The Arkanssouri Blog.: 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004

Friday, April 30, 2004

Marriott, Wal-Mart: Stealing is OK, as long as WE do it.

Boortz brings us updates on land theft efforts by Marriott & Wal-Mart.

The phone number for Marriott's Internet Customer Care desk is 800-932-2198.

The phone number for Wal-Mart's home office is 479-273-4000. You can also try 1-800-WAL-MART.

I'm sure these people won't mind answering your questions about whether or not Wal-Mart and Marriott view theft as a legitimate means of acquisition.

Add the World Series Champions to the list.
It seems the Florida Marlins need to be asked the same thing.

Here are a couple of their numbers:

Community Affairs HOTLINE: (305) 626-7470
Customer Service information: (305) 626-SERV

More On Kenny Melton

Ky3 has a more detailed story on the death of Kenny Melton.

Goodbye, Gypsy.

I found Gypsy dead under the porch of a neighbor. I think she had been hit by a car.

It's a f-ed up world we live in, where monsters like bin Laden and the Anthrax killer remain alive and a sweet little mother cat that never hurt anything in her entire life dies.

I buried her under one of the Royal Empress trees I planted as a memorial to the 9/11 victims in the back yard.

Take care of your babies in heaven, Gypsy. I'll do what I can for your babies still here on earth. I just hope it will be enough.

A beer, some Beam, most of a bottle of wine, and a few melatonin later, I managed to get to sleep last night. When I woke up this morning, comfortably numb was beginning to give way to hangover. I popped a couple of ephedra to rectify the situation.

I wonder if maybe I should stay comfortably numb until the world is no longer a place where f-ed up things like this happen.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

What Part Of 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' Don't They Understand?

From the Arkansas Times comes this story of government theft:

Shopping center scrap goes to court
Unusual condemnation to remove house.

By Jennifer Barnett Reed
April 23, 2004

The veil has been removed from a 2-year-old threat to condemn land developer Lou Schickel bought in the middle of a proposed University Heights shopping center at the northeast corner of Markham and University.

The University Heights municipal improvement district - a body basically controlled by Strode Property Company, the Dallas-based developers of the shopping center - sued earlier this month to condemn Schickel's property. The rental house, at 5817 A. St., sits smack in the middle of what Strode hopes to make a parking lot.

Strode's local liaison and the originator of the project, developer Ron Tabor, did not return a phone call seeking comment, and Schickel wouldn't comment this week. But two years ago - a few months after Schickel bought the house, in critics' opinion to foil Tabor's plans and protest city leaders' support of it - then-City Manager Cy Carney sent a letter to Schickel and other remaining property owners in the shopping center zone. The letter urged them to "negotiate in good faith…The city intends to use any and all powers at its disposal to help move this project through to completion."

As of this week, Schickel is the lone remaining holdout. Technically, the city is not condemning the land, although city officials are solidly in favor of the shopping center project. It's the municipal improvement district, a quasi-governmental body theoretically made up of property owners who choose to tax themselves to pay for infrastructure improvements. State law also gives such districts the power of eminent domain, which allows condemnation. It is unclear whether this improvement district will levy taxes for improvements or if its formation was primarily a tool to get Schickel's property.

In this case, the improvement district includes only the property within the proposed shopping center boundaries - University on the west, Markham to the south, Pierce to the east and B and C streets to the north - meaning Schickel is the only non-Strode-connected owner.

Each district has a three-member governing board. Two members of the University Heights governing board, Chuck Keller and Jim Strode, are directly connected to Strode Property Company. The third is Adam Ritchey. His connection to the development isn't clear.

The City Board of Directors approved the formation of the improvement district last month.

The two-page condemnation suit, filed April 9 in Circuit Court, says it needs Schickel's land to "construct and maintain an infrastructure, including water lines, sewer lines and fire lanes."

Donna James, a city planning official who's worked closely with the planned development, said she didn't know anything about the specifics of the condemnation. But building around Schickel's property isn't a realistic option under the developers' current site plan, she said.

"It's going to be very tough to do without getting Lou's property," she said.

Kerry To Springfield Supporters: Screw you guys; I'm going to Fulton.

The dreadful News-Leader reports this.

Life is $hit.

I mind my own business, don't bother other people. Other than an occasional beer, a pack of smokes a day, and a rare shot of Jim Beam, I don't even self-medicate anymore. But what is the point of being a good guy in a world where $hit like this happens?

Gypsy has disappeared. I know something bad has happened to her, because until yesterday, she hadn't spent more than ten minutes at a time away from her babies.

They will in all likelihood die, because I cannot get them to drink any milk from the eye dropper I rushed out and bought yesterday. I called the vet to see if they knew of anyone who had a cat that had a small litter or had lost her kittens. No such luck.

I brought the babies inside and put them in a box. Where they will probably die. If they do, I refuse to ever love anything again. In fact, I will attempt to purge ALL emotion from my life. Emotions hurt too much. Love is a cruel joke, and I refuse to be the butt of it ever again.

I feel a bender coming on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not watching you.

Yet another reason NOT to go to Warm Fork Park. If you do, you're being watched. From the first time I went there, I noticed when I walked past a particular lightpole, I could hear a single "click." I knew it was a motion detector of some type, but guessed it was to turn on the light at night.

Several days ago, I went there before sunup. The light remains on at all times at night.

That leaves one possibility. Surveillance.

This is just odd.

First some background. Last summer, at a family gathering at my aunt's house, my uncle's brother showed up drunk and annoying. My uncle and I, attempting to piss him off enough that he'd go home, were giving him a bunch of shit.

He kept spouting such wisdom as "A cow can't climb a tree, 'cause it don't have 'cow hooks." To which we responded, "Of course a cow can climb a tree. Haven't you seen all those cow nests in the oak trees beside the road back to your house," and "If a cow can't climb a tree, then where do they roost at night?" And "Haven't you seen all those broken limbs from cows falling out of trees?" A recent storm had spread broken limbs all over the area.

Eventually, he went home. The next day, being the smartass I am, I searched Google Images for "cow in tree." I came up with several, but none of them seemed right, so I asked Jeeves "Where can I find a picture of a cow in a tree?"
Jeeves came up with some, and I printed out several, this one among them. The next time I saw my uncle I told him "The next time Leon says a cow can't climb a tree, show him this as proof they can." I handed him this picture.

I tell you all this to bring you to this morning. When I got to Warm Fork Park this morning, I pulled into a parking space. In the next space over was a folded piece of paper. I would be walking past a garbage can anyway, so I picked it up. On one side of the paper was written "Need p***y to lick and suck." There is this one desperate guy at the park almost every day. He drives an old blue Chevy truck and leaves similar graffiti in the bathroom and on the picnic tables, but apparently has not learned that he needs to leave some way of contacting him if he wants such strategy to be successful.

But that's not really relevant. What is relevant is what was on the OTHER side of the paper. This image. Upon further examination of detail, I believe this is the actual copy I printed out almost a year ago. I had left it in my car door all this time, at some point forgetting about it.

What are the odds?

I HOPE at some point I accidentally kicked it out of my car. If I didn't, that would mean at some point this guy got IN my car and stole nothing but THIS piece of paper. Why would he do this? Examining this too closely makes my brain hurt.

[Update.] To find out if this dude's f-ing with me, I printed out this image and am putting it in the same door pocket my cow picture was in. The printout's in black and white, so it looks like his truck from both angles.
Don't f**k with the master, son.

[Update #2.] I wrote "1-800-626-6328" below the picture of the truck. That's the numerical equivalent of "1-800-MAN-MEAT."

Former Thayer resident dies in Iraq.

From KAIT, here is the story of the death of Kenny Melton.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

FPPRO96 ... it's started again ...

... and so I bring you the lyrics to what I have come to refer to as the Addiction Song. The best version of it is kd lang's cover on her album Drag:

Theme From The Valley of the Dolls (Dory Langdon/Andre G. Previn)

Gotta get off, gonna get, hafta get off of this ride.
Gotta get hold, gonna get, need to get hold of my pride.
When did I get, where did I, how was I caught in this game?
When will I know, where will I, how will I think of my name?

When did I start feeling sure feeling safe,
And start wondering why?
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you, what's in back of the sky?
Why do we cry?

Gotta get off, gonna get outta this merry-go-round.
Gotta get, on gonna get, need to get on where i'm bound.
When did I get, where did I, why am I lost as a lamb?
When will I know, where will I, how will I learn who I am?

Is this a dream, am I here, where are you?
Tell me when will I know,
how will I know,
when will I know why?

Nielsen follow-up.

Nielsen finally called. Our week is that of May 20th, which will probably be a deeply nonrepresentative week because of Mom's cataract surgery.

A very unpleasant trip to the eye doctor.

