Latest Blog Posts

Peter Katt’s LPS Bond Issue Blog

January 9, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

He comes across as a bit snarky and unserious, but Peter Katt’s new LPS bond issue blog should be required reading for every Lincolnite. I’m not encouraging every Lincolnite to agree with him, mind you. But every good public entity needs its vocal critic, and Mr. Katt fulfills that role for the Lincoln Public Schools.

I’ve just begun reading the blog, and I only made it to the second post before I laughed out loud:

First, I went to schools that did not have air conditioning and managed to survive somehow as did most people my age. [Emphasis added.]

See what I mean about him coming across as unserious?

Told Ya So

January 9, 2006 at 1:22pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Oftentimes naysayers’ visions of doom and gloom don’t come true. However when it comes to Lincoln’s living wage ordinance, again and again the naysayers are being proved correct.

Here’s Your Sign

January 8, 2006 at 9:11pm By: The Missus Posted in 625 Elm Street

When I walked in to Scooter’s this morning the guy behind the counter was practically in tears—hysterical tears, that is. So I asked him, “OK, what’s up?” And so he tells me this story:

Well, this lady just walked in, right? And she says, “I’ll take whatever’s free.” I said, “Excuse me?” And she repeated, “I’ll take the free drink.” I told her I was sorry, but that we didn’t give away free drinks. She says “Your sign outside says you have a free drink.” I said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” She was agitated at this point. She insisted I give her the free drink that the sign promised. Finally I said, “Ma’am, you’re going to need to show me this sign, because I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” So we walked outside, and she pointed to the sign. Sure enough, there it was…

“Free WiFi”

Swaddling

January 6, 2006 at 6:46pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I attended an infant care and CPR class last night. It’s a three-week (or four-week?) course put on by St. Elizabeth’s. The first session wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was nice to hear repeated over and over “if you use common sense and go with what works, you won’t screw up your infant”. Those weren’t the woman’s exact words, but the gist of the message was the same. The two big no-no’s seemed to be “no shaking” (duh) and “no wiping back to front”.

The evening took a goofy turn when the woman leading the class fired up a video hosted by Pam Dauber. That’s right, Pam Dauber, from Mork and Mindy fame. It’s a credit to the makers of the video that, save for the outdated clothing and eye glasses, you could hardly tell it was over 20 years old.

One of the things we worked on was swaddling. Now, I can honestly say I’ve never swaddled in public until last night. Last night I swaddled all over the place. It was fun, like making a baby burrito. I swaddled my little plastic baby like a pro. Speaking of the little plastic baby, she was pretty neat. She even had a uvula. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doll with a uvula before.

The participants in the class are pretty varied. The Missus and I were among the younger participants out of about a dozen couples. There’s a decent mix of incomes, interests, due dates, day care plans, and all that. The Missus and I were the only (soon-to-be) adoptive parents. We got just a tiny bit of the “Oh, that’s so great!” vibe that can be a little annoying, but it was gone very quickly. The Missus suggested we should have tried to pass her off as 8 months pregnant, but we wimped out.

Sleight of Hand

January 6, 2006 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Mayor Colleen Seng engages in a bit of disingenuous sleight of hand in this morning’s Journal Star. The focus of the article is the size of the proposed Wal-Mart—Wal-Mart wants to build a 230,000 square foot Supercenter but will settle for 195,000 square foot, while Seng and some members of the City Council want to place the cap at 100,000 square foot. Seng says that 100,000 square feet is large enough for any individual store. She said

We know many retailers build stores of that size and all grocery stores in Lincoln are less than that size.

Her statement is true, but it’s also beside the point. First, it doesn’t matter what “many retailers” do. Many retailers aren’t Wal-Mart; they don’t have the same resources, they don’t offer the same goods and services, and they don’t draw the same customer base. Second, the size of existing grocery stores in Lincoln is all but irrelevant. Is it really Seng’s position that a business can never grow larger than pre-existing, competing businesses? Third, the proposed Wal-Mart is both a retail store and a grocery store. It is incredibly misleading to compare the size of a dual-role store to a single-role store. It’s not so much comparing apples to oranges as it is comparing one apple to an apple and an orange.

Mayor Seng and some council members object to any individual store in a neighborhood center exceeding 100,000 square feet. That is ridiculous. What makes a neighborhood center a neighborhood center are the types of services offered, and the combined square footage of the property and the businesses operating on that property. Why would it be OK for a developer to build a single-building, 200,000 square foot strip mall containing 10 businesses, but not a single-building, 200,000 square foot store containing all of the goods and services of those ten businesses? The only substantive difference between the two is the presence of separating walls and individual entrances. Is that what Seng wants? A separate entrance to and walls dividing each of Wal-Mart’s departments? Clearly not.

Seng is being sizeist, plain and simple. Whether that bigotry is rooted in an anti-Wal-Mart ideology or something else is uncertain. What is certain is that basing one’s approval or disapproval of a large commercial development on the square footage of a single proposed business—while agreeing in principle with the square footage of the development as a whole—is absurd. The suggestion that more and smaller businesses are better than fewer and larger businesses is nonsensical when the sum of the businesses (in size and scope) are equal.

