Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tobacco Trickle-Down

With all of the juicy topics regarding Governor Doyle's proposed cigarette tax (his flip-flop on raising the tax, whether the money will be used for health care, using taxes to regulate behavior of a legal product, etc.), it's no wonder most discussions of the plan fall into those categories.

However, despite what Doyle would have you believe, there are more people affected by the proposal than just the consumers paying the tax. Doyle's logic: people who purchase cigarettes will be the ones paying the tax, and will be the ones that need the health care in the future - plus, the higher taxes will convince more people to stop smoking, as lighting up will become cost prohibitive.

Forgotten in that whole equation is the fact that people who buy cigarettes have to get them from somewhere. They buy them from grocery stores, gas stations, and bars, all of whom make money off their sale.

In 2003, the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services reported that 387.6 million packs of cigarettes were smoked in the state. For argument's sake, let's say the average cost per pack was $1.50 (not counting the 77 cent state tax). That comes to $581 million in sales made by businesses in 2003 (a rough estimate, to be sure).

Let's say Doyle's program is wildly succesful and results in a dramatic 50% drop in cigarette consumption. Those are sales that are going to have to be made up by those grocery stores and mom and pop gas stations. Since you're smart, you may have already figured out how a small grocery store would make up the lost revenue from declining cigarette sales. They, of course, would raise prices on everything else: jelly would be a nickel more, diapers would go up a dime. So in essence, depressing sales of cigarettes (still a legal product), just pops prices up elsewhere. So it ends up being a tax on everyone, regardless of their smoking habits.

Additionally, as long as cigarette sales via internet are still legal, you can expect a huge jump in those sales in Wisconsin - especially since they are exempt from the tax. This would further damage local businesses, and not do anything to really keep cigarette consumption down. According to tobaccofreekids.org, internet sales accounted for 14% of the total tobacco market in 2005, and the trend is growing.

Another portion of Doyle's plan is confusing. If he's so convinced of the evils of tobacco companies, why does the State of Wisconsin Investment Board invest so heavily in them? According to the 2005 schedule of investments, the State retirement fund holds the following stocks:

British American Tobacco: 1.2 million shares, worth $23 million
Imperial Tobacco Group: 955,000 shares, worth $25.7 million
Japan Tobacco: 572 shares, worth $7.6 million

And those are just the ones with the words "Tobacco" in their names. Surely, there are many more that are subsidiaries of other companies.

What Doyle is doing, in essence, is taking on the tobacco companies, which state retirees have a financial interest in seeing do well. In fact, their retirement funds depend on it. Wouldn't the unions have a problem with this?

Finally, few people are pointing out that an increase on the cigarette tax is about as regressive as a sales tax can get. The poor and minorities buy cigarettes at a disproportionately higher level, so it really is a tax increase on those groups.

An excellent summary of tobacco use and taxes can be found in this Legislative Fiscal Bureau paper. It includes this interesting tidbit that explains how the Native American tribes figured into the current sales tax configuration:

The tax on cigarettes was converted from an occupational tax to an excise tax in 1983. This change allowed the state to impose the tax on sales of cigarettes made by Native Americans to non-Native Americans on reservations. Currently, the state has agreements with most Native American tribes through which Native American retailers purchase and sell only stamped (taxed) cigarettes. The state then provides a refund to the tribes of 70% of the tax paid on sales to non-Native Americans and 100% of the tax paid on sales to Native Americans (federal law prohibits states from imposing a cigarette tax on sales by Native Americans to Native Americans on reservations). The refund provision was enacted to encourage Native American retailers to sell only stamped cigarettes. Previously, unstamped cigarettes were sold on reservations, which raised concern regarding competition and the administration and collection of taxes for sales to non-Native Americans. The refund provision was enacted as part of the 1983-85 biennial budget.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Note On Tonight's "24"

I admit that I personally have never tried the famous "steal a suspected terrorist's cell phone from his pocket, then three minutes later try to sneak it back into his pocket" maneuver, but I can't imagine it has a high success rate.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Crazy Candidates' Free Press Pass

At times, I like to point out examples of bad or slanted reporting in the local news media. This isn't because I'm particularly mean, I just think sometimes I can provide perspective on issues that you don't normally see covered by reporters. However, I have found an issue that has caused me to sympathize with local media. That is; how do you cover candidates that are completely crazy?

I'm not talking "crazy" in the sense of "I disagree with every word they say," kind of crazy. Take the mayoral race here in Madison as a prime example. Will Sandstrom is once again running for mayor, and he is completely nuts. Seriously - somewhere there is an empty bed at a mental health facility crying out for him. During mayoral candidate debates, he is prone to long diatribes about his mother contracting gangrene, his father cooking moonshine, kids calling him "China Boy" growing up, his time dodging bullets in a Russian prison, and how he coined the term "Fish and Wildlife."

A 2003 State Journal piece on Sandstrom contained this gem:
In 1970, he tried to run for governor, insisting the Mafia had stolen the nation and was prolonging the Vietnam War to protect its drug trade. But when he tried to deliver nominating petitions, he said, he was arrested at the state Capitol for an outstanding parking ticket. He was disqualified over questions about nominating petitions, news accounts say.
In a recent question posed by The Isthmus regarding public financing of the Overture Center, Sandstrom accused Mayor Dave Cieslewicz of funneling "millions" of dollars to the Mafia. At a 2003 debate, he brought up nude swimming, Bing Crosby and Argentina's economic crisis, and called his opponents "boobs."

In 2003, Sandstrom caused a stir when he warned of the dangers of Mexican and Chinese immigration, and the increase in crime that would result. The Capital Times printed a feature where candidates were allowed to question each other on whatever issue they saw fit. Candidate Bert Zipperer, who listed race relations as his "number one" issue for Madison, asked the following question, and received this response from Sandstrom. Seriously.

Zipperer's Question:

Research done by a professor at UW-Green Bay has identified the nation from which the most undocumented workers in Wisconsin come from. That nation is Canada. Do you believe that we can create a community where all groups, including our Canadian brothers and sisters, are valued for their contributions?

