30 November 2006
The remaining games are:
The good news is that the OL seems to have gotten its act together. QB protection and run blocking are better now than in October. This team relies on its explosive offense and can't win without a solid OL.
The defense still stinks. But I do give credit to Kevin Kaesviharn for being the most improved player. He's gone from dud to stud this year. Overall, however, this defense just can't put the kibosh on strong offenses. That pretty much spells disaster for the Colts game (unless the Colts rest their starters).
The Bengals can make the postseason, but what they do once they get there will depend on how much better the defense can get. There is no way we can play teams like Indy and New England with this sorry excuse for a defense.
I, for one, pledge to do my part to drink beer and yell at the TV. Good luck, gentlemen!
A piece of prime downtown real estate may soon become the first housing development designed for and specially marketed to young professionals.
A source confirmed the structure would include up to 900 underground parking spaces and retail on the first and possibly second floors. One and two-bedroom condos, ranging from 750 to 1,500 square feet, priced from $150,000 to $300,000, would fill out the development. An announcement and construction could begin early next year, the source said.
Great news. It would be even better if the building were to showcase some creative architecture and design. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to happen judging by the architectural firm's past work. Ho-hum. Let's hope at the very least that the building will meet LEED green building standards.
29 November 2006
Former US president Jimmy Carter said the Iraq war was one of the "greatest blunders" ever made by a US leader.
"It's going to prove, I believe to be one of the greatest blunders that American presidents have ever made."
Asked whether the Iraq war would prove to be a bigger mistake in the annals of US foreign policy than the war in Vietnam, he answered: "I think it is going to be a close call ... but perhaps much more vividly known by the rest of the world than Vietnam was."
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.
Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.
“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.
Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief.
Kudos to Jim Webb for his gentlemanly restraint. Bush deserved to get slugged, no question. For all we know it might have done him a favor by knocking his head back into gear, like when you kick a lawnmower to get it to start or when Bush rapped his crack pipe to knock out the detritus.
28 November 2006
Researchers found that moderate amounts of alcohol – amounts equivalent to a couple of drinks a day for a human – improved the memories of laboratory rats.
“We saw a noticeable change on the surface of certain neurons in rats that were given alcohol..."
They found that low levels of alcohol increased the expression of a particular receptor, NR1, on the surface of neurons in a region of the brain, the hippocampus, that plays a role in memory. Researchers think that NR1 plays a role in memory and learning.
And from OSU's Dept. of Psychology:
New evidence in rats suggests that marijuana may contain compounds that slow the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Treatment with a synthetic compound similar to marijuana reduced inflammation in older rats in addition to making the animals “smarter,” said Wenk...
“The compound substantially improved the memories of the older rats,” he said. “These animals were able to hold on to key details of a specific task. Untreated older rats, on the other hand, were not.”
Evidence suggests that people who regularly smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s rarely develop Alzheimer's disease, said Wenk, adding that researchers are eager to develop a drug with the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana, but without the drug's psychoactive effects.
This year, there was documented evidence of significant melting at both poles. And the U.S. Space Agency, NASA, and others, confirm the Earth has warmed nearly two degrees since 1900. That may not sound like much, but warming temperatures fuel extreme weather patterns. And a recent study suggests continued global warming could raise sea levels several meters by the end of the century.
The southern ice sheet is over 2200 meters thick, on average. That amounts to 90 percent of the world's ice and 70 percent of its fresh water.
27 November 2006
When my high school friends and I would get together on college breaks, we'd go out and see H-Bomb all the time. He used to have regular gigs at Kilgore's and Cory's (I think that's the name) which are now known as Buzz and Mad Frog.
He was a character. Outrageous wigs. Great lyrics. Cool band. And he drove a hearse. I even saw him driving around in it a couple of times.
Thanks for the good times, H-Bomb.