1. The appointment was for 8:30. It didn't happen until almost 11:00. At least they weren't hateful and overbearing, like a certain eye doctor in Thayer, who still uses her dead husband's handicapped license plate, even though she's switched cars since he died.

2. We were among the first to get there. The waiting room had, including us two, seven people in it -- one family of three in one corner, us two, and two more people. There were many, many empty seats (about 27 in all). I sat us one seat in from the end of one row, me in seat 2 and Mom in seat 3. There were at least five empty seats between us and the family of three. Because I don't like to be bothered with people, I put a magazine in the empty seat to my right, the universal symbol of "someone is sitting here; go sit somewhere else."

An old woman with a bad dye job walks in, looks around at all the wide-open spaces she could sit in, and SITS ON THE MAGAZINE IN THE CHAIR NEXT TO ME. What's worse, she ignores all my body language that I find her annoying and keeps pestering me to engage in conversation with her. Excuse me, bitch -- I am not responsible for providing you with a social life. Go bother someone else and leave me the hell alone. I don't CARE about your sugar diabetes. I don't CARE about your multiple eye surgeries. I don't care about YOU, period.

When I had enough, I caught her in the middle of one of her questions about which the answer is none of her business -- "Are you here to get an eye test?" I think it was --, got up and moved to the empty chair on the other side of Mom. The old bat looked bewildered. Good.

3. Mom's test was not good. The cataract (no, that's NOT a Japanese luxury car) in one of her eyes has gotten so bad they scheduled surgery on it for May 19th.

4. Grabbed lunch at a West Plains Sonic on the way home, because Mom couldn't see from the eye test, so we could eat in the car. Slower than Thayer Sonic. Not as tasty as Thayer Sonic. The restroom was nonoperational, unlike Thayer Sonic's. Carhop was surlier than those at Thayer Sonic. Next time I'm in the mood for drive-in food while at West Plains, I'll go to A&W. They're a better chain anyway.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Counter Bubba

I hope these guys will cover how Bubba stole the land to build his library on via the power of eminent domain.

Dunno about posting tomorrow . . .

. . . Gotta take someone to West Plains tomorrow morning for an eye exam.

Oh, Yap-yap, just shut the f*** up.

Yap-yap, how many times have you wrecked Jimmy Spencer in order to advance your position? Many. So obviously, you believe it is a legitimate tactic. But when Tony Stewart did it to you yesterday, you and your supporters couldn't wait to bitch and moan to anybody who would listen.

Who was to blame? Busch pointed the finger at Stewart.

"We drafted down the front straightaway together real well," Busch said. "All race I acknowledged he was on the bottom line. That's cool. We drafted together. I was gonna call him on Monday: 'Dude, everything was great.'"

"I don't know why he committed to Turn 3 as late as he did. He knew he needed to follow me, and now we're here instead of out on the track."


As for the rest of the race, I find it awfully convenient that the only time Gordon was in a position to win, one of his teammates spins behind him, bringing out the yellow to freeze the field. It's also awfully convenient that Mike Helton and the rest of the NASCAR pencil-pushers couldn't get the debris cleaned up in time to finish the race under green. Oh, yeah. I get it. That would mean Jr. would have won instead of their little errand boy, Pretty Boy.

Here's a story on what the fans thought of this instance where the fix was clearly in.

At least Pretty Boy wasn't entered in Saturday's Busch race, where Jr. came in second and his protege, Martin Truex Jr., came in first.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Why not make them wear a burka, D[err]ick? brings me the following, via Drudge:

Louisiana May Ban Low-Slung Pants

Email this Story

Apr 23, 7:37 AM (ET)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - People who wear low-slung pants that expose skin or "intimate clothing" would face a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time under a bill filed by a Jefferson Parish lawmaker.

State Rep. Derrick Shepherd said he filed the bill because he was tired of catching glimpses of boxer shorts and G-strings over the lowered belt lines of young adults.

The bill would punish anyone caught wearing low-riding pants with a fine of as much as $500 or as many as six months in jail, or both.

"I'm sick of seeing it," said Shepherd, a first-term legislator. "The community's outraged. And if parents can't do their job, if parents can't regulate what their children wear, then there should be a law."

The bill would be tacked onto the state's obscenity law, which restricts sexual activity in public places and the sale of sexually explicit items.

Joe Cook, head of the American Civil Liberties Union's Louisiana chapter, said the bill probably does not meet the U.S. Supreme Court's standard for the prohibition of obscene behavior under the First Amendment.

"What about a woman who is wearing a bathing suit under her garment or she has something like a sarong wrapped around her and it's below her waist," he said. "I can think of a lot of workers, plumbers, who are working and expose their buttocks ..."


Rest in Peace, Pat.

To be honest, I don't remember much about your pro-football career, Pat; you were on the Cardinals and when I watched football (which is pretty rare anymore now that I'm a NASCAR fan) it was usually Dallas or Miami. But I do remember the news that you were giving up your football career to go into the service after being so moved by the events of 9/11. Any fan of Dale Earnhardt, Michael Jordan, Roger Clemens, or any other athlete can understand the sacrifice you were making.

You didn't seek any praise, attention, or reward for making the choice. And you didn't feel like you were any more special than any of the other servicemen and women.

But it's not a competition, Pat. Everyone who voluntarily enlisted is special, each in his or her own way. Had I been in your position, I don't know if I would have found the strength to make that choice. I hope I would have, but I don't know.

You gave your life to keep America a place where people can play football, grow their hair long, or do just about anything they damn well want to do. America owes you one, Pat. We owe you the victory in the war on terrorism. Maybe the time you served was the time we needed to put us into the "win" column.

Arizona State has a nice article on you here, Pat. I hope you knew what strength of character, what integrity, you possessed. It's obvious to all of us who can only look back at your life and hope our lives are just as meaningful, just as heroic.

AR plates FA238,

or possibly FA283. Red Chevy pickup.

Left Turn Yield on Green.

Learn what it means.

Tiny is the universe.

One dog turd can ruin your whole day. I got up at 7:15 and took Tiny to get his rabies shot this morning at the rabies vaccination clinic held at the police station. I held him in my arms as the nice, handsome gentleman gave him his shot. The man said, "Uh-oh. Cleanup on aisle three."

I looked down and Tiny had dropped a load. Luckily, most of it missed my shirt and pants, but some of it splattered on my shoe.

Sometimes I think Tiny is a metaphor for the whole universe.

Oh, yeah. It rained my exercise out again. It is 9:04. I am writing off this whole day.

Friday, April 23, 2004

It depends on what the meaning of "I" is...

... John Kerry pulls a Clinton word-parsing episode here.

Rain sucks.

Walking got rained out this morning. And from the forecast, it looks like it will STAY rained out until at least Monday.

On the bright side, maybe that'll give my sunburn a little time to recover.

Who is Mr. Nielson?

Got a letter yesterday saying we've been selected to be a Nielson family for a week. I'll accept it, I guess, but I have a feeling my viewing habits will be discarded as "a nonrepresentative statistical deviation."

2850 Dead People Miraculously Resurrected.

Yesterday, the reports of dead from this train explosion were estimated at 3000. Today, it's 150. How many of the resurrected were named Lazarus?

At least the North Koreans are being their normal paranoid selves and not sticking their hands out for US money, like most other countries would do.

Their paranoia seems especially intense this time, cutting international phone lines to keep the news from getting out. Maybe there was something more to this explosion than we think there is, something they don't want us to find out about.

Maybe something nuclear.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


From The Onion today:

Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department

CHEYENNE, WY—After attempting to contain a living-room blaze started by a cigarette, card-carrying Libertarian Trent Jacobs reluctantly called the Cheyenne Fire Department Monday. "Although the community would do better to rely on an efficient, free-market fire-fighting service, the fact is that expensive, unnecessary public fire departments do exist," Jacobs said. "Also, my house was burning down." Jacobs did not offer to pay firefighters for their service.

As I pointed out on Reason Magazine's deeply disfunctional weblog, maybe if he didn't have to pay so much in taxes, he could have afforded smoke alarms, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers and wouldn't have needed to involve the fire department at all.

Pedometer = Waste of Money

I shelled out thirteen bucks for a pedometer yesterday. Total waste of money. Totally inaccurate. For instance, the .6 mile walking trail around Mammoth Spring registered .7 miles on one lap and .16 miles on the next.

I bought the damn thing because it supposedly counts the fat grams you burn and the calories, but if it can't even get the distance right, none of the other values will be right either.

I guess I'll have to try to figure out some way of determining the calories and fat grams burned manually.

Carbs vs. Net Carbs

I was just reading an interesting article in Men's Health about how the term Net Carbs is essentially meaningless. I need to take a closer look at it, but that would explain a lot about these 20 lbs. I've put back on and can't seem to shed again.