Sandstrom's Response:

We need not buy into some Green Bay-New York City professor's schmaltzy spin. In the 1950s I heard a New York City "wolf authority" professor state, "In winter wolves do not murder Bambi and Daisy, the deer, but rather dig through snow to eat frozen grasshoppers." That professor was "hopping on grass." I agree that many illegal immigrants come both by Mexico and Canada. But their contributions are needed desperately in their homelands. It is morally wrong that both America and Europe entice and steal people of value from their homelands and allow very low wage labor illegals to bust unions and take jobs from American citizens.

The hard part for the media is to figure out how to cover fringe candidates like this. The State Journal can't just introduce him as "Will Sandstrom, crazy person," even though anyone who has heard him speak for more than a minute knows this is the case. The paper can't pretend like it's taking sides in its non-editorial coverage of the race, so it has to present him as a viable candidate.

On the other hand, when the paper does cover a nutjob like Sandstrom, it's a complete waste of everyone's time, not to mention valuable column inches (Madison Magazine agrees).Plus, anyone who knows anything about the mayoral race knows that Sandstrom is a crazy person, so the paper loses a little credibility when they try to cover him in a serious way. We know he's nuts, and we know the reporter knows he's nuts, so why can't the paper just say so?

Take the article that appeared in the State Journal about Sandstrom today. The worst the article could say about Sandstrom was that Bert Zipperer thought he was a racist. If you oppose spending 80% of the city's budget on race relations programs, Zipperer likely thinks you are a racist, so is this really a damning charge?

In 2003, the State Journal published a brief "pros and cons" section about the mayoral candidates. For Sandstrom, they wrote:
* Will Sandstrom. Well educated and boldly speaks his mind, and has appealing property tax cut theme. But he lacks name recognition and executive experience, and ethnic comments have drawn boos.
Oh yeah, that and he's F'ING INSANE! They forgot that part.

I do think the local papers have tried their best to strike a balance with crazy candidates. Often times, they are only casually mentioned in their coverage of debates. But rarely are they covered in the negative light that they deserve. Often times, they are handed the attention they seek, which just promotes more and more non-serious candidates in the future.

Mostly, I blame the good government crowd. They demand that all these wierdos be allowed to participate in debates, when it's the public that suffers the most. People that go to a debate to hear Ray Allen, Dave Cieslewicz and Peter Munoz discuss relevant issues instead have to suffer through a half hour of Will Sandstrom's take on how Russian prostitution is Madison's number one issue. And everyone will sit politely, squirming in their seats until he's done, and pretend like it never happened. And we're all poorer as a result.

UPDATE: Here's the audio from a 2003 debate where Sandstrom goes on a legendary diatribe that is somehow supposed to explain why he should be mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. The question was about garbage collection or something, and he went on for two minutes about being embarrassed to walk around with his mother because she had gangrene. When he finished, the look on Paul Soglin's face was classic, as he actually had to try to answer the question without laughing.

Representin' the Fo' One Fo'

A buddy of mine was watching some community access television last week, and saw an interview with Milwaukee rappers "Ghetto F.A.B." Apparently these young gentlemen decided to come to Madison to film a video for their song "Club Whistle/S.Y.A.D." The group, who lovingly termed Milwaukee's north side "Chocolate Heaven," filmed the video at the Blue Velvet with some of Wisconsin's most disease-free young ladies. Here it is, with language you can usually expect from big-time rappers like Ghetto F.A.B.

I can hear the director now: "Please, no pouring Hamm's on the bitches."

The Downfall of Electronic Records

Last week, Governor Doyle unveiled a $30 million plan to help health care providers switch to electronic record keeping. Whether this use of tax money is necessary is up for debate, as many health care providers are doing this on their own.

Plus, I'm a little wary of the digital age. The chances of my next rectal exam showing up on YouTube just jumped to about 85%.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Another Library Conundrum

Speaking of the disabled and libraries (how often do you say that on any given day?), my wife has found herself in a moral quandry. There's a new book out by an author that she really likes, and the library system has 25 copies. Unfortunately, there are 85 people on the waiting list for the book. The ink could disintegrate on the pages before she gets her hands on a copy.

There are, however, 5 copies of the LARGE TYPE version of the book available, and only 6 people on the waiting list. She wanted to know if by checking out the large type version, it's like parking in a handicapped parking spot. I told her that if she checks out one of the large type books, some old woman is going to be sitting at home, alone, crying in her denture cleaner. I told her that as long as she's in the mood, she should go around stealing walkers from the elderly.

This brings up an interesting question - are large type books like big screen plasma TVs for the literate? After reading him with large print and bigger pages, am I totally going to get Wittgenstein? If that's true, I'm doing the rest of my posts in larger fonts - it'll make my lame jokes 30% funnier.

There's also a joke to be had about reading nudie mags in braile, but I can't think of it. Feel free to submit.

Old Guy Question

I have the feeling that a lot of old guys at the Capitol read my blog, and at least 70% of them are dirty old men. So I actually have a serious question:

From time to time, I skim old Blue Books and news articles for research info. Every now and then, I come across a picture of Susan Engeleiter, who was first elected to the Assembly at age 22, and to the Senate at age 28. She lost to Herb Kohl in 1988 by a 52-48 margin for the U.S. Senate seat held previously by William Proxmire.

Here's the question for the old guys:

Susan Engeleiter back in the day: Hot?

Submissions will be kept confidential (unless one of them happens to be a lawsuit from Susan Engeleiter).

Oh, and I'll try to find her Blue Book picture and post it.

UPDATE: Here's a picture I found on Google that looks like it might be from the college years - but when you see the Blue Book picture I'm talking about, you'll understand.

DOUBLE SECRET UPDATE: Here's her Blue Book photo from 1977 - but this isn't even the one I'm talking about. I'll keep looking.

They Have Dinettes, Apparently

There are three main points covered in this instructive consumer message - and there will be a quiz, so pay attention. Answers will be posted below.


1. Montgomery
2. Flea Market
3. Just like a mini-mall

Congratulations, you pass. Now make sure your wedding DJ gets his hands on this ill flow.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rolling in Style

I was doing some valuable research in my local library the other night (actually, I was looking through the CDs to see which ones I could check out and add to my iTunes). As I was browsing, a dude wearing a Bears jacket rolled up in a wheelchair.

My first instinct was to give him the stink-eye for being a Bears fan. But then I realized that would probably be bad, since he would immediately peg me as being anti-disabled people. In the end, I decided against engaging him at all, even though I was totally ready to rib him about whether he just bought that jacket on Monday.

