Latest Blog Posts

Nebraskans Say No

September 30, 2008 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Nebraska’s three Congressmen—Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry, and Adrian Smith—all voted against the $700 billion bailout plan that was shot down by the House yesterday. I suspect their votes mirrored their constituents’ wishes, but I don’t have any poll data to back that up. It’s just a hunch.

I’m a little surprised we haven’t heard more from Fortenberry on the issue. His opponent in this fall’s election, Max Yashirin, had a few words on the topic last week, but so far I haven’t heard a peep from Fortenberry. Not that he needs to speak up. He seems to be pretty convinced that keeping quiet is the easiest way to cruise to reelection.

Is Yant a Yahoo?

September 30, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln’s own Roger Yant isn’t stopping his fight to keep the State Fair in Lincoln, this time arguing that the move to Grand Island is unconstitutional. He says 2004’s Amendment 4 requires the State Fair to remain in Lincoln. I think Yant’s odds are pretty slim, and hopefully he knows that. But hey, you never know.

The question I have for you is this: Is Roger Yant a fool for continuing to press this issue, or is he an under-appreciated would-be savior whom all Lincolnites should celebrate?

Where in Lincoln is this?

September 29, 2008 at 12:57pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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Edit: I knew this would be a hard one, so here is a clue:


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Edit: Weeeeeeee! This was a hard one, but more than a few people correctly identified where this was. Excellent work JT for guessing the general area of this photo, and Nikkidemas for identifying the exact location (but I believe you might not have gotten it without JT’s guesswork).

Thus, we have dual winners today in both JT and Nikkidemas, both of whom are clearly very knowledgeable of Lincoln geography. Congratulations!

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Bye Bye, South Beltway

September 29, 2008 at 1:43am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Despite their critical role in Lincoln’s future, don’t look for construction on the South or East Beltways to begin any time soon. The South Beltway, always planned to be the first to begin, isn’t even on the state’s six year plan.

Although the news is buried somewhat uneventfully in the Sunday Lincoln Journal Star, this is a big deal. The South and East Beltways are extremely important to Lincoln, both from a transportation and economic development standpoint. And yet few, if any, local leaders seem to be concerned. Why?

Spam O’ the Month

September 29, 2008 at 1:07am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Fortunately, Lincolnite doesn’t see too much comment spam. I have to clean up just a couple messages per week, on average. One that came in yesterday on this post tickled me enough that I just had to share:

It is exciting to hear any news or topics about Robin. He is my hero during my childhood. Also he will be the hero of any child who ever hear the story of him. He is not a knight who rides a steed for a princess, and also not a general. But every kid loves him.

To Robin Eschliman: the childhood hero every kid loves!

Simple Solutions

September 26, 2008 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. In the case of Nebraska’s “safe haven” law, however, our state’s simple solution isn’t working out so well.

So what should we do? The first thing we need to do is define our goals. Whom do we want to protect, from what, and why? Those are important questions, not just on their own but also because of the spin-off topics that arise. For me, I want to protect newborns and fetuses from people who are unprepared for parenthood. That means providing some form of pre-natal and after birth support, perhaps including adoption counseling and, yes, even a “safe haven”. I still believe that any sort of “safe haven” solution should require certain information from the parents (a health history, for example), even if their names are never known. My gut says three months is a reasonable maximum age for the children, but I’m not stuck on that.

Beyond that age, existing services need to be modified to account for the fact that some parents of older children do indeed want (or need?) to “dump” their children. What factors drive that desire? Is it a matter of providing new services, promoting existing services, or something else?

Topics like this are extremely difficult to resolve. On the one hand society has a right and responsibility to hold parents accountable for their decisions. On the other hand, doing so should not require keeping their children in a hostile or dangerous environment.

How would you modify the existing law, or what would your new law look like?

Taco News

September 26, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Matt Olberding reports that the former KFC on 11th and South will soon be a combination D’Leon’s / Leon’s Taco Rico. I’ve never heard of the latter, but D’Leon’s has been a Lincoln favorite for a few years. Those of you who live in the neighborhood had best loosen your belts a notch.

