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  • March 28, 2008

    The race to mediocrity

    [Posted by ]

    The paper copy of this week's Isthmus has an interesting (and rather unflattering) profile of John Matthews, the head of Madison's teachers union. While the entire article is interesting (and sadly not available online) I was really struck by this:

    The book, Class and Schools, explores the broader social and cultural influences behind the racial and income achievement gaps in public schools. Rothstein documents the disparities between children's out-of-school experiences, based on their family's income and education. Even by age 3, kids from nonprofessional families have a measurable deficit in vocabulary recognition - a pattern that only gets worse as they grow older, affecting public schools from kindergarten on.

    Matthews, who holds one of the most important if less visible jobs influencing the quality of Madison's public schools, finds this alarming and significant. "Why don't our policy makers do something about this?" he bellows.

    I find his attitude alarming and significant. If something's "wrong", government has to fix it. And, if you do right and you're successful, you may just find that the cure is way worse than the disease.

    Imagine that you're a good parent. You sacrifice for your child. You change your lifestyle to not only give your kids things, but also to give them time. Your neighbor, on the other hand, doesn't do this. Your kids are on the fast track to success. But wait - your government comes along and says that not only are they going to take from you in the form of taxes, but your kids are going to have to sit through a curriculum designed to cater to the lowest common denominator.

    It doesn't end there. Imagine again that you've scrimped and saved for a down payment on a home. Your neighbor, on the other hand, took advantage of an easy no-down-payment loan and bought their dream house. Now they, and many others like them, can't afford their mortgage payments. As banks start to foreclose, you naturally feel a little sorry for them, but you're also a little happy because you expect that housing prices will start to fall. Not so fast my friend. The government is going to bail out your neighbors. Again, not only are they going to use your tax money to do so, but by doing so, they're going to make it even harder for you to buy a house. Sorry!

    And, since it's an election year, you're about to get a "rebate" check. Of course, if you make "too much" you might not get the full amount. Why? Well, the government wants to use some of your money to give a "rebate" check to your neighbor who doesn't even pay taxes.

    Besides having some crappy neighbors, you also have a crappy government. Too often our government's, both liberals and "conservatives", idea of fixing something is to make us all equal. Government is like a glacier, turning both mountains and meadows into equally flat land.

    If we're all the same, we're all going to be unremarkable. It's like the old horse racing cliché, "If they finish together then they can't all be good." There's no great virtue in being equal. I'd rather have a Secretariat or a Bill Gates than a bunch of $25,000 claimers.

    Posted by at 07:15 AM | Comments (7)     
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    March 27, 2008

    Let's make a deal

    [Posted by ]

    As most of you either know or have experienced, we've had over 100 inches of snow in Madison, Wisconsin this winter. It's snowing a little bit right now. If it continues to snow, it's very possible that people are going to start purposely hitting each other with their cars. Or stabbing each other.

    In the meantime, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team is making a run in the NCAA tournament. It made me ponder a question this morning. If you could guarantee that the Badgers would win the tourney, but the price you'd have to pay is that it'd be snowy until June, would you make the deal?

    Actually, let me expand that beyond the Badgers to anyone with a team still in the tournament. Would you accept that kind of personal hardship for your team to win? Is that "one shining moment" enough to make up for 9-10 weeks more of snow?

    Do you take the deal?
    Yes
    No
      
    pollcode.com free polls
    Posted by at 10:49 AM | Comments (3)     
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    March 25, 2008

    American Idol - The Episode of Torture

    [Posted by Princess Midwest]

    This week on Idol the top ten are singing songs released in the year they were born. I bet Michael Johns is sooooo happy not to have been born in the 80s. In fashion news, I’m wondering how much Ambien/Jesus Juice Paula had to imbibe to put on the gloves and then put costume jewelry over it.

    Ramiele – “Alone.” If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Ladies, do not touch Heart. While still adorable, her informal skort/shorts and Old Navy clearance top are a bit hard on the eyes, and her vocals aren’t really helping either. I think she may be in the bottom three this week.

