Now I’ll Need Sleeping Pills

WCCO tubes Al Malmberg.

Malmberg – the Good Neighbor’s long-time graveyard host and one of the most somnolent radio personalities since Marconi first tickled an oscillator – falls victim to hard ad times.  Brauer:

Over at the Good Neighbor, having a nationwide wee-hours clear channel signal apparently isn’t what it used to be. I haven’t confirmed the details with WCCO management, but new station boss Mick Anselmo is under orders to slice costs — top talent was asked to take a 10 percent pay cut, and two news reporters were recently let go — so low-revenue overnights was probably a tempting target.

One tipster told me the station will shift to a syndicated show out of St. Louis on Monday; I haven’t pinned down its identity yet. Another tipster says the station that advertises itself as “NewsRadio 830” is so short-staffed that it now runs recorded weekend morning newscasts in the afternoon; also unconfirmed.

Wouldn’t Mischke be a great fit, huh?

(Well, that’s the rumor that’s bouncing around Twitter…)

2008 Shootie Awards

It hardly seems like it’s been three years since the staff of this blog issued the first-ever “Shot In The Dark Academy Of Blogging Art, Science and Engineering Awards For MetaJournalistic AntiExcellence” – known and loved as the “Shooties”. During those three years, the online metajournalistic world has expanded – and, like a Peter-Principled fog, opportunities for really bad metajournalism have expanded anon.

And so, last night at a gala at Northrop Auditorium, the staff of Shot In The Dark and an assembled audience of 3,000 of the creme de la creme of the elite of the elite gathered to bestow these awards, and to look ahead to next year. It was a dazzling display of fashion and blogging star power (marred only slightly by JB Doubtless’ tipsy recitation of his favorite slam poetry of 2006) highlighted by appearances by Marisa Tomei, Metallica and beer expert Michael Jackson.

(Technical awards were given the previous week at the Minneapolis Grayhound station, and were all won by Joe Bodell).

And so without further ado – a tradition unlike many others: The Shootie Awards for 2008!

The Andy Dick Whiny B**ch Award For B***hy Whinyness: Need I say more?

The Daniel Pearl Profiles in Journalistic Courage Award: This one goes to Molly “Is It White In Here” Priesmeyer of the Minnesoros “Independent”. Last March, she wrote:

…it’s at least refreshing to see McCain’s teeth get a razzing (though, unfortunately, not a cleaning). It gets a little tiring listening to the same sexist cries that Hillary Clinton is just too ugly to be president. Hatin’ on the looks of all the candidates? Now that’s equality!

The next day, she noted to MDE that, schwoops, she wasn’t aware that McCain’s teeth had been beaten out of his face while a POW in Vietnam:

I was not aware of the fact. I simply was linking to a post that revealed “his teeth” had become a topic of discussion on the blogosphere. is an aggregator site that collects trends of the day.

The “Mindy” – all the news that’s fit for rich liberals to pay you to link to!

The Leona Helmsley “Accountability For Ye, but Not For We” Award: Last March, the Minnesoros Monitor “Independent”‘s Andy Birkey chided Rep. Michele Bachmann for eschewing appearances on the local tanning-bed media, preferring to stick to conservative and Christian news outlets (an approach that was pretty roundly vindicated closer to election time). I asked Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senate Candiate Al Franken, Representatives Keith Eillson and Betty McCollum, and mayors R.T Rybak and Chris Coleman for interviews on the NARN or, if their schedules didn’t permit, on my blog.

Mayor Rybak earned my respect by accepting the invitation.

None of the others responded to repeated inquiries.

The Cliff Clavin Award For Unintentional Comedic Self-Glamorization: Grace Kelly at MNBlue MnProgressiveProject some wackjob commieblog knows who the real heroes are.

DFL volunteers.

The Mao Zhedong “We Are Identically Diverse” Award: Lori Sturdevant has given so much to this award ceremony every year; she’s a serious contender for a lifetime achievement award. This years’ paeon to “feminist unity” (behind left-leaning women only, naturally) was just one of dozens of potential choices from her oeuvre this past year.

The Baghdad Bob “We’re Not Laughing With You, We’re Laughing At You” Award: Mere weeks after the Minnesoros “Independent” laid off much of its staff at the behest of the “Center for “Independent” Media” (causing editor Steve Perry to realize that he’d been running a bald-faced propaganda rag roughly two years after every other person in the Twin Cities had twigged to the fact), Chris Steller complained unironically that the Coleman campaign was tossing the utterly dependent Steller from press conferences. (The NARN is still waiting on press credentials from Keith Ellison).

Post Title Of The Year: While there were the usual avalanche of contenders, I found nothing better than Mr. Dilettante’s “Jesus Christ Oberstar“.

The Martin Luther King/Sermon On The Mount Award For Political Civility: Aaron Landry – MNPublius’ designated wind-up Frankenblogger – brought political discourse to a higher level.

The “Dewey Wins” Award For Gate-Keeping and Fact-Checking – This years’ award goes to the Minnsoros “Independent” (nee Monitor), for Dan Haugen’s “It Could Be Worse“. Background: during the spring legislative session, Rep. Tony Cornish (R – Good Thunder) sponsored a bill that would have clarified Minnesota’s rules for armed self-defense. While the rest of the Minnesota Sorosphere turned to actively lying about Cornish’s bill (see “Government Figure As Mushroom Farmer”, below), Haugen tried to wax humorous, snickering that at least Minnesotans weren’t proposing allowing guns in bars, like a bill in Tennessee proposed.

Unfortunately, being a highly trained “independent” “citizen journalist”, Haugen couldn’t be bothered to have found out that legal, unintoxicated (blood alcohol below .04%) permit holders are allowed to carry guns in bars in Minnesota.

The “C’mon, Thomas Jefferson – Work With King George!” Award: To the entire Twin Cities media and leftymedia (pardon the redundancy), for their nonstop pressure on the GOP to not just forgive and forget the Override Six for stabbing their party and constituents in the back, but to pretty much become DFLers anyway. As usual.

Government Official As Mushroom Farmer Award: This one goes to Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom, in his response to Rep. Cornish’s bill. Backstrom demonstrates the old adage – if you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, just lie, since the media will back you up anyway.

And finally, the big kahuna – the one we’ve been waiting for all year:

The Charles Townsend Award – In 1765, British parliamentarian Charles Townsend, in noting the Colonies’ protests against the Stamp Act, said:

“And now will these Americans, Children planted by our Care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a Degree of Strength & Opulence, and protected by our Arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?”

