31 August 2006

Update on GOP Media Manipulation

Following up on the previous, post, the Plain Dealer today did issue an apology:

Egg on our Faces

Nathan Estruth, a Republican who recently showed up at a rally a Aug. 19 in
Clermont County, presumably to give Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted
Strickland a chance, is hardly the open-minded voter he portrayed himself to
be that day.

Estruth was quoted in a Plain Dealer article about the rally saying he was
undecided in the governors race. But it turns out he's the president of Common
Sense Ohio, a new group that has raised more than $1.5 million and has begun
spending the cash on television ads slamming Democratic gubernatorial
candidate Ted Strickland.

After Estruth's name appeared in the paper, Strickland campaign workers and
many bloggers, most notably Buckeyestateblog. com, began checking him out and made the link to the group. State records show that Estruth, who's also given thousands of dollars to Republicans, heads the group.

-- Mark Naymik

I'm almost certain that the issue will end here, and it's a shame. Just as seeing one cockroach is a sign that hundreds more lurk behind the walls, so too is every Republican ethical transgression a sign that hundreds more go unnoticed.

The GOP will obviously not do anything to police themselves. They haven't done it for several years and they won't start now. Violating the law puts food in their mouths. They won't stop until they go hungry.

And the Dems? Don't make me laugh. They'll come out, squeak a little, eat a piece of cheese, and then go back into their little hole in the wall.

30 August 2006

Media Manipulation 101

This article from Sunday's Plain Dealer cites one Nathan Estruth who is supposedly an undecided voter:

Estruth, a father of four who typically votes Republican, milled in the back of a partisan crowd of about 100, one of just a handful of people not wearing a shirt promoting a Democratic candidate. At the urging of a friend, he came to give the Democrats, who have been out of power in Ohio for more than a decade, a chance to win his vote.

What a great Ohioan. Family man. Works hard. Not partisan. Fair-minded. Just like you and me, isn't he?

Guess again. Turns out Mr. Estruth is firmly entrenched in a number of neocon groups, including being a lawyer for the GOP. He basically let the cat out of the bag with his "impression" of the event which was an obvious, regurgitated GOP talking point:

After the 40-minute rally, Estruth said he was not ready to vote Democratic. He was put off, he said, by their harsh rhetoric.

"I wanted to see if he was an executive with clear plans for fixing the state," he said about Strickland. "What I got was partisan talk. He confirmed my worst fears."

He wants clear plans for fixing the state, huh? Maybe he should ask Ken Blackwell why 50% of his website is anti-gay rhetoric (somebody actually calculated the percentage a while back). I guess what I call "Bible-thumping homophobia" is what Mr. Estruth calls "clear plans for fixing the state".

I won't even address the "partisan talk" comment. Only a Republican could say that with a straight face.

By the way... how interesting is it that of all the people at this event, the Plain Dealer selected Mr. Estruth? Anybody care to explain that? Mr. Naymik, perhaps...?

More Changes Coming to Tennis in 2007

One of the best changes in tennis this year is the use of instant replay. It's about time, frankly. It's been used in a few tournaments this year, and now it's getting its "big time" inauguration at the U.S. Open. So far it's working great.

The ATP has decided on more changes for 2007, and I'm keen to see how they turn out:

One change is to reduce the number of best-of-5-set finals. This will reduce the number of players getting worn out and pulling out of subsequent tournaments. Makes sense:

As an example of what can result, de Villiers pointed to the Rome and Hamburg clay-court tournaments this spring; Federer and Nadal played a five-hour, five-set final in Rome, then both pulled out of the Hamburg event.

Another change is that tournaments will start on Sunday instead of Monday. That makes sense, too.

But the most intruiging change is using the round-robin format instead of a straight-up draw. This is the one I'm most excited about.

If it catches on, there may be a change in the ranking methodology as well. Players are currently ranked only on the basis of tournament wins, with bonus points for beating higher ranked players. But it is possible to add another element into the rankings, and that is to incorporate players' records against other players.

To illustrate with the most obvious example, consider Federer and Nadal. Federer has won more tournaments and has more points. Therefore he is No.1. But Nadal has beaten Federer 5 out of 7 times. Should a player really be No.2 if he can beat No.1 70% of the time? That question would be addressed by a modified ranking methodology.