    Jason Castro – “Fragile.” He’s gone all guy-with-a-guitar-at-the-college-party-trying-to-get-some-ass on us again with an obscure song. It worked with “Hallelujah,” but not so much here. The world does not need another part-time Julio Iglesias, Jr. Vocals were OK, y me gusta mucho el Espanol (sorry, Lou Dobbs), but I was not impressed tonight.

    Syesha – “If I Were Your Woman.” Boring. I was totally digging her Charlie’s Angel flippy hair during the interview video, I wish she would have stuck with that look. Vocals are technically very good, until the break. She just looks a bit sappy and beat down this week. I expect to see her in the bottom three based on song choice alone.

    Chikezie – “If Only for One Night.” I really don’t think R&B is his thing. I just keep coming back to Wayne Brady, as I pace the room wondering why Cizzy isn’t on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” instead of Idol. The high tones are better than the dragging verses, but this is simply nothing more than a bad Luther Vandross impression. And OMG, they just panned to Shar Jackson, K-Fed’s baby momma, extra points for anyone who also noticed that.

    Brooke White – “Every Breath You Take.” And she starts out weak. I also feel pretty strongly that singing a Police song is asking for trouble. The mediocre piano playing and in-and-out of key vocals are rough, awkward and lack warmth. C’mon America, send her packing.

    Michael Johns – “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions.” This is not a bad Queen performance by Idol standards, but I still think Freddie Mercury is untouchable. A for effort, B for fist pumping instead of dancing and and A+ for the tight-fittin’ jeans. Safe.

    Carly Smithenssey – “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Some rugby playing lady sang this at a karaoke outing a few weeks back, she was much more interesting than Carly. If any one song typifies ladies karaoke choices, it is this Bonnie Tyler gem. Technically good and wardrobe is good, grasp of the lyrics is so-so during the “giving off sparks” part and the ending was just atrocious. Probably safe.

    David Archuletta – “Some crappy 1990s song.” Born in 1990, he’s at an extreme disadvantage. I think this is Richard Marx song, but I am not certain. While extensive, my knowledge of music does not extend to schmaltzy early 1990s pop songs. I was too busy digging on Pearl Jam and RHCP to listen to Magic 98 and Delilah. God, he is so the new Gaiken.

    Kristy Lee Yuck – “God Bless the USA.” For the first time in Idol history, I am speechless.

    David Cook – “Billie Jean.” I love this song. Interesting interpretation, wacky orange Livestrong bracelet and soul patch. Technically pretty good, risky and unique. Best of the night for me.

    I need a cocktail.



    Posted by PMW at 08:30 PM | Comments (3)     
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    March 18, 2008

    American Idol - This One Goes to 11

    [Posted by ]

    Princess Midwest is getting her tiara polished, so I'm here to recap The Beatles II - Electric Bugaloo.

    First up after the endless introduction is Amanda Overmyer singing "Back in the USSR". Her voice sounds all scratchy and she's totally getting lost behind the band. There's a whole lotta shakin' going on, but a whole lot of bad singing too. The crowd loses their sh*t, but I only give it a 3. On related notes, her hair gets a 1 and the outfit gets a 4.

    Why didn't Kristy Lee Cook sing "Wildfire" during 70's week? Anyway, this week she's going to sing "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away". This could work as a country song. And yeah, it really could if Kristy didn't tragically kill a note heading into the chorus. Basically, what I'm saying is that maybe Carrie Underwood, or someone else who can actually sing, should try it. Kristy's marks:

    Singing: 4
    Hair: 7
    Wardrobe: 5 - ugly dress but nice boots

    Internationally famous Beatles-hater David Archuleta is up next. I'm sick of these kids talking about how they haven't heard any Beatles songs. Just like the cheftestants on Top Chef need to know how to make chicken piccata, singers need to know The Beatles. This week he's singing "The Long and Winding Road". This is a "Paul song", which generally means that it's a good pop song and not an indulgent mess. But here's a thought: 16-year olds shouldn't be singing about "long and winding roads". And, David, in particular, sounds like he shouldn't be singing anywhere outside of a Broadway stage. He's taking a soft and lovely song and turning it into some flashy musical number. HATE it. I give it a 2. Hair gets a 7 and wardrobe gets a 6 as I like his t-shirt.

