Tuesday, July 26, 2005

When we believe in AdSpeak, the enemies of freedom and civilization have already won.

The Bush Administration is looking for a new slogan for what's commonly referred to as The War on Terror. They've determined that the overemphasis on "war" and "terror" doesn't quite send the right brand message. Lately, they have been ramping up the use of words like "struggle" and "violent extremism". National Security Advisor Steven Hadley is quoted in the NY Times saying, "We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative". I don't know about you, but I'm feeling better about Iraq already!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Yuan a make a bet?

Some people like stamps. Me... I loves me the sexy world of currencies and exchange rates! So when I heard that China had decided to revalue the Yuan, I decided to go down to my local currency exchange (where else!) to meet other like-minded amateur-macroeconomists. I was all like, "Man, is this better than Bretton Woods, or what?!" And they were like, "Either make a purchase or step out of line, sir". I was all, "Hey buddy, wasn't that cool when Nixon took us off the gold standard?" My new friend replied, "Listen, I need $2.50 to get on the Metra train 'cause my car broke down". I gave him the money (he promised he'll send it to me in the mail!), and as he left I called after him, "Watch out for when they start issuing really large denominations, because that's a sure sign a devaluation is going to follow soon after."

Congratulations! Can I take off this bracelet now?

Exclusive interview with the 2005 Tour de France Winner.
The American Sector: What's the secret, Lance?
Lance Armstrong: The secret?
AS: Yeah, you seem to have it pretty figured out.
LA: The secret, I don't know... I guess you've just gotta find something you love to do and then... do it for the rest of your life. For me, it's winning insanely long bicycle races.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I've Got You, Potter!

So I was able to find a copy of the new Harry Potter book on Saturday (whew!). Since I was out of town, I'm not sure of the situation at bookstores in Chicago...but there were plenty of copies in a certain town dominated by the Dutch Reform Church. Who knew they were such good Catholics? As for the book - our little critic's review is under embargo until the NY Times decides whether or not to run it this Sunday. But with a little prying, I have managed to get these off-the-record blurbs from an anonymous source close to the reader: "I finished chapter one, and it's really cool!", "Snape is really bad in this book!", and "Can I watch cartoons before bedtime?" I'm sure Rowling is pacing her bedroom waiting impatiently for the morning papers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Keillor Watch: Day 14

He's back! Garrison Keillor once again graces the Op-Ed pages of the Chicago Tribune. Hard hitting as ever, this week's installment focuses on the pleasures of licorice ice tea and air conditioning. Just like his debut two weeks ago, you're sure to walk away from this article thinking differently about the insurgency in Iraq, the state of our schools, and the John Roberts nomination. This is what opinion journalism is all about.

Update! Eric Zorn confirms on his blog that Keillor's column is now on permanent rotation at the Trib. Sweet lord...

You've got to break some eggs to make a physics superblog.

It will be ok...Traffic and Cream died too. But Blind Faith rose from the ashes.

One of my favorite blogs is no more. Sean Carroll has thrown in the towel at Preposterous Universe. The silver lining: He has joined forces with other talented and like-minded physicists/bloggers at a new supergroup blog called Cosmic Variance. And don't worry if you flunked science - in addition to inside jokes about dark matter and string theory (Har!), they promise ongoing coverage of Brad and Angelina. I'm serious.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I am so out of here.

The destination.

The heat is headed for Chicago this weekend, so I am off to cooler climes. This time, I'm bringing my camera and notepad, so I hope to bring you the hard hitting coverage you've come to expect from my vacation time. Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Yet another thing to worry about.

As the parent of a 10 year old - this is a high pressure weekend. You see, I didn't pre-order a copy of the new Harry Potter book and I'm scared to death that I am not going to find one to buy. I suspect that would be a big problem...as I am reminded 10 times a day of it's imminent release. Now I find out that the Pope is turning into the new Lord Voldemort and getting all down on me for blurring the lines between "good" and "evil". Listen here, Ratzo - you don't know what you're messing with here. You're welcome to come on over and try to explain it to the little one. Good luck.

And I will rain coffee and doughnuts down upon him.

We're ready for your closeup, Mr. Skilling

Imagine interning for meteoroligist Tom Skilling! Well, now is my big chance. Yes, I know this WGN-TV internship is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in meteorology, but I'm sure that it would be a perfect fit for a public radio producer in the midst of mid-career crisis. Ok, I understand the position requires either a major or minor in meteorology or atmospheric science, but my tremendous enthusiasm for sunny summer days (along with my long simmering non-sexual crush on Tom Skilling) should make me a leading candidate. While my duties would include climate research, operating the database, gathering important information and editing text for the show and or Tribune Weather Page, and answering the phone - I know in my heart what Tom is really looking for is a sidekick...a friend...someone like me - who will work two days a week for free. Plus I could really use the college credit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I can take no credit for this.

But it's pure genius.

Do you remember when Charles Manson stole Helter Skelter from the Beatles, but then U2 stole it back and saved the world? Well, in similar dramatic fashion, Justin Kaufmann can now be crowned the Robin Hood of blogging for stealing back Separated at Birth jokes from the dustbins of humor. Other notable entries: R. Kelly v. Tigger, Mayor Daley v. Jack Black, and Charlie Trotter v. Harry Potter. Enjoy.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Chasing Big Slick all the way to the river.

It was Mirapex that made me do it.

If I were the publicist for the World Series of Poker, I would deserve a big fat raise. But if I were the publicist for drug maker Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, I would not get out of bed this week. The AP is reporting today that their Parkinson's drug, Mirapex, is being blamed for causing a severe gambling addiction in some patients. The company says there is no scientific evidence, despite the fact that the information insert that comes with Mirapex actually lists gambling addiction as a rare possible side effect! The drug targets dopamine receptors in that region of the brain associated with pleasure and "reward-seeking behavior".

