Thursday, August 25, 2011

It Must Be Getting Close to Kick-Off

The Chicago sports media has rolled out the red carpet for Roy Williams. After a lackluster preseason game from the ex-Lion, Williams is the latest to be railroaded out of town before ever getting to the regular season. At least Jay Cutler is getting a break this year. For now. 

While the NFL is in camp and preparing for the upcoming season, the roller coaster ride that is the Tribune Sports section is in mid-season form. 

Two gems from the Tribune's top columnists over the past two days are already calling for Roy's head and begging for Johnnie Knox (!) to be the number one receiver. I'm sure that will work out great for them.

Williams on precipitous slide 
Big mouth, little production -- Williams just doesn't get it

These five-alarm take downs follow one preseason game in which first stringers play roughly 2-3 series. I'd go on to make a larger point about the never happy, always panicking Chicago sports media but I think you catch my drift. To top off all of this media outrage was the absurd and hypocritical lead story in today's Tribune Sports praising the depth of the Bear's receiving corps and citing.....wait for it.......rookie wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher as a prime example. The NFC North trembles in fear. 

Cutler's receivers not the problem

As a Lions fan, it is enjoying to watch this annual circus of self defeat develop here in Chicago. As long as the press is aching for Johnnie Knox and Dane Sanzenbacher, I know my Lions are still heading in the right direction while Chicago treads water. Maybe this year the NFL will actually allow the Lions to legally win against the Bears. When that time comes, I do believe the Tribune building will crumble into the Chicago River.

What Happened to Jobs and Wages?


Read this piece about Hershey's importing low wage labor through a Cold War loophole in order to eliminate higher paying jobs and you'll quickly find out. The story is a perfect example of what goes on on a broader scale throughout the country each day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surprising Story of the Day


Here is a headline that will SHOCK you....

Report: Cheney says he advised Bush to bomb Syria

Honestly, wouldn't it be more of a headline if the media dug into who Cheney didn't advise Bush to bomb?!? 

Monday, July 25, 2011

And Now, The Speaker Of The House

WASHINGTON D.C. - With the debt ceiling stand-off between the White House and Republicans in Congress coming down to the wire, President Obama took to national television on Monday evening to address the nation. The President used his time to outline the deals that have been proposed and clearly demonstrated frustration with the process. Quoting Ronald Reagan, Obama made an effort to portray the latest batch of House Republicans as out of touch with both their party roots and the nation as a whole.

In the spirit of equal time and not wanting to let the President set the tone, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) requested national television time following the President's speech to offer a rebuttal. We take you to his address now, live....

(Fade In)

(Camera turns on to a dark room filled with a dull fluorescent light)

(Slowly, a tanning bed opens to reveal the Speaker getting out as he has just finished his fifth and final session of the day)

"My fellow Americans, I am Speaker of the House, John Boehner."

(Puts on a robe, pours a scotch)

"I'd like to point out to you all that we are unwilling to raise the debt ceiling because Obama wants to ruin America."

(Lights a cigarette)

"You see, even though we're elected to govern and not actively try and ruin the country's credit rating and economy, we're saying we'll do just that in order to stop the President. The man is a menace."

(Camera follows him into his office, a dark wood paneled room featuring a small wet bar and closely resembling a cocktail lounge)

"All he wants is for our country to get back on the right track economically in order for him to get re-elected in 2012. Since the populist wave of the Tea Party swept us into office in 2010, how can we allow this? We must act now to stop his agenda of job creation and economic prosperity. If people are working, spending money and happy next year they'll be too busy to notice our fear mongering and xenophobic campaign events."

(He begins to get misty eyed)

"When I was in Ohio prior to being elected, I was a small business owner. Regardless of the fact that I now rely on corporate interests to fund my campaigns and spend my days kowtowing to Tea Party bullies in my caucus, I still remember what it's like to be a small person like the rest of you."

(A cocktail waitress wanders into the picture, hand him a napkin and tops off his drink)

"And I refuse to stand idly by and let this President enact any policies that would allow for you small people to enjoy any upward mobility in terms of salary or benefits."

(The waitress leans in and lights another cigarette for him. He takes a deep drag, exhales, rubs his eyes)

"As you know by now, we think that once all of the money that would otherwise be jobs or potential raises in salaries for you is finally given to the richest Americans, those fine folks will finally be ready to begin practicing trickle down economics and enrich us all."

(He begins to openly weep)

"And if it weren't for those meddling Democrats, we would've had this plan in place back in the Eighties."

(He has to stop talking again to wipe his tears away. The waitress brings another napkin as the first is soaked and has begun to flake off all over his face)

"So please remember that we have a plan for you all when we willingly let the shit hit the fan next week. And when November 2012 rolls around and we're all bowing to our new Chinese overlords, please remember who made this happen....President Obama. Good night and God Bless America."

(Polishes off a large swig of scotch and takes one last drag from the cigarette. Pinches the waitress' ass and winks at the camera)

(Fade out)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Run, Forrest, Run!!


It was either a moment of temporary insanity or extreme bravery, but I just signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon on September 11. Mind you, I'm the guy that has never gone much past 6 or 7 miles ever in my life, let alone 13.1. I've got my mitts on a training schedule and I'm taking the plunge nonetheless.

Consider this an open invite to come join me. I'm encouraging all my readers to be dumb like me and sign up for this race! You can find the registration here. You can save $10 by using code CSSC2011.

So someone please, lose your mind for 5 minutes and sign up. I don't need to be the only one out there suffering, er, I mean excelling on that Sunday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lazy Daze


Apologies for my prolonged absence, I've been off enjoying the summer weather. With June, July and August come street festivals, weekends in Michigan and time better spent near the water. While there are many issues to discuss such as the NFL lockout, the NBA lockout, the debt ceiling and the inept Republican presidential field, I can't find the energy to muster much outrage with the sun shining.


To all of my readers, I hope you have a great 4th of July weekend and are enjoying the summer months as much as I am. Be sure to check in on my twitter feed (found on the right-hand side of this page) for good pics and links to interesting stories.Things will pick back up before we know it and there will be plenty to say, but until then, go have some fun!