    The judges love him. I question their taste level.

    The man from the land down under, Michael Johns sings "A Day in the Life". Hmmm, I don't know how this is going to work, this song isn't about the vocals as much as it is about the music. I love the story about how George Martin had such a hard time working with the orchestra because they were so used to playing together and the song requires that they just do their own thing. Anyway, Michael...his voice really isn't that good, but he gets the song. I actually feel a little passion in this performance. My marks:

    Singing: 6
    Hair: 6
    Wardrobe: 7, because I appreciate a man in black

    Brooke White tries "Here Comes The Sun". Ahhh, Brooke...I know some of you hate her, but it's a magical George Harrison song. I don't think she can go wrong here, folks. Brooke herself sounds good, but the arrangement is horrible and the background singers are too loud. The whole thing is just plodding, especially when compared to the lightness of the original. By the end, it's actually just kind of embarassing to watch.

    Singing: 5
    Hair: 1
    Wardrobe: 1 - no one can wear a floaty tiered yellow dress. It's almost as cruel as a green dress.

    My god, you guys, we're only five singers into the show. Someone shoot me.

    Next up is "Day Tripper" courtesy of David Cook. He's doing the Whitesnake of the classic. It's interesting, but kind of boring. Well boring that is until David pulls out some Peter Frampton-like effects on the voice box and then it's kind of strangly awesome. I give a 7. However, he gets a 1 for his stupid hair and a 2 for wearing a tie with jeans and a leather jacket.

    Carly Smithson is singing "Blackbird". Is it too much to wish for someone to sing "Rocky Raccoon"? Carly is a lot like ESPN's Mike Greenberg in that she looks like she's going to swallow the microphone. Technically, this is a nice performance, but it's nothing special, she doesn't take the song anywhere new or exciting. Carly's marks:

    Singing: 6
    Hair: 5
    Wardrobe: 3 - the floral neckline looks good on TV, but why does she insist on wearing all of these ugly sack tops?

    Let me just start with Jason Castro's wardrobe grade. He gets a zero for dressing almost exactly like Beverly Hills 90210's Brandon Walsh. Something must be going on, because at the start of the show I thought Ramiele's high-waisted pants were rather Brenda Walshesque. Oh, and today I also caught the tail end of the classic ""Donna Martin Graduates!!" episode of 90210. What does it all mean??

    Anyway, Jason's an idiot or a liar when he claims that he thought "ma belle" in his song, "Michelle", was really "my bell". Whatever, Pickler. On to the singing - he's unbelievably cheesy and captures absolutely none of the yearning in the original. I realize that this is an "oldie" to people like Jason, but he needs to understand that the emotions are timeless and it's his job to convey them. He's horrible - it's another 2. Oh, and his hair gets a 4.

    Syesha Mercado sings "Yesterday" and turns it into some weird, disjointed torch song held together by a few glory notes. She sings it well, but it's not "Yesterday", it's some random crappy ballad. I'll give it a 4. On the positive side, she gets a 10 for both hair and wardrobe.

    Chikezie plays harmonica and sings "I've Just Seen A Face". I don't know this song and it's like a boring country tune until Chikezie busts out the harmonica and it suddenly turns into some kind of fantastic bluegrass thing that's so much fun. It's like Taylor Hicks if Taylor wasn't a huge asshat. Chikezie gets a 9! The hair's a 5 and the shiny jacket earns him an 8 for wardrobe. He's easily the best of the night so far.