Mayor Seng is either mired in illogic, or a fear or hatred of Wal-Mart. Neither is conducive to sound policy decisions.

2006 Predictions

January 5, 2006 at 6:32pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I’ve enjoyed reading Radley Balko for a while now. In his latest column for Fox News, he makes some predictions for freedom in 2006 (with a twist).

We’re Number 24!

January 5, 2006 at 1:32pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Huskers are ranked 24th in both the AP and USA Today polls. It was a bumpy season at times, but the return to the rankings for the first time since 2003 is well deserved. Congratulations, Huskers!

Oh, and congrats to the Texas Longhorns on their National Championship. Gig ‘em, Horns! (Or something like that.)

Shoot or Don’t Shoot

January 5, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

USA Today has published a nice summary of basic rules to live by when shooting and publishing photos in the digital age. My only major quibble is with this:

You can take photos any place that’s open to the public, whether or not it’s private property. A mall, for example, is open to the public. So are most office buildings (at least the lobbies). You don’t need permission; if you have permission to enter, you have permission to shoot.

That last sentence is a little bothersome, and not entirely true. If your presence on the property is predicated on the condition that you not take photographs, you obviuosly don’t have permission to shoot at will. The fact that you make it through the front door does not automatically mean that you can do whatever you want while you’re there. Private property owners most certainly can grant access to their property based on whatever restrictions they want to set. That’s why photography can be banned at concerts, shows, exhibitions, and similar events. The author should have made that more clear.

That being said, the general theme of the article is solid, and it’s worth reading for bloggers.

Keystone Cops on Ice

January 4, 2006 at 1:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

A co-worker had the misfortune of attending the Husker men’s basketball game last night. He described the debacle as “Keystone Cops on ice”. Twice, he said, the crowd actually laughed out loud at the ludicrous scene unfolding before them. I find it difficult to believe that Barry Collier will survive the season. In fact, it’s becoming more and more difficult to think that he’ll even be around through the end of the Big 12 schedule.

Disgraceful

January 4, 2006 at 1:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

They raised the hopes of millions based on a rumor in the name of sensationalism and ratings. Can the media actually be trusted to report the facts any more? Could they ever be trusted?

New Year, New Wal-Mart Distribution Center?

January 3, 2006 at 6:39pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

What’s this buzz I’m hearing about Wal-Mart thinking about building a distribution center somewhere in or near Lincoln? I wonder if this is a rumor generated by folks infuriated by Seng’s antics regarding the proposed Wal-Mart at 84th and Adams in order to try to sway public opinion in Wal-Mart’s favor. Or perhaps Wal-Mart itself started the rumor. Or maybe—just maybe—the rumor has a grain of truth to it. If true, it would be great news for Lincoln. A Wal-Mart distribution center would mean probably a couple hundred jobs directly related to the facility, plus potentially hundreds more in related industries, such as trucking.

If you were Wal-Mart, where would you put such a facility? Airpark? West O? North 70th Street? Or, gulp, Waverly?

Unicameral Ramblings

January 3, 2006 at 6:38pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I am pleased to see that the Unicameral’s term limits-induced openings are driving record interest in running for state senator. I’m still very displeased with why those openings exist, but at least we’re not facing a vacuum. Well, a vacuum of participation, anyway. A vacuum of experience and dedication is still a certainty.

It’s an incredible relief to see that the article notes that many (most?) of the candidates aren’t just local goofballs jumping on the opportunity to see their name on the ballot merely because the incumbent is barred from running. The last thing Nebraska needs is a California-style election. The candidates cited in the article actually have political experience. That doesn’t automatically make them good candidates, but it increases the likelihood that they are at least semi-competent.

Still, competency has never been the issue for me in my post-term limits fallout complaints. There are literally thousands of individuals around the state who are competent enough to be excellent state senators. But the set of those individuals who are not only competent but also willing to serve is much smaller. And even then, the majority of that set lacks the practical experience to serve effectively in a body as complex as the Unicameral.

I foresee two possible outcomes from that lack of experience. The first is a legislative logjam. A painfully slow legislative process driven by inexperience-induced incompetence. I hope for this outcome. Less legislative action is better. It means less interference, less regulation, less spending, and more freedom. Slow, messy, ugly legislative processes are good.

The other possible outcome is a legislative process so slick and unencumbered that the body passes laws left and right. I fear this outcome not only for its implications for freedom, financial responsibility, and complexity of the state’s laws, but also for its implications for the Unicameral itself. A Unicameral legislature is very susceptible to becoming a runaway process. A Unicameral is bound only by itself and the rules it sets for itself. Very, very few checks exist on the Unicameral. In many ways we are lucky the system has worked as well as it has. I wonder what effect institutionalized inexperience will have on the sustainability of the Unicameral?

One Tired Puppy

January 2, 2006 at 8:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Daisy is pooped, and so is the rest of the Wilson family. We had ourselves a busy little weekend. Read all about it inside.

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