Thursday, July 29, 2004

Still packing. I'm actually kind of glad this is the week I'm moving. It's kept me from being glued to the tv screen watching the Democrats' convention. The speech by Barack Obama wasn't all that. Much like Clinton speeches, it was a lot of words that said very little. I am glad that the Dems are trying to take guys like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out of the limelight, though. Obama isn't as adversarial as the two elder Democrats. Despite his assurances, I think he's too close to the various Chicago machines to be of any use to his non-Chicago area constituents.

I'm still hoping for someone to show up on the Republican side of the ballot this year. Come on, [i]somebody[/i] do this so I don't have to!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sorry for the light blogging recently, folks. This is my last week in the lovely town of Wheeling, and I'm putting the finishing touches on packing everything up for the big move. After two years here, I'm heading to another suburb around that which is Chicago. It'll be strange to be able to go into the city on weekends without having to wait an hour for a train, or having to drive to a CTA stop.

What will I miss from Wheeling, Buffalo Grove and the Northwest Suburbs? Quite a bit actually. I'll miss immediate access to Hanabi, one of the best sushi restaurants in the suburbs. The Continental Restaurant will also go on my "remember to eat here" list. Access to a Dominick's within walking distance will also be missed. There's a Jewel near my new place, but they just don't have the grocery selection that Dominick's does. Hero Headquarters, my local comic book shop, will still be on my list of stops since it's on the way home every Wednesday night. Games Plus will now be "out in the far 'burbs" where it was just a 20-minute drive. And of course, I am no longer just a few miles away from Mitsuwa Marketplace, with its lovely selection of Japanese food stalls and manga. Now it will be a trek to get my fix of okonomiyaki!

I do know that there will be benefits to living in Evanston besides immediate access to Chicago. This is where the adventure of moving to a new place becomes something exciting. Now I'll have new places to explore, new things to see, and more reason not to drive to ACen. The train will make that much easier.

I'm excited, but I do realize that I'm going to miss a lot about this part of the Northwest Suburbs. It'll still be a fine adventure, though.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Moving out and not messing around

I took over a majority of my books to the new apartment in Evanston yesterday. I am very grateful to my friends who were able to help me box stuff up and transport it over in their cars. It turned what could have been an all-day event into one trip.

I also found a CD that I've been looking for in my apartment since I moved here in 2002. That album? "Twilight" by bôa. This band's claim to fame in the US is pretty minor, as they did the opening theme music for an anime series called Serial Experiments Lain. The anime is psychologically confusing at best, but the opening theme, called "duvet" is really beautiful. Jasmine Rodgers has a beautiful voice, and the band compliments her voice wonderfuly. Steve Rodgers does the vocals on "One Day" and the song sounds like something that Squeeze could have done in the early 80s. Even after having missed out on hearing the album for two years, I still enjoy it. It's just wonderful rock. If any of you Chicagoans out there listen to WXRT, the kind of rock they play on that station is similar to bôa's style. My snap judgment: buy the album. It's worth a listen or twenty.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004 : Ditka Says He Won't Run for U.S. Senate

What's that? My Magic 8-ball was right? Well, what do you know.

Mr. Ditka has a lot of other things going on in his life, such as his marriage, his restaurant, Levitra spokesman, and football commentator. I really doubted that he'd want to take a pay cut. He'd be a great guy for the job, but if he doesn't want it, no one can force him to take the nomination.

At this point, maybe we Republicans should look closer at Jim Oberweis. Yes, "racist ice cream" criticisms and all. There isn't anything wrong with his platform on illegal immigration, since he basically wants people to follow the rules set forth by the federal government. He did come in second, and hopefully he could generate the cash and the media interest again.

I'd still like Andy McKenna to have a shot, but the party needs a rallying point. This is where McKenna's low-key approach is a disadvantage. The Illinois Republican Committee needs to give up any dislike they may have of Jim Oberweis and give him the nod. I don't really want to see a blank space on the ballot for Republicans this year.
News From The Associated Press - Senate Scuttles Gay Marriage Amendment

All I can say is this: good. The Federal Marriage Amendment has been defeated for the moment, which shows that the constitutional system is working. Same-sex marriage is still something that is best left to individual state legislatures. Federal marriage laws are already on the books thanks to IRS regulations, and we don't need any more federal laws determining what constitutes a marriage. This is one case where the principle of federalism should reign supreme. Let each state make its own laws and apply them.

Should the FMA come back, it will most likely get defeated again. How many times has the flag-burning amendment been defeated now? The FMA is a loser of a bill, and I doubt there are many congressmen who want to attach their names to a loser over and over again.
The New York Times > Washington > Senate Report: How Niger Uranium Story Defied Wide Skepticism -- Registration required.