    Last up is the darling Ramiele Malubay. Ramiele reminds me of a my friend Tina K., so I'll have a hard time saying anything mean about her. She's singing "I Should Have Known Better". Ramiele has a nice, pure voice, but she's struggling in the lower register on this song. It's just a 5. Her hair, as always, gets a 9 but the ugly pants doom her wardrobe to a 1.

    Best:
    Chikezie
    David Cook
    Michael Johns

    Worst:
    Jason Castro
    Archuleta

    Going home:
    Kristy Lee Cook

    Posted by at 08:59 PM | Comments (3)     
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    March 11, 2008

    Vital Idol - Bound to Be My Least Favorite Week Ever Unless They Do a John Mayer Show

    [Posted by Princess Midwest]

    It’s Lennon and McCartney night. I heart Wings in a way most self-respecting people don’t but I pretty much hate the entire Beatles catalogue (it’s a long story based firmly in a songwriting philosophy), so this should be fun for me. If someone does “No More Lonely Nights” or “Jet” they will likely be my favorite of the evening. Otherwise, don’t expect an overwhelmingly positive string of critiques as I am admittedly biased. My husband who is a Beatles fan is also going to put in his two cents, which will be less biased.

    Syesha – I missed her since I thought the show was on tomorrow. The judges liked her, so who knows? I usually split 50/50 with them. Ah, the beauty of subjectivity.

    Chikezie – “She’s a Woman.” He’s putting a little bluegrass spin on it with a twist of 60s pop. It’s OK. Nonetheless, he’s a terrible dancer and reminds me way too much of Wayne Brady. I believe this could be his swan song.

    Ramiele – “In My Life.” This goes out to her homies who ain’t here no more. I really don’t think she’s a ballad girl. She’s got a nice soft tone here, but it’s a little boring if you’re not a fella leering at her. Very safe.

    Jason Castro – “If I Fell.” Failed a music class, I’m guessing it was theory, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I had hoped he’d do Wings, but alas, it’s not to be. I dislike this song immensely. He’s making weird facial expressions and he’s losing the notes. Very weak, breathy (not good for a guy, unless your Marc Anthony) and boring. I think he could land in the bottom this week.

    Carly Smithson – “Come Together.” This is my least favorite Beatles song. It stems from a long string of bad high school bands covering it in the mid-90s. This is shrill and really brings out the furrow in her brow. I also think she gets uglier every week. I’m sure she’ll be technically better than most of the other ladies, but I still think she needs to take her ass home.

    Dave Cook – “Eleanor Rigby.” This is one of the most-covered bar band songs in history. It’s hard to make a song like this sound fresh, but he’s got a pretty decent arrangement going. It’s very modern and sounds like Fuel and that seemed to work for Daughtry. While not nearly as handsome (I hate men who wear nailpolish), I think he could be a dark horse.

    Brooke White – “Let it Be.” Note to Idol contestants: You have a stock of professional musicians to play instruments so you don’t have to, so live it up. You’re not Alicia Keys or Tori Amos, so please focus what minimal talent you have on trying to sing in key. Very mediocre.

    David Hernandez – “I Saw Her Standing There.” Wow, it’s big gay David’s big gay cover of a Beatles song. Even my husband has identified its extreme karaoke-ness. Enough said.

    Amanda Winehouse – “You Can’t Do That.” I was so hoping she’d do “Live and Let Die.” But Amanda clearly doesn’t like to do what’s good for her. That’s why she’s kept her crazy skunk hair and weird hippie girl booty dance. It’s not a bad performance and it’s very high energy, so I’ll give her high marks for energy.

    Michael Johns – “Across the Universe.” This is OK. Decent arrangement, soulful tone and earnest delivery. I think he’s safe for the week.

    Kristy Lee – “Eight Days a Week.” Bad call. I think she may go home for this one. It’s country circa 1987, not exactly the country that’s selling millions of records. The cheesy state fair presentation isn’t helping anything either.

