Friday, February 29, 2008

What's old is new again

Frequenters of my stolen scribblings will remember when I posted an editorial by Angelina Jolie regarding Darfur.  Mind you, from a personal perspective, I find her to be a little too freaky for my tastes (and that is saying something for as freaky as I can be), but I have also found her to be thoughtful and articulate on issues, something that can't be said from every Hollywood person du jour who wants to dazzle us with their ineffectual grasp of politics and foreign policy.   Needless to say, if I have to go through that long of an explanation, it can only mean one thing, she has written again, and I have stolen yet again.  Happy reading!


Staying to Help in Iraq
We have finally reached a point where humanitarian assistance, from us and others, can have an impact.

By Angelina Jolie
Thursday, February 28, 2008; 1:15 PM

The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home."

But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country.

In the six months since my previous visit to Iraq with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this humanitarian crisis has not improved. However, during the last week, the United States, UNHCR and the Iraqi government have begun to work together in new and important ways.

We still don't know exactly how many Iraqis have fled their homes, where they've all gone, or how they're managing to survive. Here is what we do know: More than 2 million people are refugees inside their own country -- without homes, jobs and, to a terrible degree, without medicine, food or clean water. Ethnic cleansing and other acts of unspeakable violence have driven them into a vast and very dangerous no-man's land. Many of the survivors huddle in mosques, in abandoned buildings with no electricity, in tents or in one-room huts made of straw and mud. Fifty-eight percent of these internally displaced people are younger than 12 years old.

An additional 2.5 million Iraqis have sought refuge outside Iraq, mainly in Syria and Jordan. But those host countries have reached their limits. Overwhelmed by the refugees they already have, these countries have essentially closed their borders until the international community provides support.

I'm not a security expert, but it doesn't take one to see that Syria and Jordan are carrying an unsustainable burden. They have been excellent hosts, but we can't expect them to care for millions of poor Iraqis indefinitely and without assistance from the U.S. or others. One-sixth of Jordan's population today is Iraqi refugees. The large burden is already causing tension internally.

The Iraqi families I've met on my trips to the region are proud and resilient. They don't want anything from us other than the chance to return to their homes -- or, where those homes have been bombed to the ground or occupied by squatters, to build new ones and get back to their lives. One thing is certain: It will be quite a while before Iraq is ready to absorb more than 4 million refugees and displaced people. But it is not too early to start working on solutions. And last week, there were signs of progress.

In Baghdad, I spoke with Army Gen. David Petraeus about UNHCR's need for security information and protection for its staff as they re-enter Iraq, and I am pleased that he has offered that support. General Petraeus also told me he would support new efforts to address the humanitarian crisis "to the maximum extent possible" -- which leaves me hopeful that more progress can be made.

UNHCR is certainly committed to that. Last week while in Iraq, High Commissioner António Guterres pledged to increase UNHCR's presence there and to work closely with the Iraqi government, both in assessing the conditions required for return and in providing humanitarian relief.

During my trip I also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has announced the creation of a new committee to oversee issues related to internally displaced people, and a pledge of $40 million to support the effort.

My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis.

Today's humanitarian crisis in Iraq -- and the potential consequences for our national security -- are great. Can the United States afford to gamble that 4 million or more poor and displaced people, in the heart of Middle East, won't explode in violent desperation, sending the whole region into further disorder?

What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money -- but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.

As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.

Angelina Jolie, an actor, is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Loss of a legend

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Former Steelers broadcaster, Terrible Towel creator Cope dies

PITTSBURGH -- Myron Cope, the screechy-voiced announcer whose colorful catch phrases and twirling Terrible Towel became symbols of the Pittsburgh Steelers during an unrivaled 35 seasons in the broadcast booth, has died. He was 79.

Cope died Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb, Joe Gordon, a former Steelers executive and a longtime friend of Cope's, told The Associated Press.

Myron Cope
Myron Cope's popularity extended beyond the broadcast booth, as Steelers fans embraced him and his unique play-calling.

Cope had been treated for respiratory problems and heart failure in recent months, Gordon said.

Cope's tenure from 1970 to 2004 as the color analyst on the Steelers' radio network is the longest in NFL history for a broadcaster with a single team. Cope was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2005.

Even after retiring, Cope -- a sports talk-show host for 23 years -- continued to appear in numerous radio, TV and print ads, emblematic of his local popularity that sometimes surpassed that of the stars he covered.

Beyond Pittsburgh's three rivers, Cope is best known for pioneering the Terrible Towel, the yellow cloth twirled by fans as a good-luck charm at Steelers games since the mid-1970s. The towel is arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team, has raised millions of dollars for charity and is displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"You were really part of it," Steelers owner Dan Rooney told Cope in 2005. "You were part of the team. The Terrible Towel many times got us over the goal line."

An announcer by accident, Cope spent the first half of his professional career as one of the nation's most widely read freelance sports writers, writing for Sports Illustrated and the Saturday Evening Post on subjects that included Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell and Roberto Clemente. He was hired by the Steelers at age 40, several years after he began doing TV sports commentary on the whim of a station manager, mostly to help increase attention and attendance as the Steelers moved into Three Rivers Stadium.

Neither the Steelers nor Cope had any idea how much impact he would have on a five-time Super Bowl champion franchise that, within two years of his hiring, would begin a string of home sellouts that continues to this day.

Cope became so popular that the Steelers didn't try to replace his unique perspective and top-of-the-lungs histrionics when he retired, instead downsizing from a three-man announcing team to a two-man booth.

"He doesn't play, he doesn't put on a pair of pads, but he's revered probably as much or more in Pittsburgh than Franco [Harris], all the guys," running back Jerome Bettis said. "Everybody probably remembers Myron more than the greatest players, and that's an incredible compliment."

Cope and a rookie quarterback named Terry Bradshaw made their Steelers debuts on Sept. 20, 1970.

Just as Pirates fans once did with longtime broadcaster Bob Prince, Steelers fans began tuning in to hear what wacky stunt or colorful phrase Cope would come up with next. With a voice beyond imitation -- a falsetto so shrill it could pierce even the din of a touchdown celebration -- Cope was a man of many words, some not in any dictionary.

To Cope, an exceptional play rated a "Yoi!" A coach's doublespeak was "garganzola." The despised rival to the north was always the Cleve Brownies, never the Cleveland Browns.

He gave four-time Super Bowl champion coach Chuck Noll the only nickname that ever stuck, the Emperor Chaz. For years, he laughed off the downriver and often downtrodden Cincinnati Bengals as the Bungles, though never with a malice or nastiness that would create longstanding anger.

Many visiting players could only laugh when confronted by a 5-4 man they often dwarfed by more than a foot.

During the years, it seemed every Steelers player or employee could tell an offbeat or humorous story about Cope.

He once jammed tight end Dave Smith, fully dressed in uniform and pads, into a cab for a hectic ride to the airport after Smith missed the team bus for an interview. He talked a then-retired Frank Sinatra into attending a 1972 practice in San Diego to make him an honorary general in Franco Harris' Italian Army fan club. He took a wintertime river swim in 1977 to celebrate an unexpected win, and was sick for days.

Cope's biggest regret was not being on the air during perhaps the most famous play in NFL history -- Franco Harris' famed "Immaculate Reception" against Oakland in 1972, during the first postseason win in Steelers history.

Cope was on the field to grab guests for his postgame show when Harris, on what seemingly was the last play of the Steelers' season, grabbed the soaring rebound of a tipped Bradshaw pass after it deflected off either the Raiders' Jack Tatum or the Steelers' Frenchy Fuqua and scored a game-winning 60-yard touchdown. As a result, play-by-play man Jack Fleming's voice is the only one heard on what has been countless replays over the years.

"He ran straight to me in the corner, and I'm yelling, 'C'mon Franco, c'mon on!' " said Cope, who, acting on a fan's advice, tagged the play "The Immaculate Reception" during a TV appearance that night.

Remarkably, Cope worked with only two play-by-play announcers, Fleming and Bill Hillgrove, and two head coaches, Noll and Bill Cowher, during his 35 seasons.

Cope began having health problems shortly before his retirement, and they continued after he left the booth. They included several bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis -- he smoked throughout his career -- a concussion and a leg problem that took months to properly diagnose. He also said he had a cancerous growth removed from his throat.

"Wherever I go, people sincerely ask me how my health is and almost always, they say, 'Myron, you've given me so much joy over the years,' " said Cope, who also found the time to write five sports books, none specifically about the Steelers. "People also tell me it's the end of an era, that there will never be an announcer who lasts this long again with a team."

Among those longtime listeners was Cowher.

"My dad would listen to his talk show and I would think, 'Why would you listen to that?' " Cowher said. "Then I found myself listening to that. I [did] my show with him, and he makes ME feel young."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Say hello to my little friend

I have blogged infrequently about the fact that I play Diablo 2 in my spare time.  Well, since I am always up to learning new things, I figured I would go ahead and teach myself the fine art of screenshots by posting some pics of said game.  First, say hello to my character, Carlow.  Yes it's a she, as I play an amazon, simply because I find I am better with a bow than most melee weapons and the bow is something an amazon can specialize in.


