calling him a hypocritical douchebag.

We've also seen in the last few weeks a few more major rants lamenting the death of America with the recent passage of legislation which denies the right of habeas corpus and other constitutional rights to imprisoned terrorist suspects.

For the record (and not that it matters), I oppose the recent legislation and expect it to be overturned by the SCOTUS. I also think Foley is a scumbag skunk who will be justly compensated for his acts by karma. Furthermore if laws were broken, he and all involved should be prosecuted to the full extent.

But I find it interesting that so many people are screaming for his head in the absence of due process... particularly the people who are most loudly lamenting the lack of due process for others.

I guess hypocrisy truly is in the eye of the beholder.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's a marvelous night for a moondance

Last night's full moon was amazing. I tried to capture it with this picture...

But Van Morrison captured it much better years ago with this lyric...
Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Another headline I couldn't pass up

Pipe leak forcing sewage into Missouri River

The Wyandotte County (Kansas) government dumped a bunch of raw sewage in the Missouri River and wanted to warn the people of Kansas City, Mo., about it.

Which is more considerate than the government of Kansas City, Mo., which craps on KC residents with no warning at all.

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Not for amateurs

Public Service Announcement:

Pole dancing isn't for amateurs. Before you decide to become a pole dancer, be sure to get the proper training. Oh, and don't drink and pole dance.

The More You Know...

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Headline of the Day

Stagg trial ends with hung jury

Does this headline make anyone else think of a bachelor party?

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Like a good neighbor

We received this nice note from the people we sold our Roeland Park house to:
Dear Emawkc and Supermodel Wife,
We just wanted to take a moment to thank you for making our first homebuying experience so positive. We really appreciate how well you've taken care of this house. All of the extra cleaning, painting and reseeding, etc. was unexpected but very much appreciated. I hope your sellers were as kind to you as you've been to our family.
Good luck to you in your new home and future endeavors.
What a nice sentiment. It sounds like our former neighbors have some great new neighbors.

Unfortunately, our sellers weren't as kind to us. But, time to move on...

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La Cage aux Foley

I haven't commented much on the Mark Foley circus, mostly because everybody else already has.

But this headline struck me funny (not that there's anything funny about what Foley did... oh c'mon, sure there is!):

Ethics committee ready to probe Foley case

Just the use of the words "probe Foley" makes me chuckle.

The story notes that "The Justice Department, meanwhile, ordered House officials to preserve all records related to Foley's electronic correspondence with teenagers."

I wonder who's going to pull the plumb job of going through Foley's briefs.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Deployed: Kuwait and wait

Thanks to everyone who expressed their concern for my brother-in-law Nick as he shipped out to serve as an MP in Iraq.

Nick arrived safe, but tired, in Kuwait. I was forwarded the following email from my Supermodel Wife's Supermodel Sister and wanted to post this portion of it as an update on Nick's adventure. Names have not been changed, although I have omitted the more private and personal content.
Hey Honey

Just wanted to drop you an email. Its 5 dollars to access the slow ass internet here for an hour so this wont be too long. Right now I'm in Kuwait as you already knew. We're not doing much but we're going to be training soon. It's so weird here. It's dark by 6PM and light by 6AM and it's hot. I'm sick of sand which is probably bad because it's all I'm going to see for awhile. I'm not sleeping well, normally about 5 hours but it may get better as it wears on me some more and I develop a routine.

What else.... I go to the gym about 2 times daily and that's been fun but I am sore. We're supposed to head to Iraq about the 16th or so and I'll know more about things then. Everything is good and my spirits are high but I miss you pretty bad. Okay I've got a list of things I need you to mail out ASAP....

I need one pair of large PT shorts and one large short sleeve PT t-shirt from clothing and sales.
I need you to send me more boxer shorts. 3-5 pairs as they are non existent here and I didn't pack near enough.
I need you to go to a Sams Club and buy a 600 minute rechargeable international phone card and that will be what I use to call home with. Because its rechargeable it makes it a lot easier. I've had to buy some stuff since I've been here, (underwear, pillow, a watch, etc.) but haven't spent too much money.

That's really about all I have to say. I love you. I miss you and I cant wait to talk to you soon. The sooner they get phone cards here the sooner I'll call. They are currently out here and I'm not calling with the credit card again. May be a few days. BTW I leave for a 3 day field exercise on Thursday and won't be back until Saturday. That will probably be the next time I call.

I love you so much.

Love, Nick

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006


We received word from our former neighbors that the ancient Sycamore tree on Linden Street in Roeland Park finally had to remove .

The tree was enormous. In a city rife with huge trees, this tree stood out as truly gigantic.

Several owners of the property had investigated having it removed. Too much maintenance, what with the leaves and sticks falling all the time. But it never happened, probably due to the price tag of cutting down and carting off the leviathan.

My Super Model Wife and I were always relieved to see the grand creature remain. That's why we made a trip back to the old neighborhood to bid the old Sycamore a fond farewell.

John, the owner of the house, said a crack in the west trunk appeared over the weekend. The west trunk leaned out over the vintage ranch house, threatening to crush it and the neighboring houses with the next stiff wind.

John said he would end up paying about $10,000 to have the tree removed. The Roeland Park arborist said that the largest tree in Roeland Park had fallen down last week. So this tree, for a few days, had the honor of being the largest tree in the city.

Though we understood that it was necessary, that, as George Harrison said, all things must pass, it was sad to see this majestic tree...

...reduced to a child's plaything.

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Arrgh! I hate that!

So I'm refueling my car this morning on the way to work. I go into the QuikTrip to pay for the gas and buy a cup o' joe.

I pay by debit card, sign the slip and head back to the car with my coffee and a renewed sense of optimism for the day.

Waiting at the first stoplight, I lift the coffee cup to take a drink and catch the undeniable aroma of cheap men's cologne. I sniff the cup. It doesn't seem to be coming from the plastic or the lid.

Then I smell my left hand. Ughh! I'm not sure whether it's Old Spice or Stetson, but it's some kind of old man's cheap scent. It's horrible. I run through the previous 20 minutes in my mind.

Obviously I picked up the scent like a bad germ from something that some cologne bather had touched. It couldn't have been the pen I signed with. I'm right handed and the odor is on my left. It wasn't the handle on the gas pump, since that would smell like gasoline (which would have been better).

I conclude that it must have been on either the door of the convenience store, or the coffee dispenser.

Regardless, I have to put up with the ridiculously obnoxious smell for the next 30 minutes until I can get to a washroom at work.

I hate it when that happens.

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YouTube Tuesday: Put Something In

Our soon-to-be four-year-old daughter is really into reading. We've always read to her every day, and she's got a bookshelf that would shame Captain Kangaroo.

A love of reading is something I inherited from my parents and we want to pass it on to Bethany.

It seems to be paying off. For the last four months or so, she has been honing her reading skills -- practicing writing and sounding out the letters, spelling her name (and ours), playing word games like "What starts with 'B'" etc.

So I decided to kick up the reading level a notch and bought a copy of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.

The whimsy and poetic format have been a big hit with Bethany. She particularly likes to read about The Hippopotamus Sandwich ("The hardest part is biting in to it.").

So when I saw that there was a Silverstein video poem on YouTube, I thought it might be fun to show it to Bethany.

Then I watched it, and it gave me a severe case of the heebie-jeebies.

Enjoy (if you can).

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