I then got to thinking about how people are probably afraid to challenge the differently-abled, just because they don't want to get on their bad side. Who wants to be the jerk that yells at a crippled guy for cutting in front of him in the grocery store line? At that point, you've just stamped "HELL" on your passport.

I'd love it if people never gave me a hard time about anything. Damn, being in a wheelchair must be great.

Attention "24" Viewers

Dave Barry is providing a play by play account of each Day Six episode over at his blog. They are not to be missed. Here's the one from this week.

Past episodes:


Hours 1 and 2

Hours 3 and 4

There you go - it's up to you to check from now on.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bush Renames Iraq War "Ronald Reagan Memorial Quagmire"

U.S Capitol (AP) - In tonight's state of the union address, President George W. Bush unveiled a bold plan to regain public confidence in the Iraq War. "Difficult times in Iraq call for drastic changes - and renaming the war after President Ronald Reagan is a serious step that needs to be taken," said Bush, referring to the former President who enjoyed historically high approval ratings following his death in 2004.

"Renaming the war after our greatest president is a stroke of genius," said Grover Norquist, who founded the Ronald Reagan Legacy project, an organization whose sole goal is to get crap named after Reagan. "It's not often you see a worldwide disaster of this magnitude - Reagan's name will be in the paper every day for the next decade," gushed Norquist.

Bush announced his plan immediately before he detailed his push for a troop surge in Iraq. "The war has been going extremely well up to this point, so naturally we need to do the same thing, just more of it and all at once," explained the President, before he started laughing at how f'ing stupid that sounded.

Sensing discontent with his speech, Bush stopped midway through and immediately made every member of Congress a delicious turkey sandwich. "It was an uncoventional move, but his use of cranberry sauce as a topping was unparalleled," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"The American soldiers who have died in Iraq are heroes," said Bush, adding that the war is creating more and more heroes on a daily basis. "The second worst thing that can happen to a fallen soldier is to devalue their sacrifice by opposing the war," said Bush. Coincidentally, the worst thing that can happen to a soldier is to no longer be alive.

Bush also announced that Baghdad will now be known as "Lance Armstrong," and that roadside bombs will be known as "Barbaros." Furthermore, internment camps will be set up in America for anyone that appears to have a unibrow. The latter move was immediately denounced by TV President Wayne Palmer, who had one of his writers script a third-grade level explanation of what internment camps were for him, and why they were bad. Finally, Bush announced that all military decisions would be made by a popular vote of the public. The American public responded by saying they would get around to planning the next strategic attack after taking a nap, watching the Rachael Ray Show, and heading downtown to cash their child support check.

Another provision of Bush's bold new agenda will mandate that bad news in Iraq now delivered to American citizens by a sassy, ambiguously gay Brit. "Americans love nothing better that having bad news being broken to them by tight t-shirt wearing British men," observed Bush. Following the Democratic response criticizing his speech, Bush pleaded with judges to give him a chance to just do one more speech, since his throat was a little dry the first time.

Detractors of the President's plan point out that he stole the idea from the best-selling Gerald Ford Feminine Napkins, unveiled late last year. Having failed to bring a Western-style democracy to Iraq, Bush lowered expectations and instead said that he would settle for installing a western-style Baskin Robbins restaurant in Baghdad.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Coaches Overcoming Their Blackness

So the Super Bowl is set, as is the storyline that will be pounded into our heads for the next two weeks - that Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are the first two African-American head coaches to make the Super Bowl. Since modern sport stories are usually geared toward the lowest common denominator, this is the story that sports writers will think is the cheapest hit. It's only a matter of time before a reporter at Media Day asks Tony Dungy, "so how long have you been black?"

If I were African-American, I would probably think that was pretty cool - America can never have enough positive "firsts" for African-Americans. But let's not get carried away - African-Americans shouldn't exactly sit by their mailboxes waiting for their "Lovie Check" to show up in the mail.

To point out that both these coaches are black over and over again seems insulting and condescending - as if they are at some inherent coaching disadvantage simply because of their skin color. (Lovie Smith's greatest disadvantage is that he has a caucasian quarterback who sucks.) It has an almost "Awwww.... aren't those black coaches cute" type of vibe to it - like when they give a kid in a wheelchair an at-bat in tee ball.

What they are are simply two excellent head coaches who paid their dues. Unfortunately, it took too long for them to be able to start gaining the experience they have now. However, there have been really good African-American coaches for years and years now. Herm Edwards will make a Super Bowl, as will Marvin Lewis. People keep hiring Denny Green for some reason. The dude the Steelers just hired will suck, but not because he's black - because he was a Vikings assistant coach.

For the next two weeks, however, this will be a celebration of condescending white guilt on display. Sports commentators will be able to announce to the world how happy they are that there are two black coaches in the Super Bowl, and the sins of all their ancestors will vanish. Certainly, celebrating the skin color of two head coaches will go a long way to helping African-American kids trapped in failing schools with single mothers barely staying afloat. As I've said before, America shouldn't be judged on how many black head coaches we have - we should be judged on how many black CEOs, computer programmers, and doctors we have. And we're not doing well.

But this will be the obvious story that will be drilled into us over and over. Just like last week, when we were led to believe that New Orleans is only liveable now because the Saints won a few games this year. So now that the Saints lost today, does that mean New Orleans falls back to being a hopeless, unliveable hellhole?

So it's time to celebrate, Black America - all your problems have now been solved with these two head coaches making the Super Bowl. Racism has officially been eradicated - because Chris Berman told me so. Hopefully, African Americans will be able to cope with the fact that one of these coaches will actually lose.

That being said, go Colts.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cultural "Sensitivity"

It goes without saying that for all races and cultures to co-exist in America, there will need to be a high level of cross-cultural acceptance. On the other hand, some Hmong men may be stretching things just a little bit.

From today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) -- A 22-year-old Hmong man who impregnated his 16 year-old wife when she was 15 will avoid jail by speaking to other Hmong about the importance of adhering to U.S. law.