This study examined the association between ownership of high-risk ("vicious") dogs and the presence of deviant behaviors in the owners as indicated by court convictions. We also explored whether two characteristics of dog ownership (abiding licensing laws and choice of breed) could be useful areas of inquiry when assessing risk status in settings where children are present... Findings suggest that the ownership of a high-risk ("vicious") dog can be a significant marker for general deviance and should be an element considered when assessing risk for child endangerment.
WVXU reports on the study:
The scientists discovered vicious dog owners who don’t register or keep their dogs confined are at least 9 times more likely to have committed a crime against children than the owners of non-violent dogs. That same group was three times more likely to have a domestic violence conviction, and 14 times more likely to be convicted of a crime involving alcohol. All of them had at least one criminal conviction or traffic citation. Thirty percent had at least five.
Co-author of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital study, Dr. Barbara Boat says one can argue that choosing to own a vicious dog, like pit bulls, rottweilers or chows, is a marker of social deviance, because a vicious dog is, by definition, a socially deviant animal.
I must admit, it always seemed to me like they just ain't right in the head.
22 November 2006
By 2006, according to telecommunication companies’ own documents, 86 million customers in the United States should have received 45 Mbps service. In fact, South Korea and Japan do even better: they routinely offer 100 Mbps connections in both directions, uploading and downloading, for around $40 per month. But in the United States, the best connections top out at 1/3 this speed and cost 400% more... The United States once led the world in Web technology. What happened?
The answer is, the merger of the phone companies that control the phone networks decreased competition. Instead of deploying the high-speed fiber-optic lines they promised, they were content to collect profits, tinker with existing copper connections instead of rewiring, and roll out inferior DSL services. The FCC defines anything above 200 Kbps as broadband (1000 Kbps = 1 Mbps), allowing them to claim that Americans have broadband access. However, this definition is a politically-driven embarrassment for technologists, the equivalent of two tin-cans with string.Yet—and here is the most troubling part—the phone companies got paid anyway. Through tax breaks and increased service fees, Verizon and the old Bells reaped an estimated $200 billion since the early 1990s to improve subscriber lines in the United States. And what have American consumers received? The most common DSL Service over the old copper networks tops out at 768 Kbps in most areas—a hundred times slower than routine connections in other countries.
21 November 2006
First is this bizarre story about the police planting 45- and 36-year old ex-convicts in dorm rooms to pose as students while actually working as drug informants. The end result of this brilliant police work is one dead innocent student and an $8,000 legal settlement for another innocent student.
Second is this story about an Oberlin businessman who lets artists use his store window to display art, particulary controversial art (hey, this is Oberlin). But this time he balked.
Oberlin factoids: Michelle Malkin went to Oberlin (not making it up), as did this lanky, soccer-playing high school classmate of mine.
Ohio has the best libraries in the nation, according to a survey released by a Wisconsin librarian.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr.'s annual American Public Library Rating ranked Ohio's 250 libraries at the top of the list for their highest overall score for circulation, staffing, funding levels, reference service and materials.
Utah was No. 2 on the list, followed by Oregon, while Washington D.C., was in last place, behind Alabama.
Ohio has one of the worst educational systems in the nation but it has the best libraries. And D.C. has more degreed professionals (at least during daytime) than any other area in the nation but it has the worst libraries. Crazy.
And speaking of libraries, go visit the Mercantile Library and its blog.
20 November 2006
Covington-based developer Corporex Co. wants to line up as much public money and public support as it can for its $800 million development on the Newport riverfront, officials said Friday.
Friday, Corporex founder and chairman Bill Butler made a straightforward appeal for support for the project at the local, state and federal levels.
Shorter Bill Butler: Taxpayers should subsidize my real estate development and then give me a long-term tax break, preferably one bigger than KY law currently allows.
I checked into Bill Butler's political contributions. To whom did this corporate welfare acolyte give money in the 2006 election cycle?
$7500: Ken Blackwell
$4200: Jean Schmidt
$2100: Steve Chabot
$2100: Mitch McConnell
$2100: Pat DeWine
$2100: Mike DeWine
$2000: Elizabeth Dole
$500: Rick Santorum
Butler was also generous enough to send over $25,000 to the RNC and another $10,000 to the KY GOP. Corporate welfare and the GOP... a [heterosexual] match made in [Christian] heaven!
