Saturday, May 17, 2003

THE EVER-IMPORTANT FORD FESTIVA UPDATE

Whilst paging through an old issue of Car & Driver today (May '87, I think it was), I came across their road test of the Ford Festiva LX. They described its acceleration as "certainly quick enough" (0- 60 mph in 13.2 seconds), its styling as "crisp, purposeful" (in the same way a shoe box is, I guess), and its 12 cubic feet of cargo space (with the seat up) as "ample." Their ultimate verdict: "Yuppies-in-training, your car has arrived."

Uh . . . huh. When Car & Driver is right, it's really right, but when it's wrong . . .
OH MY DEAR FREAKIN' WORD

Remember when I wrote about Clamato y Cerveza?

Wel, you'd better go look at this.

(Thanx and a Tip O' the Hat to Sam Meyer for the link.)
'SPLAIN THIS TO ME, PLEASE

Time required to put together a 42" round glass table: 8 minutes
Time required to cut shrink wrap off 4 deck chairs: 23 minutes

I am frightened and confused.
I AM . . . DOMESTIC MAN!

Big doings involving heavy lifting chez nous. We're getting a table for our deck and building a fire pit in the yard, plus somebody's going to have to rake and bale the lawn. Good thing I get to sleep in a little tomorrow.

Friday, May 16, 2003

POLITICAL STRATEGY: A PRACTICAL LESSON

CalPundit has been quietly advocating a Democratic strategy for 2004: While not making it a central issue in the campaign, he thinks the party should slightly push the issue of gay rights. In his opinion, once the mainstream electorate sees the degree to which the GOP has sold itself out to its social-conservative wing (what used to be called the 'Christian Coalition,' back before it became clear it wasn't all that serious about either word in its name), the Republicans are doomed. And he now says, in fact, they're already playing right into the Democrats' hands:
First, the conservative Washington Times reports that the Christian right is furious not just at the possibility of the Republican party reaching out to gays, but at its mere failure to defend Rick Santorum loudly enough. [Ed.: The Washington Times article is linked from his site.]


He also cites The Economist and Andrew Sullivan as supporting his contention that the GOP is shooting itself in the foot by not weakening its ties to the social conservatives, since they've failed to deliver the vote. (Quoth The Economist: "Karl Rove points out that some 4m Christian conservatives who voted in 1994 failed to vote in 2000.")

He summarizes thusly:
This is a great wedge issue, folks, and it doesn't have to be about gay marriage. How about federal protection for being fired due to sexual orientation? That has overwhelming support among the electorate but would be almost impossible for Bush to support. How about Social Security survivor benefits for gay partners? That's supported by two-thirds of the electorate, which means virtually all independents and moderates. How about loudly defending Thomas McLaughlin and daring President Bush to do the same? (Oh, and here's the lastest on that.)

Karl Rove wants anything but this to become an issue, and that by itself should be reason enough for Democrats to press it hard. So far, Bush has been able to avoid saying anything about gays that makes him look like a bigot, so our goal should be to make him do just that by forcing him to take a direct stand on a simple, substantive issue. If we can, he either loses about 5-10% of the moderate electorate who are appalled by his opposition, or he loses 5-10% of the far right who are appalled by his support.

What more can you ask for?

I have to say, he's got a point. And there's probably a few folks in the GOP ready to throw the former CC to the wolves. What I think he's missing (or at least not making a very big deal out of) is the nasty double bind that the social-conservatives have created for the GOP.

Let me illustrate a bit indirectly. Social conservatives cling tenaciously to these two contrapositive positions:
1. The overwhelming majority of Americans are very morally conservative; they will fight politically to protect their value system and to make sure that they are free to pass it on to their children; and

2. The horrible example set by Bill Clinton and other liberal politicos has seriously degraded America's sense of morality and decency.

Do you see how these can't both be true? If 1. is true, then Clinton's actions couldn't possibly have had an effect, and politicians are free from the need to be moral examples. But if 2. is true, then how can 1. be true? In other words, how can you argue that Clinton ruined America's sense of morality, but then assert that America is still a highly moral nation?

(These are contrapositives, not contradictions, because, while they can't both be true, they could both be false: this may not ever have been a morally conservative nation, and Bill Clinton may not have made it any worse. A minor distinction, but my logic professor wouldn't stand for it any other way!)