Speaking of bows, I do use one as my primary weapon.



As time progresses, I may post more snapshots of her equipment, such as armor, rings, amulet, secondary weapon and what have you, but since I am just doing a little self learning here, this will have to suffice for now.


Your 2008 Argonauts hockey roster (as of 2/25/08)

Another winning week (the 8th non losing week in a row), a 6-4-0 effort against the league's #1 team means that my fantasy hockey team is up 21 pts over the 7th place team in seeking the last playoff spot.  For the season the record stands at 98-83-29.  Since I haven't mentioned the roster in a while, it's time to meet the guys that make me competitive on a weekly basis.
(Was - C)
(Col - C)
(NJ - C,LW)
(Anh - LW)
(Nsh - RW)
(Cls - RW)
(Ott - D)
(NYR - D)
(Van - D)
(Buf - D)
(Pit - G)
(Cgy - G)
(Det - C)
(Det - LW,RW)
(Anh - LW,RW)
(Dal - G)


 And with that I have to scoot, I am at work after all, so a quick post and a change of the music on the homepage is all that will get accomplished this morning.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those dead Presidents

There are times where I just get away from this page and I can't bring myself to come back all that quickly. It's not that I don't have things to write about, I do, I just can't get over the hump of getting started, for fear that once I do start I have no idea when exactly I will end. There certainly has been enough stuff to put together a blog or two, I just have been lacking the enthusiasm to do so.

I guess I could start with the easy stuff. 28 cents gets added to the change meter, so the new total is $34.12, but so far this year it just seems like the change meter is a step slow, I am not finding cash nearly as quickly as I had in the past. At least I have my Pepsi and Coke things to keep me busy. Speaking of which, nobody said dibs, so I am assuming nobody took up my offer of a free song from Rhapsody. Shame really, I have redeemed 6 so far, and I have points enough to grab some more. I should do it this month, next month the downloads go back to 33 points as opposed to the sale price of 15. Okay, that is taken care of, so far my little pet project has netted me 11 songs from Rhapsody, and a potential 7 more from Pepsi, though they do theirs through Amazon and not all of their library is available for download for free, only parts of it and I haven't found anything I like there yet. Rhapsody just applies the credit to your account and you can download anything.

My fantasy hockey team that I was worried about last Sunday ended up at least breaking even for the week, as I finished 4-4-2 to keep my non losing streak alive, though I did drop a couple of points to the guy in 7th place. This week I am playing the first place team, so I had best bring my A game, with just three weeks left in the regular season, a solid week or two and I am in the playoffs. I just need to avoid the epic collapse like I did in yahoo football by losing both of my playoff games and ending up fourth. I want to add to the trophy case again and the first step in that process is making the playoffs.

Amazingly, Yahoo hasn't messed up my fantasy trophy case yet, unlike my 360 page, which only works from time to time. They actually posted an update to say they were working on things with the new platform. Mind you, their last update was in October to say, well, they were working on things with the new platform. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It just makes me happier I opted out of that for this place.

I finished my most recent book that I added to the neverending blog. I have stuff laying around the house that I can read (if I ever get axed in one of those cost cutting ventures at the radio station, the loss of free reading material will really suck), I just haven't picked out which book will be the next that I venture into. There are a couple of different ways I could go, I still have one of the books my mom got me for Christmas, and I have a couple of non fictions that have a little appeal for me as well, just a matter of what frame of mind I am in if I want to go fiction or non.

I am debating if I want to do my breakfast thing again on Sunday, I was thinking about doing it this morning, but when I looked outside (see photo) it was snowing, and I didn't feel like dealing with snow. I can take a bus or I can walk, if I take a bus, it would be a shorter walk for me, but until the bus arrives and then gets detoured around the still under construction bridge, chances are I could have been there by walking without taking the bus. That being said, either option would have left me out in the falling snow, and I just didn't have the energy to deal with it, so I went back to bed. I figure I have to get up for work Sunday anyway, maybe getting up earlier and having a healthy breakfast would be good for me.

Mug me on Monday this past week had to be called off. I went into work Monday and everything was looking good, it was the 18th which is a scheduled payday, I had the afternoon off, which meant I could go out and do stuff including my venture to the new fish and chips place, but alas, since it was a "holiday" they didn't count it as a business day, even though everyone had to work, it's just nobody got paid until Tuesday. Mind you I put "holiday" in " " simply because it really isn't much of one, that being President's Day, its more like an excuse for a bunch of government fucks to extend their weekend and not much more. It's not like we get together and throw George Washington/Abraham Lincoln parties or something, nor to we have the holiday on either of their birthdays, instead it just gets tacked on as a Friday or a Monday somewhere near one of their birthdays so a bunch of people living of the public's dime anyway can sit on their ass an extra day. and no doubt they will be paid for it, after all what is a few tax dollars amongst citizens anyway. The delay meant that my ever so happy Monday was crushed, because I had to double between both jobs on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday was just me working one gig and recovering from the ass kicking we took at the part time job Wednesday night.

At the bar, usually Wednesday and Thursday are our busiest nights, and with half off food from 9pm-12am, I am humping pretty good to make sure we don't get behind on anything. All of the stuff that I can get done early therefore, I do, because once 9pm hits, chances are I will just be happy to keep the ship afloat at that point. Well this Wednesday, my boss decided to wait to bring in his food order from Restaurant Depot until 9:30, right in the middle of the rush. So instead of keeping up, I am unloading a truck and just getting further and further behind, and since the cooks were working the line, I wasn't getting any help with the truck. I probably lost a good 30 minutes of dish time just putting stuff away and breaking down boxes, which meant I was now 30 minutes behind on the dishes, so I had to work twice as hard just to get to the point where I could leave at my scheduled time of 1am, mind you I am still getting up at 4am for the radio gig, so I was all but useless Thursday morning. It took a good three mugs of coffee to dent my sleepiness and another one or two for me to sound semi intelligent about the issues of the day. Thankfully for the time being, the primary election cycle seems to be driving the talk show bus, so I don't have to get as freaked out about show prep, I know what the topic of the day will be.

I have been working on the Pogo stuff still. This weeks badges were very easy, at least for me, so I have been trying to work on my second Mix and Match album. Each M&M album takes 20 badges to finish, and some of the badges that could be added to it were on sale this week, so I grabbed some of the cheapies that were in games I liked, or could at least tolerate, like Canasta, Pinochle, Axes Up, Perfect Pair Solitaire. and Gin. I have completed 12 badges so far, I have 4 more in my album that I have purchased but haven't finished yet. Sadly, you can only have one premium badge active at any time (though you can work on a premium badge and a weekly badge of the same game at the same time) so completing the album will still take some time. I can't see me getting any game award badges in the near future, I know I have at least 13 more word searches before my next one in there and that is probably as close as I am to anything right now.

I would like to say I have a Joe Random update, but I don't. I have been playing Diablo 2 on my computer instead, as well as spending some time trying to figure out the Sims 2. So far, all I know is I don't know what I am doing. I sent my Sim to work, he came back with a chick, which one would think "Damn I wish it was that easy in real life." Relax partner, as I am trying to figure out the whole interaction with other Sims thing, she starts farting, then she walks out of my abode to the street and starts eating out of the garbage can. Sadly, with my luck with women, this may be art imitating life, as I will either get stuck with someone like that or someone like this.

By the way, I did swing by the fish and chips place for a quick lunch on Tuesday, it's okay, nothing terrible, nothing great, but like the place that occupied the spot before it, these guys were smart enough to keep both gyros and wings on the menu, so while the fish is so so (I had the whitefish), I may head back just for the old favorites.

The World of Wheels car show is in town this weekend, and as part of the festivities they are having a Happy Days reunion with a few of the cast members including one Erin Moran. You don't know how tempting it was to buy a ticket just to ask her what it was like to have Scott Baio hump a couch with her on it.

And lastly, our Asshat goes to the musical group Boston. Seems they took offense to Mike Huckabee using their song "More Than a Feeling" at his campaign rallies and asked the former governor to cease and desist. Please, you and your music haven't been relevant in two to three decades, you should be happy it is getting played at all, and lets not kid ourselves, no one is going into the voting booth under the guise of "I'm voting for Mike Huckabee because of his campaign music" or "I am voting Huckabee because he has Boston's endorsement". Trust me, no one else is going to come beating down your door hoping to be the candidate that Boston likes, so get over yourselves already and just be happy somebody even remembers you wrote music at one point in time.

Well if I am to do breakfast in the morning, I had better climb under some covers and try the sleep thing. Don't forget to tip your waiter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

He's back!!!!!

If you didn't expect the fine scribblings of Christopher Hitchens to show up here from time to time, you don't know me all that well.


fighting words

Truth and Consequences

What is the point of a paper of record that decides the untarnished record is too much for readers?

By Christopher Hitchens

Do you ever wonder what is the greatest enemy of the free press? One might mention a few conspicuous foes, such as the state censor, the monopolistic proprietor, the advertiser who wants either favorable coverage or at least an absence of unfavorable coverage, and so forth. But the most insidious enemy is the cowardly journalist and editor who doesn't need to be told what to do, because he or she has already internalized the need to please—or at least not to offend—the worst tyranny of all, which is the safety-first version of public opinion.