17 November 2006
It's cool that they actually did experiments. When I read the headline I figured someone just found correlations in statistical data. But this is a whole 'notha level.
Mead helped design and conduct five of nine laboratory experiments, most of which involved having participants complete a number of different tasks while being exposed to "play" money or other visual references to money. The researchers found that those exposed to reminders of money worked longer on tasks before asking for help and were less helpful toward others. They also preferred to play alone, work alone and put more physical distance between themselves and a new acquaintance.
"Although the pattern of results were as predicted, we were somewhat surprised about the strength and consistency of the effects with such subtle reminders of money,"
16 November 2006
“According to the General Accounting Office, there are over 1,049 protections and incentives extended to straight married couples, none of which we get," says one of the gay-but-unhappy men.
In yesterday's post I questioned the logic of withholding all of one's taxes when one only objects to some of what it is used for. A commentor on this story expressed the same view, writing that it "seems like the more appropriate thing to do would be to simply re-calculate taxes as if he were married and pay that."
Makes sense. Then again, taking a principled stand on something without really thinking it through is sort of the American way these days, isn't it?
15 November 2006
He wanted to hide from the government because he had made the decision not to pay any more taxes. He objected to the use of his tax money for military spending, so he basically said that if the government was going to spend taxpayer money on the military then he wasn't going to pay any taxes.
"But what about the other things tax money is used for?" I asked. If he didn't have a problem with other things, why not pay some taxes instead of none?
He explained that there is no way to know if the government is using your taxes or someone else's to fund the military. So the only way is to withhold totally.
But it doesn't work like that, I said. They don't divy up different individual's payments to different areas. They just send a proportion of the overall receipts. In my view, it made more sense for him to figure out the portion of the budget that is spent on the military and just withhold that percentage.
I told him that, but he either ignored it or repeated what he had just said. I can't remember.
I remembered my encounter with the old man when I read this story about Cleveland State University winning a federal education grant which will improve educational opportunities for low-income students.
Education is a proven investment and can pay for itself many times over. I have problems with many things the government spends money on (who doesn't?) but education is definitely not one of them. And that includes the arts.
13 November 2006
Cleanup Of Piketon Uranium Plant May Top $4.5 Billion
The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which once enriched uranium for weapons and nuclear fuel, closed in 2001.
Some of the most dangerous cleanup work is being done inside three massive enrichment buildings, where workers are removing uranium deposits that cling to surfaces inside equipment and 600 miles of piping.
The newspaper said the government has spent $1 billion so far digging up soil, emptying ponds, capping unlined toxic landfills, treating groundwater and hauling contaminants away -- more than 43,000 containers of hazardous, radioactive and other waste and 8,400 tons of radioactive scrap metal.
Digest those numbers for a moment. $4.5 billion. 600 miles of piping. 43,000 containers. 8,400 tons of metal. Is it really surprising that...
Still, there is evidence of offsite contamination...
Tests on two area deer killed by cars showed traces of uranium isotopes in the livers of both and in the muscle of one.
Traces of uranium were also found in milk and egg samples from area farms, and in three vegetables taken from the gardens of plant neighbors.
Air, water and sediment tests also revealed small amounts of radioactive uranium, plutonium or technetium, and three fish from area waterways had traces of uranium or plutonium.
The DOE says the trace amounts aren't dangerous, but I think the key issue is not how much leeched out, but that it leeched out in the first place. And I'll bet most people would rather take a multivitamin than eat food fortified with plutonium, uranium and technitium.
And related item no.2 from a couple weeks ago:
Schmidt Considers Nuke Waste
[Jean] Schmidt has signed on to an effort by the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) and a Cleveland-based company called SONIC to seek a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant of up to $5 million for a study of whether the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant should be a site for temporary storage and recycling of spent nuclear fuel rods.