I lost at least 50 pounds counting just carbs. Then I had pneumonia and couldn't exercise due to bad weather, so I kind of wrote off winter as a season to lose weight. I gained 20 back, and now that I look back on it, it started right about the time I got the book Atkins' New Diet Revolution and started counting net carbs instead.

I think I'll go back to counting all carbs again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Retro Entry

I wrote this in 1996, and it has been sitting on a floppy disk ever since, unedited, because it is too painful to read.

In Loving Memory of Heinz. I miss you, my friend.

Good boy.

He wasn't much to look at when I first got him, just black fur and feet and a wide-eyed wonder at every new thing he encountered. One of my friends had given him to me for Christmas my junior year in high school, promising me he would grow no bigger than a Cocker Spaniel. With a voracious appetite (and, incidentally, a fondness for hiding anything he could carry under my parents' bed), however, he soon grew too big to be kept indoors.

Over the next few months, he grew to be roughly the size of a filled-out greyhound. He became my shadow, my escape, my fishing buddy and a very dear friend. No matter how badly I'd screwed up, I knew when I got home, Heinz would be waiting for me, wagging his tail so hard his body shook, as excited to see me as if I'd been gone a month, when really it was just an afternoon. In his eyes, all was forgiven. All I had to do was sit down on the steps of the front porch. Within a minute, he would find some way to be in my lap, which was quite a feat considering that when he was grown he was a sizable animal. Still, he managed.

At various times, he served as a chew-toy for younger pups we'd get, a comforter for the mama cat and her kittens, protector of any newborn animals he found, from baby calves on down to chickens and ducklings. He was also bloodhound for any deer my dad had wounded but could not find, and most importantly, my constant companion on endless adventures, explorations, time wasters, and slow, monotonous hours of walking required as part of my physical therapy for a back injury. He would never leave me and go back to the yard, even though I could see he was tired. "You're my responsibility," he seemed to be saying to me. "It's my job to keep you safe and out of trouble."

When I went off to college and returned home only on too-infrequent weekends, there was Heinz, as glad to see me as if I'd been gone only a couple of hours instead of months, wagging his tail so hard I thought it might break, doing his little excited-puppy-dog dance, which was quite a sight when performed by a full-grown part-Labrador.

When I moved back in with my parents, he was the first to welcome me into the yard, bounding toward me at full speed as if the slightest hesitation might make me disappear.

I'm one of the lucky ones; I had the chance to say good-bye to him once. You see, Heinz liked to chase the mail truck. He would bound off the front porch and hit the ground at full speed, down the circle drive like a rocket and after the interloper who had, in his mind, tampered with our mailbox. He'd chase the truck for a good half-mile, nipping at the front left wheel.

One day, I was sitting in my room not doing anything in particular when my mother came into the room. "John, you'd better go check on Heinz. He got hit."

Heinz had crawled through a fence to a pile of leaves, where I found him bleeding from the mouth and nose, his body crumpled. I stroked his head and neck and accepted the fact that the best thing for him would be to have him put down. I slid one arm under him to pick him up and take him . . . God knows where . . . SOMEWHERE. He yelped as my hand touched his broken ribs but he knew I would not intentionally hurt him. He patted his tail two weak times and looked up at me with his big, beautiful eyes, and I knew I could never go through with having him put to sleep.

I knew he would probably never be completely pain-free again even if he did survive and that it was selfish of me to want to keep him alive, but I also knew that I could not handle losing him, or worse, being the person who ordered him put to death.

I scooped him up and held him in my arms, riding on the tailgate of the truck as my mother drove us back to the house. I expected him to be dead by the next morning, but I could not take him to a vet because the vet would simply tell me what I already knew--he's suffering. It would be better for the vet to euthanize him now instead of letting him die a slow, painful death. I lined a box with a blanket and put him in it in our feed room. I sat up with him all night, stroking his fur, cleaning his wounds, telling him that if this was goodbye, I loved him, that he was a good dog, pleading with him to live, knowing that I was asking too much of him. He would not eat or drink anything. In the predawn hours, the temperature dropped to below freezing and I was forced inside. Before leaving him, I told him "If you have to go, then go. Just know that I love you very much and I want you to stay if you can."

After sunup, when I went to check on him, he was not there. I saw his frozen waterbowl and hoped he had dragged himself to the pond to get a drink of water. I circled the pond three times calling his name, knowing I wouldn't find him there. It sank in. He's going somewhere to die, and he's protecting me from the hurt of finding him dead.

Frantic, I searched my parents' 52-acre farm all day, first on the 3-wheeler, then on foot, praying to a God I didn't believe in that I would find him alive. In late afternoon, I did. Hiding in a ditch, burrowed under some leaves to stop the biting cold, there he was. I'd never have found him if he hadn't managed a few pathetic tail-pats, rustling the leaves.

No way, buddy. I'm not letting you give up on me, I told him. You're strong enough to get yourself way out here, so you're strong enough to get yourself well. Again, I scooped him up in my arms and carried him back to the house, every step eliciting yelps and whimpers from him, which in turn brought tears streaming down my face. I laid him back in his box as gently as I could and poured him some fresh water. He lapped at it timidly, and I came to the realization that if he fought to live, he would be fighting to live for me. Not because of some instinct of self-preservation, but because it would break my heart if he didn't.

Eventually, he recovered. Not completely, however. In his age, the places where the bones had mended turned arthritic and I could see on cold days this made him ache terribly. The fur grew back grey over the flesh wounds, but for the most part he was good as new. His happy puppy-dog dance returned the next spring, and he eventually even began chasing the mailman again, although I noticed that now he would wait until the truck was a good quarter-mile down the road and he had no hope of catching it before he shot off the porch like a rocket.

When I moved into my own apartment, I would be sure to visit him at least once a week on some pretense--picking up a forgotten item, doing laundry, whatever. Every week when I would pull into the driveway, there he'd be, insisting on being the first dog to get a hug. Why not? He deserved it. He'd given me a second chance, and every day after I'd said my goodbye to him was an added bonus that I will always cherish.

Earlier this year, I moved to Houston and could not take him with me. It was very hard, because I kept wondering if he and my other pets would think I had abandoned them because of something they did. I knew my parents would take care of them, but I wished desperately that there was some way I could make them understand that I HAD to go and if there was any way in the world I could take them with me, I would. I cried for fifty miles.

I've only gotten to return home for one weekend since I moved to Houston. When I pulled in the driveway, there was Heinz, doing his little puppy-dog dance. All was forgiven.

Yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving, I received a letter from my mom, telling me Heinz is dead.

I hope to see you again someday, my friend. If I do, can you find it in your heart to give me one more second chance, and maybe one more happy puppy-dog dance?

Dap for the LP

Jo Mannies of the Compost-Disturbed gives the Missouri Libertarians a little dap here :
2 local Libertarians lead charge to earn respect for Missouri party
By Jo Mannies
Of the Post-Dispatch

Jo Mannies

About a year ago, political life didn't look too great for Bob Sullentrup of St. Charles and his cohorts. But now, one of his party stalwarts has been elected to a local public office, and Sullentrup is a top national leader.

Perhaps, it's time that the Missouri Libertarian Party got a little respect.

Sullentrup is state chairman for the Libertarian Party, which he notes is one of only three parties - the others are the Democrats and Republicans - that are guaranteed that their candidates running for statewide office will appear on the ballot. All told, 37 Libertarians will be running for state and local office this fall, down from 52 two years ago.

Any of the other parties seeking to field statewide candidates this fall - such as the Green or Constitution or Natural Law party - first have to collect at least 10,000 signatures from registered voters. Same for Ralph Nader, who's getting tons of headlines for his plans to run as an independent candidate for president.

The fact is, the Libertarian Party's candidate for president - the party will select its nominee next month - is the only sure bet to be on Missouri's ballot against Republican incumbent George W. Bush and the likely Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

"We're not a third party, we're an established party," said Kevin Tull of Kansas City, the state Libertarian Party's candidate for the U.S. Senate. "Yet, we're still treated like we're a third party."

That may be starting to change. Earlier this month, Missouri Libertarians claimed two political boosts.

Sullentrup, a computer consultant, was named the national party's new secretary, filling the remaining weeks of a term left vacant when his predecessor stepped down. Sullentrup will hold the post until the national Libertarian Party convention May 27-31 in Atlanta. He's planning to compete for a full term.

On April 6, the party also claimed a landmark local victory. Tamara Millay, head of the St. Louis County Libertarian Party, was elected the new marshal of Greendale, a small suburb near Lambert Field. Millay became the first Libertarian to get elected to office on the Missouri side of the St. Louis metro area. She won as a write-in, snagging 29 votes.

Millay has been a prominent Missouri Libertarian for about eight years, running at various times as a candidate for the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate.

Her victory in Greendale was part of a two-pronged effort that also included the defeat of a city-backed proposal on the ballot to make the Greendale marshal an appointive post. "An appointed official is beholden to other politicians," Millay said. "An elected official is beholden to the voters."