    David Archuletta – “We Can Work it Out.” Awww, he’s nervous. He’s like a miniature Michael Buble sucking all the soul and energy out of the song. I think he’s venturing close to Gaiken territory.

    My top: Dave Cook, Ramiele
    Hubby’s top: Chikeze (no joke), Brooke White (somebody’s sleeping on the sofa tonight)
    My bottom: Kristy Lee, David Hernandez
    Hubby’s bottom: David Hernandez, Ramiele (good for me he doesn’t like adorable asian girls)



    Posted by PMW at 08:55 PM | Comments (6)     
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    March 08, 2008

    Answering the Red Phone

    [Posted by ]
    Who do you really want answering the red phone at 3 am?
    John McCain
    Barack Obama
    Hillary Clinton
    The tape recorded voice of Ronald Reagan
      
    pollcode.com free polls
    Posted by at 09:40 AM | Comments (3)     
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    March 05, 2008

    Vital Idol Without Billy Idol

    [Posted by Princess Midwest]

    Thank the tiny baby Jesus, it’s the last 3-night Idol week. Sorry I skipped out last night, but margaritas and a girlfriend’s birthday fest took precedence.

    It’s 80s night. This should be less painful than the last few weeks.

    ’ – “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” No shocker here, it’s a Whitney song. Lucky for her it’s pre-super-singing Whitney. She looks cute and youthful. The tone is a bit weak, but overall, it’s not bad.

    Kady Malloy – “Forever?” Pick a key and stick with it, Kady. And what the hell is song? It sounds like Jesus rock. This may indeed be the worst Idol final vocal performance I’ve ever seen. Randy Jackson says it’s a Queen joint and pretty good. I disagree. Paula’s also deaf, or having a lesbian fantasy which blocks out her ability to hear. Simon says it’s better than last week, but she’s like a robot.

    Amanda Winehouse – “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” She kind-of reminds me of a less attractive version of Heather from “Rock of Love 1.” This may be the best song choice she could have made. I still think she sounds like a white-trash bar bitch, but at least she picked the right song for her. Best of the worst so far tonight.

    Carly Smithson – “I Drove All Night.” I’m secretly hoping she sings a Sinead O’Connor song. Instead she’s chosen to ruin a Roy Orbison, Celine Dion, Cyndi Lauper and I forget who else covered this song, joint. But, she’s adding her special cruise-ship twist to it. She’s also got some wickedly bad pantaloons on and a super furrowed brow. Totally average and antiseptic.

    Kristy Lee – “Faithfully.” Make no bones about it, I love me some Journey. I even did an a capella version of “Faithfully” in a hotel bar on the eve of my nuptials. This is a hard song to sing, Steve Perry is the man. If you’re not gonna sing it like Perry, you must rearrange it and sing it with soul, neither of which was accomplished by Kristy. I give it a C.

    Ramiele – “Against All Odds.” I heart this song. I remember listening to syndicated suckbag Delilah dedicate this to husbands done wrong all over the U.S. I really like Ramiele, but I think this is a poor song choice. She’s still wiping the floor with the rest of the girls, but would have been better off with some Lisa Lisa or Brenda K. Starr.

    Brooke White – “Love is a Battlefield.” Pat Benetar may have looked a mess, but she along with Celine Dion (God help me) were the two best female technical singers of the 80s. Brooke had the good sense to rearrange the hell out of the song and take all of the hard parts out, but that just makes it boring. I also think she’s been listening to a bit too much Natasha Bedingfield.

    Syesha – “Saving All My Love For You.” Another Whitney song, unfortunately for Sy, it’s one of Whitney’s singing songs, so there’s a lot to measure up to. She’s doing pretty well, the “yous” are a bit hard to take, but overall she’s hitting the notes. She also wins the prize of not dressing like a reject for the night, which is priceless.