At the urging of SODI and SONIC, Schmidt wrote a letter last month to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman urging DOE to consider Piketon for the nuclear waste storage and recycling program.
Why not store the waste in Clermont and Warren counties? That's where the people who actually voted for her live.
10 November 2006
Two federal agencies are investigating whether the Bush administration tried to block government scientists from speaking freely about global warming and censor their research, a senator said Wednesday.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said he was informed that the inspectors general for the Commerce Department and NASA had begun "coordinated, sweeping investigations of the Bush administration's censorship and suppression" of federal research into global warming.
"These investigations are critical because the Republicans in Congress have ignored this serious problem," Lautenberg said.
"Taxpayers do not fund scientific research so the Bush White House can alter it."
Damn straight. Let's hope we see more of that and less of this.
09 November 2006
But some Republicans did keep their seats, like our own Steve Chabot and and his esteemed colleague, "the freak-show embodiment of everything wrong with the Republican Party today".
(Although the OH-2 race isn't over yet)
But I think the change that will do the most to improve things around here is the election of Pepper to HamCo Commission. I think this will be a very positive election. Phil Heimlich is one of the worst officials in recent memory, a churlish, arrogant narcissist who managed the county as if it was his own fiefdom. Let's hope we've seen the last of him.
David Pepper is far smarter, better informed and knows how to work with people. He has plenty of corporate and wealthy connections (Kimball Perry points out a few new ones), so we'll have to see how independent he can be from the men in suits who are used to being puppetmasters around here. But I think Pepper and Portune can manage the county in far superior manner than what we saw under Heimlich. I look forward to a commission that prioritizes the long-term interests of citizens, not the short-term interests of corporate executives.
08 November 2006
"as dependable an airhead as American politics has ever seen"
"In a Congress full of provincial dumb-asses, Jean Schmidt is this generation's standout..."
"...racing to stick a foot in her mouth every time someone turns on a video camera."
"...the freak-show embodiment of everything wrong with the Republican Party today..."
And yet even this sorry excuse for a public official can do well in OH-2. But the race isn't over, not yet. In a race this close, an accurate count is essential. That's why state elections have an automatic recount when the difference is 1%. The OH-2 race is also within that margin, if I remember the numbers.
There also the issue of provisional and absentee ballots:
Due to changes in Ohio's election laws, more than 9,000 absentee ballots were cast by Warren County residents this year. That's up from about 2,800 in the last general election.
Absentee ballots received after Nov. 2 will not be counted in the unofficial count released Tuesday night because they still need to be verified, said Susan Johnson, the elections director. They will be included with the final count, she said.
As of Nov. 1, the Warren County elections board in Lebanon had received 6,800 absentee ballots.
And that's just Warren County. The other 6 counties in the district will also have to count absentees and provisionals, and in a race this tight, small changes could affect the outcome.
So Wulsin should not concede. Not until every single vote in every county is counted. If that's a problem for the BOEs, then they have no business being in their jobs.
06 November 2006
Issue 2: Constitutional amendment (Ohio, not U.S.) to raise the minimum wage. This is a well written Issue which increases the minimum wage in reasonable fashion and provides appropriate exemptions (for small family businesses, e.g.). It has much support and will probably pass.
I agree with what this Issue does but I will still vote NO. Why? Because it should be a law, not a constitutional amendment. This Issue does the right thing in the wrong way. There has been a trend recently for groups to force their pet issues onto the constitution instead of the lawbooks. It’s not the right way and it sets a bad precedent.
If this Issue fails, it will not be the end. Democrats in the state legislature can try to pass it as legislation and if that doesn’t work, anybody can just change some words (to make it a law instead of an amendment) and bring it back as an Issue in the next election.
Issue 3: Issue 3 is one of the worst scams I have ever seen. It is special interest politics at its worst.
The gambling lobby has been trying to legalize and expand gambling in Ohio for years. They keep failing but they keep coming back. Issue 3 is their latest attempt. Their tactics have consistently been deceptive and unethical. This year, they poured millions into ads with cute little kids, telling viewers Issue 3 will help them get scholarships.