And this year’s winner is…

(Drum Roll)

Larry Pogemiller, “I think it’s simplistic and naive to say people can spend their money better than the government.”

That’s it for this year, folks! But stay tuned – 2009 promises to be a doozy!

ALSO:  Swiftee is giving out awards, too – and unlike the autocratic Shooties, you have a say!


Despite Cerberus having billions in cash, Chrysler recently received $4 Billion from the US Treasury.

They’re grateful and they want you to know it.

So they embarked on a national “Thank You” ad campaign including full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, reportedly at a cost of around a quarter million dollars each.

From the Chrysler Blog:

  • Mr. Nardelli,It takes a man with a whole lotta chutzpah to thank a person for investing in a company when they had zero voice in the matter. My elected representatives decided ‘no’.  The executive branch decided ‘yes’ through means that might be legal but frankly smell like rotten fish.You may certainly get my money this way, but you will never see a dime of my money voluntarily spent on any of your products.
    Brian Dunbar
    Neenah, Wisconsin
  • Mr Nardelli, Fire your PR and advertising teams and execs immediately.  We the People did not want to see any more ads and money wasted on ads, be it from Chrysler, et al, or from your own pocket.  You should have put up a website thanking the people and just submitted it to various online news aggregators for free.  Once again, I am pained to see you are demonstrating a lack of common sense and fiscal responsibility.  We supported the bailout of the car companies, even in the face of the horrendously mismanaged and secretive bailout of banks, and you stlil throw money away in the name of your company.  Time to wake up. Sincerely, Matt and the rest of the Internet.
  • Dear Mr. Nardelli and the “over one million people who depend on Chrysler” – You’ve got some nerve to thank us for our forced “investment” when we didn’t want it to happen in the first place.  Isn’t forced or coerced investment akin to robbery?  Taking one’s money against one’s will? Hmmm . . . . The very thought that MY money is going to go to some union lackey’s pockets just makes me queasy.  You should’ve filed for bankruptcy just like any other business in your position would have to.  And that would’ve given you the opportunity to unshackle yourselves from the ridiculous union contracts that you signed on to.  You’ve got two major issues to fix:  Unions and quality products.  If you’d listen to your customers and NOT the media and marketing types, you’d fix your product issues.  And the unions . . . sheesh, get out of that racket!  Notice the plants in the South where unions aren’t that prominent don’t have the same issues as the ones up North? Let’s see what happens when MY business tanks.  Will YOU throw cash at me?  I don’t think so. So, in conclusion – to hell with you and your company.  Any business that would go begging to the government for a handout has no shame, and deserves to fail. File for Bankruptcy, or crumble!
  • I’m speechless.  And I’m saddened that a corporate management team is so inept at understanding public opinion.  Some advice:  issue a press release stating that you regret that you made a mistake using taxpayers’ money in this manner.



…to bring a result opposite to that which was planned or expected: The plot backfired.  

MPR: Not On My Street! (Part II)

Minnesota Public Radio wants the Central Corridor to reconsider its route – currently slated to roll down Cedar Avenue, a north-south street (more or less, like all Saint Paul streets) that runs the full length of the “Taj Ma Kling”, MPR’s immense, bleeding-edge studio complex filling the entire block from Seventh to Exchange in downtown Saint Paul.

The next two installments focus on engineering – indeed, two different extremes of engineering – and two different sides of downtown Saint Paul. Today focuses on the north end of downtown, and on acoustic engineering, one of the most subtle and nuanced engineering fields this side of biotech. Tomorrow, we’ll turn to civil engineering, the big, brawny, bricks-and-mortar variety on the opposite extreme (and the south side of the neighborhood).


MPR states its case for noise impact to its broadcast complex, located on Cedar between Seventh and Exchange Streets:

How would LRT affect MPR’s broadcast quality?MPR’s first responsibility is to our listeners and members. We provide programming to nearly 800,000 listeners on our regional network and nearly 16 million listeners nationally. We attract the best classical and popular musicians in the country to our recording studios.The LRT creates low frequency vibration, higher frequency noise from its horns and bells, electromagnetic interference, and radio frequency interference. Each of these can negatively affect the ability of our equipment to operate properly.

All of this is true; while people observing the Hiawatha light rail comment at how relativelly quiet it is, trains of any size do create low-frequency rumbling, the result of energy being transferred via tons of metal rolling over metal rails anchored in the ground; unless you specifically plan against it (at immense cost) this energy will get transmitted through the ground. Isolating a building from that kind of low-freqency sound is very difficult, and is something that needs to be done from the foundation on up; it’s not something that you can take care of by nailing extra carpeting over your walls.

And if sound is your business, that’s a serious problem:

Any inability to operate our radio and recording studios because of vibration or noise will significantly compromise our ability to provide high quality programming and other services to our listeners. As determined by our noise tests, our producers will not be able to do their work in the MPR building.

The part of me that grew up in AM radio (in a studio near a very heavy rail line, by the way) and is not an audiphile (indeed, who loves the nearly lost art of mixing music to sound good on tinny car speakers) says “sack up, MPR producers. It’s only radio”. And for much of their programming, that might be an adequate response.

But FM radio is a lot more technologically upmarket than the business I grew up in, and classical music – especially the production side – is an audiophile’s business.

But leave all of that aside for a moment – because whatever you think or believe about MPR’s audience demographics and politics, they were there first. MPR built the first leg of its studio – a veritable palace to my commercial-radio-trained sensibilities – almost thirty years ago. And again, whatever you think about the organization, they have made a huge investment not only in their “market”, but in the area.

Given the extremely close proximity of the train to our broadcast facility, the CCPO has been unable to provide a comparable example anywhere in the U.S. where mitigation has worked.

Imagine for a moment that a commercial recording studio – run, what the heck, by a scrappy Republican punk-rocker-at-heart like, say, yours truly – had worked and scrambled and saved and scrapped for years to build a state-of-the-art recording facility in a struggling downtown. Imagine that studio eschewed government handouts, and slowly, painstakingly built itself into a success…

…only to have the big, dumb jackboot of government, in the form of a misguided social-engineering project in the form of a useless, money-pit light rail project, dump an insurmountable handicap in its lap with its customary “like it or lump it” attitude.

How would you, the free-market conservative, respond?