Take, just for an example, the obituaries for Earl Butz, a once-important Republican politician who served presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as secretary for agriculture until compelled to resign after making a loutish and humorless observation in the hearing of the Watergate whistle-blower John Dean. In the words of his New York Times obituarist, Butz (who "died in his sleep while visiting his son William," which, I must say, makes the male offspring sound exceptionally soporific) had "described blacks as 'coloreds' who wanted only three things—satisfying sex, loose shoes and a warm bathroom." There isn't a grown-up person with a memory of 1976 who doesn't recall that Butz said that Americans of African descent required only "a tight pussy, loose shoes, and a warm place to shit." Had this witless bigotry not been reported accurately, he might have held onto his job. But any reader of the paper who was less than 50 years old could have read right past the relevant sentence without having the least idea of what the original controversy had been "about."

What on earth is the point of a newspaper of record that decides that the record itself may be too much for us to bear? My question is prompted by some recent developments from a previous front-page sensation. In Denmark last week, the authorities detained three people in an alleged plot to murder a 72-year-old Dane named Kurt Westergaard. Westergaard is an illustrator who lives peacefully in a university town. Not very long ago, he joined with other cartoonists in an open society in drawing some caricatures of the alleged "prophet" Mohammed. The object of the satire was to break the largely self-imposed taboo on the criticism of Islam and its various icons. The satire was wildly successful, in that it resulted in hysterical Muslims making public idols out of images they had proclaimed to be unshowable lest they became idols. Much nasty violence and intimidation accompanied this stupidity.

Anyway, last week, almost every Danish newspaper made a deliberate decision to reprint the offending cartoons. Perhaps, if you live in most of the countries where this column of mine is syndicated or reprinted, you wonder what all the fuss can have been about. Certainly, if you live in the United States or Britain, you will be wondering still. This is because your newspapers have decided for you—as with Butz—that you must be shielded from the unpalatable truth. Or can it really be that? We live in the defining age of the image and the picture; how can it be that the whole point of an entirely visual story can be deliberately left out? (To see the original cartoons, by the way, click here.) I have a feeling that the decision to protect you from the images was determined this time by something as vulgar as fear.

The cowardice of the mainstream American culture was something to see the first time around. The only magazines that bucked the self-censorship trend, or the capitulation to undisguised terror, were the conservative Weekly Standard and the atheist Free Inquiry—two outlets (for both of which I have written) with a rather small combined circulation. Borders thereupon pulled Free Inquiry from its shelves, with the negligible consequence that I will never do a reading or buy a book at any of its sites ever again. (By the way, I urge you to follow suit.) I think it's pretty safe to say that most Americans never even saw this sellout going on. But that was because their own newspapers were too shamefaced to report a surrender of which they were themselves a part.

In Canada, only two minority papers reprinted the cartoons. The Western Standard, now online only, and the Jewish Free Press were promptly taken before a sort of scrofulous bureaucratic peoples' court describing itself as the Alberta Human Rights Commission. If you think that's a funny name, try the title of the complainant: the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. Who knows how long such a stupid "hate speech" case might have dragged on or how much public money and time it might have consumed, but last week the Islamic supremes decided to drop it. "I understand that most Canadians see this as an issue of freedom of speech," said Syed Soharwardy of the case that he had originated, adding "that principle is sacred and holy in our society." Soharwardy went on to say, rather condescendingly perhaps, that: "I believe Canadian society is mature enough not to absorb the messages that the cartoons sent. Only a very small fraction of Canadian media decided to publish those cartoons." Without the word not and without the sinister idea that Soharwardy's permission is required for anything, that first sentence would have been a perfectly good if banal statement. But with the addition of his remark about the "small fraction" and the concomitant satisfaction about the general reticence, we have no choice but to conclude that Soharwardy is satisfied on the whole with the level of frightened deference to be found north of the U.S. border. I mention this only because the level of frightened deference to be found south of that border is still far in excess of what any censor, or even self-censor, might dare to wish.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A history lesson before bed

I first ran across this article while in a mesage board exchange with someone who was bemoaning thst some radio stations program in Spanish rather than English.  Through the course of the debate I got all of the inflammatory anti immigrant nonsense, they don't want to assimilate, they don't speak English, they are taking our money/jobs at which point it was time for a reality check.  I am not sure I ever posted this on the old 360 page, but it was something I found quite informative and worth noting.  So if I did post it previously, excuse me for redoing so, and if I didn't, everybody wins.  Anyway, bed time for me, reading time for you.  Nite everyone.


Blending In, Moving Up

By Tyler Cowen and Daniel M. Rothschild
Monday, June 12, 2006; A21

Beneath the surface of the immigration debate is a debate about shared values. If we look at just three of those values -- the English language, family and hard work -- we see a higher level of Latino assimilation than is often presumed.

Despite claims to the contrary, census data show that most Latino immigrants learn and speak English quite well. Only about 2.5 percent of American residents speak Spanish but not English. The majority of residents of Spanish-speaking households speak English "very well."

Only 7 percent of the children of Latino immigrants speak Spanish as a primary language, and virtually none of their children do. Just as they did a century ago, immigrants largely come knowing little English. But they learn, and their children use it as a primary language. The United States is not becoming a bilingual nation.

A key indicator is the rise of the English-language Latino publication market. National magazines such as Hispanic Business (circulation 265,000) and Latina (circulation 2 million) are published in English. So are regional publications in cities including New York, Houston and Los Angeles. The reason is simple: English is becoming the language of Hispanic American commerce and culture. Just as few Jewish-interest magazines are published in Yiddish, in a generation most Latino-interest publications will probably be in English.

The family has long been the core social unit in America, and immigrants share that value. Census data show that 62 percent of immigrants over age 15 are married, compared to 52 percent of natives. Only 6 percent of Latino adults are divorced, compared with 10 percent of whites and 12 percent of African Americans. Latino immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households rather than just visiting grandparents a couple of times a year.

Most Latino immigrants want to become U.S. citizens. This process takes years, so recent immigrants are not a good barometer. But according to the 2000 Census, the majority of Latinos who entered the United States before 1980 have become citizens. And second-generation immigrants are more likely to marry natives than immigrants, further assimilating their children. The majority of immigrants also own their own homes, a key part of the American dream.

Immigrants from Central and South America share the American predilection for hard work and economic advancement. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Hispanic men are more likely than white men to be in the labor force. While immigrant Latinas initially lag behind native women, Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn of the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown that, despite initial inclinations to be stay-at-home moms, immigrant women quickly assimilate into the American workforce.

The children of Latino immigrants do especially well at work. James P. Smith of Rand Corp. has shown that the children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants come very close to closing educational and income gaps with native whites. This is the same as it has always been in American immigration: Newcomers know what keeps them outside the mainstream and work hard to make sure that their children do better. Immigrant Latino men make about half of what native whites do; their grandsons earn about 78 percent of the salaries of their native white friends.

Studies such as Smith's, because they track trends over time, are better at discovering patterns of assimilation than studies that compare immigrants in 2006 to natives. The latter present a snapshot; they can't demonstrate long-term trends.

It's true that recent immigrants have not been closing the wage gap as fast as earlier immigrants. But David Card of the University of California at Berkeley, John DiNardo of the University of Michigan and Eugena Estes of Princeton attribute this to an increase in inequality nationwide. Controlling for this, Latino immigrants are doing as well as immigrants a century ago.

Of course, assimilation is not instantaneous. First-generation immigrants often hold on to the language and customs of the old country. Some immigrants ghettoize themselves and avoid the mainstream. But the overall patterns are far more positive than many recent debates have suggested.

Let's not forget that assimilating into American culture means taking the bad with the good. Robert Sampson of Harvard has found that immigrants are 45 percent less likely than third-generation Americans to commit violent crime. Divorce rates increase with each generation.

For all the rhetoric on both sides, the evidence deserves a closer look. Latino immigrants, like generations of immigrants before, are entering the mainstream of life in the United States. Ours is the best country in the world at assimilating immigrants. This should be a badge of honor, and one that we wear proudly.

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University and general director of its Mercatus Center. Daniel M. Rothschild is associate director of the Global Prosperity Initiative at the Mercatus Center.

Red Wings - Stars glog and free stuff

We are long overdue for one of these, and since I was pleasantly diverted today, I guess I will be able to glog after all. First the diversion.

Usually when I work on Sunday, it is at my own pace and all I do is production work, the main thing being knocking out my commercial feeds and everything else is gravy. Sometimes I will work on the upcoming weekend shows for WJAS, sometimes I will work on podcasts, and still other times, as soon as I get done with my commercials, I scoot. It just depends really on how I am feeling. Today I figured I would probably stay at work and get a lot done simply because I had nothing of note on the social calendar. Well that changed, as my mom called to say they were in Pittsburgh, so they came to work to meet me, I was still finishing up a couple of things when they arrived, so we chatted for a bit and they offered to give me a ride home from work, which I figured would save me a bus ticket or two, so I took them up on the offer. It means I am now home to glog this afternoon's hockey game on NBC, here's hoping we don't have any neck slashing incidents.