The double bind comes thusly surrounding this issue: If America's as moral as the social conservatives claim to assert, there should be no support for an expansion of civil rights for gays and lesbians. But, as you'll note above, two-thirds of Americans disagree, at least to some extent. So the social conservatives cannot claim to be in the mainstream on this (they've got to surrender 1. from my two statements above). Just on that principle alone, the gay rights issue is a loser for the GOP. If they take a stance that satisfies the social conservatives, they surrender the middle ground to the Democrats; if they move to the middle (where they can actually engage the mainstream electorate), they alienate a group without which they can barely win.

Let me illustrate this graphically. Here's the political spectrum:

----------X----------

The 'X' represents the middle of the road; the line left of the 'X' represents a left-of-center position, and you can figure out what the line right of the 'X' means. Now, on this issue, let's say the Republicans take a position just slightly right of center, like this:

----------X--R-------

If you're the Democrats, how would you react? If you listen to talk radio, you'd probably expect them to react by taking a position sort of like this:

--D-------X--R-------

Thusly, they would distance themselves as far from the Republicans as possible, in order to alienate as little of their power base as possible. In fact, this is what they did on most issues in the 70s and 80s. And you remember what that got them, don't you?

Now, think back to 1992 and 1996. What were old-line Democrats complaining about back in those days? That Clinton sounded too Republican on a lot of issues. What he was doing was this:

----------X-DR-------

Do you see the logic? By positioning the party barely to the left of the GOP, Clinton took away the middle from the Republicans. Sure, some of the old-guard Democrats were upset. But what were they going to do, vote for Bush and/or Dole? Of course not! End result: Clinton wins twice, handily. (Handily compared to 2000, at least.)

In fact, this strategy worked so well that the GOP used it in 2000. And, though they owe an assist to Ralph Nader and the US Supreme Court, you see what it got them.

So electoral politics has now become a game of reverse tic-tac-toe: the advantage belongs to the candidate who does not make the first move. Just position yourself slightly closer to the center than your opponent, then sit back and count the votes. Of course, this only works if your opponent makes his or her position known, which is always a political mistake.

So, Kevin's on to something here. If the social conservatives insist that Bush take a public stand on gay rights (and, inevitably, they will), they've just surrendered the middle ground to the Democrats. This isn't an issue like [the A-word] where there's an even pro/con split. Either the GOP alienates the middle of the road, or the social conservatives. What they choose will tell you a lot about whether social conservatism is on the rise, or on the decline in America.

That's assuming the Dems don't soil the bed by tipping their hands first, that is.
DEATH OF A BIRD

In Mickey Kaus' Gearbox feature on Slate, he notes that Ford is killing off its new Thunderbird:
Ford kills the T-Bird--and not on a Friday: Ford announced today it would cease production of its much-hyped Thunderbird in the "2005 or 2006 model year," according to an AP report on MSNBC. This should be a humiliating announcement for Ford. The Thunderbird got a huge wave of press when it was introduced in 2001, but then took forever to actually hit the streets, thanks in part to the discovery of cooling-system problems. Cynically, Ford expected buyers to pay $39,000 for a car that recycled the dreary, budget interior from the Lincoln LS, on which the T-Bird was based. The car handles flabbily, according to the car mags. I thought the chrome wheels looked cheap, too.

Kaus goes on to bash the always-bashable J Mays, the irascible Ford design chief who hit a home run with the VW New Beetle, a solid single with the Audi TT, then got hired by Ford and immediately ran out of ideas. Everything Ford's proposed since then has been an ironic commentary on the cars it used to build, designed to appeal to baby-boomers who couldn't afford the originals: "We can't sell you a new '65 Mustang, but here's a new 'Mustang' for you to consider."

Kaus also wonders if there's not a more sinister motive for Ford's announcement of the T-Bird's not-exactly-imminent demise:
Keep in mind that Ford only began producing the Thunderbird in June 2001, but (thanks to those production glitches) it really wasn't available in large numbers until much later that year. So it's being effectively euthanized after not all that much more than a year on the market. Ford predicted sales of 25,000 annually, but only about 19,000 were sold in 2002 and about 4,000 through March of this year. "The demand is nonexistent right now," a Georgia Ford dealer told the Detroit News.

