“They’re Hard to Believe”

By: Mr. Wilson on September 30, 2005
A federal judge has ordered the release of 70 photos and 3 video tapes depicting abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The photographs are said to include "blatantly sadistic" scenes of "rape and murder." Seventeen photographs and one video tape will not be released. Why not? Hopefully not because those items depict actions that are that much worse. America has lost its humility. Perhaps a healthy dose of deserved embarassment will do us some good, both nationally and globally. The American people need to see what can happen when a government gets drunk on power -- and then tries to cover up its abuses. Indeed, had the government been open and honest from the start, and had higher-ups -- rather than just individual patsies -- rightly been held responsible, this current situation probably would have been avoided. The government is accountable to its citizens. Let's do our job.

Mistakes Were Made

By: Mr. Wilson on September 28, 2005
You have no idea how positively giddy I am that a federal bureaucrat has actually come out and admitted that his agency screwed up to the tune of at least $250 billion. NASA chief Michael Griffin has declared both the shuttle program and the International Space Station to be mistakes. I'm not happy about the lives, money, and time lost pursuing those efforts, nor am I especially pleased that NASA now insists on blowing taxpayer bucks on pleasure cruises to the moon and Mars. But for the head of a federal agency to come right out and say that his agency has been going the wrong direction for over three decades takes cojones and some degree of integrity. Not to mention the fact that it makes Griffin a major outlier among Bush's responsibility-free administration.

City Council Doublespeak

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2005
It's a bad policy, but we're going to keep it around anyway. That's the word from the Lincoln City Council regarding Lincoln's ban on movie theaters outside Downtown with more than six screens. By all accounts Lincolnites oppose the ban. That's a surprise to Councilmembers:
Councilwoman Robin Eschliman said she long has supported Lincoln’s theater policy but was shocked by the public’s opposition to the policy and Douglas Theatre Co.’s domination of the movie market. The Grand and all of Lincoln’s first-run theaters are owned by Douglas. "Lincolnites have had 20 years to get used to this policy, and they still do not support it," Eschliman said.
That's right, Ms. Eschliman. They don't support it because it's bad policy. A policy doesn't magically earn support merely by virtue of its age. Apparently, though, 23 years is too old for a policy. "Eschliman favors changing the policy in a few years." Well, sure. Three years make all the difference. Or maybe seven, says Jon Camp. Ken Svoboda thinks five to seven years sounds good. Or "down the road," according to Patte Newman's wishes. Or even "perhaps at a certain date or based on economic criteria downtown," says Annette McRoy.
"To do nothing is to somewhat endorse a single (theater) operator," Eschliman said. "I believe we need to be a welcoming community, not a community that turns its back on those who want to invest in us."
Wait wait wait. Wait. To do nothing is to endorse a monopoly. We need to allow businesses to invest in our community. And therefore we are going to do nothing, continue endorsing a monopoly, and prevent businesses from investing in our community? Councilman Dan Marvin makes the valid point that "it wouldn’t be fair to Doug las to change the rules now" because "we've asked Douglas to play by certain rules [and] they've played by them." Normally I would scoff at that sort of statement, but the City of Lincoln really has jerked Douglas around. The City played hardball in getting Douglas to build The Grand. Although Douglas is a willing recipient of the perks associated with having a monopoly in town, the City is the one that has provided that monopoly. Had the Council flat-out supported the theater policy, I would have been disappointed. But at least they would have showed conviction. As it stands now, however, the Councilmembers have, yet again, proven to have the backbones of jellyfish. They admit the policy is flawed, yet they will neither overturn it nor commit to its revocation according to specific and predictable criteria. We are truly governed by boobs.