Another example is the Chang-Sampras rivalry of the early 90s. Chang beat Sampras much more than Sampras beat Chang. If this was factored into their rankings, it might have helped Chang move up a spot or two in the rankings.

So I'm excited about 2007. But this is 2006, and that means bye-bye Andre Agassi. And sadly, I think that bye-bye might come in the 2nd round when he faces popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis. It could be a great match, perhaps on the level of last year's Agassi-Blake thriller. but whether Agassi will come out on top, I'm not so sure.

I have a link to a nice Agassi retrospective site, but it's at home so I'll update with the link later.

UPDATE: ATPtennis.com pays tribute to the remarkable career of Andre Agassi.

Corporate Malfeasance Produces Corporate Profits

Looks like the partying in the BP boardroom is about to end:

A few weeks ago, a group of shareholders sued the company over its failure to maintain the Alaska pipeline:

Shareholders have filed a lawsuit against top executives of BP accusing them of letting down investors by failing to repair a pipeline that forced a shutdown of part of the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay oilfield.

The lawsuit... alleges the British oil major's executives including Chief Executive Officer John Browne and Chief Financial Officer Bryon Grote knew about the corrosion of the pipeline and did not take any action.

And now there's this:

U.S. federal investigators are examining whether BP manipulated crude oil and unleaded gasoline markets...

BP already faces allegations from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission that it manipulated the U.S. propane market in 2004.

The separate investigations on crude oil and gasoline could intensify pressure on BP because these markets are bigger and directly affect most American households...

On top of all this, Congress also plans to hold hearings on the pipeline problem. So to recap, BP is under the glass for:

Propane markets manipulation
Crude Oil markets manipulation
Gasoline markets manipulation
Shareholder lawsuit over pipeline
Congressional hearings over pipeline

I don't have any oil stock but if I did I'd think about dumping it. As it is, I'm exploring some of the options in alternative energy mutual funds. That's where the growth is.

28 August 2006

DeWine Joins Backpedaling GOP

Mike DeWine is now voting against the war after he voted for it. Like a good Republican up for re-election, he is pretending his primary loyalty is to the country and not to his party. And he's certainly not the only one; read TravisG's post about Kentucky's party-liner, Geoff Davis.

Unfortunately, DeWine, et al were busted by their own John McCain, as the Toledo Blade points out:

Coming down hard on President Bush's mishandling of the war in Iraq, Mr. McCain made headlines by casting doubt on the judgment of reliable supporters of the President on the war, Mr. DeWine being a prime example.

Now that chaos reigns and civil war appears imminent, Mr. DeWine recently has been tip-toeing away from the Iraq imbroglio, hoping voters won't recall his down-the-line backing of the administration on the war over the past four years.

Mr. Dewine said that the war on terror could not be considered won until Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was toppled.

If that rationale sounds familiar, it's because Mr. DeWine was parroting the administration line - claims that Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and others haven't abandoned to this day, even though they've been thoroughly discredited.

It's good to know there's a paper somewhere in Ohio that doesn't have its nose up Carl Lindner's bum.

Safest Period in American Aviation Comes to End

Yesterday's Comair crash in Lexington ended an almost 5-year span with no commercial aviation disasters.

It seems clear at this point that the plane took off from the wrong runway, which was only half the length of the proper runway. The plane probably barely got airborne, if at all.

(Factoid: runways are designed to be long enough so that a plane can touch back down if the engine fails right at takeoff)

This strikes me as a very bizarre case of pilot error. For one thing, runways are clearly marked. For another, passenger jets usually have a 3-person crew. How can 3 pilots make the same error?

Perhaps we'll learn more if the lone survivor, the co-pilot, pulls through.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add a comment about how disgusting it was to see the local media cover this story like vultures. First prize goes to WLWT for taking 1 minute's worth of information and spreading it out over 4 hours. It will continue for days, of course, as TV crews frantically hunt friends and relatives to cry on camera.

26 August 2006

Best Baseball News Ever

I've been dreaming about this for years. Now that it's here, "my nipples explode with delight":

Former major league pitcher Jim Bouton announced Thursday the launch of an organization that will play by 19th century rules: The Vintage Base Ball Federation. Yup, back then baseball was two words.