That 2005-2006 phase-out date is suspicious, though. The car will now apparently spend more time dying than it did living. Combined with the failure of Ford to announce the T-Bird's demise on a Friday during the Iraq war--which is the day you'd choose if you wished to bury bad news--it suggests Ford actually wanted the world to know the T-Bird was doomed. Why? One explanation: It's a pathetic attempt to promote a wave of buying by collectors who now know the production run is limited--but who have a couple of years to spend thousands on one of the "last" Thunderbirds.


Well, they didn't exactly fall all over themselves to buy up the last "last Thunderbird," although that's probably because Ford allowed the car to deteriorate from a BMW 6-series challenger to a 2-door Crown Victoria. I fully expect the T-Bird will be back, more in its 80s form than its 50s form. I'm guessing that as Boomers continue to age, they won't miss the 50s as much as they miss the 70s, which was definitely the era of the personal luxury coupe.
5, FRIDAY, YADA YADA YADA . . .

This week's Friday Five:

(First of all, a note to the International Language Authority: Please change the name of the sixth day of the week to 'Firday,' since that's what I always type.)

1. What drinking water do you prefer -- tap, bottle, purifier, etc.?
We have an in-line purifier on our kitchen tap. (Not one of those things that you screw on to the faucet--one that runs the water through the filter before it ever gets to the tap.) I think that's the best solution; it doesn't cost very much and you don't have to change the filter as often as you do with the on-faucet types.

2. What are your favourite flavor of chips?
Chili-cheese Fritos. Of course, plain Fritos with actual chili and cheese on them are much better.

3. Of all the things you can cook, what dish do you like the most?
I'm insanely proud of my pork chops with dressing, and Steak Leinenkugel. My wife says I make a mean brown sugar pudding, but I can't claim credit for the recipe.

4. How do you have your eggs?
On someone else's plate, preferably. I'll eat them scrambled, or in an omelet, or over hard, but don't serve me runny eggs. Blech. Truthfully, I'd rather eat anything else for breakfast; my favorite morning meal is cold fried rice.

5. Who was the last person who cooked you a meal? How did it turn out?
My wife, last night. It was OK, but there's a reason why I usually do the cooking and she usually does the cleaning. Call it "playing to our strengths," I guess.

IN WHICH SLASH et al. FINALLY WISE UP

With Guns 'N Roses' Chinese Democracy album soon to enter its second decade of imminent release, some of the founding members of the band have finally come to the ultimate realization: G'nR would be a great band if not for Axl Rose. So they've formed a new band, Reloaded (heh), and picked a different frontman: Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland.

(Insert your own "they met in rehab" joke here. Ponder if their first tour will be called The Mobile Twelve-Step Group or something like that.)

I like Stone Temple Pilots. When they broke in '92, they were accused of being Pearl Jam ripoff artists, but I never heard that in their music. They've got too much heavy metal DNA to align themselves with the Seattle sound. I think this Weiland/G'nR collaboration will yield some good music. I probably won't buy the album, but hey, good for them anyway.

Although I have to wonder if Weiland talked to his previous bandmates about the Talk Show album they put out whilst he was a guest of the state of California. It didn't sell at all, which shows that things just aren't the same when a really great band swaps out the singer with whom they're most closely associated.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

POST-BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW

Amazing! Bryan has discovered the world's first Lutheran!

Of course, he thinks he's discovered the world's first fundamentalist, but after reading what he posted about somebody longing for ancient rites and traditions that were shopworn in the pre-Constantinian era, I'm pretty sure I know what he's really discovered.
CONVERSATION OVER A LUNAR ECLIPSE

"You know, after a while it's just like looking at the moon when it's behind a cloud."

"Yup, and I'm cold. Let's go inside."

POLITICAL POISON PILLS: PERSISTENTLY PERPLEXING

Here in the Badger State (yes, I'm actually writing about the state I live in for once), a county executive is floating a unique idea: a 3-cent-per-month tax on cell phone bills to pay for domestic violence prosecutors. The state is already considering taxing cell phone bills to pay for 911-system upgrades.

Now, obviously, nobody's in favor of letting domestic violence go unprosecuted. And the executive has a point: domestic violence is the biggest problem nobody in this country really wants to do anything about. Everybody's against it, but nobody wants to fund anything to discourage, prevent, or prosecute it.