Millay said she got involved in the battle after no one filed as a candidate for marshal. She then opted to run as a write-in, while simultaneously campaigning against the ballot measure. "The campaign was short," she said. It consisted mainly of a flier distributed all over Greendale right before the election. On Election Day, she worked the polls.

The Greendale marshal's chief job is to police property upkeep, citing residents who fail to keep their lawn mowed or their house painted. Millay says she plans to work with residents when she spots problems, "instead of writing tickets." She adds that her victory won't take away from her other campaign: She's running to become the national Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president. The party separately selects the two people to be at the top of its national ticket.

Millay has been traveling around the country to meet with her party's national convention delegates and make her case. Her chief issues include her opposition to the war in Iraq - "Let's support our troops by bringing them home" - and the Patriot Act.

She also joined Tull and roughly 50 other state Libertarians in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday at the party's Jefferson Day gathering in a city park, less than a mile away from the convention center where hundreds of Missouri Democrats gathered for their once-every-four-years presidential convention.

Libertarians acknowledge taking some heat over their embrace of Thomas Jefferson; Democrats claim him, too. But Libertarians say their party's philosophy best reflects some of Jefferson's key beliefs, among them a distrust of a strong federal government.

Many Libertarians call for phasing out most government programs, including Social Security and public education. Sullentrup rails against the growing federal debt, while Tull cites the Libertarian call for decriminalizing drug use. "We want our resources directed to real crime, like rape and murder," Tull said.

All share Millay's joy over what they see as growing public interest in what Libertarians stand for. "I have been really re-energized by what I've seen around the country," she said.

In short: Some respect.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A Libertarian In Favor Of The Language Police.

Bill Lower apparently believes the government should dictate the definitions of words in this article on gay marriage.

Libertarian candidate Bill Lower, Fair Play, said he has mixed feelings on the subject.

"Libertarian-wise, I don't think it is the business of government to tell a person they can or can't do something. My personal feelings (on the potential ballot initiative) is that it may have some bearing on how its worded. Calling it marriage is not to be allowed. I come at this from a different point than a lot of people look at it. I'm a former English major and I think of it in that way. I have no opinion on civil unions, but don't call it marriage," Lower said.

Lower said that he views marriage as sacred and will wait to take a position until he has an opportunity to read

"If it is worded properly, I would probably not be opposed to it. I'd have to see exactly what it says and my support would be somewhat lukewarm," he said.

Am I the only REAL Libertarian left?

Gypsy's New Babysitter

Gypsy found a teddy bear that used to belong to Rupert, my Boston Terrier I had years ago, in the garage. It is larger than she is.

Yesterday, when I checked up on the babies, she had placed it in the nest with her kittens, to give them something to cuddle up to when she has to go out to get a drink or something to eat. I guess she didn't want them to be alone.

I brought the babies in and showed them to Tiny, my Min Pin, yesterday. He wants them, and does not seem to believe me when I tell him he can't have them because his nipples don't produce milk. Tiny loves kittens, but I told him the only way he's going to get any is if he has some himself.

He looked at me and cocked his head quizzically.

Smoky and Patches, my indoor cats, weren't nearly as impressed with them. Smoky growled and Patches hid under the bed.

I am an idiot.

In this spot yesterday was a post intended for MAY, not April.


Mmmmm... doughnuts ....


Monday, April 19, 2004

3rd Place finish for Jr...

... but it propelled him over Flavorless and Yap Yap to lead the points race, though only by five points. Talladega's next week. Junior OWNS Talladega.

I'm not a Rusty Hater like a lot of Junior's fans are, so congrats Rusty. I wish you'd get a better sponsor, though. I like your brother Kenny better, but I got nothin' against you, Rusty.

Think you're not paying enough in taxes? Here's a solution.

Thanks to Callie for sending me the following:

'Tax Me More' has few takers
By Christina Bellantoni
Published April 2, 2004

RICHMOND -- Only five Virginians have taken advantage of a 2-year-old program that allows them to donate more of their money to the state in taxes -- to the total sum of $6,602.
As the House and Senate wrangle over whether to raise taxes, the results of the "Tax Me More" program would indicate that taxpayers prefer to hold on to their hard-earned cash rather than give it to the state.
"I find it interesting that people that wanted to be taxed more have not contributed more to the fund," said Delegate M. Kirk Cox, Chesterfield Republican and author of the bill that created the program in 2002.
"The purpose was for people who feel they are undertaxed to step up to the plate and help out the state government," said Mr. Cox, who is opposed to general tax increases. "Six thousand dollars over two years is not very good."
Throughout the budget negotiations, those senators who support increasing the state sales, cigarette and income taxes have said their constituents want to pay higher taxes so the state's services can be better funded.
But delegates such as House Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent F. Callahan Jr. who have stood firm against general tax increases wonder why those senators haven't contributed to the more than $12 billion General Fund that pays for state services and government operations. The Tax Me More program is part of the General Fund.
The Fairfax Republican said he admires the five donors. "I chastise all the others who want higher taxes that don't contribute," he said. "It's hypocritical."
Among the five donors is Sen. D. Nick Rerras, a Norfolk Republican who voted against the Senate tax-increase plan. He donated about $50.
"There are a lot of citizens that are continually advocating for higher taxes and doing away with tax breaks," Mr. Rerras said. "It's good for people to have a mechanism where they can contribute back to the state, but not many people are interested in contributing of their own volition."
When he proposed the bill, Mr. Cox said, he expected the program to add $50,000 a year to state coffers. The House and Senate unanimously passed the bill.
However, few who support tax increases have encouraged Virginians to donate to the program.
Gov. Mark Warner doesn't mention the program when he touts his tax and spending proposal to taxpayers statewide, his spokeswoman said. The Democratic governor wants to raise $1 billion in revenue by increasing the state sales, cigarette and income taxes.
"What you're seeing in public hearings across the state right now is that Virginians are willing to go out and publicly link the taxes they pay with services they receive," said Ellen Qualls, the governor's spokeswoman.
"It's a fun gimmick to talk about, but it doesn't negate the larger issue that services ... cost money," she said. "It's not like if the governor talks to 10,000 people and they all give 20 bucks that will make a dent in the $12 billion in need."
Other lawmakers also don't mention the program to their constituents.
Last week, Sen. R. Edward Houck, Spotsylvania Democrat, said his constituents were "willing to accept" tax increases. However, he didn't mention the program.
Sen. Linda T. Puller, Fairfax Democrat, said a constituent at a recent forum was so supportive of the Senate tax-increase plan that he pulled out his wallet and asked how much money he could give to the state.
When asked whether the man was told about the program, Mrs. Puller said the program was not mentioned and that she was not familiar with it. "I don't think it got very wide publicity," she said yesterday.
Even when it got some publicity -- including mentions in delegates' newsletters and on conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's radio show -- the program got very little response.
"There are not very many contributions," said Janie Bowen, with the state Department of Taxation.
Besides Mr. Rerras, residents Andrew K. Kohlhepp and John E. Meyers contributed to the program. Two made anonymous donations, according to Miss Bowen. The donation figures were not available.
Mr. Rerras said it was difficult to obtain the form to make a donation. He proposed amending the program by adjusting the state income tax forms to add a question about whether the taxpayer wanted to donate to the program.
But Mr. Cox said adjusting the tax forms would cost about $100,000, a nonsensical expense given the lack of donations.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the donation program can go to the Department of Taxation Web site,
Meanwhile, 15 college students who are members of Virginia 21 donated 200,000 pennies, or $2,000, to the state Treasury Department yesterday to show support for the proposed 1-cent sales-tax increase. The money will go into the General Fund and will be earmarked for education.
"Wouldn't we rather pay a penny than see $613 tuition increases on Virginia families?" asked Brian Cannon, student government president at the College of William and Mary. "It's time to stop passing the buck."
Mr. Callahan said closed-door conversations with Senate Finance Committee Chairman John H. Chichester have been productive, and that he is confident a budget compromise will be reached. "Public meetings don't accomplish anything," he said. "I'm in constant contact with John Chichester, and we're going to come up with something eventually."

Arkansas has a similar program as well (perhaps the first). If you are aware of other states with similar programs, please let me know in the comments. I'm thinking of putting together a webpage about it...

Kinder's war chest

From The Southeast Missourian:

Kinder boosts campaign war chest

By Marc Powers ~ Southeast Missourian

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder had amassed nearly a half-million dollars in his bid for lieutenant governor as of March 31, almost $200,000 more than any of this year's other hopefuls for the office.

Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, had $470,774 in his campaign account, according to financial disclosure reports filed Thursday with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

That left Kinder with almost nine times as much money as his nearest Republican competitor -- former state Rep. Pat Secrest of Manchester, who reported $54,631 in the bank. The third GOP primary candidate for the post, semi-retired nursing home administrator Bruce Hillis of Dexter, just formed his campaign committee this week.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Bekki Cook of Cape Girardeau reported $274,147 in cash on hand for a more than $100,000 advantage over Senate Minority Floor Leader Ken Jacob of Columbia, who claimed $164,568 in his account.

Party primaries

The winners of the respective Aug. 3 party primaries will square off in the Nov. 2 general election, along with Libertarian Mike Ferguson of Belton.

During reporting period of Jan. 1 through March 31, Cook raised slightly more money than Kinder. Both Cape Girardeau residents were far ahead of the rest of the field in terms of leveraging donations.

Cook collected $110,690 in cash donations, including $11,500 from out-of-state contributors that accounted for 10.4 percent of her total receipts. She received no money from special interest groups. However, a sizable number of her individual supporters -- particularly top-dollar contributors -- are lawyers.

Kinder raised $108,545 during the first quarter of 2004. Out-of-state supporters gave him $16,350 while Missouri-based special interest groups provided $12,500. Those combined donations made up 26.6 percent of his overall collections.

Athletic support

Kinder's campaign benefited from the support of three of Missouri's major league sports franchises or their owners.

Baseball's Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League each gave Kinder $1,175, which until January was the maximum individual contribution to a statewide candidate. William DeWitt Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio -- the principal owner of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club -- and his family donated a combined $2,350.

In 2001, Kinder unsuccessfully pushed legislation to provide taxpayer funding for a new St. Louis ballparks and renovations of the Royals' and Chiefs' existing stadiums.

Kinder is assistant to the chairman of Rust Communications, which owns the Southeast Missourian.

Jacob brought in $58,210 through March 31. Totaling 30.8 percent of his receipts, Jacob collected $15,750 from special interest groups and $2,200 from non-Missouri donors.

Secrest raised just $1,230 during latest reporting period.

CAT makes final offer, agrees to extend deadline

Caterpillar makes final contract offer; deadline to be extended

Associated Press

PEORIA, Ill. - Caterpillar Inc. and the United Auto Workers remained tightlipped Friday about the final offer on a labor deal the heavy equipment giant has given the union.

Peoria-based Caterpillar and the union both declined comment on the offer, citing an agreement that has kept details of the four-month-old talks behind closed doors.

Both sides said a contract extension set to expire Sunday night would be extended until April 25 so the union can explain the offer to its members and hold a vote.

Union leaders would not say whether they will endorse the deal, and downplayed the company's apparent take-it-or-leave it offer.

"When you're in the bargaining process, a lot of companies will give a final offer, and two weeks later they'll come back with a final, final offer and then a final, final, final offer. So it's nothing unusual," said Dave Chapman, president of UAW Local 974 in East Peoria, the company's largest union.

In a prepared statement, chief Caterpillar negotiator Chris Glynn said the proposal would allow the company and employees to remain competitive and succeed over the long term.

"We've faced some complex issues and through open and honest discussions with the union have presented a fair and reasonable offer for our employees to consider," said Glynn, director of labor relations for Caterpillar, the world's No. 1 maker of earth-moving equipment.

The proposed contract would cover about 8,000 union workers and 23,000 retirees or surviving spouses at plants in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Meetings are planned next weekend to explain the deal to workers, who could vote on the contract the same day, UAW negotiators said. Because of the blackout on talks, workers will be getting their first details on the contract, union leaders said.

"They're entitled to hear our opinion from us first," said Bill Scott, bargaining chairman for Local 974.

Negotiations began in December to replace a six-year contract that expired April 1. The talks are the first since a bitter, 6 1/2-year stalemate in the 1990s that included two failed strikes and hundreds of unfair labor practices complaints.

Workers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if talks break down, and Caterpillar has trained salaried and management personnel to keep lines running in case of a work stoppage.

Caterpillar and the union have said wages, health care costs and job security are key issues, but no details have surfaced because of the lid on talks.

"The climate of negotiations has been very businesslike on both sides," Chapman said.

The UAW's ranks at Caterpillar have declined by about 4,000 workers since the last contract because of cost-cutting, increased use of part-time help and expansion of foreign plants.

Caterpillar earnings, meanwhile, have continued to climb, and the company ranked 77th on the latest Fortune 500 list with 2003 revenue of $22.7 billion.

Caterpillar stock rose $1.17 to close at $81.97 in trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

This story can be found here.

Three Parts Joy, Two Parts Sadness.

Gypsy had her kittens last night -- three live, two dead. In my head I know it's better that the two died now, before I got attached to them, and that having three instead of five makes Gypsy's first litter much easier on her. But in my heart I feel sad for her that she lost two babies.

When I came home from my walk this morning, Gypsy greeted me in the driveway to show me she was no longer shaped like a football, then led me to her nest of kittens. She purred loudly as I peered into the box in the garage, letting me know she knew I wouldn't hurt them. Later, when I picked them up and took them in the house to show Mother, she just waited in the box, unconcerned, because she knew I'd bring them back.

Gypsy, technically, isn't even my cat. She's a stray that showed up starving at my house last fall a few days after a house up the street was destroyed by fire. She was barely old enough to be weaned then. Her brother, who I named Hobo, came with her, but never quite trusted me enough to even let me pet him. I imagined their mother had perished in the fire and began feeding them on my front porch every morning.

It didn't take Gypsy long to decide that I belonged to her. She would jump in my lap and demand to be petted any time I sat on the front porch. She's a rather small cat, hidden under her long brown fur. When she began showing obvious signs of pregnancy, I worried she might be too small to deliver. Growing up on a farm, you get to be realistic about baby animals. They don't always survive, and sometimes their mothers don't either. All you can do is hope for the best.

The last couple of days, she has been too uncomfortable to jump in my lap, so she just lay beside my chair, looking up at me with her big green eyes and letting out a soft "meow" every time she wanted me to reach down and pet her. I wondered if she remembered enough of her own mother to be a good mother to her kittens.

This morning, when I peered down and saw the five kittens -- three living, two dead -- all meticulously and lovingly cleaned, I knew I didn't have anything to worry about there. Gypsy loves her babies, even the ones who didn't make it.

I let her be with all her babies for a couple of hours, and when I came back later to dispose of the dead ones, I saw those two had been pushed just outside the nest, but deposited gently together. Don't tell me animals can't feel or don't understand death. These two were loved, and they deserved to have names just as her other babies would.

I picked them up and wrapped them together in the same strip of paper towels, grabbed a shovel and some flower seeds and buried them in the back yard near their uncle Hobo, who was hit by a car a couple of months ago. I scattered the flower seeds over the newly disturbed soil and named the two dead kittens -- Angel and Spirit.

The flowers? They were Baby's Breath. Angel and Spirit never had their first baby's breath when they were living. It was the least I could do to provide them with Baby's Breath in death. Sleep well, babies. I guess God needs kittens to play with too.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


Missouri's Republican legislators aren't above a little payback.

Latchkey Kitty

I walked to the library this morning, and got here about 15 minutes early. I never can estimate walking time right. Anyway, as I was sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, somebody's latchkey kitty* decided I was supposed to pet him. He was a very friendly kitty, but he had a little nasal drip.

That was OK. I did too.

* Latchkey kitty --n.,-- a cat someone leaves outside when they go to work. There are also latchkey dogs and other latchkey pets. I don't know if there are latchkey boa constrictors.

My Excellent TEXANS hat

FINALLY. Four months into what was supposed to be a 4-6 week waiting period, I received the TEXANS hat I won in Pepsi's NFL Caps For Caps contest. I thought about a Cowboys or Dolphins hat, but I realized those would be in high demand and the supplier would likely run out and send me something like a Browns hat instead, so I got a Texans hat instead.

It is tan with the excellent Texans logo on the front. And, unlike the Dale Jr. hat (kind of like this one, but my 8 is lamer) I bought myself for Christmas for $12.99, this one actually fits comfortably on my fat head. Jr's hat only fits right if I wear it backwards.

I half expected my Texans hat to be that awful shade of navy blue, but it's tan. Excellent.

Koshkonong City Park Controversy

From this week's Koffee 'N' Kosh:


Koshkonong City Hall is packed with residents of the city as the change over of Mayor and New City Council Members prepare to take their new positions.

Former Mayor Tom Lowe opened the meeting, then announced, the city clerk that they had just hired, had resigned. Liana had been ask[ed] to take the minutes and read the last months minutes, which she did, then it was time for the change over of administration, but not before Former Mayor Tom Lowe dealt the residents of Koshkonong with one final blow. Tom Lowe announced "The City Park has been sold to a private individual and I will be in charge of the Park. If anyone wants to use the Park they will have to go through me." Everyone is in a state of shock as Tom Lowe, Myrtle Rigel and Norma Duncan leave the building.