Of course, Minnesota Public Radio is not that scrappy, underground Republican business. It’s taken all sorts of government handouts; to be fair and accurate, government subsidy is a relatively small part of MPR’s revenue stream (although not so small that MPR’s management doesn’t pull every political string it can to protect it from budget cutting at the state and federal levels). To be equally fair and accurate, MPR’s non-profit status gives it a leg up on its commercial competitors that is, in effect, a back-door subsidy that’d be called “corporate welfare” for any business that didn’t have “public” wedged into its name.

Still and all, MPR has been there forever, it has invested all sorts of money (theirs and ours) in their facilities, and it has, without a doubt, an immense technical, “business” and financial stake in making it possible to do business in their building.

It seems pretty clear-cut so far.

It won’t stay that way, of course. You might ask in response “But didn’t they know the light rail was coming through before they built the Taj Ma Kling?”, the eleventy-jillion dollar expansion they built between 2004 and 2006 that looms over Cedar like a Garrison Keillor temper tantrum?

Yes and no (with emphasis altered from the original and added by me):

MPR knew before it expanded that Cedar Street was the preferred route for the Central Corridor. Why didn’t MPR do more to address noise and vibration during its expansion from 2004–06? Final decisions about the route and location of the tracks were not unveiled until April 2008. In 2001 when MPR, with encouragement form the City of St Paul, chose to expand its facilities on Cedar, we were given no data (and none existed) illustrating the impact of noise and vibration. We designed the new north wing of MPR’s broadcast center to deal with every noise and vibration we could envision at the time. However, 16 of MPR’s 24 recording and broadcast studios are in the south wing, designed in 1979. MPR knew that Cedar Street was being considered for the route, but neither MPR nor the two churches knew how close the train would run to our buildings. LRT trains are proposed to be just 12 feet from the front of MPR’s St. Paul broadcast center.

This brings up any number of questions.

  • What Did MPR Know, And When Did They Know It: While the MPR press release is correct inasmuch as the general timeline, it’s been pretty common knowledge that the city has wanted something to rectify downtown’s biggest open sore. Cedar was once the heart of a bustling downtown. But “Urban Renewal” in the form of the mid-Fifties “Capitol City” master plan (while we’re on the subject of misguided, hamfisted government social engineering) gutted the area in the Fifties, turning Cedar in particular into a cold, ugly, windswept canyon that could scarcely divide and isolate Uppertown and Lowertown more effectively if it had barbed wire and guard dogs. Light Rail has long been seen as a means to fixing this; more on this tomorrow. MPR can hardly not have been aware of this rather key bit of urban planning.
  • 12 Feet?: How significant is the “12 foot” figure that the MPR release cites? Would an extra six feet help? That would presume, naturally, that there was room to move the train – which I suspect there is not. Saint Paul is an old downtown, laid out in the 1800s; its north-south streets are relatively narrow, by big city standards. Cedar is not an especially wide street. I’m going to presume the answer is “no” on that.
  • Mitigation?: Some say it’s possible to use technology to mitigate the vibration. MPR’s consultants say not so. As with so many questions in so many businesses, pick your consultant.

So how did we – MPR, the City, the Central Corridor Planning office, everyone – end up in this mess? Again – I’ve taken out MPR’s emphasis and added my own:

Why didn’t The Met Council consider the potential damage to MPR earlier? We don’t know. The Federal Transportation Administration guidelines clearly require special consideration for recording and broadcast studios, concert halls, theaters and other sound sensitive areas. The federal guidelines also state: “…before mitigation measures are considered, the project sponsor should first evaluate alternative locations/alignments to determine whether it is feasible to avoid severe impacts altogether.” The required study of the impact on recording studios and historic structures was never done.

Which is of a piece with the serial negligence that’s accompanied every step of this project; the Washington Avenue Bridge isn’t strong enough, the U of M can’t absorb a train running up Washington through the middle of its campus, traffic at University and Snelling will be snarled enough to make a Mumbai rush hour look like a Saturday afternoon in Fargo, and businesses up and down University will be gutted.

What’s another flubbed study among friends?

Tomorrow – more about MPR’s suggested changes.

UPDATE: Welcome, Politics in Minnesota and Save WCAL readers. Please check out part III of the series. Part IV follows on Monday.

It’s A Dog’s Column

We’ll jump to Bogus Doug’s conclusion

about PiPress columnist Bob Shaw’s take on a story (a dog is cured by a canine stem cell treatment that is not legal for humans using human stem cells):

Anyway there are two very basic problems with this column. The first is that Shaw is opining in an area of science he apparently lacks very basic knowledge about (Science-journalism: All the whiz-bang and drama of science fiction, without the realization they’re frequently making stuff up). The second is that Shaw’s point isn’t even about what he thinks it is, but seems to rather be a call to lessen the regulatory burden on bringing medical treatments to market; with a kind of endorsement that the medical standards for dogs should be good enough for us.

What led to the conclusion?

Go to BoGo and read up. It’s worth the trip.

Two Years Interest Free

The United States of America is coming to an end in 2010 which presents an enormous opportunity.

MOSCOW — For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument — that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S.

A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.

Bummer for sure, but 2010 is when I am going to make all of my electronics and furniture purchases and put them all on “Two Years Interest Free” financing. Just as they come due:

Thousands Worldwide Prepare for the Apocalypse, Expected in 2012

You have to understand, there will be nothing, nothing left,” Geryl told ABC News from his home in Antwerp, Belgium. “We will have to start an entire civilization from scratch.”

Just when my stuff comes due.


Northern Alliance Takes Over As State Press Office

I just got this: 

SAINT PAUL –  The office of Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty announces that the staff of the radio talk show the “Northern Alliance Radio Network” will be taking over the duties of the state press-relations office.

“We think this is a slapshot for good government, and will put us square in the net as far as cost savings and turnaround”, Governor Pawlenty said in an impromptu statement at the Capitol this morning. 

The State Press Office oversees all media relations for all branches of Minnesota’s state government, from the Legislature through the Executive Branch.

The outsourcing of PR services is expected to save the state 45 million dollars a year.  But not everyone is thrilled by the idea.

“I’m outraged…Outraged…” said Ashley Grot-Puttanesca-Steubingfelder of “Peace Through Mandatory Unity”, a non-partisan Saint Paul-based affiliate of ACORN, “…outraged [brief pause to re-collect her thoughts] that the government of Minnesota would turn this vital job over to a bunch of partisans“.