I did run out to buy some cigarettes and lo and behold, in a dumpster across the street was a 24 pack of Coke box. Yes, more points. At least I hope, I haven't tried the code on them yet. So let's check that shall we. And it is good, another 20 points for me. I'm thinking it is time for something I haven't done in a while, free stuff, woohoo.


To redeem your free music downloads:

1. Visit

2. Enter your code, including dashes and caps

3. Follow the instructions to enjoy your music

Yes, someone who visits this page wins a free song today, or tomorrow or whenever. Just for the benefit of others, if you are the first and you use the code, write dibs or something in the comments so everybody else isn't trying to claim the same prize. Actually, a 24 pack of soda is worth 20 points, and songs this month only cost 15, so I basically just picked a free song out of the trash. My dumpster diving is paying off.

I am looking forward to tomorrow, as a place that is around the corner from me is about to open as a fish and chips place. The building has seen a few different restaurants in it, first it was Niko's Gyros, and it was known obviously for its gyros, but the owner gave it up and it became The Wing Pitt, which was cool, I liked most of their wing flavors, the seasoning they put on the fries (I think it had Old Bay in it) and they made awesome cajun chicken sandwiches. Unfortunately, the service left a lot to be desired and sometimes they wouldn't even be open when they were scheduled to be. It led to a prolonged boycott by me, I would refuse to go there, if they weren't going to be open sometimes, it was just better to go there no times. Now apparently they are putting in a place that is doing fish and what not. I saw some of the old stuff is still on the menu, which doesn't surprise me, most of the old equipment is still there, much like when it switched from Niko's to The Wing PItt, they were smart enough to keep the gyros, since everyone expected them at that location, They have some menus outside the place for people walking by, so I snagged one and now I am getting geeked to have lunch there tomorrow. Monday may be a spoil me day, as I plan on buying comic books for myself as well. It will be only my second trip to buy books since the dreaded "Brand New Day" fiasco I blogged about, and in my only trip to the comic book store, I did not buy Spiderman, as the boycott is in full effect here. There are still ample books that I will read, that just won't be one of them.

I finished the Hearts badge last night. I told myself I would play until I lost and I ran off 5 wins in a row, so that badge is officially done as well. The rest of the week (until Wednesday) will just be bonus time for me.

I am not sure if I will be watching TV tonight, it looks like Knight Rider is on, and I am not all that into resurrecting old bad TV shows into new bad copies of old bad TV shows. Maybe I will watch a DVD or something. I did pick up a copy of Clerks last week, it was on sale for 6.99 new, and I was out doing some shopping, buying more paper for work, a box of pens (Staples had boxes of 48 for $3.49) and a couple other small things that I needed and I bought the movie as something to pass some time. I had already seen it, but I knew it was funny and it was cheap which is always a good combo.

Anyway, today I know that the Dteroit Red Wings are on TV, though I do not know just who they are playing. A quick check of my sports info says they are playing the Dallas Stars, so it will be a decent game for me on the fantasy front, I have Pavel Datysuk and Tomas Holmstrom from Detroit and Dallas's goaltender Marty Turco. I need some help today as I trail this week with today's games left in the week. A quick look at the matchup fantasy wise goes as follows,


I lead in goals (6-4), power play points (8-5), wins (3-1) and shots on goal (68-43), I trail in assists (12-11), +/- (5-(-15)), penalty minutes (29-28), goals against average (2.32-2.99) and save percentage (.917-.893) and we are tied in shutouts (0-0) which is good for a 4-5-1 week. I need to pick up something in one of the categories I trail in in order to keep my non losing streak alive.

Well, until the game gets underway, in about 30 minutes, I am going to go Pogoing.

Okay, it looks like the game is about to start, I just have some prep work to get out of the way, like opening my Sportsline window to follow along with the TV, stats tend to get updated faster there than on TV. Wow, not only is Knight Rider on tonight, so is American Gladiators. It is a double shot of rehashed suck TV. And NBC wonders why they are the lowest rated network. All they need to do is look at their programming and it would be pretty obvious.

I may step away from the game here and there, I am thinking I need to brew some more iced tea and I may make some dinner as well. Just depends on how much time I have. I have been thawing pierogis and may fry some up to eat in a bit.

Okay, we are underway from Dallas. early on there is no score, though Marty Turco is in goal for Dallas. I wasn't sure he would be, he has been in and out of the lineup recently and his backup in goal for Dallas, Mike Smith, has played well. Early on Detroit seems to be dictating the play, keeping the puck in Dallas's end of the ice and getting a couple of shots on goal, but neither team has been overly dominant to this point. And as soon as I type that, Detroit gets off a few shots on Turco, but gets nothing for their effort.

5 minutes in and Dallas has their first real sustained offense, but Detroit turns it into a 2 on none breakaway the other direction but Turco makes a sprawling save to keep it scoreless.. Check that, he caught just enough of the puck that it hit off of the right post, and with that we have our first TV timeout in a scoreless hockey game.

Detroit will go on the power play, and this will be a test of strengths, Detroit's power play is ranked 3rd in the NHL, Dallas's penalty kill is ranked first. Dallas kills off the penalty and actually outshoots Detroit 2-0 despite being down a man for 2 minutes. Round one of that matchup I would say goes to Dallas, as Detroit is playing better 5 on 5 than with the man advantage.

We get another TV timeout, with 9:25 remaining in the first period, still no score, Detroit leads in shots 6-3 but has nothing to show for their effort to this point.

Another commercial for American Gladiators, only the second one in this game so far. They could run one of those every commercial break and I am still not going to watch.

3 minutes of hockey roll by with little if anything to show for it as neither team can register a shot. Finally Chris Chelios gets off a shot to break the monotany, and Mike Modano registers one for Dallas, neither player scores however, and we remain scoreless.

Dallas seems to have evened the play here in the second half of the first period but neither team has managed to find the back of the net. The shots are now just 8-7 in Detroit's favor.

As I am watching the commercial break, I am left wondering if a commercial has ever moved me to try a product. I can think of quite a few that have turned me away from a product, but I am hard pressed to think of one that made me think "Wow, I have to try that."

Jeff Halpern is called for interference with the goaltender and Detroit has their second power play of the game. This power play is going a little better for Dallas than the last one, Turco makes a nice stop with a poke check to keep the game scoreless and Detroit is now 0 for 2 on the power play.

The first period comes to a close and we remain tied at 0-0. You know, I don't think I have ever glogged a shootout before, not saying it will happen, we still have 40 minutes of hockey left here, but the thought just eased across my cranium like a warm summer breeze. Much like the thought of fish and chips is for my lunch tomorrow.

Cool, I just saw that Yahoo is airing the Calgary/Anaheim game tonight, it could be a hockey Sunday for me. At least it isn't American Gladiators.

While looking for hockey, I saw that Esquire has their list of Best Sandwiches, and look who made the list.......

Ham and Cheese

Primanti Bros., Pittsburgh

A relic of Pittsburgh’s steel days, this sandwich was made for steelworkers who had to eat fast. Everything that typically comes with a sandwich comes on it: meat cooked hot, bacon, tomato, provolone, pickles, slaw, an egg for fifty cents extra, even fries. Shove it in your lunch box. (46 Eighteenth Street; 412-263-2142)


All I can say to that is get the cappicola with egg, way yummy. As for the list from Esquire, eat at your own risk, they also have the McRib from McDonalds on it, and I have yet to have ribs without bones, so I wonder just what they are pressing together when they make those meat patties, it could be pigeon for all I know.

Since we are in the first intermission, I have started the frying of the pierogis and the brewing of the iced tea. This is what passes for multitasking here, cooking and blogging at the same time.

Great, we are getting ready for period number 2 and I am now running between the kitchen and the computer. I just added butter to the skillet and I think things will be most tasty.

Second period is underway and Datysuk is denied on another chance, it is like his second or third really good scoring chance in this game, but he follows that up by taking a penaly and Dallas will get their first power play of the game. With only three pnealties so far, this game has been relatively whistle free,

Almost 4 minutes into the second period, still no score as Dallas fails to convert on their first power play. Meanwhile, my food is done and the iced tea is almost complete.

Detroit just had another great scoring opportunity but Turco makes another big save to keep the game scoreless,however the result of Detroit's pressure is Dallas takes another penalty, giving Detroit their third power play of the game.

Kudos to Turco, who made a couple more saves duirng the penalty kill for Dallas to keep the game scoreless and the leagues third ranked power play is now 0 for 3.

Wow, Turco makes another glove save on Johan Franzen right in front to keep the game scoreless. It looks like Detroit is getting the better of the play here early in the second period, but again they have nothing to show for it.

To this point Detroit holds an 8-5 lead in shots in the second period and leads 16-12 overall but since shots only count in the stats column, and not the scoreboard, it remains tied at zero with less than 10 minutes remaining in the second period.

Another commercial for Knight Rider. How sad of an actor are you when you know that when you sign on to do a role the star of the show will not be you, but instead will be a car?

