Archive for the ‘Interesting’ Category

Rally Report: More Like “Soak My Bones.”

Interesting, Local | Posted by admin
Aug 19 2007

As things stand, the 2007 Rattle My Bones Scooter Rally in the Twin Cities, is wrapping up. Visitors from out-of-town, including someone from Kansas City and a couple from Winnipeg, are motoring home. At last count, the rally had one-hundred and seventy registrants. That was with full knowledge that a lot of (300 accessories) rain would try to dampen spirits. Far from it, however. The numbers were on the high-side of rally attendees over the past eight years running. Some of us speculated how many more would have come out had the forecast been for clear skies and mid-70ºs.

I rode to the Friday night shindig, whacked-out back and all, on a newly-decorated Stella, courtesy of a fine artist who had experience painting an “art-car” or two… that’s Michelle. I went with a partial racing stripe upwards from the ground to the name badge, with retro-1950s stars, the kind that look similar to jacks, filling out the top of the legshield. Some fellow scooterists commented that they thought the work consisted of stick-on vinyl decals. They were surpirsed and impressed that she had done it, by hand, just the night before.

While Friday was dry, Saturday and Sunday alternated between rain and drizzle. Instead of falling back on the wimp-out excuse of my fear of getting wet, I had a novel, equally lame, wimp-out excuse courtesy of my back muscles. Friday morning I did the totally freaky “sneeze while bending over to pick up my boots” act and hit the floor like a bug caught under a shoe. My back muscles snapped like a rubber band in that moment. Whoa… That was painful. I’m still nursing it back to health and have even resorted to opening the medicine cabinet. All is well if I a) sit up, b) lie down, or c) stand up, but any angle that is between one and eighty-nine generated a lot of low-volume “ow… ow… ows” from me.

Since going to work was out of the question, I rested up for Friday night and rode there on my scooter, only to experience another freaky problem: My headlight kept going out when I shifted into third and fourth gear. It’s a common problem on scoots with gear shifters on the left-hand side of the handlebars, because that’s where the low-high beam switch also happens to sit. Periodically, a wire will work itself out after a certain number of twists up and down the gears. With a little electrical tape, a tiny swiss-army knife screwdriver, and five or ten others watching or assisting, we fixed the problem… mostly… it still flickers a little in fourth gear. Hey, it’s better than driving in the dark with no lights.

Someone commented on the Saturday ride (a.k.a. “The Big Ride”) that there were two kinds of scooterists out there in the driving rain: Scooterists with rain pants, who were happy, and scooterists without rain pants, who were not happy.

Seven or eight bands played each evening over the course of events. We had both kinds of music… no, not “country and western”… more like punk and ska. Michelle and I made it to those.

Overall, a good weekend was had by all… even with bad backs, mechanical problems, and weather-related inconveniences.

Compare and contrast

Interesting | Posted by admin
Aug 18 2007

Mitch Perlstein, Center for the American Experiment and consistent “No new taxes” proponent, in a column today in the StarTribune’s Opinion section:

It would have to be demonstrated, for instance, that decisions by the Minnesota Department of Transportation about what to do about the bridge — whether to repair it, how to repair it, when to repair it — were made on the basis of what such steps might cost. But I know of no evidence that money played any role in determining what state officials or anyone else did or didn’t do in maintaining the bridge.

StarTribune front page news story, same metro edition:

Dorgan and senior engineer Gary Peterson denied in interviews that money was a factor in deciding what to do with the Interstate 35W bridge, which was not due for replacement until 2022. They provided a written timeline showing that MnDOT supervisors on Nov. 1, 2006, funded the reinforcing project for $1.5 million, with work to begin in January 2008.

But at least three internal documents suggest that money was a consideration.

On using cost/benefit analysis in determining whether to repair or replace the bridge:
Perlstein:

Likewise, to draw any suspect connection between the collapse and the consistent preference of large numbers of Minnesotans to hold the line on taxes, one would have to assume that inspectors and other officials charged with protecting and serving allowed anything other than their professionalism to determine how they gauged the sturdiness and fragility of the state’s infrastructure. Without a morsel of evidence that any of them compromised their integrity, it’s slanderous to imply that any of them did.

News story:

Earlier, when MnDOT and its consultants were zeroing in on reinforcing the bridge, an internal MnDOT “investment strategy” meeting was held on July 24, 2006, in which officials debated various approaches.

* * *

The “risk” of that approach was described this way: “Must pay approximately 2 million dollars to get the job done.”

* * *

A logistics and financial issue also was discussed. MnDOT officials said that if the bridge was simply inspected, the benefit would be: “Don’t have to pay for steel, stockpile steel, or install steel.”

On the timing of repairs:
Perlstein:

And then, of course, even if Pawlenty broke his no-tax pledge 20 minutes after taking office in 2003, and even if MnDOT’s budget doubled in a single bound, does anyone really believe that federal, state and local bureaucracies would have moved fast enough so that anything other than maybe talking about a new 35W bridge would have happened by now?