But is this the best way to solve the problem? Is there some link between cell-phone use and domestic violence which has gone unreported? (It wouldn't surprise me, since I've always associated cell phones with exaggerated self-importance, but I think I'm alone on that.) Is there some plausible reason why the cell-phone-using community should bear the brunt of this funding increase?

Or was this just the best train out of the station?

I mean, to turn this down, you'd have to vote against domestic violence and better 911 service, after all . . . I may not agree with the means, but I've gotta say, this is pretty brilliant political strategizing.
COSTLY PHRASES YOU JUST HAVE TO SAY SOMETIMES, PART I

"I think I figured out why you couldn't get the mower started, honey . . . there's no gas in it."

AMAZING.

You-know-who who did something with you-know-who-again which led to you-know-who-again getting fired from his (or her) job coaching a sport of some sort at the Higher Education Institution of Someplace in the Southeastern US is still--still--the #1 source of hits on this blog. But I note with joy that somebody was here looking for information on that staple of my pre-kindergarten lunch hour, The House with the Magic Window.

Of course, while we're on the topic of central Iowa local kids' shows, it's nice to see there's a page for Duane Ellett and Floppy. In fact, there's two of them.
DECLARATION OF INTENTIONS

I am bound for the People's Republic of Madison today. Along the way, I'll be seeking out the following cars, which I've actually not seen in a while:

--a Chevy Camaro. (Come on, it's Wisconsin and it's been winter. Of course I haven't seen any Camaros!)
--a Subaru Loyale. This should be no trouble to find in Madison. And also,
--a SAAB 9000.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Update!

Curse you, PRoM. SAABs and Camaros you've got, but what sort of lefty college town are you if I can drive all the way across town--the long way--and not see a single Subaru Loyale? You'll note I didn't even demand that it be a station wagon with a "VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE" sticker in the back window . . .
LILEKS AUTOPOST, NO. 2

Blah blah foo flubby James Lileks argle bargle zowdf in the zone sknrkkx blurf Pelagianism and other heresies yobl twoopy hilkbertl diddnklop.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

D'OH!!

Man, there's nothing like screwing up a post. Note to the Movable Type junta: this wasn't Blogger's fault; it was all me. What I meant to say was, this site lists 55 '67 Impalas for sale.
BACK ON THE HIGHWAY

You know what? I've done enough blogging about doofy cars I haven't seen in a while. I'm going to start blogging more about the ones I actually like, starting with the 1967 Chevy Impala. I'm normally a Ford guy, more or less, but the '67 Impala was a looker, even in sedan form.

The '67 is a demolition derby legend, a big, strong car with a reliable engine and transmission. Several of them, actually; from a lowly 250 CI six-cylinder your Aunt Edna would have bought to a pavement-shredding 427 big block that turned the Impala from a sensible family car into, basically, a great big Camaro. There were hundreds of options available; indeed, a physicist posited that, with all the drivetrain, paint, decor, suspension, climate control, audio, and other options available, there were more possible variants of the '67 Impala than there were atoms in the entire known universe. Still, while over 500,000 Impalas were made in '67, it's a good bet that, unlike snowflakes, there were at least a couple duplicates.

And, even though a lot of '67 Impalas have been recycled, posted by Scriblerus at

AT LEAST SOMEBODY'S READING THIS STUFF

Even though She Who Must Not Be Named is still this blog's greatest source of traffic, I'd like to thank the following bright lights of bloggerdom who have blogrolled The Bemusement Park:

--Outside the Beltway
--WylieBlog
--Tiger

And to the rest of you, all I can say is, Notice me now and be ahead of the curve!
WORKING THE ANGLES (ANGELS?): A PASTOR WEIGHS IN ON SCHOOL PRAYER

The always-enthusiastic Rachel Lucas has found something to dislike about school prayer, in a case involving a Kansas elementary school principal who memorandized her teachers, asking them to participate in National Day of Prayer in a rather public fashion:
[S]he's not stupid for being a Christian and asking for prayer. She's stupid, and I mean stupid, for actually sending out a written memo telling teachers to pray in the classroom. Has she never heard of the ACLU? Is she unaware of the fact that many people aren't Christians and just might not want their kids' teacher publicly praying for them?