"This resolution not only allows Lee to avoid a serious felony conviction and registration as a sex offender, it also provides education to traditional members of the Hmong community that while they have every right to celebrate their traditions and customs, they must do so in compliance with the law," he said.
The article also points out that they were not married when she was impregnated. So as long as you're from the right ethnic group, feel free to scope for dates at Chuck E. Cheese. But this paragraph killed me:
It's common for Hmong girls in Laos to marry and have children at age 15 or 16. But the Lees, who were both born in the United States, said their decision to have a child had nothing to do with their Hmong heritage.
So they admit it had nothing to do with being Hmong? So what did it have to do with? Lee's desire to throw it in a 15 year old? And for this he gets a slap on the wrist? He was better off with the Hmong cultural excuse.

Clearly, not all Hmong residents adhere to some of their traditions that conflict with Wisconsin law. However, there are also some who don't - which is why the state needs to fund programs like the Refugee Family Strengthening Project, a state program that primarily teaches Hmong men that beating their wives is illegal.

In 2004, Jim Doyle described the need for the program in a Department of Workforce Development press release, saying there was a need to "address family violence arising from cultural adjustment issues faced by refugee families as they assimilate into new communities within Wisconsin."

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau described the need for the program thusly:

Domestic abuse service providers believe domestic abuse is more prevalent among immigrant women than among U.S. citizens. Research has found that victims of domestic violence from certain communities, including non-English speaking communities, face greater barriers in accessing protections from abuse. Some of these barriers are lack of information about U.S. laws, lack of economic resources, language barriers, lack of culturally relevant services, and the socio-cultural impact on women from traditional cultures who decide to leave a marriage.
In the 2005-07 budget (p. 116, item 13), Doyle proposed $1.12 million in general purpose revenue for the Refugee Family Strengthening program. Legislative Republicans, not wanting to touch the issue with a 20 foot pole, approved the funding with a modest suggestion that the Governor should find the funding from a different source in the future.

Obviously, domestic abuse is a matter to be taken seriously. And the state does - in 2004-05, Wisconsin spent over $8 million in state and federal dollars on domestic abuse services, battered women shelters, and the like. Is it really necessary to spend extra money to teach people what the law is?

The Jason Lee case described above is a perfect example. Lee was born in America, impregnated a 15 year old, and didn't even claim that it was a "cultural" act. Yet he gets lenience anyway - the court actually applied a defense to Lee that he didn't even claim.

With Hmong men who abuse their wives, they likely make a claim that their behavior is "cultural." So instead of treating their behavior with the seriousness it demands, we excuse their behavior and spend a million dollars in scarce general purpose tax revenue to teach them what the law is. Sounds pretty "sensitive," unless you're a woman victimized by one of these "cultural" attacks.

Hunk O' Burnin' Love

Ladies, when a guy tells you he's hot for your love, it might actually just be his cell phone.

Let's Get Out of this Country

I can't stop humming this song.

Representin' The Dairy State

I remember watching a black comedian once who made a funny point about how African-Americans watch the news differently than whites. He said that when the anchor announces a murderer or robber has been apprehended, the first thing blacks say to themselves is, "Please, don't be black."

It's gotten to be the same thing when watching American Idol. As soon as they show a bearded freak, the first thing I mutter to myself is, "Please don't be from Wisconsin." In fact, I mumbled those very words right before they showed that red-headed cro-magnon from Superior on last night's show (the one who did the falsetto "Bohemian Rhapsody" - the last bad one on this video.)

Fortunately, the Badger State dodged a bullet when "The Hotness" and the guy that looks like Golem proved to be from elsewhere.

I'm always looking out for how Wisconsin looks to outsiders - but I have to say stuff like this doesn't exactly help.

My Super Pooper

It was a huge night in our household, as my daughter pooped on the toilet for the first time. We celebrated like she had just won an academy award (I would put a red carpet out leading up to the toilet, but people might confuse the poop for Joan Rivers.)

After 10 minutes of telling her what a Super Duper Pooper was, she actually started displaying some false modesty. She said, "Dad, it wasn't that big of a deal." She's almost Dwyane Wade-esque in her ability to downplay her superhuman abilities.

And when she reads this in 10 years, there is a 90% chance she will poison me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wisconsin (Temporarily) Roolz the World

Seeing as how American Idol is the most popular show in the world, and seeing as how two Wisconsin natives moved on to Hollywood on last night's show, I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that the Badger State is now calling the shots on a global stage, at least until tonight's show. (Wisconsin is now the world's crack spider, if you will - see previous post.)

Denise Jackson of Madison and Sarah Krueger of Eau Claire both impressed the judges on a day where most other contestants looked dreadful. Jackson taught us all an important lesson - that if you do crack while your baby is in the womb, it is likely that your child will be able to sing like Billie Holliday.

Anyway, I hope the whole City of Madison gets behind her when the Hollywood competition starts (even though I think it's already been filmed, right?) I will be at any rally the city holds for her. It might be the only way I can get a 16 year old girl to talk to me, since hanging out near high schools seems to be yielding mixed results.

In other big singing news, I caughed up a phlegm ball as big as a watermelon when attempting to sing "Champagne Supernova" yesterday. So there's that.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What We Can Learn From Spiders

I know I'm always late to this stuff, but I did think this was funny.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Death is Just the Part When You Stop Dying

I'm no doctor, but I'm 90% sure I'll be dead by the end of the week. In fact, don't get to close to your computer - you might catch something.

I had a court illustrator come do an artist's rendering of me at home:

So when you're whining about me not doing another post, I will be asleep and ignoring you. Trust me, nobody is more bummed than my daughter, who has been waiting patiently to go sledding with me and now can't because daddy's sick.

Holiday Trash

As I do every Monday, this morning I gathered my trash and recycling up and started to take it out to the curb. My wife leaned out the door and told me that there wasn't any trash pickup today, since it's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I then looked around my neighborhood and noticed most of my neighbors had their trash out at the curb. It all made sense when I remembered that they are all racist.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I was walking by a west side Madison ice cream shop yesterday, when a flier taped to their window caught my eye. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day on Monday, they are offering the "I Have a Dream... Sundae," complete with a phony MLK speech about the importance of having a good sundae "without being judged." I knew nobody would believe me, so I snapped a picture:

When hearing of the news, Michael's Frozen Custard immedately unveiled the "Keep Hope Alive" pork sandwich.

But seriously, who knew Michael Richards owned an ice cream store?

UPDATE: VH1 aired the "Flavor of Love 2" reunion show today - ironic, because that show single-handedly set back race relations by 30 years.

