Not So Grand

By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2005
I doubt this surprises most of you, but The Grand isn't doing as grand as either the city or Douglas Theaters had hoped. The article does a good job of showing how dirty the city's hands are in the fiasco that is The Grand. The article states that the city squeezed Douglas to take a risk on The Grand in exchange for allowing Douglas to maintain its monopoly in Lincoln (via the restrictions on theaters outside of Downtown). That Douglas didn't call the city's bluff shows how little common sense the company used before diving head-first into a project that few people outside of City Hall and the Downtown Lincoln Association thought could succeed. It doesn't help that The Grand's interior is not especially well designed, and that, despite its moniker's implication otherwise, it is just another theater. Douglas didn't even bother to follow the nationwide trend of sprucing up food and drink options at the snack bar. I can't help but be reminded of another project for which expectations among a few were high, but support from the public was weak. Like the Archway Monument, The Grand can be saved. (The question of whether or not it, like the Archway, should have been built in the first place is moot at this point.) But at what cost? Specifically, at what public cost? Lincolnites have already been forced to chip in over $3 million to support a theater that few of them have been willing to support with their business. Is it fair to ask Lincolnites to help out again by keeping out the very competition they may want to support?

Seven A.M. Seasickness

By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2005
My morning bus driver is a Sea Captain. "Huh?!" you ask? Sea Captain is one of the categories I assign bus drivers to. A Sea Captain is a driver who, by virtue of his inability to apply even pressure to the gas pedal and/or brake pedal, makes his riders seasick by the time they arrive at their destinations. Bonus points are awarded if he can actually make his riders unable to stand or if he can turn their faces green. Other bus driver categories include Slammers, Grumps, Sprinters, Bureaucrats, and Mimes. I have a whole list of 'em in my head. I should write them all down sometime.

“Two Thumbs Down!” -God

By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2005
Everybody's a critic. Even God. Last night was date night for The Missus and I, and we decided to be really adventurous by checking out The Aristocrats at The Ross. Unfortunately, God went all soup nazi on us and declared "No obscenities for you!" He enforced His decision by knocking out the power to several blocks in and near Downtown. That seems overkill to just keep us away from perhaps the dirtiest movie of all time, but hey, He's God. I figure He knows what He's doing. So no The Aristocrats review for you folks this morning. Instead, check out these photographs of cute puppy love unspeakable pedophilic beastiality action.

Fire Steve Pederson!

By: Mr. Wilson on September 21, 2005
The title of this post is a lie. I don't actually want Steve Pederson to be fired, but apparently a whole bunch of people do. How do I know this? Well, for one thing I've blogged on the topic before. But that was last December. Surely Husker fans are over that by now, right? Wrong. I've been watching some interesting trends in my referrer logs lately, and a ton of people have been coming across Lincolnite by searching for "fire steve pederson" or variations on that theme. It isn't just the same guy over and over again, either. Different people, coming from different search engines, using slightly different search phrases. Day after day after day. You'd think some people aren't happy with the offense or something.

Pick Me a Camera and Printer

By: Mr. Wilson on September 21, 2005
I'll be in the market for a new digital camera and photo printer sometime between now and the end of the year. For the camera I'm looking for something below the prosumer level (i.e. no dSLR's for now), but with more options than the basic point-and-click. I'm probably looking in the 5- to 6-megapixel range. For the printer I want borderless prints in a variety of sizes and reasonably high-quality inks. I'd love to hear your recommendations (and your anti-recommendations) in the comments.


By: Mr. Wilson on September 21, 2005
Did you all catch the sunset tonight? It was a good one. I love this time of year for its sunrises and sunsets.

New Taxes on the Way

By: Mr. Wilson on September 21, 2005
The City Council quietly approved a new joint public agency with Lancaster County.
The JPA would have taxing authority, and would use the money to secure right-of-way for an east beltway and fund the Rural to Urban Transportation Streets program. The RUTS program would help the county build roads in a way that would make them easily converted to city road standards as the city grows to encompass them.
It's good to see the city and county playing nicely together, but this is a little bothersome:
The prospect of increased taxes wasn’t enough to bring anybody out to the public hearing, however.
I can think of a lot of good reasons for that, but one possibility in particular jumps out at me: Did anybody even know this decision was about to be made? My plan for Lincolnite is to help fill those knowledge gaps. Until then, most Lincolnites will only find out about these decisions ex post facto.