Heck, even some Christians wouldn't want this, am I right? I get the feeling that my parents, who were very active Christians when I was in elementary school, would have had a fantastic fit if they found out my teachers were standing by my desk and praying for me. It's just not a government employee's job - or right - to engage in something so personal with children. Plus it's probably completely illegal. Which again demonstrates the principal's severe daftness.

First of all, yes, Rachel, you're right, there are some Christians who wouldn't want their kids' teachers praying right next to their desks. And I'm one of them. There's enough diversity of belief amongst Christians that I'm (lamentably) not willing to give anybody blanket permission to pray over my kid. As a parent, it's my responsibility (and my privilege) to raise my child in my own faith. I wouldn't want anybody--least of all a government employee--praying that my stepdaughter might one day renounce her baptism, since she was baptized when she was an infant. (That will never happen, since she doesn't go to a public school, but I digress.)

Likewise, as a pastor, I really don't want the public schools doing my job for me. I just don't have enough confidence that they could ever do it right. Any "prayer" that could ever hope to pass any sort of political-correctness test would be so hopelessly vague that any deity involved probably wouldn't recognize it was meant for them.

There's a reason I don't do algebra from the pulpit, and there's a reason why public schools shouldn't be involved in public prayer. It isn't necessary for either of us to try to do the other's job.
THAT'S GONNA LEAVE A MARK

In a move that's sure to endear him to the Cyclone Nation (who already loathed him anyway), Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler really stuck it to the Clones this morning. Among the highlights:

In the last five days, the leading candidates to replace Larry Eustachy have spurned Ames for the aesthetic shores of:

Omaha.

Fresno.

Laramie.

Chattanooga.

Maybe Van De Velde should have sought out the basketball coach at the University of Mosul.

On Tuesday, Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo pulled his name from Van De Velde's hat.

Chattanooga. Pardon me, boys. A Waffle House dynasty, I could fathom, but a basketball one?

Iowa State could be the first major-conference school in the last 40 years to actually back down from a bidding war with the University of Wyoming. When McClain left his native Iowa without a contract offer last weekend, folks in Laramie began puffing their chests like Mussolini.

Elsewhere in the same paper, here's a nasty little swipe from one of Jeff Lebo's current assistants:
"Jeff loves Chattanooga and feels like he's got more work to do here," said John Shulman. "He realizes what's important to him; quality of life, living in a great city, and coaching basketball.

"He's one of those guys that's in it for the right reasons. If he wasn't, he'd be in Ames right now."

Again, I say, "Ouch."

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

FLASH!

Your new ISU hoops coach is current assistant Wayne Morgan.
LETTER TO A FRIEND

Dear Dad,

The significance of this day is not lost on me. One year ago today, about this very minute, in fact, I got the word that you'd been killed in an accident, struck broadside by a person who couldn't be bothered to read a road sign, even if it was bright red and said 'STOP.' I wish I could tell you more about what happened next, but those ensuing couple of weeks are still a fog to me. All I remember (apart from the efforts one person who sincerely tried to help but would have been better off doing nothing) is that I remember being lost amongst a much larger group of lost people, everybody who ever knew and loved you.

When somebody you love dies, especially in the way you did, all you want is for the world to stop and take notice of how you've been wronged. And maybe for a moment, it does. (They tell me you even made the TV news. I wouldn't know; I didn't see it. In fact, it was a couple weeks before any of us really felt like turning on the TV at all.) But what's far more important is to see how the people close to you drew closer to us, joined together in the swirling vortex of icy blue grief. We often say to each other at funerals, "It's nice to see you again; I just wish it was under different circumstances." What a damnable lie that is. If somebody's important to you, then it's especially nice to see them under the circumstances of heartbreak.

I don't want to bore you with details of how we've been dealing with the aftermath. First of all, we're hardly done dealing with it; secondly, you never gave a rat's bonkus about that sort of stuff anyway. Suffice it to say our quest for justice continues, at about the pace I expected. I may never get what I want most--to look that person right in the eyes and let her know exactly who she took out of the world, and exactly what I think of her for it, and exactly why just saying "I'm sorry" isn't going to hold much water with me. But if I can't get what I want, I'll take what the law provides me.

There's no way I can adequately explain what life has been like for me in the past year. It's been sort of like it always has, except the highs on the graphic equalizer are turned off, and the lows are on overdrive. It's not like every day has been miserable. (What an insult to your memory that would be.) I've laughed, I've had good times, I've gone on road trips, and so on. It just hasn't been as much fun. I'll have a good day, maybe even a short string of them, but then something will set me off and I'll be glum for a few days, like I just drank a tall, cool glass of Novacaine.

