Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tommie of the Year reprise

Just when you'd thought St. Thomas's graduation fiasco was over, and you'd heard the last of Ben Kessler, the National Review's Colleen Carroll Campbell issues an apologia for his speech, calling it a defense of Catholic values against the "dictatorship of relativism" and a challenge to "conventional wisdom."

Or I should say,

Just when you'd thought you'd never hear a speech so grandiose and airy, presented as the Absolute Universal Truth, the National Review's Colleen Carroll Campbell out-Tommies the Tommie of the Year Ben Kessler with this piece of cant and untruth.

Nam

Well, I am off to Vietnam for the next couple of weeks where I am going to try and avoid becoming a human carrier for avian flu. Some choice quotes from my doctor as I was getting some last minute prescriptions:

"Vietnam?!?! You couldn't pay me to go down there with all the shit that's coming from there" I believe that was a reference to avian flu, et al.

"Richard, remember, no hoochie coochie"

Off to Socialist Nirvana it is, Cheers!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Who's Afraid of Global Warming?

The so-called "controversy" between those who want Intelligent Design to be taught in biology class and those who want science and not religious dogma to be taught, is not unrelated to the brewing war of words over the threat of Global Warming. Some of the same groups who want the Bible taught alongside Darwin are probably also aligned with those who downplay or deny the phenomenon called Global Warming. This is not surprising. Both Darwin's theory of evolution and the theory of Global Warming involve virtually imperceptible changes to our natural habitat over a protracted period of time. As Darwin observed in his Origin of Species, "so imperfect is our view into long past geological ages, that we only see that the forms of life are now different from what they formerly were." However, the key difference between evolution and climate change is that the former is a natural process over which humans have very little influence, whereas the latter is a troublesome reality precisely because we have no one to blame but ourselves for the changes we have wrought on nature. Among scientists, there is no disagreement that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means higher temperatures. Like evolution, Global Warming is not a speculative theory, but a verified reality. The question, however, is whether politicians should take this reality seriously.

That the climate has changed, just as species have evolved, is all too evident. This is not news. Nor is it news that humans have altered the earth's atmosphere. What is news is that we can no longer watch reports about Global Warming as merely news, but must do something, must really do something significant, and quickly, before the earth is rendered "inhospitable" to human life, as Bill McKibben continues to warn.

During the last half of the twentieth century, a period characterized by the Cold War, the fear was that the human race would destroy itself directly through a nuclear war or indirectly as a result of the damage such a war would inflict on our environment. This threat remains. We still live in a nuclear age stalked by the threat of nuclear extermination, as Jonathan Schell, author of The Unfinished Twentieth Century, and Robert S. McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, continue to warn. But the fear of nuclear annihilation has been eclipsed in the public imagination by the fear of Global Warming, the new favorite topic of prophetical fearmongers.

A case in point is Al Gore’s new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." Unfortunately, it has already created more buzz about Al Gore’s non-existent ambitions to be president than about the "Truth" of its title. As the title indicates, and as Al Gore has insisted repeatedly, the film is a vehicle of Gore the Professor, not Gore the would- and should-be president. Its goal is a moral one: to bring to light inconvenient facts -- inconvenient, that is, for Party platforms. This movie is very much the creation of a man who has made teaching his new vocation. And it will be Gore’s moral achievement if the audience of his movie should come to accustom themselves with the facts, and demand real action from politicians.

I haven't seen the movie, but I’ve read that Gore, like McKibben, suggests that Global Warming, in the not so distant future, may make the world unfit for human habitation. This is an unproductive digression from the inconvenient truth: an attempt not to persuade people to love the environment but to make people fear inaction on the issue. Resort to fear here is an act of desperation, a political weapon in defense of an all but lost cause. This is not a productive way forward, for it provides the opportunity for politicians to appear active by claiming credit for token legislation that fails to change the facts. Our environment will only be adequately protected once it becomes the object of our love, guarded with jealously against those who would despoil it. Until then, let us hope that the apocalyptic fearmongers are wrong. I'm afraid that we believe our hopes more than our fears, and that while we may fear the worse, we will commit to action only on the basis of our hopes for the future.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Club Donkeyass Part III...or Mandingo as 'The Runaway Groom'

Three pie-eyed cheers to Mandingo and his lovely Queenie who tied the knot last eve in a beautiful ceremony at none other than the University of St. Thomas chapel. For those who weren't there, Mandingo rode into the church on a gallant steed, wearing the finest chain mail of the 14th century. He and his beloved were then tied at the wrists with twine, while showered with garlic cloves to ward off witches and hobgoblins. After a rousing sacrificial offering to the Norse gods, we became merry with ale and other intoxicating spirits. Mandingo and his lady then mounted their fine horse and rode into the sunset to begin their magical quest of lifelong happiness.

hip-hip-hooray.