Gloves will be tiny, bat handles will be thick and the ball — that's right, one ball will be used per game unless it falls apart or is lost — will be dead. There aren't any pitcher's mounds, and there's no such thing as a balk on pickoff attempts.

"The game the way it was meant to be played," Bouton said during a news conference at Delmonico's, a restaurant that opened in 1836. "No batting gloves, helmets, wristbands, elbow pads, shin guards, sunglasses. No arguing with the umpire. No stepping out of the batter's box. No charging the pitcher or posing at home plate. No curtain-calling, chest-thumping or high-fiving. Just baseball."

Oh, yeah... no bling, no bullshit, no balco... just base ball.

25 August 2006

Poll: Americans Slowly Removing Heads from Asses

I generally regard polls about as seriously as I regard Jean Schmidt, but hopefully this poll reflects a move in the right direction.

A majority of Americans no longer see a link between the war in Iraq and Washington's broader anti-terrorism efforts despite President George W. Bush's insistence the two are intertwined...

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said the war in Iraq was separate from the U.S. government's war on terrorism. The findings were a considerable shift from polls taken in 2002 and early 2003, when a majority considered the two to be linked...

Bush is responding to the tough situation in his usual way:

President Bush went fishing Thursday off the rocky coast of Maine where his great-grandfather built an oceanfront estate...

24 August 2006

Miami to Offer Free Tuition

Miami becomes one of several schools around the country (including Haaarvard) to offer free tuition to low-income students:

...Miami University President David Hodge announced the college will offer free tuition for qualifying Ohio students beginning next year.

"We have worked hard in the past few years to better align tuition with the ability to pay for the cost of an education, effectively moving the state subsidy toward those who need it most," Hodge said. The initiative will provide tuition to all academically qualified Ohio students with family incomes less than $35,000.

The funds for this new initiative became available because of a donation of more than $10 million from Lois K. Klawon, a 1939 MU alumna from Westlake who died in 2005 and left half of her estate to MU to support needy students.

The program is expected to educate 125-150 new students. It's great and I'm all for it, but it's a shame that these students will only have the opportunity because of a wealthy patron rather than because the state of Ohio stepped up to the plate. But our elected officials were real busy working on corporate tax cuts. In their world, tax cuts creat more opportunity than education.

Real smart, those Republicans.

23 August 2006

Police Not Whimsical Enough for Caprice

Sorry... it's the best pun I could come up with right now for this bit of hilarity:

When model Caprice tried using her celebrity status to dazzle a police officer who had just pulled her over for drink-driving, she hoped he would be sympathetic to her.

But the lingerie model was taken aback when the PC asked for her name and, when she replied 'Caprice', he inquired: 'Caprice who?'

PC Flashman told the court that, at first, he did not recognise the superstar.

He said: 'I could see a white female of scrawny build with bare shoulders in her late 30s wearing heavy make-up and she had a reddened spot in the right centre of her cheek.'

He then asked her name and she simply replied: 'Caprice.'

PC Flashman said: "I asked again: "Caprice who?"

'It did seem to annoy her somewhat that I didn't recognise her and she replied in a stern tone: "Caprice."

'I was not sure if that was her first or last name and asked: "How do you spell your surname?"'

Finally, the penny began to drop for PC Flashman when he remembered she had been in a Pizza Hut advert with Jonathan Ross.

The best part? She claims the high breathalizer reading was because she was taking Cipro and not because of the 2 bottles of wine she had that day.

Local Media Stinks; Public Shocked

"Fake News" runs rampant on local TV stations:

Channel 9 News Director Bob Morford doesn't want to talk about a Federal Communications Commission inquiry into allegations that WCPO-TV broadcast "fake news," or video news releases from public relations agencies, without crediting the source.

The FCC sent letters to 77 stations last week - including Channel 9 - about failure to disclose the source of news material, as required by the government.

"We had a little bit of luck to find the ones we did," she says. "It doesn't mean that WCPO-TV was the only station in the area. It just means that they were caught."

No kidding. I have an interest in media issues, so I watch local news often (painful as it is). I assure you, they ALL broadcast "fake news" and they do it ALL THE TIME. I have even seen one station put on fake news and then I'll switch channels and see another station show the same story with the same video. And it's happened several times, not just once.