You don't know how hard that is when you're a pastor like me. You don't know how hard any of this is. If I had a dollar for everyone who seemed to assume that, just because I'm a pastor, and just because I have great faith in God, I should just be instantly OK with my father dying a senseless death, I'd have my student loans paid off and that Audi that Grandpa always wanted but never got, the one you said you were going to buy, and the one I fully intend to buy someday. I wish even the atheists knew how much I loathe the rah-rah happy-clappy Jesus pushers and their faith that's shallower than a McDonald's ashtray. Don't tell me that I should cheer up because someday I'll see you again; I bloody well know that. I mean, if I didn't, I'd be in a pretty strange line of work, wouldn't I? But don't try to comfort me by telling me that my problem will be solved someday in some spectacular cosmic fashion. Tell me what I want to know--that God is with me now. I looked real, real hard for somebody to tell me that God wasn't just up in his heaven watching over me and longing for my blissful reunion with him and you (unless I screwed up and threw away my salvation by stealing or coveting or voting Democrat or eating my salad with my dessert fork or whatever else passes for sin in the eyes of some of these folks); rather, I wanted to know that he was by my side, helping me bail out the backed-up septic tank that my life had become because you were gone. That's when I learned the truth--every true Christian is tested by fire, and the only ones really worth having around you in a time of trouble are the ones who still smell like smoke.

I just wish I hadn't had to lose you to learn that lesson.

You never knew me as a married man, never knew me as a parent, and of all the things I regret, that's probably what I regret the most. I sure could use your advice sometimes. Being married and being a father (especially of the step-variety, as I am) is much, much harder than I expected. Not that I'm not loving the heck out of it, because I am, I really am; just that it's challenging, and I don't get to ask you for your perspective any more. Just one more thing the thief in the night took from me, I guess. I've got a feeling I'll be counting the losses for years.

Anyway, I'd say I hope things are alright with you, but if you're where I know you are, that's the ultimate in silly questions. Things here are not alright, as you can tell. I've often told people in situations similar to mine that, yes, one day things will get back to normal; it's just that "normal" will mean something different than it used to. (I don't have the heart to tell them the truth: that "normal" will always mean something worse than it used to. They'll find that out soon enough, though.) I don't know how long that takes, Dad, but I know this: It sure as hell takes longer than a year.

Say hi to the boss for me.

Love,

Mark

WINDOWS XP HELPFUL HINT

Donald Sensing has a great hint for Windows XP users (like me). I did what he said in #1, and I can read my screen so much more easily, it's like instant LASIK. You Macintistas may deposit your opprobrium in the comments.
JA, DAT'S A HECKUVA DEAL FUR DOSE RAPULLICAN GICE, DONTCHA KNOW?

From the Regions of Mind blog comes this amazing news: Minnesota is turning Republican. That's not really news to me, since I lived there for seven years in the early-to-mid 90s, and the state hasn't had a Democratic governor since 1991. (It is interesting to note that Jesse "The Mouth" Ventura's profession is officially listed as 'radio personality,' and that he's also listed under his given name of James George Janos. Now, why would somebody with a great given name like that want to be 'Jesse Ventura'?) That leaves Wisconsin and Iowa as the only two reliably Democrat-leaning states in the upper Midwest, and I'm not so sure about Iowa anymore.

James Joyner is calling this a good thing. Personally, you know what I blame for Minnesota's seeming change of heart?

This.
BAD---->REALLY BAD---->WORSE

Is Ames cursed? I'm starting to wonder. First there was the whole Larry Eustachy mess. Then there was Ennis Haywood. And now--now--comes two other crushing blows for the Clones. First, former ISU running back Dexter Green, a standout on Earle Bruce's mid-70s teams, died of cancer over the weekend. Then, just when it looked like Jeff Lebo was going to be named the Cyclones' head hoops honcho, he pulls out. This comes one day after Terry Carroll, who wanted the ISU job and would have absolutely destroyed Steve Alford, signed a contract extension at the University of Denver. So, unless they finally wise up and just promote Wayne Morgan to the job, look for another long, fruitless search to find somebody for the job nobody seems to want. And look for ISU athletic director Bruce Van De Velde to be the next Cyclone employee in the unemployment office.
PILING ON, PART II