Hip-Hip-Hooray.

HIP-HIP-HOORAY!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Homage: Club Donkeyass Part II


Wikipedia is wonderful. The runaway television embarassment, Jennifer Wilbanks, has her own entry. This, dear readers is why I wake up in the morning.

My Pet Peeve

I had never been to a Cold Stone Creamery, which is odd, because Ice Cream is the bane of my existence. I am mildly overweight, those that are less charitable would call me obese. How appropriate, the sole conservative on this blog is fat. Anyhow, that aside, I decided it was time to pop my Cold Stone cherry. As I approached the counter still contemplating the various condiments that would push my obesity to the point of morbidity, I was confronted with what is seemingly a simple question "What size would you like?". Knowing the idiocy of American sizing regimes I looked to the menu to see what was this company's inane translation for medium. I noticed three phrases beside which their respective prices were listed in ascending order: Like It, Love It, and Gotta Have It. And I thought to myself, yes these look to be the potential "sizes" as the prices are listed in ascending order, but they can't really be serious. I was frozen and momentarily unable to complete my order. In the meantime the stupid clerk was getting impatient with me and repeatedly asked me what size I wanted as if it were all so obvious. Finally, I tepidly offered "Love It". And the deed was done and I had my ice cream. And the point of my post, well it there really isn't one except that I belive we should return to the days of small, medium, and large. I go to starbucks and order their coffee (regular, drip, no soy milk or horse jizz or whatever). I ask for a medium, the "barrista" or clerk goes spiraling into conniption fits as if I were ordering in Chinese. Tall, Grande, Venti. That is idiotic, three sizes in three different languages, the first two are hardly distinguishable. Think about it, the appropriate measurement for a liquid is volume, does tall or grande (big) indicate greater volume than the other. And then Venti, it simply means 20 in italian. Is a venti truly 20 ounces? If so kudos to Starbucks but maybe those idiots in Seattle could label their other sizes in a similar fashion. Or at least have all of the sizes in the same language. Better yet, adopt a sizing regime that was once known to Western Civilization before the discovery of the all important self-esteem: small, medium, large.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Youngsters these days!

I have to hand it to the Old Grey Lady. If the source of that nickname may have been dubious, it no longer is. To wit,
But the line between what is public and what is private is increasingly fuzzy for young people comfortable with broadcasting nearly every aspect of their lives on the Web, posting pictures of their grandmother at graduation next to one of them eating whipped cream off a woman's belly.

The more things change...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Some Good Humor

A: Sometimes you miss the forest for the trees.
B: What forest?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

UST Can’t Even Do Graduation Without Making The Front Page

As some of you may or may not know, last Saturday was commencement weekend at the University of St. Thomas. Which usually means plenty of boring speeches and of course the always enjoyable task of sitting through every single name being called off, but the typical boring graduation ceremony would have been a godsend for UST compared to what occurred instead.

Some of you may have noticed front page stories in both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press concerning remarks made by UST’s 2006 Tommie of the Year Award winner at the undergraduate ceremony. Or maybe you saw it on KARE 11, WCCO, or KSTP.

Father Dease, president of UST, offered a statement late yesterday concerning the speech and Ben Kessler the graduate who gave the speech has offered a statement of apology which was included with Dease's statement. But even with his apology there is still a petition movement to strip Kessler of his Tommie Award.

Here is a link to video of the speech where at graduation he called certain faculty members selfish as well as calling everyone who uses birth control selfish. Make sure you pay close attenting to the faculty getting up and leaving, as well as the graduates who are walking out of their own graduation.

After everything that has happened this semester you think the leadership at UST would have done everything possible to keep graduation of all days, as non-eventful as possible, I guess not.
  • Here is another perspective on UST's commencement ceremony from the point of view of a graduate’s family.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Go See the Danforths at the Turf Club. Tonight!