It’s baloney. Issue 3 is not about education; it is about gambling. The law stipulates that casino owners will get the bulk of the profits TAX FREE. So the kids you saw on those ads will still be paying taxes on their summer jobs while the casino owners who supposedly care so much about them will get several hundred million dollars tax-free.
It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The only value of Issue 3 is that it provides a good illustration of how special interests corrupt government.
Issues 4 & 5: These are both smoking “bans”. The easiest way to see the difference is to look at who sponsors which Issue.
Here is who backs Issue 4:
Cigar Association of America
Lorillard Tobacco Co.
National Association of Tobacco Outlets
Retail Tobacco Dealers Association
Here is who backs Issue 5:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Assoc.
American Lung Assoc.
Ohio Hospital Assoc.
Ohio State Medical Assoc.
That’s probably all you need to know, but there is another major difference: Issue 4 is a constitutional amendment whereas Issue 5 is a law. So if both pass, then Issue 4 takes precedence. In other words, Ohio’s smoking laws will have been written by R.J. Reynolds. A law like Issue 5 can be easily repealed or changed by the legislature but an amendment like Issue 4 is much harder to change.
One of the worst effects will be that Issue 4 prevents municipalities from passing their own smoking laws (because local laws cannot supersede the constitution). In other words, if citizens in Madeira or Cincinnati or Akron wanted to enact a local smoking ordinance, they could not do so.
It goes without saying that R.J. Reynolds did not write Issue 4 to decrease their profits. The only circumstance I can think of to vote for Issue 4 is if you have substantial tobacco holdings and stand to gain significant income over the next several years by ensuring that Ohio does not enact a true smoking ban.
The “real” smoking ban is Issue 5, but it really doesn’t change things that much from what we have already. Most businesses already ban smoking and many restaurants already have designated sections. But Issue 5 does require that restaurants actually have an atmospherically separate smoking section and don’t just call one side of the restaurant smoking and the other side non-smoking, for example. (Comedian George Carlin once joked that having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a pool).
Issue 5 is not an anti-smoking initiative; it is meant to lessen the effects of second-hand smoke, particularly on children and employees of businesses that allow smoking.
You should definitely vote NO on Issue 4. If you’re concerned about smoking and health, then vote YES on Issue 5. If you’re not sure then vote NO on both.
Issue 12: This is a tax levy to pay for a new Hamilton County jail. Although the county does need more jail space, this levy is flawed and should get a NO vote.
Why it is flawed: Tax levies are supposed to collect revenue from sales and/or property taxes for a certain number of years. This levy is a bit different because it was custom made by Carl Lindner and Phil Heimlich. Briefly, Lindner saw an opportunity to reduce his own personal property tax burden. He created a levy which is specifically designed to give substantial property tax breaks to those with large real estate holdings (downtown office buildings, for example). The greater the property value, the greater the tax break. Note that this is exactly the opposite of what a progressive tax structure is supposed to do.
“Lindner’s Levy” makes up the difference by increasing sales taxes. If you think Hamilton County residents should pay more taxes so that Carl Lindner and his associates can pay less, then vote ‘yes’ on Issue 12. Otherwise vote NO.
Issue 13: Children’s Services Levy. These funds are used to assist neglected and abused children. YES.
Issue 14: Health & Hospitalization Levy. This levy reimburses UC and Children’s for their indigent care programs. YES
04 November 2006
It should be noted that the phrase "partial-birth abortion" is not medical terminology. As this review article in Salon states,
Despite its prevalence in the public debate, the term "partial birth abortion" is not recognized by the American Medical Association or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The phrase came into use shortly after Dr. Martin Haskell presented an abortion technique called intact dilation and extraction, or intact D&X, at the 1992 National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar.
Antiabortion activists, infuriated by the advent of a new variation on an unforgivable act, adopted the phrase "partial birth abortion" to describe a procedure they believed amounted to murder. The term became ingrained in the public debate...