72 Percent of Lincolnites Think I’m an Idiot

By: Mr. Wilson on September 20, 2005
It's a sobering figure, but according to a survey conducted by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regulation and licensure section of data management a whopping 72% of Lincolnites think I'm an idiot. Err, that is, they support Lincoln's smoking ban. (I, on the other hand, think it is evidence of majoritarian tyranny. Hence my idiocy.) In related news, those same 72% of Lincolnites think liberty is "ok in theory" but in practice liberty should take a back seat to "my right to tell others how they ought to live their lives." What I find most amusing about the smoking ban is that it criminalizes private behavior on private property, forcing that behavior into public space. That strikes me as bass ackwards. Isn't it in the public interest to force undesirable private behavior out of the public space and into private space, where only those who are willing to be subjected to the behavior will be so subjected? Here's an alternative smoking ban for you: All smoking is banned in all public spaces, indoor and outdoor, and in any location in which those present do not have the freedom to choose whether or not to enter that space. (An example of the latter would be when a public entity, such as the city, holds a public meeting or event in a private space.) All smoking is banned in any space occupied or inhabited by any individual unable to freely consent to being in the presence of cigarette smoke. In other words, smoking is prohibited anywhere children are present, including private residences and vehicles. Smoking is permitted in all other locations, including all businesses, so long as they post a modest sign or decal at every entrance to the building or designated smoking area. If smoking and non-smoking areas are to be provided within the same facility, the amount of smoke-related material in the air of the non-smoking area must be below [some stringent air quality standard I'm not qualified to specify]. Smokers may occupy the same space as persons who do not consent to the presence of smoke if some sort of (probably hypothetical) technology is employed that completely contains the smoke. That's a smoking ban I can support. Why? Because it values the right of private individuals to behave as they wish on private property, while protecting the health and well being of every individual who does not or cannot consent to being in the presence of tobacco smoke. It also severely limits smoking outdoors, which eliminates the "smoking corridor" problem near the entrance of major buildings, and it will dramatically reduce cigarette-related litter in public spaces. The most obvious concern is banning smoking in private space whenever children are around. The ban has to be structured that way because children are, legally speaking, unable to consent to the types of risks smoking presents. It's not like such a restriction is without precedent. Society requires children be raised in much safer environments than those that adults can live in if they choose. My ban sounds a bit backwards, I suppose. But which is more backwards? Pushing an obnoxious private behavior into public space, where non-consenting individuals are forced to put up with it against their will? Or keeping that private behavior isolated in private space -- away from all public space -- where only consenting individuals have to (get to?) put up with it? Which is more Orwellian (if by majoritarian means), and which embraces the (supposedly) American notions of liberty and personal responsibility?

My First College Center

By: Mr. Wilson on September 18, 2005
I was scheduled to be an AR for two soccer games at Midland Lutheran in Fremont today. Instead, I ended up having the opportunity to center the women's game. The original center hurt her ankle playing soccer last night, so she decided it would be better if she limped along the sideline than if she limped in the center of the field. The game turned out to be pretty easy, with Dordt defeating Midland 3-0. It certainly wasn't a premiere level game, and it was quite a bit easier than a lot of games I've done in the past in other leagues, but it's still nice to get my first college center out of the way. Most first-year college referees don't get that opportunity (or if they do, they end up with a JV game) so I count myself lucky. Since this center was a bit of an "accident," there's a (very, very) small chance I could get another center later this year. I'm not going to hold my breath, but if I rule out the possibility, I risk letting myself slide through the remainder of the season. Nope, I'm going to keep crossing my fingers for my first assigned college center now. Whether it comes this year or next, I can't wait.

It Has Been Foretold

By: Mr. Wilson on September 17, 2005
I had a dream last night. In my dream, Zach Taylor threw three interceptions in today's game. No word on whether we won, though.

Hey, I Own That Game!

By: Mr. Wilson on September 16, 2005
This made my day, or at least my lunch hour: the Boston Globe uncovered the best sports videogame ever by using a tournament-style bracket. The winner? (You'll never believe this!) NHL '94. Whodathunkit? I just happen to own that game, which makes my videogame collection way cooler than yours. I am soooo pulling out the Genesis tonight and giving NHL '94 a whirl. I have one question for the tournament organizers, though. Why did they choose Tecmo Bowl rather than the far superior Tecmo Super Bowl? Had they allowed the latter to enter the tournament, it would have easily wiped out the rest of the competition. By the way, the Boston Globe link may require registration. Use BugMeNot, or use this login and password: seanmc

For Once, I Agree

By: Mr. Wilson on September 16, 2005
In last night's speech, President Bush said:
"I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review, in cooperation with local counterparts, of emergency plans in every major city in America."
Now that is a federal role I can support. The feds come in, rate the local plan, inform the citizens about the rating, and then leave it to the local community to maintain and improve the plan according to the city's particular needs. It's something that should have already happened, and it should be ongoing. Well, in theory, anyway. The reality is that the feds will manage to turn local emergency plans into a bureaucratic nightmare. But the basic idea is good.

Post-Katrina Questions

By: Mr. Wilson on September 16, 2005
Some questions with few answers: President Bush spoke to the country last night and promised to rebuild New Orleans on the taxpayer dime. Has anybody really given that proposal a lot of thought? Does it make sense to rebuild a (literally) sinking city? If Global Warming really is raising sea levels, isn't building a city in a swamp below sea level kind of, umm, stupid? Why should I have to pay for the risks folks in New Orleans choose to take in their living arrangements? (And why should they have to pay for my gamble to live in Tornado Alley, if one day that gamble goes wrong?) Even if we acknowledge that many individuals cannot afford the level of insurance necessary to recoup all their losses, shouldn't we still hold accountable for their losses those who can afford insurance? Why do I have to pay for a millionaire's new refrigerator?

The LJS Investigates E10

By: Mr. Wilson on September 16, 2005
The Journal Star ran a good article on ethanol this morning. I applaud the LJS for reminding consumers that E10 unleaded is typically not as efficient as regular unleaded gasoline, though it can still be cost effective. But one thing really bugged me about the article: the basis for many of the calculations made in the article, that E10 unleaded decreases gas mileage by 1.5%, comes from a single study (PDF) by the American Coalition for Ethanol. With all due respect to the integrity of the folks at the American Coalition for Ethanol, I'm going to take the results of their study with a very large grain of salt. Surely other studies on E10's effect on gas mileage have been conducted. I'm a little disappointed -- but sadly, not surprised -- that the Journal Star didn't make an effort to look for comparable studies from a non-industry source.
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