Like Pippa....


(cartoon via)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Love In The City


Do you remember your first love?

While in college I got the opportunity to visit Chicago for some class-related trade shows and meetings. I immediately fell in love. The constant humming white noise of the city, the people on the streets and the feeling that you are there taking a part of something all hit me upon arrival. It became my goal to reside in Chicago when I finished school, I had to be with her. And wouldn't you know it? Like a romantic comedy, it actually happened. Across roughly six years now - the time split with my west coast detour - I have had the privilege to experience several of her neighborhoods, living in all sorts of housing and taking in all she has to offer. There's been ups and downs just like in any relationship, but I remain in a torrid love affair with my city. She has treated me well, especially around this time of year when she sheds her heavy winter coat and dons sunny days combined with a social schedule full of options. Things are good.

So imagine my surprise this past weekend when I met a new city. I didn't plan on it happening, I swear. It's just that she was so much bigger and more cultured than my sweet Chicago. We flirted all weekend and had a wicked time doing so, but I promise no lines were crossed. This was only infatuation...I think. Her name was New York and she let me run all over her promenades and bridges while also showing me her ball parks and belly-dancing hookah lounges. Never before had I met a city so open and upfront with who they are. The buzz of people on the street and the ease in which they mix almost made my Chicago seem desolate and prudish.

It was an intoxicating weekend but it was only that, a weekend. I remain committed to my first love, my city, Chicago - warts and all. She has been with me for years and I'm not about to dump her over some hot and heavy flirting with that buxom lass New York. Underneath her hot exterior there are probably larger warts than ones I live with everyday and am used to. I love you Chicago, I promise I'll cut off relations if you'll have me back. No more talk of that New York.

I think.

(A special thanks to my hosts, Ryan and Kate. A couple that has that city figured out. When visiting a city of New York's size and complexity, a well versed host can exponentially improve your experience. That is exactly what they did.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New York, New York


Another summer weekend, another trip to be had. I'm off to New York City to visit some longtime friends and take in the city. A big highlight - I'll have the opportunity to visit the hipster capital of the East Coast, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and see how it measures up to Bucktown/Wicker Park. I'm sure there are other things to look forward to as well but what could beat observing hipsters in their natural habitat? I feel like I'm slowly becoming the Jane Goodall of their culture, here to report back to you on my findings.

On That Congressman In The News

No, no, no...that's a Chicago style wiener. No one likes a salad on their dog!

What to say about Anthony Weiner? The dude definitely has the most unfortunate name imaginable for a scandal like this. Hell, it was as if this was his destiny. Can you imagine his adolescent years? Middle school must have been terrible.

The chorus of people calling for his resignation is growing and it is not surprising. However, you won't hear those calls from this corner of the universe. While the whole thing is creepy and displayed poor judgement - not to mention a certain photo I could have gone without seeing all over 'The Daily Show' for a good five minutes - I'm still not sure what he'd be resigning over. Flirting? Lack of awareness about how the internet works? Breakdown what he did - he sent pictures of himself over the internet where he was covered by clothes in the offensive areas.

No laws were broken, no public resources wasted and he never technically cheated on his wife.

What was done was dumb, to be sure. But the Quaker-like puritanism of the American media/public when it comes to sex scandals and politicians never ceases to amaze me. I'd love to hear the specific charges against which he should resign. There aren't any. Don't take this as some fiery defense of the man, my only point is that this is America. We already have the means in which to rid ourselves of Congressman Weiner setup within our beautiful democracy - its called an election, and he's up again next fall. The fact of the matter is that he only represents his constituents and it is only his constituents that should be put up to the task of deciding his fate. If Rep. Danny Davis here in Chicago had done this, my feelings wouldn't change - I'd look forward to exercising my right to vote him out in the next cycle, national opinion on the matter be damned.

So let's quiet down with the resignation talk. Talk and gossip all you like but let the system do it's work, that is why we have it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Some Must Reads


Nick Kristof from Saturday's New York Times.

With Tea Party conservatives and many Republicans balking at raising the debt ceiling, let me offer them an example of a nation that lives up to their ideals. It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs. 

Andrew Sullivan from today's Dish

The relationship between religion and politics is, to my mind, the central question of our time. As the false totalisms of the twentieth century - communism, fascism, Nazism - have been revealed as oppressive, murderous lies, insecure and inadequate human beings in need of totalist solutions to the human dilemma have returned to religion. But more accurately, they have returned to fundamentalism, because only fundamentalism, with its absolute certainty and literal precision and binding, unquestionable authority, can assuage the anxieties of a world dislocated from tradition, up-ended by capitalism, globalized to the point of cultural panic.

Both pieces are well worth the time to take in. 

Summertime In The City

Do Division Street Festival

Yesterday was a perfect example of why I love this town. I was busy most the day relaxing with the Sunday paper and some coffee, taking a run and conducting some errands. After wrapping up a few things from earlier in the day, the beautiful weather had me contemplating how to spend the rest of my day. You cannot waste what precious few nice weekends you receive in Chicago. Right around that time, a friend called to say he was heading to the Do Division Street Festival by bicycle with a group. Perfect timing!

Street fests in Chicago are quite a scene to witness. They range from artsy to foodie to rowdy and never disappoint. Do Division is definitely one of the rowdier ones, its held in the Wicker Park neighborhood which is home of the hipster. The hipster crowd brings a mix of Goodwill clothes, youth, menial jobs not requiring one to be up early and ironic facial hair that makes for a lively crowd to be observed.

The whole afternoon was one big event. We wisely decided to buy six-packs of tallboy Old Styles ($6 total versus the $6 per beer event prices) to bring in, stashing them away in our backpacks like poor college kids. Proceeding to take stock of the festival, we meandered through the crowd wearing our 'creeper shades' - dark sunglasses that are a prerequisite for quality people-watching at any street fest. After posting up here and there and polishing off a few cans of Old Style, we ended up at a bar playing some music out onto their street side patio where we grabbed a seat. It was here that things really got turned up.