    Best - Amanda (yikes) and Syesha
    Worst - Kady, Carly


    Posted by PMW at 08:00 PM | Comments (4)     
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    Brett Favre's Place in the Wisconsin Sports Galaxy of Fame

    [Posted by ]

    As this morning dawned, we entered the first day of the A.F. era - After Favre. Brett retired, but he'll always be a Packer. He may not even realize it, but the entire state of Wisconsin will always have his back. It's what we do.

    I was thinking about what other athletes share Favre's stature in the state. Obviously, no one shares the stage with him, but who's just below him? My rankings (I'm totally stealing the format from the late, lamented Fametracker's Galaxy of Fame) are a subjective measurement of how hot and how close these living sports stars are to the white-hot glare of the Sun (Vince Lombardi).

    Mercury (think Summerfest in July)- Brett Favre

    Venus (Rhythm & Booms) - Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Ron Dayne, Barry Alvarez, Hank Aaron

    Earth (Sun Prairie Corn Festival) - Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Bo Ryan, Bob Uecker, Jerry Kramer

    Mars (Dane County Farmer's Market) - LeRoy Butler, Edgar Bennett, Bret Bielema, Dick Bennett, Prince Fielder

    Jupiter (Miller Park (roof open)) - Eric Heiden, Don Majikowski, Gorman Thomas, Andy North, Pat Richter

    Saturn - (Hodag Country Fest) - Dick Trickle, Jim Gantner, Mark Johnson, Rollie Fingers, Brian Butch

    Uranus - (State Boys Basketball Tournament) - Matt Kenseth, Dany Heatley, Dan Jansen, Ryan Braun, Sidney Moncrief

    Neptune - (Wisconsin Football vs. Cal State Poly) - Mike Holmgren, Bonnie Blair, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Lynn Dickey, Ben Sheets

    Pluto - (World Championship Snowmobile Derby) - Don Morton, Mark Chmura, Tony Mandarich, T.J. Rubley, Ray Rhodes

    Pretty much everyone but the folks on Pluto are still popular. Did I miss anyone?

    Posted by at 09:26 AM | Comments (8)     
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    March 04, 2008

    If you want to be Vice President, then come along with me...

    [Posted by ]

    Playing with the Electoral College Calculator, I found several highly plausible scenarios where the election comes down to Wisconsin. It made me think that's the time is ripe for a Badger Vice President. On the Dems' side, I can't see Obama choosing Russ Feingold (although I could see Hillary picking him) as he'll need to balance his perceived inexperience with some crusty old southern war dog. McCain, however, could do worse than Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.

    Why Ryan? Here are five good reasons:

    1. McCain is 71. He needs someone young, like the 38-year old Ryan, to appeal to the next generation of voters. The "youth" vote isn't necessarily liberal, you know.
    2. Ryan is unquestionably a hard-core conservative, unlike McCain. While fiscal conservatives like McCain's tight purse strings, social conservatives will flip for Ryan's pro-life and anti-gay votes
    3. He's good looking. Yeah, I said it. We can pretend that attributes like that don't matter, but they do.
    4. Choosing a young running mate will let the McCain establish an interesting narrative - Obama has to choose someone with experience to guide him on foreign affairs, etc. McCain has the luxury of being the teacher. Wouldn't we rather be led by the teacher than by the student?
    5. Even if McCain loses, the campaign will allow a rising star like Ryan to establish a national profile, positioning him for a run at the Presidency in 2012.

    The downsides to Ryan are that he's Catholic, he's a white male and he's not from the South. Is that enough to kill the idea? I don't think so. Ryan doesn't thrill me as a candidate, but he sure would appeal to those on the Right who feel betrayed by McCain's liberal leanings.

    Posted by at 09:08 AM | Comments (5)     
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    March 02, 2008

    Six Swingin' States - The Usual Suspects

    [Posted by ]

    I was playing around with the Wall Street Journal's Electoral College Calculator and I came to two conclusions. First, I'm not sure McCain can win. Second, the election is going to come down to the usual suspects: Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri & Pennsylvania.