Back to hockey and Tomas Holmstrom takes a slashing call, 2 minutes to the box for you young man and Dallas gets their second power play. On the plus side, I rack up 2 more penalty minutes to add to my total..He and Datysuk have each contributed to my total and given I was trailing by one minute going into today, I will take it.

Jimmy Howard just made a series of saves during the Dallas power play and the game remains scoreless, though it was Dallas's best chance to score so far this game. Much like the first period, it seems like Dallas is playing better in the second half of the period than in the first half of it.

Another save by Howard, this time during 5 on 5 play and he catches the shot in his chest and the shot advantage that Detroit had is all but wiped out, as it is just 17-16 now.  Howard makes two more big saves, including one where he is laying on the ice to keep his bid for a shutout intact, the only problem being Turco is also making a shutout bid to this point.

An icing call on Detroit moves the faceoff into the Detroit end with less than a minute remaining in the second period. Howard makes another save, and after a rush by Detroit that saw them get a couiple of shot attempts off, the second period comes to a close. and we are still scoreless. Dallas has taken the lead in shots after that very effective ten minutes of hockey.

Second intermission and I have already made my food and iced tea, what will I do? I suppose I could babble about something or other, or I could smoke a cigarette and relax in all of my pierogi eating glory. About the only thing that would be missing is for me to unbutton my pants and stick my hand down the front for the image to be complete and to scar your image of me yet again, as I am prone to do.

Oh well, I managed to check some blog entries, I didn't get to comment mind you, but I at least looked at a few. I am so far behind in that regard it isn't even funny, at current rate I should be finishing up winter blogs somewhere around summer.

Okay, here we go, third period is underway. Let's see if someone can score in regulation, shall we. Detroit gets a power play early in the thrid period, but that hasn't been much of an advantage for Detroit to this point. And this time is no different, Detroit fails to score again with the man advantage and with play going to 5 on 5 Dallas breaks through in the scoreless battle, getting the games first goal compliments of Niklas Hagman, his 21st goal of the year.

We return to play and Turco makes another good save to kep his team ahead and the clock is starting to not be in Dteroit's favor, with just 15 minutes and change left in the game. Should I have said 15 minutes and Obama left in the game instead? I don't know, he apparently is the definition of change, so should I use his name every time now in place of the word change?

More end to end action while I am trying to be funny and failing miserably, luckily no one scored so my standup routine didn't cause me to miss any of the white hot competitive action that is a 1-0 hickey game.

I am not sure from a fantasy perspective what I want to happen now, I have gotten 4 penalty minutes, but I am also getting a shutout from my goaltender, and those are rare indeed. Just one would probably get me a win for the week in that category.

Dallas will go on the power play, Henrik Zetterberg gets called for tripping. That is 2 minutes of the remaining 12 or so that Detroit will have to play a man down. Not a particularly good position for the Red Wings to be in here. Mind you, neither team has been effective on the power play to this point, so I am not sure how much of an advantage it is turning out to be and sure enough, Detroit kills the penalty and Dallas is now 0-3 while being up a man but they lose two minutes of game time in the process..

A stoppage of play on an icing call and with 8:50 left in the contest Dallas leads Detroit 1-0. A scorng update, on the Hagman goal, credit the assists to Jere Lehtinen and Niklas Grossman. Not that it matters much to the blog reader, but we try to be thorough round these parts.

At the 7:40 mark, Turco makes another save, this one bounces off of him and he swipes it away with his stick to keep the score intact. No hockey on NBC next Sunday, I am sure we will be subjected to one of those cool sports like golf or figure skating,

Kris Draper goes to the penalty box, taking a 2 minute minor for for holding. Another bad time for Detroit to be taking a penalty, and early in the power play Mike Madono almost makes it 2-0 but his shot hits the outside of the post. I'll say this, if Detroit does lose this game, Jimmy Howard can't be blamed for it, he has been more than capable in net for the Red Wings. So far he has 29 saves on 30 shots, definitely a good day's work from any goaltender.

Another icing call end gives us a TV timeout with 4:52 remaining. Since the second half of the second period, this game has been all Dallas for the most part, with Detroit only getting a few chances since then. They have went from having a 16-12 advantage in shots at one point to now where they trail 30-24. And the clock continues to tick, now with just 3 minutes remaining. Pretty soon Detroit will have to pull the goaltender for the extra attacker. And it may be right now, with a faceoff deep in the Dallas zone and 1:59 left. But they don't and I have to wonder what they are waiting for. They wait till just one mionute left and go for the extra man and as soon as the do, Turco makes a spectacular save to keep it at 1-0.

Detroit wins the faceoff off of the held puck and this time Franzen is stopped by Turco, as Detroit is getting pressure with the sixth man but unable to capitalize due to some very good goaltending. Detroit wins another faceoff in the Dallas zone due to an icing call on Dallas but they can't get a shot on net and Dallas dumps the puck to kill most of the remaining time and they hold on for a 1-0 win.

From a fantasy perspective, I get a shutout from Turco (yay!) and 4 penalty minutes, 2 each from Datysuk and Holmstrom. That may put me in the lead in two categories, which would be huge. I guess I will learn more tomorrow, for the time being I am going to do a spell check and get out of here, maybe to play some Diablo 2, Electric Boogaloo.

Rewriteable history

Man, my motivation has been lacking severely recently. I have been thinking of things I would like to blog about, but I just can't put them together in any sort of coherent fashion. With that in mind, I am going to attempt this anyway and just hope for the best.

Let's do the easy stuff first and just do the fantasy hockey team, which went 6-3-1 last week, so I still have the final playoff spot locked down, and quite comfortable I might add, as I now have a 19pt lead over 7th place, and given the most that can be gained in any week is 20 pts and that would require the 7th place team going undefeated and me going winless, I am liking my position. Even better is the fact that 3rd place is only 6pts ahead of me, so the 3rd-6th spots are all very much bunched together with just 4 weeks left in the regular season. last week marked the 6th straight week where I finished at .500 or better and now for the season my record stands at 88-75-27.

My grabbing of points from Coke and Pepsi is starting to pay off as well. One of the Coke prizes this month is Rhapsody downloads for just 15 points each. Given I already have a Rhapsody account, I didn't have to down;load any software, I just used some of the points I have collected to purchase another 6 songs, 2 of which I have cashed in so far, buying "Can't Get There From Here" by REM and "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes. The only problem I had was that when I opened Rhapsody to grab my songs, all of my older songs I had purchased were gone, thankfully they offer the ability to redownload them for free up to three times, so I spent part of my time last night rebuilding my music library. I am not sure why they disappeared, it may have been part of my blue screen of death crap I went through last weekend, or it may have been my spyware program thinking they were stuff to be removed, in any event I managed to fix the problem.

While rebuilding my library, I got to thinking about rewriting history. I have the NAACP to thank for this, as this past week, they asked that the Democratic party seat the Michigan and Florida delegations at the upcoming Democratic Convention in Denver. For those that are unsure of what I speak, allow me to elaborate just a little. Most of you know that there is a very competitive race taking place for the Democratic nomination to run for President of the United States this fall between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with Obama holding a slight lead in delegates to this point. The states of Michigan and Florida have both already held their primaries, won by Senator Clinton, but because they moved their primaries up in the calendar year without the approval of the Democratic National Committee, the DNC has stripped those two states of their delegates, so while Senator Clinton won them, she received no delegates for the victories. Michigan was an odd case in that most of the contenders names were not even on the ballot, only Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich's names were on it, the remaining candidates had their names removed. Florida had all of names of the candidates on the ballot, so everyone there has a fair shot at winning the primary. Worse the primary date was moved up in Florida, not be Democrats, but by a state legislature that is a majority Republican and a governor that is also a Republican. Now many members of the Democratic party said that in the 2000 election, voters were disenfranchised (an argument I disagreed with and still do) but I would ask how is this any different? The party is choosing not to recognize the wishes of the Florida voters, for an action, the moving of the primary date, which they had little or nothing to do with. It would seem to some in my party that disenfranchising voters is okay, as long as you get the result you want. I grant the lack of names on the ballot in Michigan creates a problem that can't be easily addressed, but in Florida all of the names appeared on the ballot, not of the candidates campaigned there, as they all agreed to, and yet, like many places this year, the Florida primary had a record turnout on the Democratic side, and the party just chooses to ignore their wishes.

I am an Asshat behind, because the Asshat this week is one that I didn't really want to type, because by and large, I like the organization, but still the Asshat award this week goes to the National Hockey League, which opted to continue a hockey game after a player, Richard Zednik, nearly died on the ice. What happened was that Zednik caught a skate blade in the neck, which cut his carotid artery, leaving him gushing blood on the ice almost as soon as he was struck and leaving both benches and the crowd visibly shaken. At this point, stopping the game and picking it up at a later date would have been a practical solution, instead the NHL told the to finish the game. It was a classless move and most definitely Asshat worthy. Since there is video evidence, I will supply it, but be forewarned, it is not for the faint of heart.