As we sipped our beers, a growing mob of tattooed, mustachioed hipsters and their female versions (hipsterettes?) rocking more tattoos, ironic eye-wear and sun dresses began to work themselves into a lather right in front of us. It was a dance party from a movie, something right out of a script. As if on cue, a live bongo drummer popped up in front of the bar and began playing along with the music already on. The rhythm immediately attracted a bikini clad blonde hipster chick with a flowing skirt to dance to the beats along side him. She began twisting and bending, flailing that skirt around and preening for the drummer while the rest of the crowd made a little space for her but continued on with their revelry. This carried on for two or three songs, a scene that seemed surreal.

In the midst of this all happening, one of my friends leaned over and said, "I almost feel nerdy sitting here and watching this, we definitely don't belong. Ha ha." I had to agree and noted that we were very square compared to the rest of the crowd, but we stayed and soaked it all in nonetheless. We may have stuck out like sore thumbs but that isn't the point of the these festivals anyway, its all about getting out and seeing more of the people you share this city with.

After taking in some of the best Chicago has to offer, we navigated the back streets on our bikes, coasting home through the early summer air. Sunday evening was great but the best part may be that it was the first of many.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Long, Slow Recovery


Great monthly chart for tracking jobs recovery. Via.

We've Been Here Before


As new economic data trickles out this week showing signs of a slow down in the expansion of the economy, the GOP continues to hold the debt limit hostage for further spending cuts to the discretionary budget. Not only does this show a lack of basic understanding for global credit and debt ceilings, it is a dangerous game to play with an economy already teetering on the brink. If you think job growth and the overall economy is bad now, imagine what things will look like if confidence in US treasuries craters. The thought that the level of our national debt somehow ties to short term recovery from a recession in incorrect.

Paul Krugman has a thought or two on the subject here. As he correctly points out, our country has turned to austerity measures at the wrong moment before only to prolong the depression. Well, here we are again. Will we care to acknowledge the past?

UPDATE: More on the debt ceiling here

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sorry About That, Gone Golfing


- It's been a prolonged absence, my apologies. A fantastic golf weekend backed up against a three-day holiday weekend back home took me away from the keyboard. This is a good thing. Four rounds of golf on beautiful northern Michigan courses does the body good. A three day weekend split between family, friends, baseball, BBQ, lakes and more golf does too.

- A brief note on the NBA Finals - Miami has no answer for Dirk. None. Dallas has something to throw at Bosh and Lebron, but they lack the perimeter D to lock up both Lebron and Wade for any stretch. Dallas will own the interior, Miami the perimeter. It's tough to make a pick because I will be rooting for zee 7-ft German, but if I were a gambling man I'd take Miami in 7.

- It's good to be back in city, Summer is on! Life is good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Looking Forward To A Long Weekend

Is that Kendra? I believe so...

It'll be an extended absence due to some much needed time off to go golfing. No current events, work issues or customer complaints for the next few days. Just golf. Oh - and about a thousand or so of these:



Ahhhhh......

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taj Gibson Welcomes You To The NBA Conference Finals



Hopefully you didn't miss game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday. If you did, the video highlights of the Taj Gibson's two dunks (above) are all you really need to see to know the outcome. After a tight first half, the Bulls came out of the break and completely hand-cuffed the Heat, leading to a breezy 21 point victory. It is a great start for the Bulls, they needed to come out and grab hold of the series and set the tone the way they did. D-Wade and Lebron won't be cold shooters like that every game, but getting in their head with suffocating team D will help things. As talented as they are, they've both shown weakness at times throughout the year. If the Bulls figure a way to exploit that then the series is theirs.

The Western Conference finals begin tonight and have Dallas squaring off with OKC. Both of these teams feature highly skilled point guards that can dish the rock while harboring an affinity for bad shot selection. Each roster also boasts their own versions of a 7-foot freak that handles the ball like a point guard, can run the floor and knock down jumpers from anywhere inside the arena. The biggest difference between these two teams is the age gap. For Dallas, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki are the old guard of the NBA. OKC has Bryant Westbrook and Kevin Durant - the new kids on the block. It should be an interesting subplot to see unfold, especially if OKC kills Dallas on fast break points and causes the media to become hyper-focused on the overall age of the Mav's roster causing them to ask endless age-related questions.

Overall, my NBA playoff preview predictions weren't so bad. I called 3 of the 4 Conference finalists, however my eventual championship pick got swept by the Mavs. People must have bought-in to what I said though, ratings for the playoffs are way up. At this point, I am just hoping the Bulls deliver a solid serving of embarrassment to the Heat who celebrated beating the Celtics in the second round like it was the NBA Finals.

Details Of The Bin Laden Raid Leaked

Here is the link.

Small knots of children were on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden’s room.

As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

It is a compelling read.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Porn and Basketball and Libertarians - Oh My!


Sorry for any confusion over the past 24 hours, Blogger.com had some software issues that caused it to remove posts and block writers from posting anything new. I suppose that is what you get when you use a free blogging service.

A round-up of what we missed:

- Bin Laden had a porn stash. Is this that surprising considering the fact he also had 'herbal viagara'?

- The Bulls closed out the Hawks in 6 to move on to face the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. It's nice to see local writers pivot a little and pick on an easier target - way to enjoy the victory a little boys.

- Ron Paul announced another failed run for the presidency.

- Newt Gingrich had a campaign slogan recommended for him:

Gingrich 2012: He will always love America. Unless it gets cancer

 

And that is about it. Enjoy the weekend!

 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Internet Is Driven By Boobs And I Am Shamless - Thanks Pippa!


The internet is a really great thing that has advanced the way we live, created new commerce and redefined our methods of communication. One simple fact remains though - traffic is driven by boobs.