News story:

The men and women whose job was to ensure the safety of Bridge 9340 were meeting once again. Just after noon on Dec. 6, they filed into a conference room in Roseville to divvy up the final prep work for a dangerous steel reinforcement project high above the Mississippi River.

A senior engineer was going to pull property records in order to contact landowners beneath the bridge. Detours were coming for West River Road. The Coast Guard was about to get heaps of paperwork on what tasks would be done from the river channel. Truck drivers would soon learn of pending weight restrictions.

* * *

• Jan. 17, 2007 The turning point occurs during a conference call. Dorgan and staff opt for inspection only. He says the decision is based on URS assurances that inspectors can detect and isolate cracks before they reach a dangerous length.

* * *

“We regret the additional work this has caused you and others in the district,” Peterson wrote in an e-mail, “but I’m sure you agree that based on this new information it [is] appropriate that we postpone the project until we can determine if another option may [be] as safe and a more cost effective approach.”

On the long-term results here:
Perlstein:

….if we got our priorities straight, enough money would be freed to adequately build what we really need and maintain what we have.

News story, quoting State Bridge Engineer Dan Dorgan:

“You can’t help but ask yourself … what should have been done differently,” he said. “As an engineer you can’t be at peace until the cause is found. And even then I have doubts that will bring peace.”

Do you feel it? A scooter rally approaches.

Interesting, Local | Posted by admin
Aug 16 2007

It must explain why I am wandering into the strange-yet-oh-so-cool offerings on the web.

It’s either that or the results of Michelle’s foray into the art of painting up scooters… particularly mine… with kick-butt, 1950s-jazz-lounge-era stars on the legshield. Pics will be forthcoming.

Who gives a furry rat’s gluteous maximus about fishing openers or deer season. Scooter rally season is where it’s at. Rattle My Bones is its name. Three days of Pabst, Bloody Maries, and two-stroke fumes (especially if you find yourself behind one of those vintage Lambrettas, which can create a heat-island effect without ever leaving first gear.

Check it out. Heck, come on out Saturday morning before The Big Ride and walk among the scooterista. Most hail from our fine Twin Cities, but there are plenty of out-of-towners who make their pilgrimage up here. Most of those come from Chicago (those would be the ones who ride in slouched positions, wearing worn-out Chuckies, and managing to keep their cigarettes in their mouths while at cruising speed) and from Denver (those would be the ones who put their seats up to either air out their gas tanks or keep the sun from baking their black vinyl seats; I haven’t figured out which it is, yet).

(Thanks to Clunkyrobot.com for finding that “rad for so many reasons” video. Enjoy all those hits you’ll get… from all three of my readers.)

Blogging while oblivious

Interesting | Posted by admin
Aug 12 2007

Shorter Jeff Kouba: “Why, no, I’ve never received anonymous email with images of my face photoshopped onto a mutilated and ejaculate-covered corpse with my home address posted below. Why do you ask?”

It’s worth remembering that the blogosphere is still so new it baffles spell check. For that matter, if I type “blogger” on my screen, my retro software offers alternatives like “loggers,” “floggers,” and “boggler.”

It “boggles” my mind to realize how quickly a piece of Internet terrain has gained power in politics. By now, the political blogosphere is to the left what talk radio is to the right. It is a forceful, sometimes demagogic, message-monger organizing tool for the progressive end of the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless, there is another, less flattering way in which broadband has followed broadcast and the liberal political bloggers mimic the conservative talk-show hosts. The chief messengers are overwhelmingly men — white men, even angry white men.

I began tracking the maleness of this media last spring while I was a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. An intrepid graduate student created a spreadsheet of the top 90 political blogs. A full 42 percent were edited and written by men only, while 7 percent were by women only. Another 45 percent were edited or authored by both men and women, though the “coed” mix was overwhelmingly male. And, not surprisingly, most male bloggers linked to male bloggers.

Next year, Yearly Kos will undergo a name change. The assembly of progressive bloggers will call themselves Netroots Nation. But when will the members of these netroots look more like the nation?

Dead Chick Friday redux

Interesting | Posted by admin
Mar 23 2007

Renee
Poisoned by a Model

Twiggy: You’ve got a beautiful heart-shaped jaw, which shows wonderfully. (later) This is my favorite photograph. And she just jumps out of that line for me. I love her. I think she’s great.

Miss J: What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.

Tyra: Today, when she came up, her face and just her whole thing was working.

Nigel: You look incredible in front of me here. You look beautiful in this picture. This is a full package right now. (later) I think Renee does photograph a little on the old side, but it’s still a beautiful face.

Dead Chick Friday

Interesting | Posted by admin
Dec 01 2006

Because it’s been suggested that some of us don’t quite “get” the appeal of looking at half naked bodies of the beautiful people – instead sticking stubbornly to our prudish, nay, puritanical ways – we here at Yowling are going to try to rectify that shortcoming and toss a little partriarchal fashion model sexiness your way. Meet Ana Carolina Reston, Brazilian fashion model with the eyes of a doe and a body to die for.

No, I mean literally die for.