From the bad to the good, I noticed a number of Valentine's Day posts through the course of last week. Me being of the single sort, it is a day that is a wash for me, no different than any other day. That being said, one post stuck out for me, and I have been known to plug the fine works of others on the friends list, so without further adieu, here is Spy's Valentine's Day post.

I would like to thank everyone for not taking me up on last week's offer to mug me, though there are still plenty of Mondays left in the string, so I will look over my shoulder this Monday, just in case.

I did complete the Pogo badges last week and picked up a couple of Game Award badges as well, levels 30 in Kenopop and 20 in Quick Quack, and since I was bored I bought some gems to work on my Mix and Match 2 Album, and added badges in World Class Solitaire, Ride the Tide, Lottso and Hog Heaven Slots. I have two of the three badges this week, in Perfect Pair Solitaire, and another Casino Island Blackjack badge (get blackjack 15 times) and I did one more out of my premium album in Sweet Tooth 2 (5 spins of exactly 150 tokens). The only one I haven't completed is Hearts, which is a game I hate to begin with and worse is that you don't win tokens playing it.

Oh well, think I a gonna scoot, can't think of anything else worth typing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Sorry but life has kept me from spending too much time in here this week.  Between a much needed shopping run Monday night, doubles on Tuesday and Wednesday, and now I have an overnight shift at the station tonight, I have been able to read some of the blogs, but my lack of commenting is not do to the content, just my lack of available time.  I am hoping to fix that later today as well as maybe adding something of my own that isn't stolen content.  Until then, I will steal just a little more content, in this case what I would consider the best cover of The Beatles ever, and that would be Siouxsie and the Banshees version of "Dear Prudence".  Enjoy kids, I'll be back later.




Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Time to learn something unimportant

Secrets behind your favorite toys

  • Story Highlights
  • Mr. Potato Head worked to reform couch potatoes
  • Captain Kangaroo helped pitch Play-Doh
  • Word of mouth helped sell Trivial Pursuit
  • World War I almost killed the Erector Set
By Tim Moodie

(Mental Floss) -- 1. How the Slinky got stuck between a cult and a mid-life crisis

In 1943, Richard James, a naval engineer, invented the Slinky. A spring fell off of his workbench and began to "walk" across the floor. He figured he could make a toy out of it; his wife Betty agreed and she came up with the name Slinky. Introduced in 1945, Slinky sales soared (say that three times fast), but Richard James grew bored.

Despite his success, by 1960 Richard James was suffering from a serious mid-life crisis. But instead of falling for fast cars, dyed hair and liposuction, Richard James went a different route, and became involved with a Bolivian religious cult. He gave generously to the religious order and left his wife, six children and the company to move to Bolivia.

Stuck with the debts left by her husband and a company that desperately needed her leadership, Betty James took over as the head of James Industries. A marketing savant, Betty James was responsible for additions to the Slinky line including Slinky Jr., Plastic Slinky, Slinky Dog, Slinky Pets, Crazy Slinky Eyes and Neon Slinky.

It was great for boys and girls around the world that Betty James didn't suffer a midlife crisis. In 2001, she was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, and perhaps even more laudably, her Slinky dog was forever immortalized in Disney's Toy Story movies.

2. Why the guy behind the Erector Set Saved Christmas

Because of the market pressures of World War I, the United States Council of National Defense was considering a ban on toy manufacturing. Amazingly, one man's impassioned speech successfully stopped that from happening.

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was known as "Man Who Saved Christmas." (There's even a movie starring Jason Alexander in the title role.) But Gilbert was more than just a gifted orator, he was truly a renaissance man. He was an amateur magician, a trained doctor, an Olympic Gold Medallist (in the pole vault), a famous toy inventor and Co-Founder of the Toy Manufacturers of America. Most famously, however, he was the man behind the Erector Set.

Introduced in 1913 with the catchy name The Mysto Erector Structural Steel Builder, the toy was based on Gilbert's observation of how power line towers were constructed. The quickly retitled Erector Sets sold well and were limited only by a child's imagination as to what could be built.

But "The Man Who Saved Christmas" (who also held over 150 patents) wasn't a one-trick pony. His other inventions included model trains, glass blowing kits (think about the liability today!), chemistry sets (one chemistry set was even designed specifically for girls) and in 1951 (during the cold war) he even introduced a miniature Atomic Energy Lab with three very low-level radioactive sources and a real working Geiger counter. Now there's a toy even a real patriot could love.

3. Why Lincoln Logs are the most deceptively named toys in the business

Standing beside his father, Frank Lloyd Wright and watching the construction of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, John Lloyd Wright was inspired. Interlocking beams in the hotel's basement were designed to handle the little "earthquake problem" that the hotel could encounter. John Lloyd thought, "what if children had a toy version of those beams, shaped like notched tree trunks to build little log homes"?

The architect's son followed through on his inspiration and the John Lloyd Wright Company manufactured and sold Lincoln Logs from the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The sets even came with instructions on how to build Uncle Tom's Cabin as well as Abe Lincoln's log cabin. Introduced in 1916, the Lincoln Log construction and figure sets came in two sizes available for $2 or $3 dollars.

But here's the strangest part: the naming of the toy wasn't a tribute to Honest Abe. It's a homage to his father. Here's the scoop: Frank Lloyd Wright was born Frank Lincoln Wright, but he legally changed his name when his parents split. So, Lloyd Jones was his mother's maiden name and Frank's name change was to honor her .In any case, whichever Lincoln the toy was honoring, we're pretty sure Honest Abe would have gotten a kick out of the little logs.

4. Captain Kangaroo saved Play-Doh

Back before it was Play-Doh, everyone's favorite squishy clay was actually a wallpaper cleaner used to clean soot off of walls. But when people switched from using coal burning furnaces to oil fueled ones in the '40s and '50s, demand for the product evaporated. Kutol, a manufacturing company in Cincinnati, was watching their sales dwindle when the son of the company's founder, Joe McVicker, started looking for ways to turn the business round.

His sister-in-law Kay Zufall suggested using the wallpaper cleaner as a child's craft item, and McVicker was willing to try anything. He formed a new division, Rainbow Crafts, and began selling the re-branded product as Play-Doh. Sales were okay, but then McVicker came up with a way to sell a whole lot more. He contacted Captain Kangaroo (A.K.A. Bob Keeshan) and offered him 2% of sales if the good Captain would feature Play-Doh on his show. He did. Ding Dong School and Romper Room soon followed suit, hawking the crafty compound to kiddies everywhere and Kutol made plenty of Doh (er, Dough) in the process.

While the company has changed hands a few times since (Rainbow Crafts was purchased by Kenner Toys and Kenner was purchased by Hasbro) that's hardly impeded sales. More than two billion cans of Play-Doh have been sold since 1955.

5. Etch-a-Sketch used to be played like an Atari

Believe it or not, the original Etch-A-Sketch was operated with a joystick. It's true. The invention was the brainchild of Andre Cassagnes, a French electrician tinkering in his garage. Conceived in 1950, the drawing toy made use of a joystick, glass and aluminum powder.

Dubbed the Telecran, the toy was renamed L'Ecran Magique, and made its debut at a European Toy Fair in 1959. Fascinated by the invention, American Henry Winzeler, founder and president of the Ohio Art Toy Company, licensed L'Ecran Magique and introduced it to America in 1960.

Amongst Winzeler's innovations were replacing the joystick with two white knobs in the left and right corners of the screen. The idea was to make the toy look like the hot new adult toy ... television.

As for how the knobs work, the two Etch-A-Sketch handles control a stylus that's attached to strings. The stylus is designed to move up and down and left and right "etching" an image in the Aluminum powder that clings to the glass with static electricity. Amazingly, clever Etch-A-Sketch artists can maneuver the stylus to make what looks like curves and angles creating some spectacular pictures. In fact, the Ohio Art Etch-A-Sketch Gallery actually contains a "Hall of Fame."

6. Why Trivial Pursuit Almost Never Happened

In 1979, Canadians Chris Haney and Scott Abbott (along with business partners Ed Werner and John Haney) decided to create a game that combined their love of all things trivia and their basic competitive nature.

Their company, Horn-Abbott, funded the initial production run of 1,000 pieces and sold them to retailers for $15.00 in 1981. At the time, $15.00 was by far the most expensive wholesale price for a board game. But a downright bargain when you consider the first pieces cost $75.00 each to manufacture. To the retailer's surprise the game was a hit even at the heady price of $30.00 at retail.

Realizing that they lacked the funding to bring the game to its full potential, Horn-Abbott licensed Trivial Pursuit to Canadian game manufacturer Chieftain Products. Chieftain had a major hit in Canada in 1981 and contacted their American partner Selchow and Righter.

Amazingly, Selchow and Righter analyzed the game and found that it was: a) too expensive to manufacture, b) it took over an hour to play, c) the best players had to have impressive knowledge of trivial subjects and d) they assumed adults didn't play board games. Selchow and Righter passed, but Chieftain was persistent and in 1982 the game was introduced to America at the New York Toy Fair.