Oh, and I'm kicking myself for not calling this post "I have a Dreamsicle."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Taking Up a Collection for a Plane Ticket

Bill Lueders of The Isthmus is getting rave reviews for his new book Cry Rape, and I have enjoyed the excerpts of it that I've read. That being said, his piece in this week's paper that attempts to make apologies for local criminal Vairin Meesouk is simply preposterous.

The story goes like this: Meesouk, 21, was arrested at and charged with multiple felonies at age 15 for breaking into and robbing several gas stations and convenience stores and setting a fire at one. A protracted legal battle followed, with the understanding that if sentenced to a felony, Meesouk (here legally but not a legal resident) could be deported to Laos. Eventually, the charges were reduced to misdemeanors.

By the time his charges were reduced, howerver, Meesouk had committed another crime. He and a group of friends broke into an apartment where the 77 year old resident was beaten and smothered until he lost consciousness. Meesouk initially lied to police and denied involvement, but later plead guilty to three felonies. One of his accomplices said Meesouk had punched the old man in the testicles.

The prosecutor immediately asked for a 10 year sentence, while Meesouk's attorneys have asked for 364 days, to avoid the one-year threshold that could trigger deportation. Meesouk now has a two year old daughter, and his attorneys argue that he should stay in America to care for her. Since breaking in and assaulting the elderly man, Meesouk has had "minor scrapes with the law," including a 2003 "altercation" with his sister for which he received two years probation.

Lueders concludes that deportation is too harsh of a penalty for Meesouk, as he is still a young man and is now a caring father. My observations differ dramatically:

1. We have reached a point in society now where having an illegitimate child is actually a sign of responsibility. The article doesn't explicitly say the child is out of wedlock, but trust me - if Meesouk was married to the mother, that would have been in his talking points. Meesouk's attorneys argue that he can't be deported because he's responsible... because he had a child with a woman to which... he's not married. It's like we're living in a bizarro world - it's like a kid killing his parents and then complaining that he's an orphan.

2. Meesouk's attorney argued for leniency and "maintained the youths broke in believing the residence was empty." So it's the old guy's fault that he was there in the apartment when they broke in? How dare he be sitting home and enjoying Wheel of Fortune when these thugs broke into his house - the nerve of that guy! Kind of sounds like he deserved to be beaten and smothered unconscious to me.

3. The article argues that Meesouk is no longer a threat because he has a job. What happens when he's fired or quits? Does he then go on an uncontrollable elderly nut-punching spree?

4. The article quotes the 77 year old victim as saying "that the trauma of this crime paled compared to what he experienced in World War II." What in the world does this possibly mean? When people commit crimes, should we immediately compare their transgression to a World War II battlefield to see if it measures up? Does Meesouk deserve a lenient sentence because he wasn't throwing grenades at the old guy? Try this defense when your wife catches you sleeping with your babysitter - "Yeah, honey, it was wrong. But you should have seen what was going on in 'Nam."

5. Chances of Lueders going to the wall for Meesouk if he has a white kid from suburban Middleton - zero point zero. Unfortunately for the victim, testicular pugilism knows no skin color.

So anyone willing to chip in for a plane ticket for Meesouk, I'll set up a collection. It'll save you the cost of having to wear a protective cup while you're sitting at home watching "According to Jim." In fact, I might make the trip with Meesouk, if only to save myself from having to hear about the Rosie O'Donnell/Donald Trump feud anymore.

(Oh, and lest you think I'm bagging on The Isthmus, they are more than generous in linking to my posts via their internet site. And lest you think I'm afraid of using the word "lest," I have now proven you wrong.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Wit and Wisdom of Julius Hodge

Today, the Milwaukee Bucks traded Steve Blake to the Denver Nuggets for guards Earl Boykins and Julius Hodge. You may remember Hodge from his days at North Carolina State, where he was a standout player and apparently a fantastic quote. Here's a website that has compiled some of his funnier theories. Among them:

Advice given to Cameron Bennerman, starting in place of the injured Scooter Sherrill, before a March 6, 2004 game at Wake Forest’s Lawrence Joel Coliseum:
“When you’re hungry, you eat; when you’re a frog, you leap; if you’re scared, get a dog.”

On the differences between Harlem, NY and Raleigh, NC, January 21, 2002
“New York is the place to be. I could wake up there at three in the morning and decide to go to the store for some chips and Snapple and there would be cars racing down the street and people walking around everywhere. If I do that here, I'd probably get attacked by a deer.”

As for the trade, I think it's a steal for the Bucks. I dumped on Steve Blake a month ago, and I stand by it. The only possible explanation for his generous playing time was that he secretly only has a couple weeks to live and the Bucks were granting him his Make-A-Wish.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Reason to Hate Smoking Bans

In his book "The Tipping Point," Malcolm Gladwell cites a study from influential British psychologist Hans Eysenck when making a link between smoking and certain personality traits. He says:

In countless studies since Eysenck's grounbreaking work, this picture of the smoking "type" has been filled out. Heavy smokers have been shown to have a much greater sex drive than nonsmokers. They are more sexually precocious; they have a greater "need" for sex, and greater attraction to the opposite sex. At age nineteen, for example, 15 percent of nonsmoking white women attending college have had sex. The same number for white female students who do smoke is 55 percent.
This is why cities who ban smoking in bars have it so wrong. Think about the desperate dorky guy who regularly hits the bars hoping to trick a random "precocious" young lady into some lovin'. The City of Madison has removed a valuable arrow from that young man's quiver by not allowing him to see which girls at the bars smoke and which ones don't. This changes your odds significantly - we're talking about a 40 percent swing here.

Smoking issue aside, men have used nonverbal cues for centuries to pick out eligible mates. Tattoo? Check. Nose ring? Double check. Wearing a necklace with a marijuana leaf on it? Hit the family planning aisle ASAP. Wearing her UW Softball Team jersey? Run like the wind, my friend.

By removing these cues, men would waste infinite amounts of time talking to women with which they have no chance (for me, also known as "all women.") They have it easy in the animal world - when male monkeys go to monkey bars, they just have to find a girl monkey with a swollen buttocks. Dogs just have to make sure they don't have a stuffy nose, otherwise they're guaranteed to go home empty-pawed (where they will pour themselves a drink, have their way with a sofa leg, and pass out.)

