The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Dog Days of Winter


After Football is a rough time of year. Everything seems to take a bit of a break. Even the news cycle seems a bit slow to me (which is actually a good thing). These dog days are especially tough for me right now because we're dogsitting, and yesterday the dog in question started having what can be politely be referred to as "stomach problems" or more accurately as, "explosive diarrhea." It's bad. Seriously. We're going to have to hire this guy. However, with no sports to speak of, a slow news cycle, and a tiny bit of spare time, I think we should take some time to reflect on some things.

1. The NHL is stupid.

You already knew this, of course. Mainly the players are stupid, as they want to be paid like they play a major sport. However, the real reason that they're stupid is that they're missing a golden opportunity to build hockey into a good "TV Sport." Hockey has always been a lousy televised sport. You can't see enough of what is going on, you can't tell players apart, and it moves too fast. However, I recently watched a college hockey game (Ohio State v. Michigan) on HDTV, and all of Hockey's problems magically disappeared. You could tell players apart. The wider screed allowed you to see the forwards and defensemen simultaneously, and you simply can't lose track of the puck because it's so clear.

The NHL should get behind HD 100%. As it's still a bit pricey to own a set, they should invest in bar specials, and heavily promote venues containing HD sets. After they settle this little labor dispute of course.

2. I once played an entire game of The Settlers of Catan with three other people in which no one ever rolled a seven. Had this happened at a craps table in Las Vegas I would now be living on a small private island in the Caribbean. But it didn't. It happened during The Settlers of Catan.

3. When most pundits write about Social Security, they almost never mention the worker/retiree ratio. This is by far the most important stat regarding Social Security.

4. Milwaukee and Madison are raising their minimum wages. While I disagree with minimum wage laws in principle, as they tend to create unemployment and consequently deny much needed working experience to younger people, my views on the issue are not set in stone. Some economists make a good case that the effects of minimum wage laws on employment are minimal. But one thing that I do know is that it is incredibly stupid to raise your minimum wage if no one else does. It will drive jobs out of the city. The cities want the state to follow suit, but this tactic strikes me as nothing more than the cities asking to be saved from themselves.

5. The Bucks should trade Michael Redd. I like Mike, but his value is very high right now, he's a free agent at the end of the year, and because he's a shooting guard he is almost certainly going to make too much money next year. Moreover, the Bucks already have a serviceable shooting guard in Desmond Mason, who is currently playing out of position at small forward. And as I've pointed out before, the most important Buck is still Toni Kukoc.

6. The Brewers cannot possibly be as bad as they were last year. Getting Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino was a steal.

7. I find it slightly depressing that Andrew Sullivan still posts more often than I do, even though he's "retired."

8. I've been thinking of auctioning off my Mark Belling Bobblehead on E-bay. You're probably wondering how I got something like that. Good question.

Mark is a conservative talk show host in Milwaukee. He can be entertaining, but lately he's been getting crankier. As I now live in Chicago I haven't heard Mark's show for a few years, although I heard he had a small problem over a slip of the tongue.

Every year Mark has his annual "current events quiz." He asks trivia questions for three hours, and whichever caller gets the most correct answers in a row wins. It's fun, and the prizes are good (huge TVs, for example). As a bonus, every 30th question or so is a bobblehead question, and a few years ago I managed to get a bobblehead question correct. So now I have this bobblehead that I don't really want on display.

E-bay has always seemed like such a pain, but now we have these E-bay drop centers opening up all over town where you can just bring in your stuff and they will sell it for you. That sounds easy enough. I wonder how much it's worth.

Update: Wow, I wonder if this guy managed to get his asking price!

Update 2: Nope. But this is still pretty good if he pulled it off.

Update 3: (From David Bernstein) Who pays hundreds of dollars for these things?

9. I finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. It's a very good quick read about an autistic 15 year old attempting to figure out who killed his neighbor's dog. He is extremely logical and mathematical, and you really get a sense of what thinking is like for an autistic person (Haddon spent some time working with mentally and physically handicapped children in the mid 80s) .

Ann Althouse read it too.

10. On March 11th the Shedd Aquarium is having a nice fundraiser:

Send winter packing when you attend Spring Break 2005. Swim on over Friday, March 11 th from 8:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. for an evening of fun with the fish. Dance to the sounds of DJ Warp and sample beer, wine and tropical drinks by Grey Goose and Bacardi. Indulge in some of Chicago’s best food while exploring Shedd’s 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef exhibit. On-site parking is available and starting at 11:00 p.m., complimentary trolley service will shuttle guests from Shedd to the post party at one of Chicago’s hottest clubs.

Funds raised benefit Shedd’s education programs serving more than 400,000 children each year.

For more information, including online ticket sales, please click here.

The cost is $45. I'll definitely be there. I can't really think of a cooler place to have a party than in the middle of a bunch of giant fish tanks.

11. Finally, Evan had a contest, but it's already over.


  • You should be ashamed of yourself. Why don't you want the bobble head on display?!! There certainly must be SOMEPLACE in your house that you could put it. I got one back in early 2004 when I called into Mark's show and it's prominantly displayed in my home for all to see... Just the same as the drawing Mark signed for me.

    And another thing... What is your excuse for living in Chicago? Job transfers are forgivable. My own family was relocated to the Decatur area. But if moving to Chicago was a decision you made just because you felt like living there... well, than... Good riddance. You don't belong in Wisconsin anyway. Naturally, no hard feelings if moving to Chicago was job related or some other out-of-your-control situation.

    By Blogger John, at 3:50 PM  

  • It was job and school related. My wife is a grad student at the University of Chicago.

    For the record, this is an extremely fun city.

    While Belling may be fun to listen to, I certainly don't idolize him. Also, he looks sort of like the devil.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 3:58 PM  

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