Aside from the whole issue of Congress allowing Christian fundamentalists to set parameters for the practice of medicine, this law cannot really be considered a serious attempt to curb abortion since it does nothing to prevent pregnancies. Moreover, it does almost nothing to reduce the number of abortions that actually do take place:
The CDC reports that 88 percent of abortions in the U.S. occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy; nearly 99 percent occur within the first 20 weeks; and only about 1 percent of terminations occur past 21 weeks of pregnancy.
And of those 1%, only a fifth are intact D&X procedures. So only about 0.2% of abortion procedures are affected by this ban. Here's a mother's story of her experience with the procedure.
The main issue surrounding the ban is medical necessity. Specifically, are there circumstances in which intact D&X is the only option that would preserve the life of the mother?
But what about preserving the health of the mother? That is a whole other can of worms, and people are challenging the ban because it does not include exceptions for health of the mother.
This is where Steve Chabot comes in. As NPR reported this week,
This isn't the first time the Supreme Court has considered a ban on the procedure that lawmakers call partial-birth abortion. Six years ago, on a 5 to 4 ruling, the justices struck down a ban passed by the Nebraska legislature. The majority said, among other things, that the law needed an exception allowing the procedure to be used not just to preserve the pregnant woman's life, but also her health.
That put sponsors of a similar federal ban, like Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), in a quandary. Adding a health exception was not something Chabot was willing to do.
So where does Chabot stand now? And for that matter, where does Cranley stand? Should the ban include exceptions for the mother's health? Should there be a ban at all? And philosophically, to what extent should religious doctrine set parameters for science?
03 November 2006
DeWine's campaign ads have been so full of negativity, deception and outright lies that three of them have been pulled. It might even be four, I'm not sure. Either way, it's ridiculous.
It's also appears to be a self-destructive tactic. DeWine's numbers have fallen, fallen, fallen while his ads continue to be ugly, ugly, ugly. His campaign has exemplified this season's unprecedented gutter politics and attack ads. It's just painful to see someone so desperate that the only way he can get votes is to make people hate the other guy so much that they go vote for you.
This morning the pain got worse as I saw another, new attack ad. I can't remember the attack, but I do recall something about Sherrod Brown being an evil person who should not be trusted by decent folk.
I can understand climbing into the gutter to get right-wing votes ('cause that's where they are), but if this is DeWine's attempt to get the independent vote, he's getting some bad advice.
02 November 2006
FM radio is getting some changes, too. In this case, it’s corporate restructuring (i.e. the shaft). Two telecoms bought several area stations, fired several employees and eliminated some competition. The changes will be, um… what is the phrase? Ah, yes, “good for consumers”.
For example, we’ll be able to listen to Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck every weekday (now on FM). Maybe I’ll miss Andy Furman more than I thought…
And maybe I'll just keep that iPod plugged in.
01 November 2006
Unfortunately, he’s not Jennifer Brunner, either. We’ve seen how much damage an incompetent (and egomaniacal) Secretary of State can do. This site about Blackwell’s potential replacement doesn’t make me feel any better.
As a general rule, I don’t care for anti-candidate sites or TV ads, but this one is different. It actually links to official documents. That’s a world apart from the distortions and lies we’ve been inundated with. Take a look and decide for yourself.
Pay attention to John Kerry! Pay attention to John Kerry!
Republicans love and support our troops. But you know who hates our troops? John Kerry!
John Kerry hates the same troops that Republicans love!
You know who else hates our troops? Democrats! Liberals! Jane Fonda! In other words, all of John Kerry's friends and relatives.
And you know what those troop-hating friends and relatives are doing right now? Trying to get elected in your state!
Don't vote for them! Don't vote for them! If you vote for John Kerry's friends and relatives, our soldiers will die and our children will become gay Mexican-speaking Allah-worshippers.
It's your choice, America. We're* just here to make sure you choose correctly.
(* Karl Rove and Wally Diebold)