The only other option, of course, is a process known as "dating," where apparently you are supposed to actually get to know a girl for a while. But this is a high risk proposition, as it can be expensive and cuts into your time normally spent attending license plate conventions.

I'm surprised that this ordinance wasn't more ardently opposed by nerdy college guys and guys with bad breath. Of course, that would make for a pretty unpleasant public hearing for everyone involved.

The nonverbal clues women offer you to hint that they don't want to go home with you are varied. They involve kicking you in the groin, pouring a drink on you, hiding under a table, and having their girlfriend beat you about the head, neck, and chest area.

And for the ladies that are looking for nonverbal clues as to whether a certain guy will go home with them, there is one telltale hint that says he will: He's alive.

The World Has Turned and Left Me Here

Yesterday, I had to take my car in for service and they gave me a loaner car to use while it was in the shop. As I drove away from the mechanic's shop, I felt a disconcerting warm sensation under my rear. I thought maybe I had developed a urinary problem I didn't know about, so I actually stopped the car and checked my pants, only to realize that the car had built-in electric seat warmers.

I guess I've never had a car fancy enough to have a seat warming device, so this took me by surprise. Kids these days and their fancy new technology. Next thing you know, they'll let women vote.

In only marginally related news, a girl at work told me that she went on a date with a guy who attempted the "pretend to yawn and put your arm around her" maneuver at the movies. She asked me if this was actually still an acceptable way of trying to "get close" to your date.

I told her that I hadn't been on a date since the invention of the internal combustion engine, and that I was surprised that this procedure was still utilized. I figured that since the time that I was single, someone would have invented some kind of new and exciting hug sneaking technology that the kids would now be using. In fact, I told her that I admired this guy for kicking it old school and using a maneuver that I had thought was retired to the Lame Date Moves Hall of Fame.

I now have to go soak my teeth.

Saving Us From Herself

Yesterday, Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson crowed about a vote the Senate took to eliminate the use of paper ballots for committee votes. Robson derided this process as "secret voting," when in fact, the ballots and the results of the votes are all public record.

In fact, as was pointed out by Republican State Senators last year, Robson used this process of "secret voting" over two dozen times herself when she chaired a committee under former Majority Leader Chuck Chvala.

In the end, it's not going to make a bit of difference, other than to make senators physically be in Madison to make their committee votes. However, if they decide that this is their big "ethics reform" for the session and call it a day, then free speech advocates should be dancing for joy.

As former senator Cathy Stepp said in her release, “Not one person has stopped me in the grocery store to say, ‘We desperately need paper ballot reform.' My constituents tell me we need a real property tax freeze, more jobs and lower taxes.” Until the Legislature deals with those issues, they will continue to suffer their low approval ratings.

Good News for Geeks

Anybody who watches television sports knows the wonder that is sideline reporter Erin Andrews. She was actually in Madison for the Badger/Buckeye game last night, and my on-site correspondents report that she is even more of a freak of nature in person. One said that it is likely that she was assembled in a "love factory."

This Atlanta Journal-Constitution story gives us a glimpse into Andrews' personal life, including this tidbit:

Andrews used to date an NHL player. One of her on-the-job peeves is married athletes who ask her out.
So for fat, unathletic, married anonymous bloggers... there's still a chance!

My Settlement Offer

A few posts back, a reader left a comment accusing me of libel and threatening a lawsuit against me, in which he would collect "a handsome five figure amount." I was wondering exactly what a "handsome amount" would look like, so I figured I'd send him a bag of these in the mail:

Now that's a handsome sum.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yeah, What He Said

It's taken me about 20 clumsy posts to try to say what George Will sums up in this one 800 word column. In fact, it's so good, I'll post the whole thing - plus, there's a local Wisconsin angle.

A Retreat on Rationing Free Speech?

By George F. Will
Sunday, December 31, 2006; B07

A three-judge federal court recently tugged a thread that may begin the unraveling of the fabric of murky laws and regulations that traduce the First Amendment by suppressing political speech. Divided 2 to 1, the court held -- unremarkably, you might think -- that issue advocacy ads can run during an election campaign, when they matter most. This decision will strike zealous (there is no other kind) advocates of ever-tighter regulation of political speech (campaign finance "reformers") as ominous. Why? Because it partially emancipates millions of Americans who incorporate thousands of groups to advocate their causes, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association.

And Wisconsin Right to Life. It is another organization by which people assemble (see the First Amendment) to speak (see it again) in order to seek redress of grievances (the amendment, one more time). In 2004 Wisconsin Right to Life was distressed because Wisconsin's senators, Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, were helping to block confirmation votes on some of President Bush's judicial nominees. It wanted to run ads urging people to "contact Senators Feingold and Kohl and tell them to oppose the filibuster."

But Feingold was running for reelection, and the McCain-Feingold "reform" makes it a crime for entities such as Wisconsin Right to Life to use their corporate funds to broadcast an "electioneering communication" within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. An "electioneering communication" is one that "refers to" a candidate for federal office.

Although in 2003 the Supreme Court upheld McCain-Feingold, the court said later that it would consider appeals against the law "as applied." The majority on the three-judge court, preserving the distinction between electioneering and grass-roots lobbying, held that Wisconsin Right to Life's ads were exempt from the McCain-Feingold election-eve blackouts of speech because the ads were not "coordinated" with a candidate's campaign and did not engage in "express advocacy" -- did not use the words "vote for" or "vote against" a candidate.

The dissenting judge wanted to examine the "intent" of the ads by examining their "context," looking for clues as to whether the group hoped to not only advocate an issue but influence an election. Imagine: Judges scouring the political landscape, searching for evidence (people's past opinions or associations; e-mails and other communications) that would empower them to rule that grass-roots lobbying about an issue is "really" the functional equivalent of electioneering (express advocacy).

Such a process would necessarily be so protracted that no challenged ad could be authorized in time for an election. Besides, Bob Bauer, a Democratic campaign lawyer, rightly warns that the prospect of such inquiries should "make a sensible citizen's blood run cold." An uncircumscribed inquiry into "intent" would become "an intrusive process" in which an organization's internal communications would be subpoenaed and political operatives and consultants would be "put under oath and questioned about what they meant and intended and thought."