    The cool thing about the WSJ site is that you can pick any starting point and manipulate the result by state. I started from 2004's close states and see these states going to the Dems: Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, New Jersey & Delaware. The GOP gets: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado & New Hampshire. That scenario puts the electoral count at 225-217 in favor of the Republicans.

    So who takes those final six states and who, if anyone, can the nominees choose as running mates to tip the balance or put another state into play? Imagine, for example, if Obama could convince Sam Nunn to be his running mate. Georgia and other parts of the south could go to the Dems. For the GOP, a Missourian like Matt Blunt could shore up a key swing state.

    Right now, my guess is that McCain will take Florida & Missouri, but the Democrats will prevail in Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio & Pennsylvania, winning the election by a 275-263 count.

    What's your count?

    Posted by at 10:39 PM | Comments (10)     
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    Who are Nancy Wake and Jackie Cochran?

    [Posted by ]

    After catching the last few minutes of “The Right Stuff” this morning, I went to Wikipedia to find out the name of the astronaut one of my brothers met (it was Sparta, WI native Deke Slayton). As usually happens on Wikipedia, one search led to another. I ended up taking two paths through the site. The first went: The Right Stuff – Chuck Yeager - Maquis - Nancy Wake. The other path went: The Right Stuff – Chuck Yeager - Jackie Cochran.

    Who were Nancy Wake and Jackie Cochran? Good question. I had never heard of either until today (as an aside, I don’t really want to advocate for “herstory” classes – but I do wish little girls were taught about women like this). Wake is an Aussie woman who was the Allies' most decorated servicewoman in WWII. She was a member of the French resistance and at one time had a 5-million franc price on her head. She escaped from France, ended up in England and then parachuted back into France in April 1944 and helped lead resistance activity prior to the Normandy invasion:

    From April 1944 to the complete liberation of France, her 7000 maquisards fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1400 casualties. Her French companions, especially Henri Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit; amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him raising the alarm during a raid. During a 1990s television interview, when asked what had happened to the sentry who spotted her, Wake simply drew her finger across her throat. On another occasion, in order to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid, Nancy Wake rode a bicycle for more than 100 miles through several German checkpoints.

    Damn.

    Cochran was an American aviator and race pilot. She was considered the best female pilot in America and was a contemporary and good friend of Yeager. In WWII, she flew bombers to England before the U.S. officially entered the war. Eventually she was made the head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) where she helped trained over 1,000 women pilots. After the war, she achieved a number of firsts (the first woman to land and take off from an aircraft carrier, the first pilot to make a blind instrument landing, the first woman to reach Mach 2, the first pilot to fly above 20,000 feet with an oxygen mask). To this day she “holds more distance and speed records than any pilot living or dead, male or female”.

    These are the kind of women I admire. Their accomplishments were made in spite of poverty, hardships, heartbreak and prejudice. Contrast them with Hillary Clinton (you knew I was going there, right?). What exactly has she accomplished? Oh sure, she got elected to the Senate, but what has she done with that position, other than position herself for a run at the Presidency?

    I would love to have a female President. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel some feminine pride when reading the accomplishments of Wake and Cochran. But, I want a woman in the White House that I can respect. I want a great woman. Heck, I want great men in office too. Should we settle for less just to play identity politics? I hope not.

    Posted by at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)     
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    March 01, 2008

    Name that blog

    [Posted by ]

    The folks behind the GOP convention have made a big commitment to technology. Google is the official innovation provider. You can even watch some classic Ronald Reagan convention speeches on their website. And, of course, they have a blog.

    Now the blog needs a name. You can submit yours at the convention site and I think eventually you'll get to vote for your favorites online. My ideas were the "Twinvention Blog" which combines the Twin Cities, the word "convention" and the idea of invention and innovation. The other obvious choice is the "GOPher Blog", which I can't, as a Badger, officially endorse.

    Posted by at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)     
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