Sunday, July 10, 2005

What do you do with a German dentist?

Drink the kool-aid.

This weekend we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Rainer Seemann, dds, who had a day-long layover in Chicago on his way back to Berlin. He was in the States for a European dental conference held in Indianapolis (yes, strange but true). While in Millennium Park, we came across the bizarre scene pictured above. The members of some "group" were in the midst of a slow procession through the gardens. There lots of waving arms and new-age music all about. It seemed a little suspicious, if you ask me.

Later we did a great tour of contrasts while in hot pursuit of some souvenirs for two little Berliners. First, we hit the obvious - the Disney store on Michigan Ave. Then we hopped the Chicago bus out to Rotofugi for some toys with a little more....character.

P.S. - If anyone know what the hell is going on in that picture, please please let me know.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Son, the funny thing about regret is.....

All right, we've all grown tired of my little pity party - so it's time to get back to the self-important work of blogging! Anybody remember Carol Marin? Anybody? Well, that doesn't matter. What's important is you should never follow in her shoes and go into journalism. Ever. Her words, not mine.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

There's an Elephant in the Blog.

I generally try to avoid the confessional mode of blogging, but let's cut to the chase. As reported in the Sun Times and the Chicago Reader, Odyssey will go off the air on September 30th, 2005. The whole staff at Odyssey is shocked and disappointed by this news. The WBEZ Board of Directors has decided the financial resources needed to produce Odyssey (and a few other programs) can be put to better use elsewhere in the station. I am very proud of our work, and believe strongly in the mission of the show.

I have worked with Gretchen Helfrich on Odyssey since January of 1998. Eight years later, the show is quite different from when it started - but from the very beginning, we shared a vision of the kind of radio we wanted to produce. Bringing that to air was made possible by the addition of a very talented staff - Alison Cuddy, Delia Lloyd, Steve Waranauskas, and Abby Margolis. Today, I believe we produce some of the finest, most interesting radio out there.

Odyssey has made many friends over the years. Most of all, I want to thank everyone who listens to the show. Without you, public radio really is nothing. And thanks to everyone who has been a guest on the show. It still amazes me that people will take time out of their day to help us do our job. I am also very grateful for the support and encouragement provided by WBEZ's President and General Manager, Torey Malatia. Early on, he gave Gretchen and I the freedom to make a lot of mistakes. And throughout Odyssey's run, he has always been a strong supporter of the show. Torey has also turned WBEZ into a hothouse of creative radio - and that makes it a great place to work. And I saved the best for last... Working with Gretchen each day has been a privilege and a pleasure. There is no one more talented in public radio.

What is next for all of us? For me? That is unclear. For now, we are dedicated to enjoying ourselves the best we can over the next three months. Still... this hurts, and I wish it didn't have to come to an end.

Attacks in London

Details are just coming in this morning. By far, the best coverage I have come across can be found (no surprise) at the BBC website.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Detailed Notes are the New Digital Photographs

I packed everything for my 4 day vacation. The car looked like I was going away for a month. I had my swimsuit, my frisbee, my flipflops and sunscreen. I had my golf clubs, my ipod, my book and my toothbrush. I had my daughter's backpack, her sidewalk chalk, even her doll's clothes. What I did not bring was my camera. So I am forced to use mere prose to tell you the highlights of my trip.
*On the way there I bought a new American flag for the house at Walmart. Was shocked at how much it cost (19.99!), and I am still not sure whether it was made in the USA.
* I hung out with a dog who was run over by a bulldozer last week and lived to bark about it. Totally serious.
*Sandcastles and softserve ice cream with the little one.
*Didn't read a word of my book.
*Received a call Tuesday morning and was told I needed to be back at work in 3 1/2 hours, and the drive back takes at least 4. I was 15 minutes late. Awwww yeah..... You can't catch me, Fuzz!

A New Companion on your Op-Ed Page.

These summer days when strawberries are in their prime seem to bring out the kindness in people.

So begins Garrison Keillor's new column in the Op-Ed pages of the Chicago Tribune.

But somebody must have grown these strawberries, and they are at their prime now, and we should enjoy them fully. The ones in September aren't nearly so good.

And so ends what may be the most pointless op-ed article I have ever read. Not much else happens in the 7oo-plus words that appear. There is some vague opposition to same sex marriage, but he seems to think it's an attempt to save money on clothing. So we're left with Keillor's familiar ramblings - minus his silky smooth baritone. There may be a place for this kind of thing on the radio dial
(a well-established, immovable, immutable place), but Garrison.... from one radio dude to another, you need to get yourself a blog.

Update! Maybe Keillor's got no time to blog because he's filming a movie based on his radio show.

In other public radio celebrity/op-ed writer news... For the next two weeks, Sarah Vowell will be calling it like she sees it in the NYT.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Vacation is the new blogging.

If you're looking for me, I'll be spending the long weekend in the small hamlet pictured above. No computers permitted - only frisbee, reading, and wine are allowed. Can't argue with those rules. Happy 4th!

Scotus, it's time you spice up your life.

The Supreme Court is having the best week ever! VP over at SmallWorld is inviting suggestions on how to better the top rung of our judicial branch. Hey VP, didn't FDR blog about this way back when?

Hey Hey, Sandra Day

If you're looking for obsessive coverage of events at the Supreme Court, check out SCOTUSblog and its sister site The Supreme Court Nomination Blog.

And in blatant plug news, tune into Odyssey on Tuesday for a panel discussion on all the end-of-term decisions - as well as the O'Connor resignation.