And as if that isn't enough, I've actually analyzed how the local news divides up its time. About 40-50% is commercials (not including the "fake news" advertisements). That leaves about 15 minutes. Weather takes up about 5 minutes, and after that the most time is taken up by sports. The remaining 8 minutes or so is for "news", which consists of things that came across the police and fire scanners.

Local news is pathetic. There is only one good local news broadcast, and that is Dan Hurley's Newsmakers which airs on WKRC every Sunday at 11 a.m.

Can citizens do anything to improve the media? Yes, plenty. I'll address some of those things in an upcoming post.

22 August 2006

The Student Loan Scam?

A student loan system Grover Norquist would love:

Sallie Mae has transformed over the past 10 years from a government-sponsored enterprise—or GSE—with the limited function of providing a secondary market for student loans, into a vertically integrated private corporation dominating all aspects of the student loan business, all while never losing its grip on billions in government subsidies or the federal guarantee on much of its risk.

The practices that have made fortunes for the company's executives, and fueled a 1,900 percent growth in its stock price since 1995, include increasingly cutthroat treatment of the millions of students who depend on the company to finance their education.

For example, Sallie Mae has set aside $3.6 billion in stock options for employees since 1997. Albert Lord and Tim Fitzpatrick, the current CEO, together have received $367 million in total compensation since 1999.

Albert Lord, the chairman and past CEO... holds a million shares of company stock... he exercised options on another $15 million in the past two years. He leads a group bidding on the Washington Nationals baseball team... It was reported in early January that he's building his own private 18-hole golf course in suburban Maryland.

Meanwhile, Alan Collinge, a 35-year-old former aerospace engineer in Washington State, is feeling a little low. He originally borrowed $38,000 in student loans... In 2001, after making about $7,000 in on-time payments, he left his gig at Caltech on the promise of a government job that evaporated after 9-11. He was underemployed for two years, making ends meet as a short-order cook in Alaska; his student loans went into default. "When I got back from Alaska, I got a bill for $85,000 and it pretty much blew me away. That's when I realized that somebody is making a lot of money around this deal."

Health care and education. Two critical aspects of civilized society. Both have double-digit cost increases every year. Both have corporations exploiting customers. Neither system serves Americans like it should. How did it get this way?

By buying politicians! Like our own John Boehner, for example:

John Boehner... is Sallie Mae's favorite member of Congress; he has received $122,470 from the Sallie Mae PAC in the 1989–2006 election cycles.

Anyone who is surprised to read this about Boehner probably missed my earlier posts:

John Boehner is just like us!
DeLay is Coke, Boehner is Pepsi
John Boehner: Big Fish in a Dirty Pond

The culpability and spinelessness is with Congress, but let's face it: students are infamously clueless. If they clued themselves in and took action, things would change. It's the same with health care (as Paul Hackett openly noted): if 50 million uninsured Americans showed up at Congress' doorstep, things would change.

But they don't, so they won't.

17 August 2006

Quiz: How Many Planets in the Solar System?

If you said 9, you’re not correct… not anymore:

(hat tip, Wes)

The solar system has 12 planets.

That is the conclusion, to be announced today, of an international panel formed to devise a scientific definition of a planet and settle an increasingly intense dispute over whether Pluto qualifies. The panel suggests retaining Pluto and immediately adding three new planets to the nine that are familiar to any schoolchild: Ceres, currently considered a large asteroid; Charon, now considered a moon of Pluto; and Xena, a recently discovered object that is larger than Pluto.

But the group's proposal also makes clear that many more objects in the solar system -- perhaps dozens of them -- could qualify as planets after further study.

There are 53 objects that meet the panel's criteria and probably many more to be discovered… The total number of planets, Brown said, could easily climb above 100.

The key issue is how a planet is defined. One way to define it is anything big enough to have a spherical shape* that orbits the sun. But it’s also reasonable to define “planet” to refer only to the largest satellites in the solar system, i.e. those that coalesced in to large masses as the solar system was forming (the "evolutionary" view). Looking at it this way would basically give you only 8 planets (excepting Pluto).

*Physics Factoid: There is a limit to how big or long an object can be and still retain its shape. Once an object gets big enough, its own gravity forces it into a spherical shape. It’s impossible to build a bridge to the moon, for example, because nothing can be that long and stay linear. After it gets to a certain length it will compress itself and never get longer. And if you keep adding mass it will turn into a sphere eventually.