Guess who's all over Iowa State for the Larry Eustachy situation? Would you believe Tank McNamara? Cyclone fans will take this as a given, since the comic has appeared in the Des Moines Register's sports page since the pre-Cambrian era.
ONE LESS REASON TO WATCH MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

This season, there will be no Melissa Stark on the sidelines. She is expecting her first child and has opted out of this season. There is no word on whether Eric Dickerson has been contacted to take her place.
BLOGGUS INTERRUPTUS

The forecast for Dodge County today: Sunny, 71, northwest winds at 5-10 mph. Paula's car needs an oil change, and I need to find some carpet for my office. I see a long, meandering drive through the Wisconsin countryside in our immediate future.

Monday, May 12, 2003

ANOTHER SEARCH IS OVER, APPARENTLY

Jeff Lebo to Iowa State. It's looking like a done deal. There are mutiple central Iowa media reports suggesting that Lebo will be named as head coach in the next couple days. Of course, they were saying the same thing about Steve McClain . . .
THE SEARCH IS OVER

While I'm getting nothing like the traffic I was last week, I'm still getting lots of visits from people looking for pictures of Destiny Stahl, and if you don't know who she is by now, thank you for visiting this website for the first time ever. How many is a lot? Between Wednesday and Sunday of last week, I got over 1500 visits from people looking for pictures of Ms. Stahl, whose real name, apparently, is Lori Boudreaux. (She must have changed it after hearing one too many Cajun jokes.) And, in fact, if you go to Google and type in the phrase 'destiny stahl pictures', this site is #4 on the list that pops up.

I had heard that James Joyner from Outside the Beltway was having a similar problem, so I went over to his site and noted this post, in which he notes the various and sundry phrases which have led visitors to his site. He, too, has had a "rendezvous with Destiny," but it's nothing like the surge in traffic I've seen. So he paid me what I thought was a pretty nice compliment: He named The Bemusement ParK 'the official Destiny Stahl website,' a move which should guarantee a few hundred visitors to Outside the Beltway over the next few days. But Bryan from Arguing with Signposts says James has thrown me under the bus by claiming that I have nude pictures of Destiny Stahl/Lori Boudreaux.

Take a good look at this page. A nice, long look.

I DON'T HAVE ANY PICTURES OF ANYTHING!!! And, obviously, a man of my profession isn't about to link to nude pictures of anybody. I mean, go read Real Live Preacher's latest post and marvel in clerical sexual naivete. If you want to see pictures of one of God's finer creations, the Loess Hills pictures are way more inspiring than any stripper from north Florida, even if she did bring down a $10 million football coach.

As an aside, while D****** S**** is still generating traffic for this blog, her stock is dropping and some new phrases are starting to show up in my referrer logs. Including the phrase 'jeff lebo beer'. I'd let it slide, but you really ought to see where the searcher was coming from. If you're counting on me--an avowed Hawkeye fan--to do your background checks . . . then all those Cyclone jokes must be true.

Update!

Since James has done me the favor of pointing out that I don't actually have any nude pictures of Destiny Stahl, I feel I should return the favor by pointing out that he does not have any nude pictures of Rick Santorum. And by the way, James, welcome to my blogroll.
GOOD NEWS?

I just got done cleaning out my office. Some guys from the church are going to spend the next two weeks renovating it. So, that means that (sigh) i'll just have to work from home for the next two weeks.

Oh, the sacrifices I make!

Anyway, if I'm home, that means it'll be much easier for me to blog during the day. We'll see what effect that has on the quality of my output . . .

Sunday, May 11, 2003

IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO BE WRONG

. . . but expect Jeff Lebo to be announced as the new ISU hoops coach as soon as tomorrow.

Update!

This is looking even more likely, since Wyoming coach Steve McClain has withdrawn his name. Apparently, it was all about the Benjamins. So, unless there's some hidden candidate out there who's unknown to all of us, that leaves only Lebo and current ISU assistant Wayne Morgan in the running.
THE PARABLE OF THE PARMESAN CHEESE

In his emergency backup blog, Bryan The Signpost-Arguer is pondering why Christians don't talk about the poor more than they do:
I have to say that I still find much in contemporary Christianity to make it the religion of the poor and downtrodden. It is certainly not always the religion of the intellectual and rich (unless they happen to be running for office).