After the shock and some discussion as to how this could happen, some of the residents said "We may have lost our park but we will not be defeated, we WILL salvage our town!"

Geneva Bernard is the new alderman for Ward I and Brian Willbanks is Alderman for Ward II. City Council meetings will be held the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m.

Tense changes and desperate need for an editor aside (I gave up on the "sic"s; there would have been so many it would have been distracting), this story is interesting. While I don't know the details, as a general principle I have no objections to the privatization of public lands -- it takes the city's cash outflow, in the form of expenses the park generates, and turns it into inflow, in the form of property taxes paid on the land.

But in this case (and admittedly I've only heard one side of the story) it sounds to me like this reeks of corruption, not just in what was done but also in the way it was announced. The city of Kosh has a few options here that might return the park to them.

1. Get a lawyer to go over the deal with a fine-tooth comb. Does Kosh have requirements that such transactions be published beforehand, such as a bidding process, and if so were such requirements followed? Does the transaction cover only the land? If so, take the improvements off it (picnic tables, the fence around it, etc.). If he's only bought the land, don't let him take anything but the land. Tie him up in red tape -- does he need an environmental impact study before changing it from a park to private property?

2. Does Kosh have zoning restrictions against the property being a private business? Probably not, but it's worth a look.

3. The next time property in Kosh gets assessed, note every single thing on the property that improves it's value, and raise the assessment accordingly. If the guy has to pay thousands in taxes on it, he might slip up and become delinquent on the property. Then someone can snatch it out from under him by paying the taxes on it. You probably don't want to do this if you are exploring option #5, however, because you might end up having to pay more in "fair compensation."

4. Have one of the residents file complaints every time the grass gets too tall at the park, every time it has litter, etc. Preferably, it should be a resident who keeps his own lawn meticulously manicured, so the park owner cannot retaliate in similar fashion.

5. While I absolutely oppose the power of eminent domain, it IS an option. Missouri law requires only that the land would be used for "public use." The downside is that the city might have to pay a pretty steep price, if that is what is determined fair compensation at the trial. And there IS that pesky Commandment against stealing. In a perfect world, eminent domain is not an option. But in the world where we live, it is an option. It's not an option I would use, but the people of Kosh might.

6. This is probably the best option -- let him have it. Boycott the park. Get a group of citizens together to buy a new space for a park, or get someone to donate the space. There is nothing sacred about that space. It has trees, yes, but so do lots of places in Kosh. Schedule lots of events at the new park. Make it a hundred times better than the old one, and people will choose to go to IT instead of the old one nearly every time. The only thing I'd advise is, before donating the land to the city, put clauses in place that will prevent such a thing from happening again. "Any attempt to transfer the donated land to private individuals shall result in ownership of the land reverting to the people who donated it, or their heirs" should do the trick.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Phil Jackson, Wordsmith

Phil Jackson, not to be upstaged by John Kerry inventing a pope, invented a new word on "Pardon The Interruption" yesterday.

I would make fun of him, but it's actually not a bad word --


Lunch Today = Moral Failure

Had to take my mother to a doctor's appointment in Salem this morning, so I only got one lap in at the state park, at daylight. I dropped her off at the doctor's, then headed to the Salem City Park, where I did one more lap.

After she got out of the doctor's, we headed back to Thayer and stopped at Sonic for lunch (it was about 10:00 AM). I wanted to try their Jumbo Popcorn Chicken, but it only comes in a combo, with fries and a drink. I told myself I would only eat half of the fries, so I ordered the snack sized combo with a Diet Coke.

I wound up eating all of the fries except one, which I threw at a black-and-white tomcat who was sitting beside my car. He sniffed it and gave me dirty looks until we left.

Apparently, the cat has enough willpower to stick to HIS low-carb diet. Wish I could say the same for myself sometimes.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Melancholy Nostalgia

Just heard Clint Black's Nothing's News on the car radio, a near perfect example of melancholy nostalgia. He was SUCH a better country singer when he was single and unhappy.

We've GOTTA find some way of breaking him and that chick up.

You would think . . .

... that with THREE librarians, ONE of them could show up on time.

Today's tardiness: 10 minutes.
Running total: 35 minutes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Apparently the Thayer Library needs a time clock.

The librarians consistently open the library late. Why can't they just show up for work on time?

Today's tardiness: 15 minutes.

I think I'll keep a running total.

Socialism 3, Capitalism 0.

Told ya so.

Something like 1500 to 266.

I don't want to hear any of you 1500 complaining about your taxes being too high ever again.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Sales Tax Election Day

Today's the election in Fulton County about whether or not to increase the county sales tax to support the Fulton County Hospital. Here are some of the reasons the hospital administration gives for approving the tax.

Given the number of irrational, emotional ads in favor of the tax, it will probably pass, giving Fulton County consumers even MORE disincentive to shop in Fulton County.

I'll post election results tomorrow, but it looks like my running total is gonna be :

Socialism 3, Capitalism 0.

Supporters have successfully framed the argument in terms of "either the tax passes, or the hospital will close." They neglect to mention, however, other alternatives, such as raising fees, and aggressively going after deadbeats who don't pay their medical bills. I'm sure they just FORGOT to mention those alternatives.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Is it wrong of me . . .

. . . to wonder if the guy hugging Jesus is drunk?

Adventures in Baking

Tried my hand at making sugar-free lemon cake and focaccia Saturday night. The cake didn't rise and tasted like dung. The focaccia tasted great but looked like something out of the movie Leviathan.

So I wound up making a quick trip to the grocery store for some sugar-free lemon poppy creme cake to take to Easter dinner, which is what I should have done in the first place.

Rolling Rock Green Light

Tried Green Light over the weekend. While it's not Shiner Bock or Crimson Voodoo or even Budweiser, at 2.6 carb grams it's not bad.

Sometimes compromises have to be made.

Yay Mikey!

No Nextel Cup race yesterday due to the bigwigs of the series being out hunting brightly-colored fertility symbols with the kiddies, but congrats to Mikey for winning the Busch series race Saturday, which, regretfully, I missed.

Maybe I can catch a replay of it sometime this week on SPEED Channel.

Since Mikey runs nearly a full Busch series schedule AND a full Nextel Cup schedule, I don't really consider him a Buschwacker.

The Soggy Potato Chip Theory

The Soggy Potato Chip Theory states that, when a good potato chip isn't available, a child will accept a soggy one. And when "good" attention isn't available, a child will accept "bad" attention instead.

It is in this vein that I point out a story in Sunday's dreadful News-Leader, in which Greene county Libertarians chose their new officers.

The story, however, is about Doug Burlison abandoning principle for pragmatism (and not even realistic pragmatism at that) and Keith Rogers, who is apparently under the mistaken belief that the Libertarian party supports establishing a theocracy.

Any publicity is good publicity, I guess.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Beefy Men In Kilts

One of the radio announcements for the kilted golf tourney at this festival says it is "kilt optional." Brings up all sorts of images, doesn't it?

Buncha men running around nekkid from the waist down playing golf, for one.

But if you're into that sorta thing, the festival is April 23-25 at Lyon College in Batesville.

From this week's KOFFEE 'N' KOSH

They don't have a website, or even an email address, so I'll have to type this in manually. It's from their lead story in their 04-09-04 issue, Koshkonong City Government Changes With A Landslide.

"Doyle Langley says he would like to thank everyone for their support and vote of confidence, and he is looking forward to helping the residents in any way he can and also with hopefully getting some grants into the Koshkonong area. He and George Hunt have already got the ball rolling toward the May 15th grant. Langley says we don't have much time left to get the grant submitted, but will need everyone working together to make it possible."

The bolded part is my emphasis, not the paper's. I don't know what improvements these people are seeking (a later comment in the article references "improving homes and streets for our residents"), but whatever they are, I have to wonder -- if the people of Koshkonong don't want these improvements enough to pay for them themselves, what makes it the responsibility of someone in, say, Excelsior Springs Missouri or even Provo Utah (if it's a federal grant they're looking for) to help pay for them?

My beef isn't with people who get the grants. It's awfully tempting to accept the mindset of "If WE don't get them, someone else will." My beef is with the people who made these grants possible in the first place. If you want your roof fixed, you pay for it. If Kosh wants better streets, Kosh should pay for it. Not someone in Branson or Tulsa Oklahoma.

In a fable that sounds like it could have been typed up by Communist Party headquarters, Langley goes on to lecture us that one plus one does not equal two.

"Langley tells the story of a man with ponies who liked to watch them pull. One pony pulled 1200 pounds; he put another pony with the one and together they pulled 3600 pounds. If you notice one pony could only pull so much, but with just one more pony they could pull, not twice as much but triple. That's TEAMWORK! The same goes for our community, one person can't pull the whole load, but with TEAMWORK, we will see great things happen for our little town."