Check 'em out at the Turf Club tonight. Doors open at 9pm. Look for Neil Fasen rocking the bass harder than you can count to ten. Back when I was living the dream, Fasen was my boss at Starbucks over on Snelling and Selby. We slung mean lattes and often had business meetings in the back cooler.

City Pages just had a nice review of their new album, Look Out for the Wolves, in Wednesday's issue. For some reason, or other, we've been referencing a lot of the City Pages lately. Not sure if that's a good thing.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Amy, Get Your Gun


Found this one while crawling on my knees through the Strib yesterday, but leave it up to the Republicans to start slinging shit wherever it might stick. Amy's Record, is a juvenile (and I really mean juvenile here, people), Republican endorsed attack site that purports itself to be "your source for information and breaking news about Amy Klobuchar’s record and agenda." ?Ummm....Escuchame? MnPublius (one of our favorite new sites) has also got the rapsheet on this monstrosity, plus a quicktime video to go along with it.
Our dear readers know that we generally don't veer into the realm of ad hominem attack when engaging in debate, although I've been known to goad other bloggers into an Iron Duel or two...such as the Powerline fiasco several months back. So don't expect us to change our name to the Kennedy Kross Burning Klansmen anytime soon.
If nothing else, I beg of you, go check these sites out just for the sheer inanity, and 7th grade sandlot insults. We'll try to provide you with some more updates as we deem relevant. Anyway, if you want to peep this cottage industry of smear sites I point you in the following directions:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Anti-Everything Buys Snake Oil, Bags of Oregano, With Monthly Allowance. Also Believes in Unicorns.


Yep, I called it in the comments section of Anti-Everything's earlier posting. (See his article two posts below.) Therein, I questioned his unabashed use of truthout.org to spread the foolish story that Karl Rove had been served with an indictment over the weekend. What's worse, a whole bunch of blind lefties drank the Kool-Aid together when they also thought the revolution was on.
  • Wonkette, ever faithful, points out that truthout really is just a bunch of wishful windbags [Wonkette]
  • Here's the WSJ article they refer to [WSJ]
No fear, dear readers. We've already imposed sanctions and served Anti with an indictment of our own. He gets three lashes to the bare ass. This is shaping up to be the evil twin of Hurricane Bearded Matriarch Gate

Monday, May 15, 2006

Have Your Phone Records Handy


Verizon has been sued for giving the NSA the phone records of millions of Americans. The lawsuit was filed on Saturday just days after USA Today reported Verizon, Bell South and AT&T handed over millions of phone call records to help the government build the world’s largest database, The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act made it illegal for telephone companies and computer service providers to give the government records showing who their customers had dialed or e-mailed. Attorneys say that under the 1986 law the telecoms could be forced to pay out one thousand dollars per violation per customer.

Everyone get your phone records out, President Bush may have just solved the countries economic problems if these lawsuits are allowed to go class action. But of course all of the major phone carriers, except for Qwest, would end up going bankrupt. Oh well seems like a small price to pay for a few thousand bucks each.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Two Down...Cheney and Bush To Go


It was reported on Saturday by truthout.org’s Jason Leopold that in a meeting Friday with Karl Rove’s lawyers lasting 15 hours, Patrick Fitzgerald served the attorneys with an indictment charging Rove with perjury and lying to investigators. It is not known yet if the expected obstruction of justice charge was included in the indictment.

I haven't seen any coverage of this from any of the major newspapers, but hopefully it is true. So when are President Bush and Vice President Cheney going to be getting their indictments?

Friday, May 12, 2006

EATS: Don't go to Chatterbox II if you want Chatterbox I

There's been a lot of buzz surrounding the new Chatterbox Pub location in St. Paul's Highland Park. My special ladyfriend and I went last night to check it out and compare Chatterbox II to Chatterbox I, a well-loved locale.

First things first: The new Chatterbox is nothing, nothing like the original. Some may think that's a travesty, some may call it a blessing. Personally, I don't see any problem with establishing a new ambience around the same concept. After all, the physical structure itself is not a hole-in-the-wall nestled away in a South Minneapolis neighborhood. It's in a converted Perkins (one of the best Perkins ever, mind you), and smack dab in the middle of a high-traffic commercial area. So if you're looking for, or expecting, Chatterbox I when you walk into Chatterbox II, don't bother.