Initial sales were worrisome. However, through a solid PR campaign and great word of mouth, sales skyrocketed. Sales peaked in 1984 at 20,000,000 games in North America alone. It was the best of times and the worst of times for Selchow and Righter because in 1986, facing huge debt brought on by an abundance of inventory, Selchow and Righter was sold to Coleco. In 1989, Coleco filed for bankruptcy and the rights to Trivial Pursuit were acquired by Parker Brothers.

Today Chris Haney and Scott Abbott's little game has been made into over 30 "Editions." It's available in 26 countries, been translated into 17 different languages and has sold approximately 100,000,000 copies since its inception. Not bad for a game that almost wasn't.

7. How Mr. Potato Head became a political activist

Two very special things about Mr. Potato Head: 1) he was the first toy to be advertised on television, and 2) he was the first toy that featured real produce. That's right the original toy came as a collection of eyes, ears, noses, a body and accessories that you'd "force" into a real potato. To be fair to Hasbro, Mr. Potato Head's creator, did include a styrofoam "potato" but it wasn't much fun.

In 1964 a molded plastic potato body became part of the toy. But back then, Mr. Potato Head also had friends including Carrots, Cucumbers, Oranges, Peppers and a love interest, Mrs. Potato Head. With Brother Spud and Sister Yam there was an entire Potato Head family, and all of the packaging carried the slogan "Lifelike Fruits Or Vegetables To Change Into Funny, Lovable Friends."

What's most amazing, however, is that Mr. Potato Head's appeal has garnered him many "spokespud" gigs.

In the American Cancer Society's annual "Great American Smokeout" campaign he handed his pipe to then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and swore off the tobacco, he got up off the couch for the President's Council on Physical Fitness, and he even pitched in with the League of Women Voters for their "Get Out the Vote" initiative.

Of course, he's been involved in plenty of straight marketing campaigns, too: in 1997, he shilled for Burger King's "Try the Fry" introduction of their new French fries.

That said, our favorite thing about the spud is the sort of celebrity pull he has. After all, what other toy can claim they were voiced by Don Rickles?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Miss Teen USA South Carolina 2007 with Subtitles

Angie actually got this a while back, for those that needed a reminder however, where the blog title page actually comes frm.

Oh I wish I were an Oscar, maybe not

This is a printer friendly version of an article from the Star-Gazette (

Wienermobile wipes out
Famed vehicle spins, crashes on snow-covered Pa. highway; 'hotdoggers' OK.

MANSFIELD -- Let's be frank: motor vehicle accidents aren't much fun for anyone.

But when a 27-foot-long tube-steak spins out on a snow-covered highway, it's bound to generate some grins.

That's what happened Sunday to an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on Route 15 about two miles south of Mansfield (at least it didn't roll over).

The growler contained two "hotdoggers" -- driver Emily Volpini, 22, of Lexington, Ky., and Caylen Goudie, 22, of Hinsdale, Ill. Although they didn't relish the experience, they weren't hurt, investigating state Trooper Rex Johnson said.

"Hotdoggers" are goodwill ambassadors for Kraft Foods and Oscar Mayer. There are 12 of them in the country -- two for each of the six Wienermobiles. They spend a year on the job traveling around the country. Part of their job is to recruit their replacements.

On Friday and Saturday, Volpini and Goudie and the iconic frankfurter were at Syracuse University, fulfilling the promise to the winner of "A Weekend with the Wienermobile" contest. Sunday morning, the women and the wiener on wheels headed south toward Penn State, where they will try to recruit candidates for the 2008-09 hotdoggers from a stable of Nittany Lion hopefuls.

Mother Nature intervened, though briefly, at 12:20 p.m., putting the plastic porksicle on the median and out of service.

"We thought we had come out of the blizzard," Goudie said. "We thought we were through it. Then we hit a patch of ice. The Wienermobile weighs 7,000 pounds, so usually ice and snow isn't much of a problem. It was this time."

Stuck, Volpini called 911 dispatchers in Wellsboro. Though skeptical at first, they notified state police at Mansfield. As passersby called in the crash on cell phones, the dispatchers became convinced that the barkburger was indeed in hot water.

Police contacted Dave Kurzejewski of Costy's Truck and Auto Mart, and he showed up in short order with a heavy four-wheel-drive vehicle and some chains. Johnson, the trooper, grilled the women briefly and concluded that a routine and sober spinout was all he had on his plate.

Kurzejewski hooked up and Emily fired up the highway hot dog, and a few well-timed tugs later, the Wienermobile was back on the highway.

For Kurzejewski, veteran of hundreds of tows over the years, Sunday's experience was a new one.

"I've pulled out a lot of vehicles," he said. "But that's the first wiener I've ever pulled out."

It was a first for the women, too. They left none the wurst for wear.

"Usually we try to keep from scratching our buns," Goudie said. "But sometimes, things go wrong."

Glee in the misfortune of others

Life sucks.  Work sucks.  Your spouse/significant other sucks.  Everything just sucks.  It is at a time like this that one can lift oneself up and dream of a better day, or they can point fingers and say "At least I am not that fucked up".  For those, like me that use said opportunities to glow in the misfortune of others, here is a tibit of info that may help you through Tuesday.


Paris' Anemic Weekend at the Box Office

FLOP Hilton (Photo: Getty Images)

Paris Hilton is a woman with many talents, but acting isn't among them. The thespian heiress' latest cinematic offering, The Hottie and the Nottie (but which one is she?!), opened on 111 screens this weekend and sold only $76 in tickets per location, which means that approximately 10 people per theater went to see it.

An embarrassingly low figure, to be sure, but Hilton should take solace in the fact that she's a bigger box office draw than fellow flaxen-haired bimbo Jessica Simpson: Recall that only six people per theater bought tickets to see Simpson's 2007 opus Blonde Ambition when it opened on eight screens in Texas.

Does that mean a movie in which the two share billing would shatter all records for box office incompetence? Or would theater-goers be so morbidly fascinated by the spectacle that they'd actually turn out to see it? We're not really sure, but we're betting that someone will eventually pony up the money to make it happen.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

BFT Version 3.0 - Mourning in America

I was listening to the radio about a month ago, one of the sports shows I so often listen to in my free time. As a rule, I tend to not listen to political talk shows as I like to enjoy the radio and listening to politics is too much like the work I already do, and while I love doing radio, I don't want to drown in it, so people talking about sports instead is a nice diversion. Still, as I am listening to a show, the host is interviewing Tracy McGrady, who is a basketball player with the Houston Rockets. Through the course of the discussion, Tracy talked about what he did in the offseason, which was take a trip to some of the war torn regions of Africa. This made my ears perk up, as it seemed to be an unusual place for an athlete to take a vacation. He proceeded to talk about a village he visited, where in order for families to have food and water, they have to send out the adults to the hills in order to find sustenance. The problem being, in the hills are the people that are ravaging their village, so if the men go out, it is likely they run the chance of being killed, the women are only a little more fortunate, if they are caught, they are only raped, as if that is some consolation knowing you haven't been killed, only violated. I was struck by the story and felt empathetic to those people who have to make a decision like that every day, that simply providing for one's family is a deadly proposition.

This type of story will get no play here, it isn't pretty enough. Instead we were stuck with the endless drivel the last couple of weeks of the death of Heath Ledger. Did Mr. Ledger do something worthy of such attention, besides overmedicate himself? Not really unless you consider playing a good gay cowboy on screen to be some sort of earth shattering achievement. Don't get me wrong, I like movies and all, but they fall along the same lines as sports for me, they are nice distractions, but at the end of the day, that is all they are, distractions. Neither of which is along the lines of curing cancer, or putting your life in danger so that your kids may eat. Yet we were bombarded with news coverage of Ledgers death, and the body being sent to Los Angeles, and the mourning taking place there, and everyone's kind words of him on his passing, and so on and so on. I am sorry, but I just can't garner up any sympathy for someone who brought about their own death under less that stellar circumstances. If I want to see people run the risk of overdosing, there are plenty of abandoned, boarded up homes within walking distance of my place that serve as the crack den du jour. Yet the inhabitants of such a place aren't known for their acting ability so their overdoses are far less compelling, even if they are equally lethal in their outcomes.

I'm sorry, but romanticizing someone's death simply because of who they are with no regard for how they died seems to be a little too simplistic for my tastes. I can't get choked up over Heath Ledger, just as I couldn't get choked up over Kurt Cobain, or anyone else whose behavior ultimately leads to their own demise. One may think that if this would hit closer to my home maybe I might have a different opinion, but I don't think so, simply because I have already been down that path when my brother committed suicide. Maybe I should have felt different, but to me it was simply a coward's way out, and I can't get choked up over something like that. I would rather save my sympathy for those that are suffering rather than those that are selfish. So a brief memo to the future Heath Ledger's out there, waiting for people like me to mourn their passing, I can quit you, more than likely I will not even start you, as starting to mourn you is just a waste of my time.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mug me on Monday

Welcome to the show boys and girls, it has been a while, hasn't it? I am just putting together some dinner while I work on this blog, so if it comes out a little disjointed, or more disjointed than normal, it is because I am running back and forth from here and the kitchen.