I'll skip the argument that people are not beasts of burden, and neither are tax dollars. But I will point out that what this story leaves out is that the second pony by himself can pull 3500 pounds, and that if you have them pull individually, they can pull 4700 pounds, but if you put them together, the first pony lets the second do most of the work, so they can only pull 3600 pounds.

A is A. One plus one equals two. There is no free lunch, not even by sucking at the teat of the government mule.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Rollye, Neal

When WLAC comes in late at night, sometimes I listen to this chick. Sometimes she goes too much into "insider baseball" -- AM stations that USED to be, and music that USED to be played, but once in a while she goes on a libertarian rant and is pretty good.

I wish a local station would pick up the Boortz show. WSB fades in and out at night, and NEVER comes in during the daytime. And I THINK when Boortz is on at night, it's a replay of that day's live show.

A few unstructured days . . .

The routine of going to Country Cottage every other day for lunch and fast food on the days in between was starting to bug me, so yesterday we went down to Fred's Fish House. People recommend their catfish so often and so much that often their burgers are overlooked. Really great burgers they are. I had mine yesterday with cheese, pickles, a little onion and some hot sauce. The place DOES need some serious help from the WHILE YOU WERE OUT or the TRADING SPACES crew. Stark white walls, industrial red carpet, chairs that look straight out of a 1970's McDonald's. I've seen college cafeterias that were better decorated. Maybe they should take a trip up to Diamond Head in West Plains to see how to decorate the interior of a restaurant.

There was an odd little incident at Fred's. A distant cousin (third, I think) of mine walked in. He had changed a lot since I'd last seen him, so I didn't recognize him at first, but after he introduced himself seemed rather happy to see us, but in the middle of the conversation he got this confused look on his face and stammered a little bit. I had no idea why, until I got home and saw myself in the bathroom mirror. I was wearing my Outright Libertarians shirt, and the logo on the front shows the statue of Liberty with rays coming out of her torch that are the colors of the rainbow. Oh. That's why. He didn't know about the Libertarians part. Or the Outright part. Maybe both.

This morning I was up at 4:44 and was at the park by 5:15. It didn't take long to realize it was still too dark and too cold at that time to do my laps, so I went to the State Line Restaurant/Truck Stop for a couple of cups of coffee until it brightened and warmed up a little. Then I went back to the park and got in about 2.4 miles. Then I went to Thayer's Warm Fork Park (this gave me an excuse to get in my car and turn on the heater to warm up a bit; it was still a little chilly) and got a little more distance in. I drove from Warm Fork Park to a little Missouri Conservation area down a dirt road to see what the distance there and back was -- 2.8 miles. I may start walking that sometimes to get out of my rut.

Then I went back home, left the car, and walked to the library. To the library and back is about half a mile.

I may have to up my evening walk from the usual .8 mile in order to make up some lost distance. If it doesn't rain, that is.

Dunno about posting tomorrow. The library may be closed, so I may have to take the Easter weekend off.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Jean Carnahan fancies herself an author.

Senator Golddigger's still riding her husband's corpse all the way to the bank.

WOMAN FIRST: Jean Carnahan's book - "Don't Let the Fire Go Out" - about the death of her husband and son in a plane crash in October 2000, and her reflections on being Missouri's first lady and a U.S. senator, will be in bookstores next week. The book includes cover blurbs from former Sen. Tom Eagleton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards. Local signings will be at Left Bank Books, April 19; Borders Books in Brentwood, May 3; and Barnes & Noble in Ladue, May 14.

What kind of leniency did you show Matthew, you slimebag?

Russell Henderson should be pushing up daisies by now. But instead of being thankful every day that he's not already in Hell getting sodomized by demons, he begs for leniency.

Accept it, you piece of filth. You already GOT more leniency than you deserve.

Dethrow: Majority Rule is bad.

Rep. Mike Dethrow (R-Alton) does not believe important matters such as hunting and fishing should be left to the unstable emotions of the majority. Here he argues that

"These issues are best left in the hands of professionals and not those who would manage these resources with the emotion of an initiative petition," Dethrow said.

and in this week's South Missourian News (the article's not up on their online version yet) he argues

"When it comes to the management of our state's fisheries, wildlife and forestry resources, I prefer to err on the side of sound science and not on the side of emotion . . . A simple majority vote allows for emotion to carry the day and takes the power out of the hands of conservation professionals [career bureaucrats] who know best how to manage these resources."

Translation: The voters are too stupid and irrational to let simple majority rule stand. They need the government to tell them what to do, instead of the other way around. We're from the government and we're here to help you, whether you consent to it or not. Big Brother knows what's best for you.

Smoke fills Batesville Kindergarten Center . . .

I just heard on The Max that smoke has filled a local Kindergarten Center, causing it to be evacuated.

There are no injuries, so I am free to wonder in good conscience the following:

Has my friend Callie been adjusting thermostats again?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

We Have Arrived.

While trying to find a story on the tax increase to build a new Thayer Elementary School, I came across a listing for the Arkanssouri Blog on Google. I guess we have arrived, now that our registration went through.


Well, Joe Henry didn't win. And didn't lose by just one vote either. Here are the vote totals:


Note that the media is ignoring the votes for John Galt, Howard Roark, and Dagny Taggart.

So we have re-elected one of the people responsible for raising our taxes to build a new Government Indoctrination Center/Temple To Socialism, and we have elected a career teacher (Gee, I wonder WHO she'll side with if she has to choose between teachers and taxpayers.) And there is STILL nobody whose primary allegiance is to the taxpayers on the school board.

Meanwhile, the voters of West Plains decided they wanted to pay more taxes, both on this issue and in their school issue, taking more money out of the hands of individuals and giving it to the government.

Socialism 2, Capitalism 0.

A little self-congratulatory update: Apparently, we have scooped all the local print media on these totals. The nearest online news I can find with this info is KY3, home of Tony Beason and Nid Rinnilds.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Libertarians could be the swing vote of '04.

This poll from Fox News shows Bush & Kerry neck and neck with 44% each, and "other" getting 10%. You would THINK that would mean both candidates would start trying to court third parties.

But then how can you court someone you've spent the last three years (in the case of Bush) or your entire adult lifetime (in the case of Kerry) alienating?

This story from TeFLON* suggests that support may already be hardening. This election could get mighty boring before November.

* TeFLON -- The Ted Fonda Liberal Opinion Network, aka CNN.

Shifting voter affiliations . . .

Newsmax has an interesting little piece about the weakening of the political duopoly in this country.

When will they learn?

When will these dopes learn that Boob Chick is an attention addict, and that the more attention you pay her, the worse she'll get?

Just ignore Boob Chick and she'll go away.

Sam's Unamerican Choice

The glorified coloring book has a story disturbing to those of us who have long defended Wal-Mart's right to engage in free enterprise.

Apparently, the retail giant is resorting to some unsavory means to acquire property.

If Wal-Mart believes stealing is a legitimate way to acheive it's objectives, how can it then object to people shoplifting in it's stores?

Kerry Poped His Pants.

John Kerry, not to be upstaged by Al Gore inventing the Internet, invents a pope.

Mr. Kerry became combative when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching.

"Who are they?" he demanded of his questioner. "Name them. Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?"

He added: "I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our constitution separates church and state, and they should be reminded of that."

Mr. Kerry apparently meant John XXIII, as there is no Pius XXIII.

Thayer School Board Election Day . . .

Joe, Joe, Joe . . .

I WANTED to reward you for being the only candidate to mention taxpayers in your campaign ads, although I still think taxpayers should be at the TOP of your list, instead of the bottom.

I had decided to vote for you and John Galt. Then when I went to vote, you ignored the restrictions about keeping your distance from the polling site. In fact, you came up to me no more than 15, and probably closer to 10, feet from the door.

Lost my vote right there, buddy. So if you lose tonight by one vote, that's why.

John Galt and Howard Roark, however, would be pleased that they got votes for the school board. And Dagny Taggart would make a fine city councilwoman.

Our neighbors to the East . . .

There they go again.

Response from Subaru . . .

I got this email in response to my suggestion that Subaru reintroduce the 360:

Thank you for visiting the Subaru Web site and for your suggestion. There are no plans at this time to reintroduce the Subaru 360. While I don't know of any regulation forbidding it, I would think that the Subaru 360 would not appeal to many customers. In fact, as it was, I don't think that many US citizens would even fit in a Subaru 360.

But, we still appreciate that you took the time to give us your comments. We will forward them to our Product Planning Department for their future consideration. In the past, input from our customers has been helpful in initiating changes to our newer models. We hope to continually improve our products and appreciate your recommendations.

Thanks for the opportunity to be of assistance. If you need any future assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Best wishes,

John J. Mergen
Subaru of America, Inc.

This strikes me as a very polite way to say "f--k off."