As for the restaurant itself, both of us gave favorably reviews. We were a bit disoriented walking in, because there was actual natural light in the new joint. Also, there is a family-friendly aspect to the place, at least during the day. The decor is quite reminiscent of Chatterbox II's neighbor the Highland Grille, with futuristic furniture. Of course, you can still order board games at your table; there are a number of casual, comfy looking couches, and there's also original Nintendo on flat-screen TVs. I watched a nine-year-old try to figure out Mario 3 for a few minutes, then left with disgust when he didn't even know to go into one of the mushroom huts.

The food and drinks were classic Chatterbox. I had a delectable Inferno Hellcat Burger on ciabatta with deep-fried pickles and great fries. With a name like Inferno Hellcat, though, I expected some more heat, but alas, that's the problem anywhere in Minnesota. There's a huge bar with a decent selection, including it's own Chatterbox Lager (a fine brew).

All in all, you need to check it out for yourself. It's definitely worth it.

Lasers

"Rather than allow our intelligence professionals to maintain a laser focus on the terrorists, we are once again mired in a debate about what our intelligence community may or may not be doing." -- Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, as quoted in today's New York Times

Now, I don't have the intelligence (literally and figuratively) of Rep. Hoekstra, and he may know of some really, really big lasers. But maintaining a program that intends to collect every phone call ever made seems about as precise and laser-focused as killing a sea monkey with a stack of phone books.

Schiavo Mania



Yeah, it's Terri Schiavo time again. You didn't want it, but I'm giving it to you anyways. Jumping on the back of the newest Google search tool (Google Trends) I thought I'd look up Schiavo. She jumped the shark. We (not me) made her jump the shark. I feel awful. Want her career arc? Check out Google Trends: Terri Schiavo.
Poof.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

News & Views: Home Stretch Edition

  • So as Stadium Bowl XV stretches into Year 11, the Minnesota House and Senate enter into conference committee and they're only about 2/5 of a light-year away from each other, which considering previous arrangement is actually fairly close. The whole thing is an exercise in ridiculousness and an unfortunate pandering to the electorate for the primary purpose of giving embattled Republican incumbents something to tell folks back home they accomplished without paying for. Hey, I'm all in favor of a new stadium...for the Twins. They're the only ones we would actually be in danger of losing at this point. Vikings aren't going anywhere quite yet; and the Gophers? Come on...
  • The DFL has some more endorsed Congressional candidates. Two sacrificial lambs (Rowley in the 2nd and Wilde in the 3rd) and (maybe) a sure bet in Ellison. I'll let Anti-Everything tell you about the fireworks in the 5th District. Yikes. In other news, all three DFL candidates for governor - Hatch, Lourey, and Kelley - are outpolling Teflon Tim. Of course, it is only May.
  • For Mandingo's sake, I hope the government isn't monitoring 1-900 calls. He'd be "outted" for sure.
  • Hey, guys, did you hear about this body plastination thing at the Science Museum where you can see everyone's innards? Oh, you did? Like a month ago? Get with it, MPR! Oh, and Katherine Kersten ets us know that the bodies are dead. Thanks, Kathy. Here I thought they were just mannequins.
  • Don't cry for me, Laura Billings.
  • City Hall Scoop catches RT Rybak courting Bill Finney. Inevitable or unsubstantiated rumor...you decide.

Good show, I say.

One of our members has written a nicely timed critique of the City Page's article on St. Thomas' Marital Problems. It's one of the most well written and even handed accounts of the whole matter. And it comes from the POV of an insider, no less.
If we can't take over the blogosphere, and surely we can't, we'll revert back to the old printed form. Well done, boyo, Well DONE. Peep this [citypages]

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Relief...

...is handing in your final law school exam for the year.

...is not working on a closed memo and editing exercise due 10 days after your final law school exam for the year.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Pie-Eyed Year

Well, folks, I just noticed that the Pie-Eyed Picayune has been at it for just about a full year now, and what a year it's been. We've gone from the meanderings of a solo PiedPiper, to a dynamic duo with the addition of Ilya, to the panoply of contributors we have today: Xtra, Anti-Everything, Mandingo and the Archduke. Sure, we've had our ups and downs, as well as the requisite coma followed by an identity crisis and a search for ourselves through the wilderness of bloggerdom. But, here we are, one year later, fighting the good fight and all that. Thanks for playing along, PePpers. With that, some highlights:

There you go, folks: the highlights and the lowlights of the first year of the PeP. Thanks for the memories!