I am not sure how to describe the week that was except to say that it has been chaotic at best. I am on a decent work schedule recently, if only because my paydays have been semiregular. The thing is, at my part time job I get paid every other Monday and at the full time job I get paid on the 3rd and the 18th of every month, unless those days fall on a weekend, then if it is Saturday, I get paid on Friday, if it is Sunday, then I get paid on Monday. Well, I got paid on the 28th which was cool, then the 3rd fell on a Sunday, which meant I got paid on Monday, I will get paid again on the 11th at the part time job, then again on Monday on the 18th and one more Monday on the 25th, the next Monday is March 3rd and the Monday after that would again be a payday at the part time gig. Very odd how the schedule has just fallen into place like that, but I will take it, I like getting paid every week as opposed to two checks one week and none the next.

The cost cutting at the radio station continues. They blew out one of my bosses, Mike McGann. He was the program director for our station, the other AM station, WJAS and also did the evening drive show on WJAS. They have shifted some of his work around, basically most of the program director duties for all three stations now fall on Ron Antill, who is the PD for the FM station, WSHH, and some of the log duties are falling to Greg, who used to produce Doug's show before Doug got blown out. Needless to say, we all are waiting to see who gets the axe next. About the only thing I have going for me, besides the fact that the morning news can't be automated and therefore needs a live body to run it is the fact I make a pittance while working there 6 days a week. I am not sure how much of a savings they would get by blowing me out, not that that makes me immune mind you, they did cut First Friday and one could argue it costs less than I do, but still, if I get fired, I am sure I will not be the only one in that round of cost cutting. To celebrate still having a job, I am making my Christmas Delmonico steaks for dinner with baked potatoes.

I am thinking of trying the breakfast trick again tomorrow, and actually going to Tom's DIner on the South Side instead of another dreaded trip to Pamela's. Partially I want to do it out of redemption for the bad breakfast experience I had last Saturday, and partially because I want to walk to breakfast and continue my search for Coke and Pepsi points. I am doing quite well since I started my search, I am at almost 140 Coke points, and with the Pepsi stuff, I am already at the point where I can either download 4 songs or 1 TV show episode. Not a bad start to the new pet project of mine, and I am doing far better with it than I am with the change meter these days.

Just about 5 minutes left till dinner is ready, so I will take a quick break here and be back to blog in a bit.

Okay, I am back and I am eating. By the way, I guess I am a decent cook when I try, this steak is pretty awesome, and I really didn't do all that much to it. It is good to be the king.

While I am on my food inflated egotrip, I should mention that the Foamy shirt did arrive on Thursday, I will be wearing it to beakfast in the morning in order to get myself a little more "Foamafied".

I did manage to add to the link section this week of my page, even though I haven't been blogging. Nothing too exciting, but I thought that the sponsors of the radio show deserved a little love, so I passed some along by adding them to the page. For most of the readers of the page, those will mean nothing, as chances are you will not be able to visit their fine establishments, but if it generates even one order for them, then it was worth the effort on my part, given what little effort it actually took.


Welcome to the Saturday entry. For those playing at home, I will sometimes step away from the blog only to come back at a later date and time. Little did I realize the date and time would be messed up on my computer, but that is a story unto itself. I was doing a little research for the blog entry, namely the payday portion of it and I had to go forward into March on my calendar, given that Feb is shorter than other months and therefore I needed to see just when the 3rd of March would occur. Of course, me being me meant that my computer stayed on March, and daylight savings time being what it is, that also pushed the clock ahead an hour. If that were the only problem that had occurred with my computer, all would have been good, but alas that is only the beginning. Sometimes my section of town goes all third world on us and the electricity will cut out. Mind you, that isn't a problem when there is a storm or some such thing as one would expect the possibility of an outage, but that wasn't the case yesterday and it seemed like everytime I would get things running again, there would go the electricty. It must have cut out 4 or 5 different times, just long enough to kill what I had been doing on the computer and eventually sending me to the land of the blue screen of death. I must have fought with this thing for a solid hour, trying everything, safe mode, restart using last working configuration, regular reboot and no matter what I did, more blue screen. Finally it decided to kick over and let me do that which I needed to do, then I went and messed the date up, and because I was getting the time off of my computer to reset my clock, my clock is now an hour ahead as well.

The hour ahead almost cost me breakfast. I woke up and it looked like it was already a quarter after 8, which to me on a Saturday breakfast run meant I had overslept. You don't want to arrive too late, because then, no matter where you go, it will be packed and I didn't want to fight a crowd. Plus I had to figure out what way I wanted to get to Tom's Diner.Tom's Diner


Seems the gods tried to conspire against me by wiping out a bridge that I could have taken, the Birmingham Bridge, that connects Oakland with the South Side. At some point yesterday, one of the platforms on the bridge decided that it would be a good time to drop, oh say 8 inches. That is enough to close the bridge for repairs and an inspection. It also meant if I wanted to take a bus to the South Side it was going to be detoured all the way to almost downtown in order to get around said bridge. Or I could walk down Bates Street and cross the Hot Metal Bridge, coming out at the South Side Works, and then walk about 13 or so blocks. I opted for the walking option, and as I am walking, I see a clock saying it was literally earlier than when I had climbed out of bed. Seemed odd, but I just assumed the clock was broke, until I saw two more with the same time, at which point I realized I was ahead, not behind schedule.

Anyway, I went to breakfast and all I can say is it was like sex and a half. It was that good. Remember last week when I spent $6.95 on breakfast and was sorely disappointed. For that same 6.95 this time I got 3 eggs (as opposed to two), toast (hey, there is a novel concept, toast with breakfast), home fries, three sausage links and three strips of bacon. Also, the coffee was free refills and the joint was smoking allowed. It was like I had died and my cholesterol soaked body had gone to heaven. All told, with the coffee and tax I think my check was like $9.20, I threw the waitress a five for a tip and it was the best $14 dollar breakfast I have had in ages.

I gues I should do a quick Pogo update, I have finished Quick Quack and done my personal so far (find 150 5 letter words in Word Whomp). The personal challenge may seem hard, but it really wasn't, I was skipping any puzzle that didn't have at least two five letter words to find, as doing them would have just made the badge take longer and really not help me all that much. I tried doing the scavenger hunt for a little bit, but after getting a few spins in dominos, I realized I probably wasn't going to get the puzzle piece, and the black jack badge is going to take long enough without me adding to the time it takes by chasing something I most assuredly wouldn't win anyway. I doubt I will get any game award badges this week, I can't think of any game I am close enough in to make an effort into getting one. I will get the Winter Wonderland badge, for completing 6 challenges, but everybody should be getting that one.

While on the subject of updates, my hockey team went 4-4-2 last week, 6th place is still mine, one point behind 5th however and a mere 9 points behind 3rd place. For the season, my record stands at 82-72-26.

As I am typing this, The Penguins just won their hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings this afternoon, meanwhile Philadelphia just lost to the New York Rangers, so the Pens are officially in first place again. Pittsburgh is 31-19-5 for 67 pts, Philadelphia is 30-19-5 for 65, New Jersey is also in the hunt at 30-21-4 for 64 points as are said Rangers with a 28-24-7 mark and 62 points. The whole division is a mess, though I am glad the Pens are at least staying competitive without Sidney Crosby in the lineup. As long as they make the playoffs, I will be happy because by then he most assuredly will be back.

The time has come the picking of the Asshat. I must admit, had the award been around 4 years ago, this guy might be a two time winner, but since it is a relatively new creation (only a year old) this week's winner, Ted Sampley, is a first timer. He was one of the hacks who tried to Swift Boat John Kerry's presidential nomination, creating the organization Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry. Well the advantage of being in the field I am in is that I get pitched interview ideas, for the most part I pass on them, I tend to not like the talking points people, preferring to have the real McCoy on to defend or explain themselves. That being said, I was sent an email saying that I could have Ted Sampley on the show if I wanted. Why you may ask? Apparently John McCain now isn't fit for being President either. Apparetly in Ted Sampley's mind the only veteran worth a pot of piss is Ted Sampley. Here's a thought Ted, how about you go fuck yourself. This is one of those moments where I will gladly dishonor a veteran, if the only thing he can seem to do with his time is bitch and moan about the service of others. I'm sorry you deem John McCain's service not up to your illustrious standard, but as for me Ted, you can take your service and your Asshat award and get to stepping, preferably off of a ledge.

Funny thing is, I am not a John McCain supporter per se. I don't dislike him, I actually like a little something about all of the remaining candidates in the Presidential election and I believe any of the remaining four (no I am not including Ron Paul or Mike Gravel, because let's be honest, they both have no chance) would probably be better than what we currently have.and so I am really just enjoying the theater of how it all unfolds, who will get the Democratic nomination and will it be left to the superdelegates and how long is Mike Huckabee going to stay in and does his campaign get a boost now that Mitt Romney is out. I am enjoying watching the process play out, and with the writers still on strike, it is the most compelling television out there, certainly more so than watching fat people try to lose weight or hooking people up to a lie detector so we can embarrass them on TV.

I think I have written enough, besides, I am within 60 wins of getting the blackjack badge and I want to work on it a little more before going to get my work schedule and some cigarettes. So for now I bid you all a fond adieu.

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