Also, the second Lina’s location has been open on 70th and O for a couple weeks now. Have any of you stopped by? What’s your verdict?

Back Soon

September 25, 2008 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Good morning, Lincolnites! Sorry for the relative silence these past couple days. I was out of town on Tuesday, and I’m still scrambling to catch up on work. I’ll have some new posts up just as soon as I can.

A Thanks to You, and a Question

September 23, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Good morning, folks. I have to go to South Dakota today to ref a couple soccer games so I only have a couple minutes to write this. I just want to issue a genuine Thank You to all of you folks for coming back day after day. Some of you have been here for years, some of you just arrived, and a whole host of you don’t even live in Lincoln but you keep coming back because you’re interested in Lincoln for one reason or another. Whatever your reason for being here, I thank you for coming.

I want to give a particular thanks to those of you who leave comments. The vast majority of the readers of this blog don’t comment, and I have no problem with that. (Some bloggers get ticked at the “freeloaders” who never leave comments. That’s not why I’m here.) Among those of you that do, I’m very pleased how little policing I have to do. It is extremely rare for me to have to censor or delete an inappropriate comment. In addition, most comments left here are relatively high quality. Have you seen how the comments on journalstar.com can deteriorate? Bleh.

The diversity of the readership of this blog never ceases to impress me. I can say just about anything and some of you will agree with me, some will disagree, some will sit smack in the middle, and almost all will come back tomorrow to see what’s next. How cool is that?

That leads me to my question. Work is keeping me very busy these days so I’m thinking about having some guest bloggers chime in now and then. Are any of you interested in participating in something like that? Think about the sorts of topics you might write about, the kinds of things you would like to read about, and so on. It could be one post or an ongoing series. It might be a niche topic or general interest. It just needs to be somehow related to Lincoln. Interpret that requirement however you like.

Anybody up for it?

Puppycide in Lincoln

September 22, 2008 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Normally I’m pretty positive toward LPD. Today, however, I’m feeling a bit negative. An unnamed officer shot and killed a dog yesterday morning:

Police say the dog was growling and barking, threatening the officer.

The officer, whose name was not released Sunday, went to the home at 37th and W streets to question [a suspect] about a felony theft.

Lincoln Police Capt. David Beggs said the officer stepped around a corner of the house just after 11 a.m., and the brown pit bull approached, growling and barking. When the dog was 10 feet away and coming closer, Beggs said, the officer fired two shots.

One shot hit and wounded the dog, which Smith said was near death around 8 p.m. Sunday at Pitt’s Veterinary Hospital. ...

[The owner] said the dog was in the front yard, which has no fence, when it approached the officer. He said the dog was greeting the officer in a friendly manner, not growling and barking.

There are several problems with this story. First, there’s the neighbor’s description of the dog as “like a lamb”. That obviously doesn’t mean the dog was behaving “lamb-like” at the time of the incident, but it does at least offer some evidence that the animal was not inherently violent.

(Aside: I grew up next door to a dog that was “like a lamb”, only for it to be euthanized after suddenly attacking one of the neighbor’s sons. I’m very aware that there are no guarantees in canine behavior.)

Passive animal or not, I’m much more concerned that the officer’s reaction to the dog’s approach was to shoot it rather than to back away. Note that Capt. Beggs’ description of the incident doesn’t say the dog was rushing the officer, nor does Beggs’ description indicate that the officer attempted to or could not ease the situation non-violently. What did the officer try before pulling his weapon? Are Lincoln’s police officers trained in animal management? If so, did the officer properly follow his training?

If the officer had to be on the property—if, for example, a domestic assault were in active progress inside—this incident would be easy to justify. But no crime was in progress, no warrant was being served, and as far as the information we have indicates, the officer did not have to be on the property at that moment. Was there really anything preventing the officer from stepping back and finding another solution (calling out the owner to tie up the dog or asking for help from Animal Control, to name two)? If so, Capt. Beggs should have said so in his statement.