16 August 2006

Ordinary Veterans are Christian Crusaders Thanks to GOP Legislation

Technically, we honor all veterans. We have to say that because of the lawyers and all. But the true heroes, of course, are the Christians. And so it is fitting that we acknowledge and memorialize the fact that when a soldier fights for America, he also fights for the supremacy of Christ:

Bush signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) that designates the 43-foot cross and the city land beneath it as a federal war memorial under control of the Department of Defense.

A federal judge in May declared the cross a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state and ordered it removed by Aug. 2. That order was stayed last month by the U.S. Supreme Court until other legal issues can be resolved.

Cross proponents believe that shifting ownership of the land to the federal government will invalidate the judge's ruling and make it more difficult for opponents to prevail because the U.S. Constitution is more flexible about religious icons on federal property than the state Constitution is about city land.

[LA Times...]

Sorry, Sgt. Shapiro, hope you understand. You’ll feel better after a bowl of matzo ball soup.

Schmidt, Chabot and Boehner all voted for this bill.

Crime Report: Irony Up 100%

A police officer from Anna suffered a head injury after he was assaulted early Saturday in Corryville, Cincinnati police said.

The officer, who was visiting the city and whose name was not immediately released, was trying to get into a cab at 12 W. Charlton St. about 3:20 a.m. when three males approached him, police said.

The three stole the officer's wallet, including his police ID and his police badge, No. 81, and assaulted him, police said.

Blog readers who were walking around Corryville at 3 a.m. should call Crimestoppers, (513) 352-3040.


15 August 2006

Another Democratic Campaign Implodes

In the spirit of Gore, Kerry, Dean, Hackett, and Brown... Stephanie Studebaker's promising campaign for OH-3 has crashed and burned.

Here's the WaPo article.
Here's the erstwhile campaign web site.

'Nuff said.

According to something I read somewhere, there will now be a special election for OH-3. The Dems need a new candidate. Since the candidate does not have to live in the district s/he represents, several names are being tossed about, including Paul Hackett.

Reality-Based Group Sets Sight on School Board

Seems like all over the country, people are fed up with evangelical influence on education and are looking to increase the mean cranial size of school boards. Even here in Ohio:

Supporters of teaching Darwin's theory of evolution to school children have launched a campaign aimed at unseating a state Board of Education member who has supported critical evaluation of the theory.

Help Ohio Public Education (HOPE), a coalition of evolution proponents, on Friday announced an advocacy group headed up by Lawrence Krauss, director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University.

HOPE is targeting board member Deborah Owens Fink, a Republican who seeks re-election. The group is hoping to run former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer against her. Both are from the Akron area.

Earlier this year, Owens Fink was 1 of 4 members who voted to bend science standards to suit creationists.

14 August 2006

Army buys $12M in blimps for Iraq

Great news! The Pentagon has purchased 16 balloon-like blimps to hover over Iraq (a bargain at only $750,000 each).

These blimps will monitor our great Iraqi successes and record the happiness of the Iraqi people. The information will then be sent back to Jane Fonda and Cindy Sheehan so they can see all the good news and stop undermining President Bush and the troops. Because everything was going great until they spoke up.

12 August 2006

Digitized Floodplain Maps: A Sensible Idea?

[Allen] county will spend $700,000 over the next five years to create a new digital floodplain mapping system that will aid work on drainage engineering, zoning, economic development, homeland security and floodplain management…

When complete, the maps will be accurate within inches, Degen said. Current county maps that are decades old are not correct.

“The existing maps are of very poor quality, but it was the best information available at the time,” Degen said. “If we didn’t do this, FEMA was going to take our old maps, digitize them and say, ‘Here are your new maps.’”

[Lima News…]

I wonder if Hamilton County has a high quality digitized geographical information system. It seems like a good idea to have a digitized map of the entire SW Ohio/N Ky/SE Indiana region. The counties could share the cost and each would have a map of the entire region, not just itself. It makes sense to have a regional map (rather that just a county map) for economic development and civil engineering projects.

11 August 2006

Byron Dorgan In Dayton Tonight

Sen. Dorgan visits Books & Co. at 350 E. Stroop Road in Kettering on Friday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. to discuss his new book, Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics are Selling Out America.

Bookstore address is 350 E. Stroop Road in Kettering.