The Wisconsin Right to Life case is probably heading for the Supreme Court. There, Justice Samuel Alito occupies the chair that Sandra Day O'Connor occupied when she voted with the majority in the 5 to 4 ruling that upheld McCain-Feingold.

Still, the reformers' zeal for regulating speech is undiminished. The Federal Election Commission recently fined some "527" groups (named for the tax code provision under which they organize) $630,000. Their offense? Issue advocacy in 2004 that, "taken as a whole," could "only be interpreted by a reasonable person as containing the advocacy of the election or defeat" of a federal candidate. Editorial writers at The Post and the New York Times, ever eager to regulate political advocacy not done by newspaper editorial writers, approved, although the Times thought the fines insufficient, and although The Post, calling the current law "murky," thought the FEC should have enforced the murkiness quicker.

The Times no longer bothers to pretend that its rationale for speech regulation is fear of corruption or the appearance thereof. Rather, the Times justifies suppressing 527s on aesthetic grounds -- they are run by "hard-edged activists" and their ads are too negative. Presumably, suppressing 527s will elevate political discourse -- and, presumably, it is the government's business to enforce the elevation. The Post also is tellingly silent about the reformers' original corruption rationale for rationing political speech by restricting the political money that finances it. Instead, The Post says 527s wield "significant" -- by implication, excessive (relative to The Post's?) -- influence.

Bauer wonders why, absent a compelling government interest in combating corruption, unregulated speech resulting in influence should be a federal offense. When, as surely it will, the Supreme Court considers that question, it can begin undoing the damage it did at the time it affirmed McCain-Feingold and licensed government to ration political speech.

Misleading Headline of the Day

Courtesy of the Fond du Lac Reporter:

More News is Good News

This week, the local Madison ABC affiliate (Channel 27) added a 6:30 newscast to its slate of 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 newscasts.

It's no secret that I'm partial to Channel 27 ever since anchor Christa Dubill played along with one of my joke posts about her. That being said, I watched the 6:30 show, and it appears to be a great idea.

First, it fills a need for people who want more news. Local newscasts are famously devoid of any real content - they are essentially vehicles to show off the latest version of the Doppler weathercast they subscribe to. And they appear to be trending in the direction of attempting to avoid any real news at all.

So it's refreshing to see a station that is actually giving viewers credit enough to try to provide more real news. It looks like they are using the extra half hour to discuss the top stories at more length and in more detail. And the cut-ins with State Journal reporters seem to be a good idea, although they might want to keep a coat and tie ready in the Journal newsroom, just in case. The extra time should also be an opportunity for the station to provide some opinion content or debate, which is sorely lacking in local television.

As a reward for the station treating you like you're not a dope, you should tune in. Giving viewers credit for actually wanting real news should be encouraged. Otherwise, enjoy Wheel of Fortune or Entertainment Tonight at 6:30.

Sail Away With Me

My wife and I are working our way through the "Freaks and Geeks" DVDs, and Episode One featured this song. Since I haven't been able to get it out of my head for a week, I thought I'd subject my reader to it, too.

And as a bonus, here's another classic - although the violin player has caused me not to sleep for days. I'm 97% certain he's hiding under my bed.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Selective Outrage Defined

When they're not trying to convince us that Madison, Wisconsin is somehow the rap music capitol of North America, The Isthmus can occasionally do some good reporting.

Take this article from last week, for example. The story describes State Representative Terese Berceau's irritation at the Wisconsin Elections Board for charging more for the voter lists they generate. Berceau has her Capitol staffer, Tom Powell, obtain the lists from the Elections Board (apparently he has extra time when he's not engineering distasteful smear campaigns about city council members.*)

The fourth paragraph of the story says:

Berceau, who uses the list for campaigning and to target newsletter mailings, says the additional cost is “no big deal” for her and other incumbents. But “if somebody is trying to run for office, that’s a big whopping amount of money they have to put out immediately.”
Yes, you read that right. Berceau uses her taxpayer funded capitol staffer to obtain lists from the taxpayer funded Elections Board, which she then uses for campaigning. Surely, the media is outraged at such a blatant use of taxpayer dollars for political gain. I'm certain newsrooms around the state are burning the midnight oil trying to figure out why Berceau uses the same list to campaign that she uses for sending out her official state newsletter.

Of course everyone remembers former Speaker of the Assembly Scott Jensen, who is likely on his way to prison for ordering staff to use state resources to do campaign work. Since there is no statute that explicitly prohibits using state resources for political gain (which was one of Jensen's defenses), one has to go to the statutory footnotes to find out what he did broke the law. They say:

946.12 - ANNOT.
Sub. (3) is not unconstitutionally vague. It does not fail to give notice that hiring and directing staff to work on political campaigns on state time with state resources is a violation...Legislators or their employees are not prohibited from doing or saying anything related to participation in political campaigns so long as they do not use state resources for that purpose.

When you read the Appeals Court decision in the Jensen case, it lays out specifically what Jensen did to break the law on page 35 (my emphasis): **

All the allegations of the criminal complaint describe campaign activity of the most basic type: the preparation and dissemination of campaign literature, political fundraising on behalf of a number of candidates for the Wisconsin Assembly, the delivery and receipt of campaign funds in state offices by lobbyists and state employees, campaign data management on state computers, daily monitoring of campaign progress by all three defendants, development and implementation of campaign strategy and debriefing of an election cycle on state time in state offices. The result:public financing of private campaigns without the public's permission. There is no reasonable argument that this alleged activity serves any legitimate legislative duty or purpose. No statute, rule or policy sanctions this behavior.
This decision was affirmed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, so all of the above transgressions are now apparently prohibited by law (even though the law doesn't explicitly say so, and the Court came to this decision based on a couple e-mails sent to Assembly employees - which now apparently have the force of law. One wonders if it is now legal to solicit dates from HoRnY HoUsEwIveS.)

So according to this new standard of what is legal and illegal in politics, it appears that Berceau has admitted to breaking the law. If she has been using her taxpayer funded staff to obtain taxpayer produced voter lists to campaign, that would certainly appear not to have any "legitimate legislative duty or purpose."

But here's the problem - I don't have any problem with what Berceau did. Nor do I have any problem with much of what Jensen did. Jensen, however, has been killed in the media for using taxpayer resources for campaigning - and here we have a Democrat who admits as much, and it won't even elicit a yawn.