Speaking on behalf of the Northern Alliance/State Press Office, Deputy Press Officer Chad The Elder replied “What kind of name is Ashley Grot-Puttanesca-Steubingfelder?  Good lord, pour me a drink – she’s ugly”.

Satiric fantasy?

Oh, this is Minnesota under the control of the unfettered DFL.  Of course not.

UPDATE:  A bad analogy?  Provided all the UpTake – an overtly left-leaning organization – does is provide a commentary-free feed, perhaps. 

I’ve had questions about the slant of UpTake’s coverage of events; to be fair, they’ve quickly and fairly answered those questions (as, indeed, I seek to do with this update).  To be prudent, it’s perfectly fair to ask if a group can serve two masters – an agenda and “fairness”.

Is UpTake providing a useful service, and doing it fairly?  Perhaps.

Can they – and Secretary of State Richie – expect to be watched carefully?  Absolutely.

Back To The Past

In its ongoing quest to be all things to all people, KSTP is bringing in Pat Reusse to try to jumpstart the station’s long-dormant (as in “forever-dormant”) morning drive:

“Somewhere between wacky and MPR, there’s a morning radio show to be done, and that’s what I hope to be part of Monday through Friday on KSTP,’ Reusse said. “The goal is for us to put together a morning show that I would listen to.’

Which should be an interesting bit of work, considering Reusse’s on-air persona; how do you make a morning show that an omnivorous dyspeptic like Reusse will like?

I digress:

One of the Twin Cities’ most well-known media personalities, Reusse has written four-to-five columns per week for the Star Tribune over the past two decades. He will continue in his role as a sports columnist, writing two columns per week after his new morning show is unveiled.

Hiring Reusse is not a dumb move, in and of itself.  Reusse has almost three decades of track record with KSTP’s audience.  He can do radio (although I can certainly see a Reusse show ending up as “all of the curmudgeonly dyspepsia of the Soucheray show, with none of the humor”).  And KSTP’s management isn’t completely tone deaf; while conservative talk is among the only formats making any money anywhere in radio, sports seems to be doing adequately as well.  KFAN has eked out a decent niche in Twin Cities radio; it’s not a dumb idea for KSTP to try to stake out  piece of that turf, especially given the huge investment they made in the Twins.

In the longer term, though, KSTP-AM’s ongoing drive to be the new WCCO – to be “broadcasters” in the marketing as well as technological sense of the term – seems grossly misguided.  The audence – heck, all audiences has been splintering for decades.  Narrowcasting – in particular, providing a destination, even a sense of “community” (shaddap, Soucheray) for a fairly tightly-focused group of listeners – is where the money is, provided the focus isn’t music (the IPod has been flensing music radio).

For all of its mistakes, Clear Channel in the Twin Cities has done a good job of marketing KFAN to a community of sports nuts-who-dabble-in-news. 

KSTP’s problem isn’t that Reusse won’t do a decent job on the mornings, especially given help from the listenable Jay Kolls and Kenny Olson – although I’m tempted to ponder that having Jeremy “Kodiak” Kienitz would be a huge help (presuming Kodiak hadn’t fallen on the outs with Reusse over the previous decade or so).  The problem (yes, I’m monday-morning quarterbacking, here) is that a single personality isn’t going to turn back a huge systemic problem.

KSTP could rebuild its entire format around Reusse and Soucheray, going mostly/all sports like KFAN and using its 50 kilowatts of raw power to build a regional sports/news-o-tainment/goombah community powerhouse.  They could hire a brace of firebrand conservatives to recapture their glory days.  They could re-hire Mischke and scour the country for more stream-of-consciousness humorists.

But KSTP is trying to broadcast in a world that’s becoming narrowcast.

Brad Carlson also addresses the change.

MPR: Not On My Street! (Part I)

It’s gotten a lot of press lately: Minnesota Public Radio seems set to take the Central Corridor – the new light rail line set to connect the two downtowns via the U of M, University Avenue and the Capitol area – to court over the disruption the high-frequency noise and low-frequency vibration could cause their recording and production operations.

MPR posts its case here.

On the one hand, it’s easy – or, to put it in the possibly-more-apt pseudo-latin, “facile” – to ascribe the whole thing to the “limousine liberalism” of Bill Kling, Garrison Keillor and MPR’s well-heeled clientele; “silent acquiescence to big-government initiatives for ye, but not for we”. 

On the other hand, you will scour their website in vain for any mention of opposition to the Central Corridor over…

  • the horrible effect the Central Corridor have on traffic and noise in the Midway,
  • the crushing economic impact it’ll have on the Southeast Asian business community in Frogtown, which has been a huge, if low-key, triumph of the free market in Saint Paul in the time since I’ve lived here,
  • the cost of refitting the Washington Avenue Bridge at the U of M to carry the added weight of the LRT line,
  • the overarching fact that with its stops every mile (rather than every few blocks) and fast rolling stock designed to stop only at large, purpose-built stops (just like the Hiawatha Line), the LRT will supplant the 50 Express bus, rather than the slow, clunky, traffic-clogging 16 line between the downtowns – meaning that it’ll not only barely scratch traffic, and that…
  • …as such, it will serve primarily inter-Twin-City rather than local travel, and so might have been vastly better-served by a trolley line or other more utilitarian but less-“sexy” installation.
  • It will require immense expense to solve a number of civil engineering challenges in downtown Saint Paul…

…or other such plebeian concerns. Indeed, it seems to be all about their studios. Which may be legally appropriate but, given their support for all the other aspects of the Central Corridor, ethically obtuse.

That being said, I’ll try to stay away from some of the stereotypical (albeit sometimes fully appropriate) class-baiting that some of MPR’s conservative critics have employed in criticizing the network’s response to the LRT line.

I said “try”.

Tomorrow: Sound Engineering, Unsound Planning.

Thursday: Civil Engineering, Uncivil Project.

Friday:  Ethics, Politics and other difficult stuff.


I’m a linguistics geek.

You’ve been warned.


Languages borrow from and give back to each other in a constant ebb and flow of words and ideas that, often as not, reflect cultural shifts. 

English is, of course, a language made up of borrowed words.  It’s really a hash arising from the collision of two linguistic families – Anglo-Saxon languages descended from German and Dutch, and romance influences descended from the Norman conquest of Britain.  And American English is even more so – a melange of immigrant dialects (the southern drawl is a descendant of the Scots-Irish brogue the south’s original inhabitants brought over; the various New York and Boston dialects are combinations of Northern, Eastern and Southern European accents).