More at the Dayton Daily News.

(via DaytonPolitics)

AP Study: Immigrants not hurting U.S. jobs

Uh-oh. Hear that giant flushing sound? That’s the sound of Republican talking points going to Mexico.

10 August 2006

A Chart Is Worth a Thousand Dollars-- er, Words

Today I read this item in the news:

17-Year-Old Wrecks While Talking On Cell Phone.

Studies have shown that cell phones are strongly associated with accidents, and that the majority of cell phone conversations are not important. Nevertheless, it is legal to drive and yap and risk the safety of others on the road.

Why is this, I wondered. So I went over to OpenSecrets.com and checked telecom contributions to Congress.

Look at this chart and note what happens after 1994, the year of the Gingrich/Corporate takeover of Congress. Note the dollar amounts given and the percentages given to Republicans and Democrats before and after 1994.

Now recall the Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996 (a.k.a. the "Telecoms give us more money than you do" Act). A pretty clear case of quid pro quo, wouldn't you say?

Here's the rub: when people don't talk, roads are safer. When people talk, telecoms make money.

So could we have safer roads? Yes. Could we decrease the chances that a teenage numbskull will end the life of a responsible adult? We sure could. But you try telling Congress that you'd prefer safer roads to telecom profits. Try telling them you value public interest rather than corporate welfare.

Good luck with that.

R.I.P. James Van Allen, 1914-2006

James Van Allen, one of America's most important contributors to space exploration, died yesterday in Iowa, where he was born, went to college, went to grad school, and taught.

Allen gained global attention in the late 1950s when instruments he designed and placed aboard the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, discovered the bands of intense radiation that surround the earth, now known as the Van Allen Belts.

The success of the flight created nationwide celebration. Equally exciting for the scientists was the discovery of the radiation belts, a discovery that happened slowly over the next weeks and months as they pieced together data coming from the satellite.

“We had discovered a whole new phenomenon which had not been known or predicted before,'' Van Allen said. “We were really on top of the world, professionally speaking.'' Later in 1958, another scientist proposed naming the belts for Van Allen.

Van Allen was awarded the National Medal of Science, the Crafoord Prize and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

08 August 2006

UK Study: Breast Feeding Reduces Stress Later in Life

Sounds crazy, but that's the conclusion by a British study which followed almost 9,000 subjects born in 1970:

Among 5672 non-breast-fed subjects, parental divorce/separation was associated with a statistically significantly raised risk of anxiety... Among the breast-fed group this association was much lower.

Proof that breast milk has a magic ingredient? Not necessarily. Technically, this study suggests that breast feeding, not breast milk, has a protective effect. Good scientists are careful to consider all possible explanations. In this case, that means the effect may be due to parent-child interaction:

Breast feeding is associated with resilience against the psychosocial stress linked with parental divorce/separation. This could be because breast feeding is a marker of exposures related to maternal characteristics and parent-child interaction.

So there you go. Science says cuddle up with your little tyke.

(hat tip, PediatricsInfo.com)

07 August 2006

Clark Street Blog Best of Cincinnati

Back when CityBeat’s BOC issue came out, I started thinking of some of my “Best Ofs”. Since I don’t have anything to post today, here are some of my local favorites instead:

Best Liquor & Beer Store: I like Cork & Bottle. Easy access, easy parking, good selection, knowledgeable and friendly staff. If Party Source is a Cray then Cork & Bottle is a PC. And how often do you really need a Cray? Also, Cork & Bottle carries my favorite beer, Christian Moerlein, and Party Source does not (at least I’ve never seen it).

Best Wine Shop: The best selection is Party Source, but Cork & Bottle suffices for 99% of my wine needs. I only check Party Source if I’m looking for something hard to find.

Best Restaurant w/ a View: Hooters. Okay, just kidding. Actual best views: The Pavilion from the east; Primavista from the west; Mike Fink from the south.

Best Bagels: Dunkin’ Donuts. Busken has good bagels, too. Both are lighter (airier) than Bruegger’s or Marx’s.

Best Bakery: Servati’s. I like their pumpkin and blueberry muffins and all those little desserts they make. Their iced cookies are better than Busken’s.