Shortly after posting the latest update on Pippa last night, traffic for this humble site went through the roof. While I'd like to think my smooth writing has drawn people in, the truth is my last post from yesterday included the following words:

Pippa
Pictures
Topless
Sunbathing

It's not magic, it's voyeurism. Post the right mix and - voila!! Traffic.

Hello to all you wandering perverts of the internets! Welcome to the site - feel free to read a thing or two outside of the Pippa links. By the way, here they are again - yes, again:

Pippa, topless while sunbathing (there is another link to them within the link) is here.
Pippa, dancing in her bra is here.

Thanks for the traffic!

The NFL Lockout - A Must Read

I'll spare you more pictures of guys in suits walking in and out of buildings.

Please go visit Deadspin and read the lovely summary of the state of the NFL lockout. It's the most entertaining thing to be produced from work stoppage I've ever read.

A highlight:
I love football. Football is pretty much what I live for, and it seems to me that only the players are interested in making football a reality this fall. So if you're somehow on the side of management in this NFL dispute, please know that you are wrong and that you are stupid and that I fucking hate you.

Nice work, Mr. Magary.

Link.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh Pippa, Ctd

Is Pippa a closet hipster? Hmm...

Out of respect for Pippa (scoring points!) and my readers who may be at work, I'll only link to the new topless pictures released just yesterday. Remember - NSFW!

It's been quite an event filled few weeks for Ms. Middleton. Royal weddings, dancing bra party pics and now topless sunbathing pics. Of course these are all kind of run-of-the-mill occurrences when compared to my life. She could never handle the responsibilities of making her own travel arrangements, touring about the Midwest in a car to visit customers and watching television in the evenings. Hell, I'd like to see her try.

Hey, Let's Gin Up Some New Outrage


I can't say I'm surprised by these developments, but Fox News and Sarah Palin are ginning up OUTRAGE at the fact the First Lady has invited rapper Common to an event at the White House. For those that don't know, Common isn't exactly the kind of 'gangsta rapper' that would have upset impressionable old white people the way NWA or Public Enemy did in the the early 90's. He did write one song that is disagreeable to police officers, so Palin and Co figured - hey, we can't let a good opportunity to subtly use race as a divisive issue pass us by!!

As you can tell from the screen grab above, Drudge is doing his part to turn this into an actual talking point. Notice the none-too-flattering picture of Mrs. Obama. The Fox-Drudge-Talk Radio axis is impressive when it comes to creating issues out of thin air. Hammering home a miniscule detail about a musician's lyrical catalog in order to tar the First Lady and the White House displays their savvy political skill set. This particular line of attack requires a little more mental jujitsu that their previous attacks on Michelle's 'Eat Healthy' programs. However, it also exposes them as grasping for straws in light of the past few weeks the White House has enjoyed. Not that previous smears of a Kenyan birth, being a secret Muslim Manchurian Candidate or a blood thirsty Socialist out to kill your grandparents were ever arguments based in reason. But hey - if focusing on sideshows and innuendo are meant to demonstrate they're ready to lead again, they're doing a bang up job.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Unoticed News Of The Day

Note: This is not a picture of the condom from the story. This is just funny.

Hmm....this is some interesting news. Headline: Could New 'Viagra Condom' Encourage Safer Sex?


Now don't get too excited (har har), trials and regulatory approval are only taking place in the U.K. for now. Also, 'Viagra Condom' is a bit of a misleading name - the product is not designed for old farts who have lost their mojo. Instead, marketers are targeting a common excuse dudes use to side step the use of rain coats - maintaining their, er, prominence.

Hopefully our English brethren across the pond get their groove on so that the American market can have a go of it.

Michigan City Stripped of Democratic Rights

Realistic Dream Jobs Are Out There


For those of you stressing out at work - Time ran a list of the 10 least stressful jobs for 2011. It can be found here. Some highlights:

#1 Audiologist  - Well, duh. Pretty low stress environment when your clientele can't argue with what you're saying to them because they're deaf.

#2 Dietitian - "Hey fat ass - eat this, not that." I think I've got it down!

#5 Dental Hygientist - Hmm, another job where the clientele can't talk back. Except instead of deafness you get to shove sharp objects in their mouth to get them to shut up - shouldn't this be listed higher? An obvious trend of silent customers is emerging within this list.

#7 Philosopher - Huh?!? They list income at $61k and tie it to teaching or professorial work. Seems like a reach, used to fill out this list if you ask me.

#9 Mathematician - C'mon, this is just getting silly. I know when I need to relax, the first thing I do is turn to number crunching - it really soothes the soul.

#10 Chiropractor - "We don't crack backs, we make adjustments. Now please lie down so we can begin. You're going to hear a slight cracking noise..."

So if you're stressed, maybe its time for a career change to one of these exciting, stress-free fields. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to spend the next few hours surfing Monster for philosopher positions at UIC.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Oh Pippa

This news is very disappointing!

Not only is Pippa Middleton dating a cricket player, but she has been exposed for dancing in her underwear. For weeks I have been touting Pippa as the hotter sister and the one the future King missed his chance with - anyone could have landed that ice queen Kate. This totally blows my planned summer trip to London to coordinate a 'run-in' with her and sweep her off her feet.

C'mon, Pippa! Dancing in your underwear? I am so put off - how dare you not wait for me?!

And a cricket player? You should relax a bit and give American Cheese a try.

Anyway, for all you perverts out there, here is the pic of her dancing. Be still, my broken heart. You guys are sick for demanding to see this - you know that right? But I can only take so much arm twisting before I have to give in. I don't enjoy posting this one bit. Seriously.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Going For The Jugular


Wow.

The US launched it's first acknowledged drone attack within Yemen in over a year and it's target was no less than the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Make no mistake, the momentum of the Bin Laden raid is carrying American foreign policy right now.

Anwar al-Awlaki is the American-born leader of AQAP - considered the most active terror cell in the world right now. You may recognize his plots by recalling the attempted underwear bombing on a NWA flight to Detroit on Christmas Day a few years ago. 