The available information is somewhat fuzzy so I’m not going to go so far as to accuse the officer of being in the wrong. But generally speaking, when a police department knows it is 100% correct, it uses language that clearly supports its case. In this situation, I would expect to read that the dog was “running” or “lunging” at the officer, or maybe the officer tried to back away but the yard was cluttered and the officer stumbled, putting him in a bad situation. Instead, we are only told that the dog was “growling and barking”, and that it was “coming closer”. None of those activities is a canine capital offense.

Again, I’m not saying the officer was wrong. I’ve been around nice dogs and mean dogs, but I wasn’t around this dog at this time. All I ask is that LPD treat this and similar incidents very seriously. A police officer’s instincts should guide him to use the least amount of force possible, but as much force as necessary. Did that happen here?

Where in Lincoln is this?

September 22, 2008 at 1:38pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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Edit: Although there were a slew of great guesses, no one correctly identified where this photo was taken.

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Lincoln’s Fine Dining Scene Takes a Hit

September 22, 2008 at 1:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I can hardly believe that one of Lincoln’s best dining establishments—Old Country Buffet—has closed its doors after 20 years on O Street. The perennial top-3 finisher in KFOR’s “Best of Lincoln” survey will be missed.

OK, fine, I admit I’m not actually shedding any tears over this one. But come on, Old Country Buffet was pretty darn popular with the crowd it served. Back in the restaurant’s early days that included my extended family. We were among the hundreds of people who lined up each weekend for Sunday brunch, and we were happy to do so. But now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I’ve been to OCB in ten years. I hear it’s still pretty much the same. And if their clientele demographics are the same today as they were twenty years ago, that’s exactly how they want it.

The restaurant got the boot when its lease was not renewed, so it’s possible it will reemerge elsewhere.

Suspect Dies After Being TASERed

September 19, 2008 at 3:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Yikes, looks like there was a ruckus early this morning and after all was said and done, an LPD officer’s use of the TASER may have killed a man. To make things even more interesting, MTV was filming for the show “Busted!” at the time.

The deceased is 23 year-old Gabriel Shane Bitterman. LPD responded early this morning while Britterman allegedly held his girlfriend at knifepoint. When Bitterman refused to drop the knife, the officer zapped him. Bitterman died about an hour later.

Obviously details are pretty sketchy at this point so don’t jump to any conclusions. What we can say at this point is that this demonstrates that TASERs are not non-lethal weapons; they are “less lethal”, but a suspect’s physiology and/or chemical use, and even bad timing or aim, can still contribute to the suspect’s death.

Thank goodness harsh or lethal force is not something LPD is known for.

Hat tip: Thanks for the heads-up, foxspit.

Fear and Politics

September 19, 2008 at 1:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Two of my former professors have found yet more evidence that there’s a strong link between our biology and our political leanings. UNL Political Science Professors Kevin Smith and John Hibbing (and other authors) published their results in Science (view abstract). You’re probably not as excited by this sort of research as I am, but frankly I think it’s fascinating to watch the intermingling of the social and biological sciences.

Before you jump to any conclusions, let’s be clear her that the authors are not saying “If your biology is X, your political beliefs are Y”. Nobody is anywhere near those sorts of conclusions. Rather, studies like the one conducted by the authors are helping to prove what should seem pretty logical: an individual’s physical responses to stimuli have an effect on that individual’s attitudes. That’s not surprising, is it?

Hip Shaker Gets the Boot

September 19, 2008 at 1:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

He made a great run, but Lincoln’s own Joseph Hall didn’t make the cut for the top 5 on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. But hey, a top 10 finish for an Elvis impersonator? That’s not bad at all. Good work, Mr. Hall.

Do any of you folks watch the show? (Go on, you can admit it.) I haven’t sat down and watched much of it, but I have seen at least one performance by each of the remaining five. I’ve got to go with Eli Mattson as my favorite, which probably guarantees he won’t win.

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