My dad was over 6 feet tall and had little problem fitting into the 360. And when he got it stuck, he would get out and pick up the front end and set it on firmer ground.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Not quite the brand that Dagny Taggart smokes . . .

I was searching for a picture of Camel Dark Mint cigarettes to point out that I splurged a little today so I could have great smokes one last time before trying for the umpteenth time to quit.

But, I ran across this interesting little brand instead. Does anyone else find this a bit Orwellian?

Arkansas Libertarian Convention Scheduled . . .

This, from the Times-Record.

How old is that in human years?

Animal lovers among my readers will find this story of Copper interesting.

Set your VCR's . . .

The Fountainhead is gonna be on Cinemax this week, but at an ungodly hour.

Nascar . . .

Junior comes out of the weekend still third in championship points, behind Flavorless and Yap Yap.

Not that it matters much since Nascar fug dup the championship race so that all you have to do is be in the top 10, or within 400 points of the leader, after 26 races in order to get a clean slate.

Suppose someone wins the first 25 races, then suffers a moderate injury that keeps him from racing the last 10. Not only would the new system NOT give him the championship, he wouldn't even be in the top 10.

Subaru 360.

Dear Subaru:

In these times of outrageous gasoline prices, don't you think it's time to reintroduce the Subaru 360? Slap some Splitfire sparkplugs and a Tornado Air Fuel Management Device in the stock version of that puppy and I bet you could get 70 miles per gallon these days. A hybrid version could probably get 125 or more.

You could market it as an entry-level alternative to the Volkwagen Beetle. And it would appeal to people's pocketbooks and desire to conserve resources.

Or is it a case of so many government regulations regarding required equipment that such a vehicle is now impossible to sell in America?


Saturday, April 03, 2004

What's missing from this editorial?

This was found in today's Quill.

Endorsements on
selected ballot issues

Prop. C rollback: Yes, but...

The question of the Proposition C rollback on Missouri ballots on Tuesday may be the most serious ballot proposition involving state primary and secondary education we will face in our lifetimes.
Whether the vote is affirmative in all 113 school districts will speak volumes about how much Missourians care about the future of our schools and the education of our children.
The rollback of voter-approved Proposition C, passed several years ago when Missouri was flush with money, is necessary to maintain the level of excellence in our public schools, never mind improving it.
Visiting briefly the arguments against approving the ballot issue faced by voters in those 113 Missouri districts, including those in the The Quill’s circulation area, it may be well to do so from the point of view of West Plains R-7 voters. R-7 voters face all of the issues involved in the other districts plus a couple which may be unique.
First is the issue of whether passing the rollback will keep South Fork Elementary School open. At this point no one knows. That should be viewed as an issue separate from the Prop. C rollback, but it is clear that if the rollback doesn’t pass that will be the last nail in the school’s coffin - plus it will penalize students in the rest of the R-7 district’s schools.
Next is the question of whether a “yes” vote will give the R-7 Board and others a blank check to raise tax levies at-will. No. Each district will have no wiggle room beyond what the state says they can raise their levies each year based on what the state auditor allows - which most often is a single percentage point or a fraction of a point. Any raise above that figure would have to be approved by district voters.
Has the R-7 Board (and other boards) mismanaged its resources? I don’t think so. Although I sometimes disagree with how schools spend their money, that is a matter of a difference in philosophies rather than any suggestion of mismanagement.
The fact that 113 school districts in the state’s 114 counties have asked their patrons to roll back the provisions of Proposition C indicates the problem is just what schools say it is: declining state revenues. And, of course, some point to votes for such proposals as Proposition C and the Hancock Amendment, approved by a majority of Missouri voters, as part of the problem with state finances.
The bottom line here is that it is unlikely that all 113 school districts asking for the rollback are mismanaging their resources. More likely we Missourians, most of us, have had a greedy hand in mismanaging the state’s resources.
And it is noteworthy that not all West Plains area districts are asking for the rollback.
Schools such as Howell Valley and Richards have broad tax bases because their districts include much commercial property, not necessarily because they are much better managed than their fellow districts. That is another factor which speaks to a wider problem than possible mismanagement as a source of financial trouble in 113 Missouri school districts.
You have noticed that in the headline over this endorsement I have urged a “yes” vote for the rollback, but I have also included a “but” with the endorsement.
The “but” is this: If school district patrons want to be sure their boards are managing their tax money properly, and they want a say in questions on curriculum and other school matters, they should attend school board meetings in person or form “watchdog” groups to attend as their representatives.
Quill reporters and/or editors attend all R-7 Board meetings and as many other area school board meetings as they can, but there is no substitute for patrons attending to find out first hand what is going on with both their kids and their tax dollars.
Every parent-teacher organization could appoint representatives to attend meetings on their behalf, not waiting to get involved only when issues arise which have an immediate effect on their children or their tax money.
In the case of the R-7 meetings, for example, watchdogs could take the list of 41 of 43 cuts the board already has made and make sure it adheres to its decisions, or question why it doesn’t. In fact, up-to-speed observers would be in a position to recommend further cuts and economies, as well as ask questions and make suggestions in other areas.
Quill reporters say that absent big, hot issues, most school board meetings attract only those who have to be there and a teacher or two. Problems which lead to ballot issues such as those on many of Tuesday’s ballots do not appear overnight, and if more parents were more involved in their school districts some such problems might be met long before they become emergencies.
The current issue is not something about which school district patrons likely could have done much, but the principle of more parent involvement in school issues is sound.

Know what's missing from this editorial? The taxpayer. You won't find the word even mentioned in it.

Do they cover tequila worms?

Please tell me no tax dollars were used to fund this.

Freedom of speech? We don't NEED no stinkin' freedom of speech!

Apparently, the police in Salem don't know about a little thing called the First Amendment. Details here.

How long before the three-headed frogs begin hatching?

Oh, dear.

Fulton County Hospital . . .

This sob story might be a little more believable if, for instance, the hospital hadn't long ago stopped allowing babies to be born there or would have at some point fixed it's mammography machine.

For more than a decade now, the hospital has done little more than serve as a brief stop before transferring to other hospitals.

If you want a hospital, pay for it with user fees.

This Doyle Fink fellow . . .

I found out he's a guy I overheard in a restaurant before the school-construction bond election vehemently asserting that anyone who planned on voting against it ought to be forced to take a tour of the school.

It wasn't a battle I was willing to pick at the time, so I didn't tell him that whatever condition the school was in, it wasn't my responsibility to pay for building a new one.

So, Joe Henry and John Galt it is, then.

A nod to the large number of Cat retirees in Arkanssouri...

The Peoria Journal-Star doesn't have anything really recent on strike talks, so here is the most recent information I could find.


Here is what the UAW has to say on the matter, an extension until April 18.

And I found more recent material hidden in the Journal-Star.

Springfield's woefully inadequate skyline

Nothing good in the dreadful News-Leader this morning, except these pictures showing Springfield's "skyline" behind their new ballpark.

Of course, there's also a pic of John Q. Hammons apparently trying out for the Devil Rays' pitching staff. Given their past performance, he might just make it.

America's drive-in.

Ate lunch at Sonic yesterday. In quality, quantity and price, Sonic has the best onion rings in the area, but I wasn't in the mood for them, so I had a grilled chicken wrap and a Diet Coke instead.

You might be a redneck if . . .

. . . your front porch is also your clothes dryer.

I see no need to use energy when I don't have to, so this morning I plucked my newly-airdried clothes off the clothesline I set up on my front porch.

Friday, April 02, 2004

30 degrees made it another one-lap morning this morning.

But the steam rising from the outflow of the dam, refracting the light from the sun rising behind me, created a spectacular, perfectly circular rainbow around the shadow I cast on the steam.

Kind of appropriate, don't you think?

Those who trade liberty for safety deserve neither.
Liberty will not be defeated in America by revolution or by spectacular attack, but by such creeping nannyism of the state as this.

From my Do As I Say, Not As I Do file comes the story of this hypocrite.

Butthead indeed, and NOT because he's a smoker.

Must one apologize if it is true?

Pretty boy fancies himself a Williams sister.

4th Annual Wild Hog Music Festival & Motorcycle Rally is coming up April 23-25 in downtown Helena, Arkansas.

Does my 1995 Escort Station Wagon count as a hog?

Friday Funnies

Tom The Dancing Bug.

MO Plates 749 MR7

In civilized society, we use our turn signals before making a turn. Please take note.

The Sirius Project

A canine officer died in the World Trade Center attacks, all but forgotten in the incomprehensible number of human casualties. I think his name was Sirius, and he deserves to be remembered. One thing I'd like to do if I ever win the lottery is set aside a million dollars for what I would call the Sirius Project. I'd put it in the bank and use the interest to help police and fire departments buy and train search, rescue and recovery dogs.

I wouldn't give money for drug dogs, because that is a separate issue entirely. But I think the project would be a good way to honor and remember Sirius.

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