Discovered by the Ford Agency when she was only 13, Ana’s anorexia was used to its highest potential by fashion magazines and designers around the world. Best known for her work with Versace, she was a lanky 5 feet 8 inches tall. First seen at a shopping mall beauty pageant in Sao Paulo, she went on to work with the Ford agency in the United States and the Elite agency in Paris.

Well, that is until she dropped dead on November 15 of this year from anorexia weighing only 88 pounds.

Look for next week’s dead chick Friday, where we profile another fasion victim,Luisel Ramos, who fell ill and died this past August during fashion Week in Mondevideo, Uruguay.

Message: Shut your pie hole.

Interesting | Posted by admin
Oct 31 2006

Sean Hannity is going on and on about how Democrats and critics of our Dear Leader and his Evil Party need to stop exercising their freedom of speech.

Darn that Librul Media, always siding with those who hate America and our freedoms.

Oh, wait, Hannity is on Fox. Well, then…

Darn that Conservative Media, always siding with those who hate America and our freedoms!

The latest and oddest fad in teenage insults.

Interesting | Posted by admin
Oct 26 2006

I have had this insult thrown my way periodically from high school students for a year now. Yesterday, one student flung it my way; I think she was trying to test my boundaries and what buttons she could push to ruffle my feathers. What is odd about it is that at their age, these kids tend to harbor a lot of apathy when it comes to anything political.

What is that insult? Generally, it goes along the line of, “You like President Bush, don’t you?” The tone of the question is far more accusatory than inquisitive. I tend to answer, “Well, personally, I don’t, but that’s not the issue (or topic, theme, lesson, problem, et cetera) here,” and quickly move on. I figure that it is better to be truthful — than to try to lie or dodge the question — and to get right back to whatever we were doing before that tangent could gain control.

Such a question seems odd when it comes from the mouth of a teenager, and some sociologist should study this phenomena further to see if there is a trend here. I think it may signal a possible shift in the political consciousness of teens that hasn’t been seen since the 1960s. From the 70s through the 90s and even into this decade, the vast majority of students not only appeared uninterested in politics, they seemed to actively stay away from it.

Maybe they are a part of the political pendulum, where their involvement and interest in the civic arena waxes and wanes. I don’t have conclusive proof of that theory, but if we should see a rise in voter turnout among eighteen to twenty-five year olds in the coming years, we may have one indicator to suggest that today’s teenage flippancy could translate into political interest and activity.

If bin Laden is dead…

Interesting | Posted by admin
Sep 23 2006

Now there’s a frightening prospect for the Bush backers and the Decider himself. If reports that Osama bin Laden is dead prove accurate, none of us would shed a tear. That said, however, his death might provoke many people to interpret it as a sign that the administration’s war on terror is over. If people see the war as over, they will probably wonder why we have troops fighting in Iraq (which we should note didn’t harbor terrorists until we invaded and occupied the country) and Afghanistan… as if people aren’t wondering this already.

Of course, ruminations such as those would put the Perpetual War Party (aka, the Republicans) in a election-year pickle, since they want to play up the need to maintain vigilance in the war on terror over other things, including the economy, civil liberties, health care, education, public infrastructure, and the rest. Now wouldn’t that be inconvenient for them?

The death of one person — even if that person is high-profile — typically doesn’t change things on a macro level very much, but we are not talking about actual strategic situations here. This is about popular perception, which is a powerful force in political considerations and one Republicans would desperately like to control.

About those gas prices…

Interesting | Posted by admin
Aug 05 2006

Has the price of gas, now around $3.00 per gallon on average, had a constraining effect on your weekend outing plans with friends and family? If you said, “Yes, ideedly-doodly, it has,” you are not alone (except, perhaps, in saying “indeedly-doodly”). The restaurant scene is suffering as a result.

Restaurants get gas pains (Baltimore Sun):

Angela Pierce and husband Nicolas used to enjoy a dinner date once a week. Now the Culver City, Calif., couple patronize restaurants just twice a month, thanks to gasoline prices that are on average 71 cents a gallon higher nationwide than a year ago.

Unfortunately for the $175 billion U.S. sit-down restaurant business, the Pierces aren’t the only ones staying away from their favorite eating places. In the past few months, restaurants such as Chili’s, Cheesecake Factory and Applebee’s – what analysts call the “casual dining” category that offers table service and alcoholic beverages – have recorded small but discouraging sales declines.

They are responding with discount burger specials, new menus featuring less expensive items with smaller portions and by pushing the gift-card business.

The culprit, restaurant chains say, is soaring gas prices. But rising interest rates and increases in the minimum payments consumers must make on credit-card debt have added to the problem.

“The Chili’s and Applebee’s of the world – some of their customers who don’t have all that much money,” said Michael Smith, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. “They get startled when they fill up their SUVs, so they stop dining out or they trade down to fast food.”

I shudder to think what would happen if the nation’s restaurants started folding up their operations en masse.

Weren’t we supposed to keep spending in order to win the war on terror? C’mon, people! The Decider-in-Chief needs you now more than ever. If we stop now, Spain will revert to Muslim rule.