Light The Night for Murod

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2005
I don't think I have ever panhandled on Lincolnite, and I don't plan to make it a habit. But I do support a few causes. One such cause showed up in my inbox this morning:
It is hard to believe, but tomorrow it will be five years since my brother, Murod, passed away from Leukemia at the age of 21. As most of you know, every year many of our family and friends participate in the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk, raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research. This year's walk is this Friday, September 30.
Murod was my best friend back on South 44th Street until his family moved to St. Louis shortly before we entered kindergarten. We used to love to play Atari games, battle it out with our Star Wars figures, and dive through the open windows of his mother's car while playing Dukes of Hazzard. I saw Murod once each year in the few years before he died, when he and his brothers came to their annual Husker football game. In a curious coincidence I once underwent medical testing on the suspicion that I had leukemia, not too long before Murod was diagnosed. Fortunately in my case the doctors concluded that I just have naturally unusual levels of an unusually large number of components in my body. Somebody's got to be at the far end of the bell curve, so it's just as well me as anybody. If Leukemia and Lymphoma research is something that hits home for you, or if you feel like having one less cup of Starbucks coffee each week, or if you just really like me, consider dropping a donation in the bucket. Thanks, gang.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2005
So there I was, sweatin' away in the back yard, turning over soil and generally making a mess in preparation for putting down some new grass seed. While I worked, I thought. I'm always thinking about something. Most of the time it's pretty mundane stuff. At this particular moment I was composing a hypothetical blog post about my newfound love for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Intelligent Design, and related topics. I thought something to the effect of "...and that's why I believe in God (or some Higher Power), but Christianity as a whole just doesn't work for me." At that exact moment -- seriously, at that exact moment -- I turned over a shovel-full of soil, and as my thought ended two pencil-thin wood chips landed on top of one another. Perpendicularly. In the shape of a lower-case t. Also known as a cross. It was by far the most surreal moment I've experienced in a long, long time. I couldn't believe the only one nearby that I could describe the surreality to was Daisy, and she was too busy playing with a mangled (but still flopping) grasshopper to care. I waited for The Booming Voice of God™, or a chorus of angels, or a bright shining light, or something, but nothing else happened. It was just me, the wood chip cross, and a sadistic dog. Now, my observations of The Way the World Works™ have taught me three things:
  1. There is a God
  2. I'm not Him
  3. He has a dry, even dark sense of humor
This event just helped heap more evidence on the great big pile in support of those three things. Well, except that technically I was the one who made the sticks fall the way they did, so it's possible that the second point isn't true. But I wouldn't bank on that one. I, for one, suspect that I had help. I have long contended that coincidences are God's way of having fun with His creation. He's a jokester, I tell you. Who but a Great Cosmic Comedian would make every light turn red just when you're in the biggest hurry? Or make a weird number like pi show up all over the place -- even in places that have nothing to do with the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter? His little stunt tonight is just another one of His gags. He wants me to dwell on the Secret Meaning of the wood chip cross. "Is He trying to tell me not to doubt Christianity?" He wants me to ask. He hopes I get stuck on "Is the cross a red herring?" And I know He's giggling furiously over my hesitance to disturb the cross. It's still sitting out there right now. He's a real ham, that God. Is there any meaning in the wood chip cross? I don't have the slightest idea. But I'm serious when I tell you that the wood chips formed the cross exactly as I finished my heretical thought. I wouldn't have wasted all this time writing this post if it happened any other way. I doubt I'll give the wood chip cross much thought after tonight. But I tell you one thing, if I wake up in the morning and there's a flower growing there, or a dove sitting on that spot, I'm going to be one very, very confused Mr. Wilson.


By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2005
I think I have an ear infection again. I hate ear infections. I should really think about going and seeing a doctor. Normally I wouldn't, but I have to go see him anyway to have him sign a form for the adoption. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to make an appointment. Oh well, at least it's not an eye infection. Those are even less fun. Some day I'll tell y'all about the time I made the eye doctor cringe and say "Eww." That inspires confidence, I tell ya.

The Procedure With No Name

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2005
The first paragraph of this AP dispatch struck me as odd:
The Bush administration has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a ban on a procedure that critics call "partial birth" abortions, setting up a showdown that could be decided by the president's new choice for the court. [Emphasis added]
So what do supporters call the procedure? Doesn't it have a "correct" medical term? Actually, those questions are largely rhetorical. I just think the reporting style is funny. It's sort of like saying "the President critics call 'stupid neo-con monkey boy' issued a proclamation yesterday...." Come to think of it, that could be rather entertaining.

Publicity Hound Arrested

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2005
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in front of the White House today in yet another publicity stunt. The media, of course, love it. Normally I would just sign and move along, but something caught my eye:
About 50 people were arrested in the first hour, with dozens of others waiting to be taken away. All cooperated with police. Sgt. Scott Fear, spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said they would be charged with demonstrating without a permit, which is a misdemeanor.
Of all the places speech ought to be free, outside the White House seems like one of the most obvious. Instead, one of the country's most obnoxious moms was arrested for, uhh...
When they reached the front of the White House, dozens sat down ... and began singing and chanting "Stop the war now!"

Happy Faces

By: Mr. Wilson on September 26, 2005
I love watching tourists as they enter and exit Nebraska Bookstore. It is a destination for them, a Place We Have To Go While In Lincoln. They accelerate as they walk in, and they almost always turn back to look into the windows just one more time when they exit. They are drawn to the place. It is great fun to observe individuals and groups as they enter and exit the store, something which I get to do almost every day while walking to and from my office.
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