In this case, it looks like the CIA is to blame for not following up on information given to it. Instead of going and corroborating intelligence information, they guessed that documents dealing with the sale of uranium to Iraq were probably fake. The sad part is that it's now too late to try to find out what happened. Instead of sending out field agents to investigate the situation, the CIA sent a former ambassador and a defense attache. Doing that is much like sending a music teacher to teach calculus. Sure, the teacher might have some idea on how to teach a class full of students, but will be at a loss to dig deeper into the subject. Joe Wilson and the unnamed attache may have had some idea on how to interview people, but they couldn't dig deeper into the situation. Even more alarming is that the CIA waited a month to send anyone in to investigate reports that uranium was ready to be shipped. For a group that acts like it's always on the ball, they sure dropped it this time.

The worst part of it is Joe Wilson. He squandered his investigation time by staying in a hotel and interviewing people beside a swimming pool. Then to make things worse, he lied about his wife's involvement in getting him the job:
Instead of assigning a trained intelligence officer to the Niger case, though, the C.I.A. sent a former American ambassador, Joseph Wilson, to talk to former Niger officials. His wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer in the counterproliferation division, and she had suggested that he be sent to Niger, according to the Senate report.

That finding contradicts previous statements by Mr. Wilson, who publicly criticized the Bush administration last year for using the Niger evidence to help justify the war in Iraq. After his wife's identity as a C.I.A. officer was leaked to the news media, Mr. Wilson said she had not played a role in his assignment, and argued that her C.I.A. employment had been disclosed to punish him. The F.B.I. is investigating the source of the leak about Ms. Plame, which was classified information.
Wilson lied, his story died.

Then to make things even worse, the CIA decided to give over documents about the potential uranium sale to the International Atomic Energy Agency (yes, the same group that is doing so well in determining whether or not Iran has nuclear weapons yet) for verification. Oddly enough, CIA analysts accepted the IAEA's judgment at face value according to this story. "Trust, but verify" is apparently as dead as the man who first uttered those words.

So, what have we got here? We have a lack of proper agents going out and doing intelligence-gathering. We have a group of people who want to see President Bush eat those sixteen words of his 2003 State of the Union Address, words which have been turning more and more believeable. Even if Iraq didn't get any uranium ore, trying to purchase it during UN sanctions is bad enough. The case for war is strengthened again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Da Coach in Da Senate?

Looks like Mr. Ditka is going to make a decision by the end of the week. My guess that he won't do it still stands. I still think he's got what it takes to handle stupid press tricks.

And the S-T guys SO modified my title from yesterday.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Da Coach for Senate?

Mike Ditka as a US Senator? I don't know if he'd be willing to take a pay cut. Also, is he willing to shift out of an executive mindset to do the consensus-building that is necessary for support of Senate bills? I'll be surprised if the GOP can snag him. One thing I can say he is qualified for is taking abuse from both supporters and opponents. Being head coach of a football team puts you in a serious spotlight for criticism, abuse, and taking responsibility for decisions. He can at least handle his critics. If he does so in a typically Ditka style, he'll make a lot of enemies in the press. I think his competitive nature demands some kind of opposition, so just maybe he could make it work.

So, we've got a plea to get Mike Ditka to run for Peter Fitzgerald's Senate seat. Will he do it? My Magic 8-Ball says "highly unlikely."

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Go figure: Adults tired of bar scene relish 'game night'

Interesting to say the least. Fewer people just wanting to sit around and drink to get drunk, and more people wanting to actually do something else while socializing.

And they said playing role-playing games was a bad thing... now everyone else is trying to get in on it without looking like geeks. Too late.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

12 people interested in GOP Senate nod

And of course, no one is saying who's in the running. Maybe I should have thrown my hat in the ring? At least we know that there's a definite interest in getting a replacement candidate for Jack Ryan. I also hope that there's no allegations of a freaky sex life that any of the candidates are trying to hide.

Jack Ryan can take a small comfort that he's made history. How many other guys do you know of who have been dropped from a ticket because of allegations that he enjoyed having sex with his wife?

Thursday, July 01, 2004

SJ-R.COM - Budget deadline missed

Okay, now we see what happens when a state wants more money than it takes in. The guys in charge all fight among themselves. Governor Blagojevich, Senator Jones and Speaker Madigan all need to get their heads out of their respective butts and cut a lot of services, projects and overhead. As for me, it's another reason why the tax rates should be further lowered from current levels. The more money the state gets, the more need it has to expand its influence. I haven't seen any administration do well in keeping budgets low, so removing the money supply is going to be all the more important. The state is unable to pay for its various services. If the government shuts down, fine. We'll have to do without for a while until enough cuts are made to bring it in line with revenues. America is still the Land of Opportunity, not the Land of Free Stuff. This may help to remind people of that.