I must say, this aggressiveness is welcome, as are the tactics. The Yemen attack, combined with the drone attack in tribal Pakistan on Friday, signal a renewed aggressiveness towards wiping out the AQ hierarchy. Obama has been escalating the use of drones within Pakistan for years, but he and his team are hitting the right buttons by pressing the issue at this particular moment.

Any action that takes advantage of our huge technological edge and does not commit 50,000-100,000 soldiers to the effort - a la Iraq and Afghanistan - is a win-win. The USA will never have more national unity behind such actions than it does right now.

An interesting twist to consider when reading these stories - how is the intelligence recovered from the Bin Laden compound playing a role in these stepped up attacks?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Part-Time Blogger and Now - Photographer

It's official, I am now a published photographer! My favorite blog, The Dish, occasionally runs a series of pictures called 'The View From Your Airplane Window'. I submitted the photo above and was published earlier this morning! Here is the link.

A little history about the photo - I took this while flying out of Portland PDX, heading back to Chicago on April 13, 2005. This is looking south down the Cascade range with Mt. Hood in the foreground. At the time I was tasked with sales coverage for the PNW on a temporary basis for my previous employer. I went for two weeks in February and then two weeks in April. After a brief pause in my travels, the company came back in December 2005 and offered me the position permanently. The rest, as they say, is history. Actually, its all history at this point.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Bulls Received Some Trophies, Continue To Win


I don't mean to deceive you with that truth telling headline, because if you tune into either local paper the narrative is much different.

The hand-wringing continues amongst the Chicago sports press.

This week at the Tribune,  all those pesky awards the Bulls earned this year had better be through getting handed out. Really, enough already. Why won't the NBA just let them concentrate on playoff basketball? Accepting awards and doing prep for the game is like walking and chewing gum - Derrick Rose isn't cut out for that!

Not to be left behind, the Sun-Times chimes in with their own animosity towards this particular squad. Did you know the last time the Bulls received both the Coach of the Year award and the MVP was 1996? Guess who that team had - Michael Jordan. Derrick Rose is no Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan won 72 games that year and was able to accept the MVP award while shooting a 3-pointer in the middle of the first quarter. None of this 'ceremony' nonsense for Michael!

Once again, these writers prove they know how to ruin a good time. Both columns were written following last night's win for Christ's sake.

The OBL Bump?

 
What a week. 

Osama Bin Laden sure knows how to suck the air out of the room. Maybe he really was the 'charismatic' leader of al-Qaeda - who knows? It's not like we could understand what he was saying. Considering the national catharsis and the several long days of digesting this monumental event, there hasn't been much else going on around the country. 

Talks of the debt ceiling and conflicting long term deficit reduction plans were quickly swept away.

The destruction from tornadoes was only a blip on the national radar.

And hey, remember when almost half the country doubted whether Obama was born in the USA?

Instead of all that, we've somehow returned to a debate about torture circa 2007, with pro-torture elements from the previous administration touting the false information obtained from water-boarding as some sort of vindication of their actions. Go ahead and brag it up if you think that's a strong position, I suppose. The rest of us will be over here in reality.

I can't say I agree with not releasing some sort of video or photographic imagery of a dead OBL. There must have been a middle ground that would have satisfied most - then again I'm happy to not be the one making that decision. The notion of not 'spiking the football' resonated with me.

What is really surprising, though, is the economic data trickling out today. Commodities finally took a hit with oil, gold and silver all retreating. The dollar surged. These are trends our manufacturers could use, stabilization of oil and other commodities would do wonders for the growth of business right now. Could the death of OBL be providing an economic bump for the country? Maybe this national sense of closure has shifted the collective thinking of the markets back into a mode of getting things done. A major cause of anxiety has been removed from our lives. Although he may have only been a symbol and his network lives on, there is no denying the pivot in our outlook as a country since Sunday. Even with al-Qaeda operatives active around the globe, taking out OBL was like knocking the golden arches down at every McDonald's restaurant. We didn't just kill Osama, we killed their brand.

It still feels good.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Torture Meme

Before a narrative of 'Enhanced interrogation tactics led to this victory' can take hold, please read this review of the facts - Andrew Sullivan piecing it together here.

Were the detainees in American custody? Yes. Were some at Guantanamo? Yes. Did torture lead to the evidence? An empirical NO.

I won't waste time repeating Andrew, but to attempt to tie this to torture and somehow spin that as something to be proud of is sick and wrong.

UPDATE - Andrew chimed in with more detail here

Monday, May 2, 2011

Educate Yourself Fool: The Bin Laden Reading Guide


I've spent a considerable amount of time consuming information on this event since last night. I thought I'd create this post as a place to house the links I found interesting to save you all the time of searching. I'll try and update as new information comes about.

Books for background:
- If you want to understand how 9/11 came about and have a better appreciation of what we pulled off on Sunday, read this. Once considered 'the bible' on background for al-Qaeda.
- This book gives a good perspective of our initial invasion of Afghanistan and how we fell short at Tora Bora. Fair warning - the author is pretty defensive.
- Dexter Filkins is an excellent author that has spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan. His work is here.
- The photographer/videographer of 'Restrepo' and for this book died last week in Libya - both the book and the movie give a good sense of the endless game we're involved in over in Afghanistan. Let's hope bin Laden's demise changes our direction there.

News Links:
The background on the raid here and here.
Did you know the code name for Osama was 'Geranimo'?
Details on the JSOC team and equipement here and here.
I guess he didn't use his wife as a human shield.
Some myths about 'The Sheik' debunked.
Photos of the compound here and here.
Video inside the compound here.
Cool photos of the Prez and National Security team watching the raid here.
This is the helicopter used.
Obama may have watched live via helmet cam. How sweet is that?
Good conscience reflection of initial reactions here.
Dexter Filkins weighs in on Pakistan here.
Author of the Looming Tower weighs in here.
They scored a lot of data and computers too.
Great coverage overall here.
They better release photos. Did the birthers teach them nothing?