Best Burgers: Oakley pub. I ordered it medium-rare, and it came medium-rare. Three times. It’s the only place in this city that has done that. The fries are great too, as is everything else I’ve had on the menu. The only thing I didn’t like is the chili burger- didn’t like the flavor and messy to eat. The Oakley Pub may be small, but they don’t mess around in the kitchen. Special mention: the ostrich burger at Habits (right across the street).

Best Cheap Eats: Potbelly sandwich shop. I loved this place when I lived in Chicago and I love it now that it’s here. And I don’t have to park a mile away, at least not in the summer.

Best Chili (non-chain): Camp Washington Chili. The meatiest of the Cincinnati chilis. Dixie Chili (Monmouth St., N.Ky.) is also pretty good and meaty, but I find it a bit bland. I like a little kick.

Best Fish & Chips: I like the Green Derby's best. I also like Nicholson's. For quick carry-out, you can't beat the Alabama Fish Bar.

Best Chinese: Doodles in Hyde Park and Shanghai Mama’s downtown. Lately I’ve liked the Singapore noodles at Shanghai Mama’s. I also know the owner, and she’s a good person. Eat at Shanghai Mama’s.

Best Coffeehouse: The non-smoking Sitwell’s.

Best Deli: I like the rare roast beef from Avril’s (Court St.). I like the smoked turkey from Mike’s Meats (Findlay Mkt.). I like the baked ham from Ebert’s Meats (Monmouth St.). For one-stop shopping, I like the Clifton IGA.

Best Desserts: Take the Cake (Main & Liberty). It’s mostly cakes made to order rather than conventional desserts, but it’s great stuff. For normal desserts, Servati’s is good, and of course I think we all have a special place in our hearts for Graeter’s ice cream pies.

Best Ice Cream: It’s heresy to say anything besides Graeter’s, but the best ice cream is Cold Stone Creamery. And don’t forget about Agalamesis, either. Their mocha chip is great, as is their chocolate mint (very minty). In hot weather like this, the Dutch Holland chocolate shake really hits the spot.

Best Indian: I haven’t been to Cumin (Erie Ave, Hyde Park), but reliable sources say it’s the best. The chef came from Sitar (Hunt Rd, Blue Ash), which was the best when he was there.

Best Pizza (non-chain): Dewey’s. I haven’t been to ZZ’s (Walnut Hills) in a while, but I used to live near there and liked it a lot. If anybody has been there recently please comment.

Best Sandwiches: Izzy’s. Paula’s Deli in Findlay Mkt. also makes the best sandwiches, but offers fewer choices. I’ve had Paula’s reuben, pastrami & swiss, and “The Cuban” and they’re all great. Be sure to peruse Paula’s deli case, too. Good stuff in there.

Best Wings: The jumbo wings at Habits Café in Oakley.

04 August 2006

Blackwell Gets it in the Booty

I am not making this up.

The Sandusky County Democratic Party sued Blackwell before the 2004 election for not doing his job, and they won. He has to pay them about $65,000.

Full story at BSB.

1 in 3 Believe in 9/11 Conspiracy, According to OU Poll

More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9-11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.
The national survey of 1,010 adults also found that anger against the federal government is at record levels, with 54 percent saying they "personally are more angry" at the government than they used to be.

1 in 3. That a big proportion. But it didn’t surprise Lee Hamilton:

"One out of three sounds high, but that may very well be right," said Lee Hamilton, former vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also called the 9-11 commission.) His congressionally appointed investigation concluded that federal officials bungled their attempts to prevent, but did not participate in, the attacks…


03 August 2006

Yao Ming Is a Cool Guy

7'6'' NBA star Promotes Ecological Awareness

NBA star Yao Ming pledged to give up eating shark's fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, as he joined a campaign to promote wildlife protection.

"As the human population increases, many wildlife species are decreasing, and the primary reason is that humans fail to treat animals as friends," said Yao…

A television commercial shown at Yao's news conference featured him jumping up from a basketball court to block a bullet fired at an elephant.

[full story...]

He's a cool guy, yo. Yao.

Patients vs. Profits: Victoria Wulsin on Health Care

Dr. Wulsin made these remarks last Sunday to a group of seniors:

"Health care should put patients above profits. Let me repeat this shockingly simple statement: Health care should put patients above profits. Our entire health care system is a mess. It’s driven by profits, it’s extremely complicated and it’s exceptionally wasteful…Medicare Part D is the perfect example of our failing health care system and our failing government. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical companies. It was a cynical and wasteful ploy. And it’s disrespectful of American families."