If you concede that there is a line between politics and legitimate government business, then I do believe Jensen crossed it by condoning the employment of a full time fundraiser on a state payroll. You just can't have people dialing for dollars from a Capitol office.

Furthermore, no reasonable person would try to equate the actions of Berceau and Jensen - Jensen was the Speaker of the Assembly, and if you believe that politics is inherently wrong (I don't), then what he did was on a much grander scale.

But to somehow think that Scott Jensen was the only one engaged in politics at the Capitol is ludicrous. Whether anyone actually cares seems wholly dependent on what party you belong to, and whether you support full taxpayer financing of elections. And yes, I know Chuck Chvala went to jail, but I believe there actually was a statute that explicitly prohibited extortion.

*SIDE NOTE: If former Speaker John Gard had hired a staff member who had been caught posting distasteful doctored internet pictures of city council members, how do you think he would have been treated by the media? Do I even need to ask?

**DOUBLE SIDE NOTE: Actually reading the Jensen decision was enlightening. It essentially boils down to the court saying "there's really no statute saying he couldn't do this, but the chief clerk sent out an e-mail saying he shouldn't do it, and 'common sense' says it is wrong, so therefore he's guilty." Needless to say, there are plenty of things that I think are "common sense" with which the court would likely disagree.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Free Dance Instruction

I wasn't able to go to the J.B. Van Hollen inaugural party, but a friend provided me with some video footage:

Oh, and do yourself a favor and check out these others (and don't even think about getting any work done today):

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4 (the behind the back clapping is classic)

Part 5

(Thanks to Tom Liebe)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

NFL Player Without Health Insurance Left to Die on Field

New York (AP) - In a stunning development, New York Giants special teams specialist Chad Morton died on the field on Sunday after a hit by a New Orleans Saints backup tight end. "I can't believe he would actually die from a sprained ankle," said team doctor Harris Trinsky. "But he didn't have his insurance card on him, so what could I do?" said Trinsky.

Earlier this fall, the Giants cancelled their team health insurance, instead choosing to let the government implement a universal health care plan. "The taxpayers of New Jersey are building us a new stadium, I don't see why they shouldn't be on the hook for our medical care," said team President John Mara. Experts have noted that if the Giants had been covered by a public health program, Morton would have had to wait five months for treatment, and would likely be misdiagnosed as having acute halitosis instead of a sprained ankle.

Morton's presence on the field became a distraction during a crucial fourth quarter drive, when the Saints' Reggie Bush was running for the end zone and tripped over his rotting corpse. Bush fumbled the ball, then had his limbs torn off by the vultures that had previously been feasting on Morton. The vultures were each penalized 15 yards apiece, and after the game one signed on to return punts for the Minnesota Vikings next year.

The Giants did begin giving their players a stipend for health savings accounts several months ago, but Morton spent his money on a Playstation 3 and the first three seasons of Silver Spoons on DVD.

Regulation of Political Speech, Soviet-Style

A few weeks back, I (justifiably) made fun of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's insistence on making Catholic churches disclose their funding, due to the churches' advocacy in favor of the gay marriage ban. It seemed to be a clear example of attempting to thwart a church's right to disseminate their teachings.

Often times, people reach for hyperbole to describe such actions. They'd say things like "that sounds like something the Nazis would do," or "what is this, Communist Russia?" However, in this case, I don't need to use hyperbole - Russia has done it for me (and since I just read a book on Russia, it makes me an instant expert).

From USA Today:

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — The Kremlin might back away from a new law that would force churches and religious groups to report to the government on their services, sermons and sources of income.

The rules, contained in a law passed in April, have sparked outrage among human rights groups, churches operating in Russia and Western governments, including the European Union. The Russian government passed the law in an effort to monitor the activities of organizations such as Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders, foreign-funded groups that President Vladimir Putin has warned might interfere in domestic politics.

During his seven years as president, Putin's government has asserted greater state control over independent Russian media and business. It also has eliminated most political opposition in parliament and turned the country's governorships from elected to appointed jobs...

The country's religious leaders say the reporting requirements are onerous and a painful reminder of the religious suppression of the Soviet era. "We think it's wrong and even impossible to comply," says Thaddaeus Kondrusiewicz, the Catholic archbishop in Moscow.

Well, I have news for Russian citizens - there are groups here in Wisconsin that think it's a great idea.

The Wisconsin Democracy campaign is afraid of religious organizations that attempt to influence politics, so they try to regulate their speech. The Kremlin is afraid of religious organizations that attempt to influence politics, so they regulate their speech.

And just for the record, The WDC is the group that most newspapers are completely comfortable with writing Wisconsin's new campaign finance reform laws. If you want Mike McCabe to be in charge of how much speech you are allowed with regard to candidates and elections, his group is for you.

They Just Don't Get It

I don't have any opinion as to whether Brett Favre will retire or not, but I think my actions on Sunday night kind of tell which way I'm leaning.

I was lucky enough to go to the Thursday night Packer game against the Vikings, and my ticket stub got soaked in the rain. After Favre gave his teary-eyed speech on national TV, I realized something - I didn't know where my ticket stub was. After all, that could have been Favre's last home game, right?

So I started scrambling around the house looking for it. I asked my wife if she had seen it. She looked at me and said, (make sure you're sitting down):

"What's the big deal?"

So if you see my ticket stub laying around somewhere, let me know. I'll give you big fat York hug. (Side note: In college, I once opened a beer, took a few sips, and misplaced it. Distraught, I took a marker and drew up a "LOST: ONE BEER" sign, complete with an artist's rendering of what the beer looked like. I xeroxed them off and put them up all over the neighborhood before I realized that I had taken my beer into the bathroom with me. Trust me, at the time it was pretty funny, as the missing beer was probably my ninth.)

Oh, and one last thing - this Sports Illustrated article on whether Favre will retire was a little odd. Notice at the end how they talk, not once, but twice, about how fat Aaron Rodgers is. Is this Sports Illustrated or Teen Cosmo?

Reader Of the Year 2007

We're three days in, and the Reader of the Year 2007 voting is now closed.

Ladies and gentlemen (well, probably just gentlemen), we all have Jeff Landin to thank for this.

Someone please read the comments to me, as I am now blind.