Of course, the booming success of American pop culture has meant that American English has given back to the world; the ascendancy and dominance of Americana has led to American-English words popping up in languages all over the world; “Okay” is found in a great many of the world’s languages, and considered perfectly acceptable usage, to denote that something is “Okay”; Japanese absorbed “Besoboru” and “Aisukurima” and “Disokujokii” for Baseball, Ice Cream and Disc Jockey, among many others.  This has led some nations – mainly France – to try to plug the hole in the cultural, linguistic dijk (there’s another!) to try, in vain, to “preserve” their language in its “pure” form.

Of course, American English has borrowed much in return, not just from immigration, but from its expansionist past – everything from “Boondocks” (from the Tagalog bundok, or “mountains”, brought back in the early 1900’s from the Philippines by US servicemen) to “pow-wow”, to “Jazz” among many, many others terms derived from the argot of Afro-American slaves. 

So it’s always interesting to watch new words getting borrowed. 

I started noticing the prefix “über-” popping up in my kids’ conversation four or five years ago; it is (says the guy with the undergrad German minor) a German modifying prefix meaning, roughly, “Super”.  “That was übercool!” became a common expression among the local Twilight-‘n-Jonas-Bros set.

Then, last fall, I heard it in a TV commercial for the first time, as I wrote in a piece I never got around to posting.  Which, as it turns out, is a good thing, since the piece has apparently taken the next step. 

What the “next step” exactly is, of course, is a matter for debate; it might be “on the brink of entry into the AP Style Guide”, or it might be “further proof of the decline of Journalism”.

Via Allahpundit, you be the judge:

With apologies to D.L. Hughley, it’s The One’s “Stefan Urquelle” moment.

…The president-elect, looking uber-cool  [sic] with his White Sox baseball cap on backwards, flipped the shaka to a crowd of about 30 people as he left a gym on a Marine Corps base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he is vacationing.

AP goes on to ask: 

Does he really need the hat to attain uber-coolness [sic]? Being married to a “goddess” should be enough. And hey, nothing says creepy hip like a president who hits the gym every morning. Exit question: What other fashion conventions that have been passe for, oh, at least 20 years are we about to learn are “uber-cool”? [sic]  Obama should start wearing skinny ties just to dare the press to call him outmoded.

I’d be the last one to judge fashions, über-or-unter cool. 

But borrowing superlative modifiers from Germans?  The idea so über-fills me with angst, I’m verklemmt.

UPDATE: Viä Hässlingtön, I see I’ve förgötten certäin rüles aböüt ümläute

UPDATE 2:  Unless you are a highly-trained speaker of German or Finnish, do not try to pronounce all the words in the previous update correctly.  You could sprain your tongue.

All The News That’s Fit To Ignore

Colonel Joe Repya tells of a message he received from Ali – a former Iraqi Army officer whom Colonel Repya first captured (during Desert Storm in 1991) and then sponsored to come to America as a refugee in the nineties.  Ali lives today as part of Dearborn, Michigan’s large Iraqi population.

And he’s not happy:

Ali told us of massive demonstrations in the streets of Dearborn following the shoe throwing incident in Baghdad. Unfortunately, we never saw reports in the main stream media about these demonstrations. Why? Because these demonstrators were showing support for President Bush. They were angry that after giving freedom to 25 million Iraqi’s that a member of the press in Iraq would insult the Iraqi people with his shoe throwing escapades. They were also angry that the American media gave the incident so much air time.

Maybe they just needed to get ahold of Jon Stewart and Tina Fey, America’s News Gatekeepers.

Cheap Irony Alert

It’s been almost a parlor game in this blog’s comment section for the past few months – trying to figure out what sections daily newspapers like the Strib could spin off that could turn a profit.

Sports?  Possible.

Lifestyle stuff?  Maybe.

Coupons?  Worth a shot.

This one, though, caught me by surprise:  obituaries.

It’s seems that obits are, ironically, one of a very sick industry’s healthiest products:

“That’s why it is crucial not only to break the news, but to have the details right. And that includes making sure the person is really dead,” says obituary writer Sandra Martin. She notes that people increasingly want to read obits. Researchers interviewed nearly 40,000 consumers in 100 U.S. newspaper markets and concluded that obits were “important” to 45% of readers and “very important” to an additional 12%.

The spun-off obit page could perhaps be monetized with a tie-in to all of those ghoulish “dead-pool” games that kick into high gear this time of year…

Into The Wasteland

The good news? Downtown Saint Paul is finally Egetting an honest-to-pete grocery store:

Lunds is coming to downtown St. Paul. While grocery stores come and go in other parts of the city, downtown hasn’t had one in decades.

(Well, the “convenience store” at 7th and Wabasha is big enough to scrape the low end of “grocery store” – but I know, they’re talking about a real grocery store. I digress.)

The good news?

That’s why the Lunds announcement is such great news for the city and its 14,000 downtown residents and 65,000 workers. In addition to providing long-needed access to a supermarket, the store will help boost the tax base, attract new residents and contribute to community building.

Early this month, Lunds Food Holdings said it will build a 30,000-square-foot store as part of an $88 million mixed-use project called the Penfield.

The bad news?

The development, on 10th and Robert streets, will include a hotel and upscale apartments. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall.

Waaaaaay over on the wrong side of downtown.

Ah, well. It’s where the condos are, I guess. And it’s good news for downtown, in any case.

Garnish, Seemingly, Unnecessary

I started writing an autobiography once. I figured, “what better way to get out of a financial hole than to tell my thrilling story to the masses”.

I got to about chapter 27, when I realized my story – growing up in a middle-class home in North Dakota, moving to Minneapolis after college, going through a few careers – might
need a little “punching up” to really crack the big market and get optioned as a script.

So with the help of my agent, I’ve been working on it.

My agent once pondered over lunch “How lucky must those dang Holocaust survivors be? I mean, sure, losing their whole families sucks, but holy cow, there’s a story that doesn’t need anything to punch up the drama! I mean, zowie – every Holocaust survivor has a story that’ll get on the Oprah book club!”

I thought about what he said, while reading this story, about a Holocaust survivor who did feel the need to gussy up his story:

On Saturday, Berkley Books canceled Rosenblat’s memoir, “Angel at the Fence.” Rosenblat acknowledged that he and his wife did not meet, as they had said for years, at a sub-camp of Buchenwald, where she allegedly sneaked him apples and bread. The book was supposed to come out in February.