Easier said than done, but understanding the problem is the first step. Americans are not being helped by gutless, complicit politicians. It’s nice to hear some straight talk from an actual physician and public health expert.

By the way, Dr. Wulsin will join Paul Hackett this Saturday to fix up a damaged home for an Adams County family that’s had some hard luck. If you can donate some construction materials and/or time, here’s what to do.

Kansas School Board Evolves

Earlier this year, school boards in Dover, PA and Ohio rejected evangelical efforts to replace science with religion. Now voters in Kansas, where it all started, have ousted enough theocrats from the school board to put it back in the hands of reality-based people.

Let's hope these events signal the demise of the theocratic march.

UPDATE: *sigh*... Two steps forward, one step back.

(from DLCinci)

02 August 2006

Carson Palmer is 5th Highest Paid Athlete

The top 5 earners for 2005 as reported by Sports Illustrated:

Tiger Woods
Phil Mickelson
Shaquille O'Neal
Kobe Bryant
Carson Palmer

SI included endorsement income in its numbers, which I didn't type. What's the point? They're huge. We know that.

As I look at the list, I notice Tiger Woods just won a championship, Phil Mickelson just missed a championship by that much, Shaq just won a championship, and Kobe... well, nobody cares about Kobe except Kobe and Andrew Warner.

Let's hope Carson Palmer earns his place on the list this year and doesn't pull a Ken Griffey, Jr. We don't need an overpaid, underperforming erstwhile hometown hero on BOTH teams.

The latest news is that he is expected to start the first game. I hope they're not pushing it. I'd rather see him healthy in game 4 than risk injury in game 1.

Jean Schmidt Loses Oscar Wilde Endorsement

It is better to keep your mouth shut and let others think you a fool than open it and remove all doubt.

Schmidt's latest embarassment to southwest Ohio is her comically ignorant explanation of Middle East conflict, entitled "Why do they hate us?"

Alabama, Alaska... Iraq, Israel... Wisconsin, Wyoming

Do I need to update my flag? Do we have 52 states now?

A fine op-ed from The Guardian on America's foreign policy intransigence where Israel is concerned.

It is plain to anyone... that Israel could not behave as it does without the diplomatic protection of the United States. If the US government announced that it would cease to offer military and diplomatic support if Israel refused to hand back the occupied territories, Israel would have to negotiate. The US government has power over that country. But can it be used?

And here's a long but worthwhile piece (albeit biased) on the power of the Israel lobby in the U.S.

Jewish Americans have set up an impressive array of organisations to influence American foreign policy, of which AIPAC is the most powerful and best known. In 1997, Fortune magazine asked members of Congress and their staffs to list the most powerful lobbies in Washington. AIPAC was ranked second behind the American Association of Retired People, but ahead of the AFL-CIO and the National Rifle Association. A National Journal study in March 2005 reached a similar conclusion, placing AIPAC in second place (tied with AARP) in the Washington ‘muscle rankings’.

01 August 2006

U of Akron Professor Detained by Israelis

An Ohio college professor freed after 22 days in an Israeli jail said Monday that he was tied to a chair and questioned for 60 hours after being detained on suspicion of spying for Iran and Hezbollah.

"There were five interrogators. I had to sit on a chair, sometimes they tied my hands behind my back, sometimes they released them, depending on their mood," said Ghazi Falah, 53, a geography professor at the University of Akron.

Also, he was denied access to his lawyer for 21 days, and a media-gag was imposed on his detainment.

Falah, an Arab with dual Israeli and Canadian citizenship, said he had only come to the area to visit his sick mother who was in a Haifa hospital to get a brain tumor removed.

The professor said he believes he was detained because he has written articles critical of Israel.

"I think it was a political arrest, because of my writing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and about Israel's policies toward its Palestinian citizens," Falah said.


Flaws STILL Being Found in Diebold Machines

YET ANOTHER flaw found in Diebold voting machines. How many times is that now? A dozen? Anybody keeping count?

I know you liberals get up in arms about "election security" and other minor things, but you just don't understand how things work. See, voting machines work on faith, not technology. That's why they don't work for liberals. They work for Republicans just fine, and that proves that there's nothing wrong with them.