5/3/11 Updates
Story on Abbottabad here.
Column from Ali Soufan, a true cog in the intelligence wheel and major character in 'The Looming Tower', is here.
More notes on the Special Ops evolution here and here.

Target: Geranimo

 
What a flood of emotions and memories this country has experienced since late Sunday evening.

I immediately found myself back in front of the 24-hour news channels in the same way we all were that Tuesday in early September 2001. Text messages, tweets, emails and phone calls flowed in a manner that I can't recall since that day either. This is a huge moment for this country and for many people more directly involved it provides a sense of closure I can't begin to understand.

Let me state that the pursuit of Osama bin Laden had held my imagination and attention for quite some time. Over the years, my belief that we'd ever find him began to wane and the possibility of this event began to escape the realm of what I thought to be reality. Last night's news floored me with unexpected emotion - a mix of astonishment, satisfaction, pride and wonder.

Thinking back to 9/11/01, I remember exactly where I was as I'm sure most every American old enough does. A third year sophomore at MSU, I was working my regular Tuesday morning 8-12 roofing shift. We had to stop by Administration to do a roof check before heading to the Old Horticulture building to button-up some work that was on-going there. On the walk out from the Admin building, the two-way radio crackled with a message from another of the roofers, "a plane crashed into the World Trade Center, crazy shit!". It didn't really register that it could be an attack or even a commercial jet - we all shrugged it off as sad but random news. By the time we were on the Old Hort roof we were getting more panicked updates over the radio about a second airliner into the WTC and another at the Pentagon. It wasn't long before we were in front of the nearest TV experiencing history.

There are funny things to consider when you compare 2001 to today. Back then I didn't speak to my parents until after my shift was over and news only got to me as quickly as it did because I worked with two-way radios. Cell phones were just spreading at that point, email was computer based only and texting was completely out of the picture. Last night, my iPad scooped live television with confirmation of bin Laden's death via an automated news alert as I furiously texted as many people as I could to get them to turn their TV's on. The whole chain reaction began with a text from a friend to give me a heads-up. The speed of information is an amazing thing now, making the secrecy and execution of the mission pulled off in Pakistan all the more miraculous.

The target of Sunday's mission has affected the lives of ordinary Americans more than any other modern figure. The TSA, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, the Afghan War, the Iraqi War and 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques' can all be tied to him. Anyone in high school or the early stages of college today likely don't know what its like to have someone waiting for you at the gate as you step out of the tunnel leading away from the the airplane. Guzzling your water ahead of security while simultaneously fumbling for your laptop, taking off your belt and tripping to take your shoes off is regular procedure for them - not something they keep waiting to be rolled back. On the whole, the acts of bin Laden caused America to abandon some of the very freedoms that set us apart in pursuit of him and al-Qaeda. Hopefully his demise will allow for some national catharsis and a path towards more sober security procedures within our airports and surveillance apparatus.

I've written it before and will reiterate it here, I am full of pride and express my congratulations to CIA, JSOC and all other branches of intelligence and military involved since October 2001 when we first set foot in Afghanistan. The details of the mission are truly exceptional and sound like they're out of a Tom Clancy novel. Congratulations to the President for making the call to execute this specific mission and to reassert the American effort towards killing bin Laden back in early 2009.

Osama bin Laden's final actions should give his mythology a significant blow. A man that spent decades coercing and training others for suicide missions reportedly used his wife as a shield as Navy SEALS stormed his $1 Million dollar Pakistani compound. He resided not in a cave amidst the jihad he inspired, but nestled in an affluent retirement community for Pakistani military officials. The widespread myth of a special team of bodyguards that were told to shoot him rather than let him be taken also proved to be false. The location and details of his final hiding place put his narrative back in line with it's wealthy beginnings. Privileged, sometimes spoiled and always playing warrior, it may have been a fitting conclusion. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he met his end tasting American lead.

Gloat Of The Day

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Justice


It's taken just short of a decade to pull off, but Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice. US Navy SEALS stormed a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed bin Laden in a fire fight. They also recovered his corpse which is crucial for proof in a Muslim world rife with conspiracy.

Congratulations to CIA, JSOC and other branches of the military that have dedicated their service to this goal. This is a victory for them and for America tonight.

More thoughts tomorrow, but I am excited to hear more about this amazing raid and the details around it. Tonight, we celebrate and bask in a sense of accomplishment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Corporate America Rears It's Ugly Head


Sorry for the prolonged absence, kids.

This is an especially busy week, what with the travel, hand-shakes and corporate schmoozing I'm having to put up with. It's been a while, but I'm back to scrounging for healthy meal options in the Cleveland Downtown Embassy Suites.

OH-IO! Where we take pride in spelling four-letter words! (And cheating on college football)

That's Helpful, But I Doubt The Ink Is Real


I don't know if you all heard, but President Barack Obama supposedly released his long form birth certificate today.

What? This is supposed to make me believe he isn't from Kenya? Have you seen those pictures of his father? What about the fact he hung out in Indonesia all those years? C'mon!!

Besides, if this is real, where are the footprints? Huh?!? Where are the FOOTPRINTS for Christ's sake??!?

Oh, whatever. If you expect me to swallow this, I'll have you know one thing - there is no way he's Christian.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Only in Chicago - Update


I can't say I'm shocked to report this one - I think Chicago columnists need anti-depressants.

Right on cue, Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times chimes in with a whining column following a Bulls victory and a 3-0 start to the playoffs.

A quote that tops the heap:
I don’t get why it can’t be easier.

Ha! This comes from someone paid to cover sports and offer their opinion. No, really.

I was out with a bunch of Bulls fans last night and when Rose put the finishing touches (yet again) on the victory, the place was about to erupt. I didn't hear anyone crying about how close it was. It's as if these local columnists have forgotten what its like to be a favorite in the playoffs, after all Jordan was all the way back in '98. More talent on paper doesn't guarantee anything. Did it occur to them the Pacers are full of professional basketball players as well? 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Florida Hick Invades Dearborn, MI

I must have missed this news. The Quran burning Pastor Terry Jones from Florida plans to hold a rally in front of the largest Mosque in Dearborn tomorrow, April 22. While I wish I could rail against the act itself, I do respect the right to free speech provided in the First Amendment. So instead of crying foul or advocating fines to try and stop him as the city of Dearborn is doing, I would like to express my opinion on the matter under the same freedom of speech umbrella he is exploiting.