Rosenblat, 79, has been married to the former Roma Radzicky for 50 years, since meeting her on a blind date in New York. In a statement issued Saturday through his agent, he described himself as an advocate of love and tolerance who falsified his past to better spread his message.

“I wanted to bring happiness to people,” said Rosenblat, who now lives in the Miami area. “I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world.”

And he did.

Where “good” is defined as “splattering egg on Oprah’s face“.

Beyond that? Not so good.

Jim Cramer: A Stream of Uncalibrated Opinion

I have faith that the average reader of this blog is discerning enough to know where not to gather thine financial advice.

The ilk that is The Motley, Suze, and Jim Cramer is categorized by many financial advisers as “Financial Pornography.”

In a not-so-shocking analysis of one of the most-watched TV investment advisers, author Eric Tyson argues that Jim Cramer’s actual stock-picking performance doesn’t match the strength of his bellowing.

Besides his show Mad Money, Cramer is all over CNBC dispensing investment advice left and right. He’s got to be out-performing other investment advisers and especially the market, right? Not really.

Cramer’s picks, after being held accountable for trading fees, have performed worse than the broad market averages. His overall average with simply picking stocks that go up is pretty dismal. The most recent tally shows that out of more than 1500 stock recommendations, more than half have gone down!

Cramer’s stock market predictions (monitored from 2000 onward) were worse than average and even worse than simply flipping a coin. Cramer’s prognostications fared better than the market averages only 47 percent of the time. Regarding Cramer’s predictions, CXO comments that, “His predictions sometimes swing dramatically from optimistic to pessimistic, and back again, over short periods. It is difficult to infer his guiding valuation theory, if he has one.

…but he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.

If only double-digit ratings translated to double-digit returns for viewers.

In times like this, in times not like this, and all the times in between, the strategies that work for investors are not sexy, not even exciting, rarely worth raising one’s voice over, and are so very, very rarely dispensed by entertainers.

And The Market Will Respond?

I’m a conservative. I’m also Scandinavian.

I believe in the power of the unfettered free market.  I also believe in “waste not, want not” and squeezing twelve cents out of a dime.

I believe in economic free choice.  I also have little patience for the “Nuke the Whales” and “Carbon Belch” schools of “conservative” conspicuous consumption.

And so while I reject the whole idea of top-down statist control of our economy (especially in pursuit of ecological initiatives based on groupthink-passing-off-as-science that even scientists are starting to cast off), I also figure “a buck that I save on gas or heat is a buck I can spend on microbrew, guns, ammo, Polish vodka, or grossly-undervalued stock”.

A house that doesn’t need heat?   I’m interested:

The concept of the passive house, pioneered in [Darmstadt, Germany], approaches the challenge from a different angle. Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.And in Germany, passive houses cost only about 5 to 7 percent more to build than conventional houses.

Which, to be fair, is still a bundle; Germany has some pretty brutal land prices and building codes.

Which only means we in the US have more to work with.

When I started reading this, I thought about the thousands of acres of new, air-stingy mcmansions in the Twin Cities’ ‘burbs that are heading for early dates with the wrecking ball due to mold and air problems.

Problem, apparently, solved:

Decades ago, attempts at creating sealed solar-heated homes failed, because of stagnant air and mold. But new passive houses use an ingenious central ventilation system. The warm air going out passes side by side with clean, cold air coming in, exchanging heat with 90 percent efficiency.

“The myth before was that to be warm you had to have heating. Our goal is to create a warm house without energy demand,” said Wolfgang Hasper, an engineer at the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt. “This is not about wearing thick pullovers, turning the thermostat down and putting up with drafts. It’s about being comfortable with less energy input, and we do this by recycling heating.”

If the Germans can build an airtight rowhouse that works, certainly American ingenuity can turn the idea into a standalone personal castle.  Right?

Let The Rebuilding Begin. Again.

And so for probably the fortieth of my 42 seasons as a Bears fan, we enter another rebuilding period:

Andre Johnson had two touchdowns and the Houston Texans got a 31-24 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday to knock them out of the playoff picture.The Bears (9-7) needed a win to keep any postseason hopes alive. The Vikings beat the Giants to take the NFC North title, but Chicago could have got in with a wild-card spot, but needed a victory combined with losses or ties by Dallas and Tampa Bay.


A Last Lament for the Daily

Modern journalism has become more about the sizzle and less about the steak. It has fallen victim to sensationalism and a hijacking by the liberal elite. Long lost among most journalists is a sense of unadulterated mission, ethics, balance, and professionalism.

The Media was never supposed to be The Message.

The confluence of ubiquitous bandwidth and an unquenchable fervor to exercise our First Amendment privileges that has become the blogosphere has like hot lava flowed into the vacuum created by the demise of the flabby, flatulent print media conglomerate, and has taken what’s left of it.

Oh that, and Craig’s List.

The common thread here, whether the subject is foreign, national or local, is that the writer in question is performing a valuable task for the reader — one that no sane man would perform for free. He is assembling what in the business world is termed the “executive summary.” Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

Assuming anyone reads that stuff…with interest…and we all know bloggers that have already seperated themselves from the legions that run their keyboards “for free”.

This highlights the real flaw in the thinking of those who herald the era of citizen journalism. They assume newspapers are going out of business because we aren’t doing what we in fact do amazingly well, which is to quickly analyze and report on complex public issues. The real reason they’re under pressure is much more mundane. The Internet can carry ads more cheaply, particularly help-wanted and automotive ads.

In his 1920 essay “The National Letters,” Mencken traced this sentiment back to the early days of our democracy. He noted how first Ralph Waldo Emerson and then Walt Whitman prophesized the rise of what Whitman termed “a class of native authors, literatuses, far different, far higher in grade than any yet known.” Mencken was pessimistic about this prospect thanks to what he termed “the democratic distrust of whatever strikes beneath the prevailing platitudes.”

I share that pessimism. Every time a new medium arises, a new group of avatars arises with it, assuring us of the wondrous effects it will produce for our democracy.

Maybe so, but when the news isn’t news anymore meets declining ad revenue via competition and declining credibility via overarching liberal ideologies, discarding the Kersten’s and the Coleman’s is too little too late. The Dailies aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Relevance is like innocence; once lost, tough to repossess.