I'm begging my mom's indulgence here. I'm not sure if this actually happened to her, or if it just happened at her church and she related it to me. At any rate, her church decided to fix a spaghetti dinner for the town's homeless and less fortunate. An erstwhile kitchen crew labored for hours fixing spaghetti, sauce, salad, garlic bread, and dessert. When the appointed dinner hour arrived, they welcomed their guests, and the first guy through the line filled his plate. When he had his dinner, he looked up at somebody (it may have been my mom) and said--what? "God bless you"? "Thank you so much"?

Hardly. He said, "Where's the Parmesan cheese?"

Sheesh. That guy would have pawed through a Dumpster for his dinner without the good folks of that church, and this guy--the first guy through the line--whines that there's no Parmesan cheese.

That sort of behavior is reprehensible for three reasons: 1) he was arrogant; 2) he was critical, and 3), he was right.

I'm not much for Parmesan cheese--it smells too much like my socks do after a long day at work--but if I invited you over for dinner, and I served spaghetti, I'd make sure I had some. Why? Because I know most people like Parmesan cheese with the spaghetti, and part of being a good host is meeting your guests' tastes and desires. All this seeming ingrate was doing was calling attention to the fact that he wasn't being treated like a guest.

I think that is why you don't hear more Christians talk about the poor. We're simultaneously too guilt-stricken and too clueless. We think that dropping off a bag of faded, smelly B.U.M Equipment t-shirts at Goodwill and donating 3 cans of wax beans and a box of some unpopular flavor of Tuna Helper to the local food bank qualifies us to be mentioned in the same breath as Mother Teresa. We know this isn't true, but we still throw our scraps and castoffs at people who need real help and pretend like we've done something meaningful. The presence--even the very thought--of the actual poor in our midst just serves to remind us that we're not doing as much as we could to help them, and we're not treating them like the children of God they actually are.

It was cool to talk about the poor during the Great Society days, the last time that issues of poverty really captivated the imagination of Christian thinkers. We've moved on, leaving just one more sad legacy of how our hearts just aren't capacious enough to love others the way God loves them--and us. Finitum non capax infiniti and all that, but still, where would we be if God did just enough to keep us alive, instead of treating us like his beloved? I don't think it's too much to ask that the Spaghetti of Christian Charity comes with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
REGRETTABLE HEADLINES

My friend Steve from The Temperate Zone has caught a wildly inappropriate headline from the Washington Post, dated 11/23/1963. Go read it, and ponder what he ponders.
IF THIS IS TRUE, I GUESS I'M OFFICIALLY 'SHOCKED'

WOI-TV reports that Steve McClain will not be the next Iowa State basketball coach. No further details at this time, but speculation is that Jeff Lebo may get the job. That won't sit well with Sean Keeler, who thinks Lebo is a little too much like Hawkeye coach Steve Alford.

There's nothing more that's solid on the Ennis Haywood story. A couple sad rumors, but that's all.

Update!

They were certainly sad, but they weren't rumors. Haywood passed away sometime during the day today; no immediate cause of death is known. As you might imagine, the Cyclone Nation is very depressed tonight, considering all the crap they've been through in the past two weeks. This Hawkeye feels for them.
DUBUQUE: 'ZESTY RIVERTOWN'

Or at least so says the Des Moines Register. I've been to Dubuque a few zillion times. It's a nice enough place, not deserving of its rough-and-tumble "armpit of Iowa" reputation, but "zesty" is not a word I'd use to describe it. Now, East Dubuque, that's a zesty place. But, of course, that's in Illinois.

Really, though, there's a lot of nice residential architecture in Dubuque, and the view from the Mississippi River bluffs is cool. But no Iowa landscape can compare with the Loess Hills of western Iowa, where I plan to hang my hat someday. Go to the link in the previous sentence and click through the gallery . . . you'll understand why.

Update!

You can see more pictures from the Loess Hills here, here, here, here, and here. Enjoy.
MORE SAD NEWS FOR CYCLONES

The Dallas Morning News is reporting today that former Cyclone running back Ennis Heywood is on life support in a Dallas-area hospital after he stopped breathing yesterday morning. I'd link to the story, but the DMN requires registration to use its website, and I don't go for that.