Dear Pastor Jones,

Who invited your inbred ass north of the Mason-Dixon? Do us a favor and keep your hate speech and ignorant points of view in your own state for Christ's sake - pun intended. Hope I offended. I'm sure some ass-backwards way of southern thinking can appreciate a Yankee like myself getting defensive when you decide to come stir up shit in my home state. The truth of the matter is Michigan is an economic engine for this great country of ours and your kind ain't welcome. All you bring with you are your beliefs and practices which incite violence and hatred to a place where people are used to making things and contributing to the greater good of society. Anyone who preys on the fears of others in order to profit is no hero - you're just a gap-toothed dumb ass who happens to have figured out a way to take advantage of those slightly more stupid than yourself. While you seem to be on a continuing audition to star in the next season of 'Orange County Choppers', we're up here working for a living so we can own a vacation home in your swamp-infested backwater of a state. When we visit Florida there is a reason we northerners never venture from the beach - we don't want to encounter any mouth breathing locals like yourself. Ever notice 90% of the episodes COPS ever made was based in inland Florida? That's because there is no shortage of meth-head, fast food eating dumb shits like you and your followers running around. So while you'll likely carry out your rally tomorrow, do not take pride in it. Exploiting the fringe benefits of the rights we're awarded in this nation is nothing new, you just happen to be the latest idiot to do so.

Sincerely,
Go Fuck Yourself



I know there are more graceful ways to go about these situations and I'm conflicted to even post this message because this douche-bag deserves no more attention than he already gets. Hell, I'm not even posting a picture of him because I share the same feelings. But seriously, this guy can go fuck himself. His brand of bullshit is not welcome. So if you think I've gone too far, please consider the source that raised my ire.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The NFL Lockout Sucks

Nondescript rich white men.

The owners and players wrapped up their court-mandated play dates today with no progress towards making a deal. There are no plans to meet again until May 16 which means the only hope for a new league year to start prior to the draft is by injunction.

All of this news sucks. This is supposed to be a great time of year with fans buzzing about next weekend's draft and the 2011 schedule being released this week (Lions on MNF!! Maybe).

Instead we get depressing caveats with each piece of NFL news. "The 2011 NFL schedule was released today, that is if there is even going to be a 2011 season." Or, "with next week's draft quickly approaching, several teams are looking to move up into the first round. Of course no active players are allowed to be involved in any trade due to the lockout." Reports like that have a devastatingly effective way of killing all the fun involved with the usual lunchtime net surfing this time of year. Unlike seasons past, I could care less that the Kiper/McShay mock drafts are behind a paywall on ESPN.com - my enthusiasm has been sapped.

What makes all of this lockout business completely insufferable is the coverage of it. How many reels of footage can we be expected to watch of men in suits walking in and out of buildings? (Picture above added for emphasis) Pasty old owners, their turkey necks pouring over their starched white collars, walking out to a starving press corps to report they essentially told the players to go fuck themselves for three days straight. Give us a break! The pie these bastards are fighting over is Billions of dollars large - just give the players health care for life and get on with the season. You know some dumb network will overpay you yet again with your next TV deal - Dick Ebersol isn't dead yet.

When this is all said and done, the owners will still make millions. The players will too. In addition to those facts, NFL teams will still ask taxpayers to ante up for new stadiums and fans to dish out for PSL's in order to reserve the right to purchase season tickets. Usually fans would be numb to these crazy practices, but as the lockout wears on more will begin to question the whole silly system. In a fair world, we fans would walk away from this kind of behavior and make these people feel some real financial pain. But that won't happen because we're dopes when it comes to football - we'll be lined up on opening day no matter how late it comes this fall. And that fact above all else, sucks.

You Can Now Breathe Easy About HawkPanthers


After completing hours of exhaustive technical research and investigation into the HawkPanther by reading the first few comments on the video's youtube page, I've come to the educated conclusion that these are part of a marketing campaign for a video game. So sad. I had my Visa in hand and was ready to order the complete series.

Enjoy this last video, it will close the loop of our exploration into HawkPanthers and ease our fears that there are actually people like this.

Beware of HawkPanthers



It may seem impossible, but this guy makes Charlie Sheen look normal and sound modest.

Hat tip to Steelface Addiction.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Only in Chicago


This is a perfect example of Chicago sports journalism by Mark Potash of the Sun-Times.  

Only in this town can you carry the best record in the regular season into the playoffs, be up 2-0 in the opening series and receive a hatchet job like this from a local columnist.

For instance:
Two games into his first playoff series as an NBA head coach, Thibodeau already has been put on the spot by the Indiana Pacers’ Frank Vogel — an anonymous interim coach considered a threat in this series more out of respect and professional courtesy than anything else.


Taken out of context you'd think the Bulls had dropped a game or two, or worse - gotten blown out at home.

However, it doesn't take Potash long to discredit his angle, following that paragraph with this statement in the very next sentence:
The Bulls are up 2-0 in their Eastern Conference first-round series. But it’s an uneasy 2-0 because Vogel and his coaching staff have found a way to discombobulate the Bulls — on defense in Game 1 and on offense in Game 2.

Line after line of complaints about Coach Thibodeau simply do not carry weight due to the pesky existence of reality. 

Let's dig into the facts here:

Are the Pacers playing at a higher level than most thought they possessed? Yes.

Is Psycho-T more effective than most realized, annoying as hell, extremely white and still playing with his mouth open the entire game? Yes.


Have the Pacers caught most Bull fans off-guard by all of this? Yes.

Most importantly, have the Pacers won a game? No.

These journalist do it for every sport here. They're suffocating to the teams and insufferable to readers. It seems they can't wait to pick a knit and make sure it becomes a full fledged problem.