Bloggers rarely adhere to standards superior to those long since discarded by traditional outlets, but they seek not to delude the reader otherwise.

When my colleague at the Newark Star-Ledger John Farmer started off in journalism more than five decades ago, things were very different. After covering a political event, he’d hop on the campaign bus, pull out a typewriter, and start banging out copy. As the bus would pull into a town, he’d ball up a finished page and toss it out the window. There a runner would scoop it up and rush it off to a telegraph station where it would be blasted back to the home office.

At the time, reporters thought this method was high-tech. Now, thanks to the Internet, a writer can file a story instantly from anywhere. It’s incredibly convenient, but that same technology is killing old-fashioned newspapers. Some tell us that that’s a good thing. I disagree and believe that the public will miss us once we’re gone.

We’ll know if that’s true soon enough.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched a parade of top-notch reporters leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. The old model for compensating journalists is as obsolete as the telegraph. If anyone out there in the blogosphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pronounce him the first genius I’ve ever encountered on the Internet.

That, my friend, is yet to be determined but it will surely be a product of a recipe that will include equal measures of free expression, innovation, and free enterprise.

Radio Never Takes A Holiday. Except Ed And I (And King and Michael).

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network is working a mixed schedule from 11AM-5PM:

  • Volume I “The First Team” –Brian, Chad and John will be doing their annual “Loon of the Year” fete from 11-1.
  • Volume II “The Headliner”Ed and I are taking the day off for the holiday.  We’ll be running a show with highlights from the past few weeks.
  • III, “The Final Word”King and Michael are also taking the day off, and running a “best of” from 3-5.

So tune in to all six four hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. You have so many options:

  • AM1280 in the Metro
  • streaming at AM1280’s Website,
  • On Twitter (the Volume 2 show will use hashtag #narn2)
  • podcast at Townhall.
  • Good ol’ telephone – 651-289-4488!

And don’t forget the David Strom Show, with David Strom and Margaret Martin, from 9-11! They’ll have Marty Seifert at 9AM, and will be doing year in review, also, at ten!

Slow: Liberals Crossing

Barack Obama’s trillion-dollar economic and job creation stimulus is a Trojan Horse for his Grand Vision of Mass Transit and The Battle for the Planet.

Obama wants a large portion of the money spent on mass transit but exactly how does the expansion of infrastructure that requires permanent public subsidy to serve a small segment of society qualify as a stimulus? You could argue that highways are of the same ilk, but highways are used by everyone in the food chain whereas mass transit requires the majority to subsidize the minority that are it’s patrons.

The states that would be in receipt of these ill-borrowed billions have it right.

Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) — Missouri’s plan to spend $750 million in federal money on highways and nothing on mass transit in St. Louis doesn’t square with President-elect Barack Obama’s vision for a revolutionary re-engineering of the nation’s infrastructure.

Utah would pour 87 percent of the funds it may receive in a new economic stimulus bill into new road capacity. Arizona would spend $869 million of its $1.2 billion wish list on highways.

The argument is a labyrinth of cautionary tales.

Speaking of digging holes, Obama also wants to spend $60 billion to “provide financing to transportation infrastructure projects across the nation.” He says “these projects will create up to two million new direct and indirect jobs and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new economic activity.”

Fixing a bridge, widening a highway or building a light rail system may or may not make economic sense. But the fact that it involves paying people to operate jackhammers and pour concrete does not make it any more worthwhile. If creating jobs can justify transportation projects, why not fill the country with bridges to nowhere?


  • Government stimulus packages in and of themselves are dubious in their value when you consider the increase to the national debt, their evanescent nature and the precipitate inflation. If only they worked.
  • Congress can’t and won’t spend this money without an agenda; without earmarks; without wasteful pork. “Why did you sting me?” said the turtle to the scorpion.
  • Mass transit isn’t any better for the environment than cars are as our compatriot Bike Bubba has made serially and mathematically clear.

We all know what a Liberal means when they use the word “innovative.” It condescends whatever their over-educated “elite” brains deem shall be the object of increased government spending. It’s how socialism became “progressive.”

In proposing a stimulus plan that could total as much as $1 trillion, Obama has promised a new federal infrastructure program that would dwarf President Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system that began in 1956. Obama told reporters at a Dec. 7 news conference that his effort would go beyond “roads and bridges” and fund more innovative projects.

I wonder if anyone has considered that the value of our national interstate system was not the temporary and transient jobs it created but rather the stimulus it created for the economy via efficiencies and freedoms it afforded capitalism and the consumer?

We are fast realizing that Obama isn’t any more innovative than any of his liberal predecessors in the White House. His ideas are warmed-over versions of Eisenhower’s and FDR’s and differ only in scale. What glory after all could be gathered to the bosom of the motherland by a project “half as big” as Eisenhower’s?

If, as widely expected, Barack Obama faces a recession when he takes office in January, many Americans will expect him to deliver on his promise to “create jobs.” They probably will be disappointed, because Obama seems to view job creation not only as something the government does with taxpayers’ money but as an end in itself. That’s a recipe for wasteful spending that will divert resources from more productive uses, and ultimately for higher unemployment than would otherwise occur.

Obama says he will “transform the challenge of global climate change into an opportunity to create 5 million new green jobs,” which he likens to the economic activity triggered by the personal computer. This rosy way of looking at global warming is a variation on the “broken window” fallacy dissected by the classical liberal economist Frederic Bastiat, according to which the loss caused by smashing a window is offset by the employment it gives the glazier.
Leaving aside the desirability of “energy independence” and the merits of Obama’s approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions (which has the government, rather than the market, picking the most efficient methods), the fact that he lists “jobs that can’t be outsourced” as a distinct goal is troubling. Paying people to dig holes and fill them in again also creates “jobs that can’t be outsourced,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart investment or an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

Obama’s job fetish is apparent even when he talks about spontaneous economic activity. “Businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs,” he declared in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. In a free market, businesses exist because they provide goods or services that people value. A business that makes job creation its overriding goal will not be employing anyone for long.

The preclusion is that stimulus packages in the whole (pun intended), and especially those spent on social engineering projects or contrived global crises aren’t worth it.

All Hope® for Change® is lost.

Take That, Oprah

Newsweek lists the most powerful people on earth.

0. Obammy (of course)

42. Osama Bin Laden

Hee Hee

47. Oprah Winfrey

Not even Top 20? Five peeps lower than a guy who may not be alive and is living in a cave.

…and she gave away 276 Pontiac G6’s.