Porter's Goss is Now Cooked



Strikes and gutters with our boy, Porter. If he were a bowling score he'd be a 125 with four open frames. Only two years into his post as head of the CIA, Goss resigned to the shock and awe of those inside the Beltway. We've got a roundup of opinion on the resignation, some serious and some not so. Frankly, I'd like to see Palmer Joss from Contact get the nod.

  • The Grey Lady farts into the wind [NYT]
  • Sploid's farcical send up of "a fallen criminal" [sploid]
  • The boys over at the Super Fun Power Hour blog fire up the rumor mill. Could Negroponte be in? [SPFH]
  • Thomas Joscelyn also beats the Negroponte drum. [TJ]

FILM: 'Paradise Now' is da bomb

Despite the crude title to this post (I couldn't pass it up), "Paradise Now," a Palestinian film that was nominated for Best Foreign Film (for whatever that's worth), translates the intricacies of the most divisive issue in the Middle East. It equally displays the shackles placed on Palestinians through the Israeli occupation, while demonstrating the uselessness, fruitlessness, and human waste that results from the Palestinian armed "resistance."

The film follows two young Palestinian men, Khaled and Said, who face poverty, underemployment, lack of free mobility, and the constant knowledge of Israel's domination over them. After we see the humanity of their regular life, we find out that they have volunteered for a joint suicide bomb mission in Tel Aviv. And from there, the story follows a weaving, intricate path that is both tragic and somehow hopeful.

There are several things this film does very well. First, it humanizes the Palestinian cause, which has been (perhaps rightfully so) characterized in our country as nothing but a violent group of thugs and terrorists. This, of course, is true to some extent. Yet, the basic fact that a debilitated and occupied people still exists somewhere out there in the desert. Which is why the second thing this film does is so essential. It shows how senseless suicide bombings, and armed resistance in general, are. If the Palestinians renounced violence, if their struggle was one of non-violent resistance, they would already have a two-state solution at the very least, because not even the most pro-Israel countries would be able to condone Israel's actions against a peaceful people. Sadly, this leads into the third thing the film does exceptionally well, and that is illustrating the false logic that drives young Palestinians to suicide bombings without making it a sympathetic endeavor.

For all these reasons, you should see this film. But, there is another one. The American youth (which I count here ranging in age from about 15 to 35) has never, and very probably never will, had to encounter any sort of dilemma as Said and Khaled do in this film, not to mention the dilemma millions of young people face in Palestine and other parts of the world everyday. We don't know what social shackles are, much less what they feel like. If we are to throw our weight around the world in effecting the experiences of such people, we should at least try to empathize and understand their struggle.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

St. Thomas has Marital Problems


Just got off the horn with Pied and he claims that St. Thomas didn't exactly get slimed by the City Pages in their article, "Cross Purposes" (actually well written) but the school, our alma mater, didn't get off scott free either. I won't get into the nuts and bolts of the debate, but broadly it concerns the tension between Catholic doctrine (dogma, I contend) and the more liberal inertia of contemporary morality. Pied will defend, to a bloody death, St. Thomas' headlong rush to become a nationally prominent university, and the Law School has helped, in large part, with this march. However, until this mothballed institution of higher learning at least steps into the 21st century 20th century it will remain shuttered, backward, and dare I say...romantically conservative. Check out the Law School blog, Mirror of Justice, "Dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory" as just one example--you'll see what I mean. I would raise umbrage with most of their postings, but I'm too stupid to formulate any cogent rebuttals.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigration, part 2

There is much discussion amongs those who are "pro-immigration" (note the lack of a qualifier), or as critics call them, "pro-amnesty", about our economy's reliance upon the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide. You constantly hear about how "illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans won't." This argument is simply idiotic. If, of a sudden, illegal immigrants vanished, American employers would replace labor with capital where possible and raise wages where necessary. This is not to say there would be zero impact in the dissapearance of cheap labor. People would have to pay more for their meals and mow their own lawns, etc. The economy would hit a snag. But life would go on. There are good arguments for amnesty, this is not one of them.