He winds up for his big closing remarks with this gem:
It will be interesting to see what Thibodeau does in Game 3, because the Xs and Os of this series are a factor and that’s his expertise. I guess it would be mean-spirited to say that with Lovie Smith in attendance, Thibodeau wasn’t the worst coach in the house Monday night, so I won’t say that. But there’s no doubt he wasn’t the best coach in the house either.

Somebody hose this guy down! If you were struggling to grasp how these guys operate, that paragraph should have made things crystal clear. The Bulls are up 2-0. Invoking Lovie here is like a Chicago version of Godwin's Law. I can't wait to see what comes out in the papers when the Bulls finally drop a game. At this rate, we'll be lucky if these columnists can pick themselves up off the floor in order to write the next day. 

(top pic via)

Damn You, Directv!!!


Are you kidding me?!? 1 point game, 48 seconds left and Directv decides it doesn't like to play well with static electricity. Not in-and-out signal either - complete blackout until well into the first quarter of the Portland/Dallas game. Ugh.

This is not the first time this has happened. For whatever reason, the satellite signal goes out just before a thunderstorm with all that static build-up hanging in the air. Once the rain actually comes, it comes back on. Strange.

Given these occurrences, you'd think I would consider going back to Comcast. Think again suckers, you'll have to pry the satellite dish from my rented balcony before I deal with those ass-hats again.

Surprising Story of the Day

 
Everyone can stop worrying, Taco Bell is actually serving beef - 88% beef! You can take your claim of 36% beef and shove it, class-action lawsuit.

The news that the lawsuit is being withdrawn is much more surprising than the original claims the class-action suit had made. I figured this to be a slam dunk winner in court and the 'Surprising Story of the Day' to be that three months after fines had been imposed their sales weren't hurt whatsoever.

Actually, on second thought, that wouldn't have been that surprising.


I know that you had all joined me in my ongoing personal ban of all Yum! brand food stores (see above for reference) since originally hearing the news. However, given this shocking turn of events, it is now safe to return to stuffing your faces with high-grade fourth meals. Rejoice!

Just in case you'd like a good reason to continue a ban - consider the fact that Taco Bell actually supplied that 88% beef number in it's own defense and posts it freely on it's website. The other 12%? 'Signature Recipe'. (shudders)

I'll still be here holding down the ban fort, ya'll come back anytime.

Friday, April 15, 2011

NBA Playoff Predictions


OK, I've spent a few posts trying to sell you all on the NBA Playoffs, so now its time to put my picks in writing. This is going to be an especially good year because there is no one team steam-rolling ahead of the pack heading into the postseason and everyone seems to carry a weakness. You could argue the Bulls are out front but the team has yet to win a playoff series. Away we go....


Eastern Conference 

First Round
(1) Bulls over (8) Pacers in 5 - Nothing to see here, please move it along.

(4) Orlando over (5) Atlanta in 6 - Dwight Howard is going to abuse Al Horford while the rest of the Hawks put the finishing touches on their summer vacation plans. Judging by the last few games, most of them have been focusing pretty hard on that already.

(3) Boston over (6) Knicks in 5 - The Knicks play absolutely no defense and Boston has gotten worse at it since losing Perkins. At least this will be a fun one to watch.

(2) Miami over (7) 76ers in 6 - That's right - I see the Sixers taking two and causing immediate media coverage overload. There is going to be so much press swarming the Heat we won't even miss a LeBron fart.

Semi's
(1) Bulls over (4) Magic in 6 - This is where the playoffs are going to take flight. All 4 semi's match-ups will be must-see-TV. And the Bulls D will stifle a middling Orlando offense.

(2) Miami over (3) Boston in 7 - KG's head might explode by game 4 of this series. It's gonna be epic.

Conference Finals
(1) Bulls over (2) Miami in 6 - HOMER PICK ALERT! HOMER! HOMER! HOMER!!!


Western Conference

First Round
(1) Spurs over (8) Memphis in 6 - Manu is already hurt. That wine-and-cheese lover, Tony Parker, can't be far behind. The Spurs are rickety to say the least. Memphis is going to push this series, sucking the life out of the Spurs and any hopes they had for another title run.

(4) OKC over (5) Denver in 6 - Yeah buddy, rolling like a big shot. This is the first round series. I can't wait to watch Durant and Westbrook trade buckets with the hot-hand-by-committee Nuggets.  Total points scored in this series: 12,456.

(6) Rip City over (3) Dallas in 6 - Rose Garden, game 6, Blazers up 3-2. No way they lose that, plus Dallas loves to choke in the first round. This almost makes too much sense and probably won't happen as a result.

(2) Lakers over (7) NOLA in 5 - Unfortunately this series will suck due to Chris Paul's on again/off again knee issues and the hollowed out New Orleans roster. Alas.

Semi's
(4) OKC over (1) Spurs in 7 - I'll say it again, injuries will take the Spurs down.

(2) Los Kobe's over (6) Portland in 5 - It'll be around this time that LA will become fearsome for everyone, regardless of Bynum's health. I'm pretty sure Kobe is carrying out human sacrifices as we speak to ensure he gets to six rings.

Conference Finals 
(2) LA over (4) OKC in 6 - Oh man, I really want this series to happen. Same goes for the Bulls/Heat match-up. It would be an amazing final four.

The Finals
(2) LA over (1) Bulls in 7 - As much as I'd like to pick the Bulls, I think I'm already stretching by putting them in the Finals. It is a huge leap to go from .500 to best record in the league - and now you want me to expect them to take the whole damned thing? Can't do it. Hope it happens though. Instead we're all going to have to live with the reality that Kobe will equal MJ's ring haul and the never ending debate that will go with it. Nevermind the fact that Kobe had Shaq in his prime for 3 titles and three 7 footers for the other 3. We'll just throw that obvious difference right out the window, I'm sure.

Enjoy the playoffs, they're going to be grand.

Pic 2 - Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Pic 3 - Stephen Dunn/Getty Images