6,700,000,000 Last Guy on Earth
6,700,000,001 AngryClown 

But that’s okay. I didn’t see “Johnny Roosh” on the list at all.

Hot Technique Friday: Just When I Think There Are No More Frontiers

This March will be 33rd anniversary of playing guitar.  And sometimes it feels like there are no more frontiers.

Which is not to say I’ve conquered everything I want to on the instrument; merely that after attempting certain frontiers (being a convincing speed-metal player, copping Chet Atkins licks, getting Terry Kath’s solo for Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4 down note for note), I’ve decided they just didn’t mean that much to me.

Other frontiers hover out there like Moby Dick; getting Nils Lofgren’s pick harmonics (without adopting fingerpicks), getting the alternate-string thumb bass line in Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lighting sounding like I’m not playing after a severe stroke, figuring out Brian May’s guitar tone, that kind of thing.

But it’s time to try something new.

I’ve never really tried to sit down and gnosh out anything on Television’s Marquee Moon.  Which makes me nekulturnii, I know; I’m being honest here.  It occurred to me that I’ve wanted to figure out Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s parts in Venus for a very long time.

So there’s a project for the long weekend.

Three Or Four Races Are Plenty

I’m sitting looking over my broad, tree-lined avenue with a glass of single-malt, and the sky is blue and the white families with their happy, present-sotted kids are wandering past on their errands, and the election is over, so let’s all relax and quit irritating each other, OK? Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen, Jim Oberstar, Betty McCollum, John Kline, Colin Peterson and that other guy are about to take office, so all you black people just get over it. Go stock up on watermelon and spare ribs and maybe real estate in Liberia. White people still rule this country. Deal with it. Boom Shakalaka Boom.White legislators plan to bring sanity to Washington, and why not begin with Congress? It has been sorely in need of reform for a long, long time.

Democrats intend to bring reform to Washington, and why not begin with the United States Congress? It has been sorely in need of reform for a century or so. Equal representation for all people is a good idea in theory, assuming they are half smart, but then you look at Keith Ellison, an incurious frat boy from the state of Humphrey and Mondale, and you think, whoa, something is wrong with this picture. We need some horizontal control.

Let’s start at the beginning and redraw the map. First of all, is there a reason for South Central Los Angeles to have a congressional representative? I have often wondered about this. Why give a House seat to a half million wannabee gangbangers, pimps, crack addicts, prostitutes and derelicts while Utah gets one lousy House for millions of honest, hard-working people? (Compton has roughly the population of Salt Lake.) It’s OK if South Central LA sends somebody with brains and an independent streak, but when they send a couple of Black Democrat hacks, then it makes no sense.

The idea behind the Congress was to create a representative body of wise counselors who rise above the petty tumult and think noble thoughts and do the right thing in a pinch. Can you think of a time when Los Angeles’ representatives have done this? No, you can’t. So let’s bite the bullet and make Compton a federal protectorate and appoint an overseer – ooh, what a perfect word! This would be a good assignment for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s done a heck of a job in south Chicago, so let’s give it all of Compton and, while we’re at it, Newark. A wonderful postcard place, but what have its congresspeople done other than grub for federal largesse for Newark? Change the name to “Housing Project # 447227” and put HUD in charge of it.

While we’re at it, let’s admit that Detroit, El Paso and Philadelphia have never been completely comfortable as part of the United States. They’ve tried to fit in, but it just isn’t working, so let’s allow them to pull out and find their own path. You could attach El Paso to Juarez and make a lovely little desert nation out of that, and let Detroit join Canada, and make Philadelphia an “independent” nation. Add Camden New Jersey to it. They really are part of the same thing. This leaves us with 40 or 50 House seats unoccupied (more if we simply assumed that all black people could be conveniently represented by a few token representatives, since they all vote the same anyway. It’s called consolidation, folks. It goes on all the time in corporate America and also in local school districts, so let’s make it work for America.

We White people will personally foot the bill for the new, incredibly convoluted district maps. This is a promise.

We now have 40 states and 20 extra Senate seats to parcel out. Give some to ex-CEOs. This would rescue them from their lonely lives on the lecture circuit and lend some pizazz to the place since they’d be free to spout off and say whatever they think. People would sit in the galleries to listen to Lee Iaccocca. He’d be down there sawing away with Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley and maybe some former bank and auto execs. Let them in the club and put that experience to use. And give congressional seats to the NRA and the GOP itself. This would definitely add brains to the assembly.

And that is how you create a permanent white majority. Al Sharpton showed us the way. Learn from the master. Those dinkeldorfs who ran the show for 40 years must never be allowed to return to power. Take those fuzzy-headed libruls to the cleaners. Subject them to alternative interrogation techniques until we get to the truth. Keith Ellison would make a decent host of a daytime quiz show. He came dangerously close to running for president. Ai yi yi yi yi. Let’s get to work.

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America’s Economic Recovery is Conceived in Ashland, Ohio

The case for optimism

if things came to a halt more quickly than ever before, they could also restart more quickly than ever before. This is not to say they will, only that the possibility is more than marginal. And there are signs things are not everywhere as bad as conventional wisdom suggests.

…consumers in many parts of the world are in relatively good shape.

People have also reacted swiftly to the current problems, paying down debt and paring back purchases out of prudence or necessity. That’s a short-term drag on economic activity, but it will leave consumer balance sheets in good shape going forward. Low energy prices and zero inflation will boost spending power.

As the credit system eases, historically low interest rates also augur debt refinancing and constructive access to credit for those with good histories and for small business creation in the year ahead. Entrepreneurs often thrive when the system is cracking.

In addition, corporations generally have very clean balance sheets with little debt and lots of cash, unlike the downturns in 2002 and in the 1980s.

…starts in Ashland, Ohio. Could it be? Could this be the mouth of the river? The first quark of the Big Bang?

ASHLAND, Ohio (CNN) — An Ohio bakery shut down in October is bustling again, with 60 eager employees who had expected a Christmas on the unemployment rolls.

But then Lance Inc., a Charlotte, North Carolina-based snack food company, purchased Archway at a bankruptcy auction. And last week 60 workers were asked to return immediately, with perhaps more coming back in the months ahead.

When it promised to reopen the bakery, Lance gave all 300 former Archway workers a $1,500 prepaid debit card.

When was the last time you heard anyone hiring? It has to start somewhere.

Merry Christmas, Ashland. Happy New Year America.