27 December 2010

Health Care Rights

A doctor from the one-party Commonwealth of Massachusetts feels that his private opinions should apply to all of us and writes thusly to the Boston Globe. He is promptly answered  by Donald J Boudreaux from Cafe Hayek. The only problem with this admirable exchange of ideas is that Doctor Pies of Lexington Massachusetts will probably never touch anything that has the name Hayek on it, having been warned, I suppose in a dream during his college days, that economic evil resides in that name. A drawing of the good Doctor Hayek can be found at my other blog, The Billings Free Press.

16 December 2010

Bob Feller Dies at 92

I read an AP article in this morning's Gazette, telling about the death of Bob Feller. There are not many of these guys left. I mean those who were major league baseball players before December 7th, 1941; and then they became soldiers and sailors for the duration as I think they used to say in those days. For Feller that was four full seasons. According to Wikipedia, Bob Feller volunteered for the Navy on December 8th, 1941. He is the only Chief Petty Officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was one of my childhood heroes, that time when I dreamed even more than I do now. He liked to barnstorm during the off-season. And after his 18 full seasons for the Cleveland Indians, approaching 80 years some time in the 90s I'm guessing, he stopped in Billings at Cobb Field to sell a few souvenirs. I have a signed picture from that time. I think it cost me $10. In addition to being a ballplayer, Feller was also a good businessman. As he was signing, I mentioned that the last time I had seen him in person was sometime in July 1952. I was high in the upper deck of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, the guest of a successful Ohio cheesemaker uncle who was an Indian fan. Feller was on the mound pitching against the Yankees' Allie Reynolds. He interrupted me, saying he remembered it well: it wasn't 1952, but July 12, 1951. He knew the exact date. Reynolds pitched the first of his two no-hitters that season while Feller pitched a one-hitter—one of 12 he pitched in his career. Unfortunately that one hit was a home run by Gene Woodling. I've forgotten whoever Feller told me the Indians' left fielder was at the time, but he remembered the name, and he was certain he should have caught the ball before it went out of the park.

Feller died from some form of leukemia. RIP.

See my other blog for a picture of the Heater from Van Meter in his prime.

15 December 2010

12 December 2010

The Military-Industrial Complex

Every once in a while this term comes up in my mind if not in actual conversation. I'm not sure why though sometimes I see an item of clothing resembling those from the 50s and I find myself lusting after it, like a nice thin necktie. I think the term itself comes from President Eisenhower's farewell address early in 1961. I think I remember listening to the speech and thinking that Ike really wasn't as bad a speaker as the intelligentsia made him out to be.

He warned us about the 'military-industrial complex' in the years to come, presumably because he had seen the awesome capability of these two massive groups in the winning of WWII and the years following the war.

Today's Gazette (Sunday 3rd Sun in Advent) in addition to an article from a Gazette staffer on the supposed benefits of the millions and billions in stimulus money, also featured an article from the Associated Press on Eisenhower's worry and use of the term. Apparently it was not something inserted into the speech at the last minute by one of his aides.

We seem to have kept the military under control all these years, though more likely they kept themselves under control. And we certainly have kept our industries under control too, though many would say that our government has slowly dismantled our industrial might since the end of WWII.

It's too bad that Ike didn't prophetically recognize the looming 'academic-government complex.' By not keeping our eye on these groups they have increased in number and influence way beyond anything The Greatest Generation could even imagine.

Community Band Christmas at the Babcock

This old theatre, along with the rest of this sizeable two story building on the corner of 2nd and Broadway, is being resurrected right before our very eyes. Actually, it's pretty nice right now, and apparently going to get better.

This afternoon it was the site of the annual Christmas Concert of the Billings Community Band directed by Rob Wells. All of the compositions had some Christmas connection—apparently the Band celebrates Christmas rather than the Holidays.

And there were, in addition to the full band, some decent ensembles from within the Band, including a couple of tubas, a flute choir, a brass quintet and a saxophone ensemble. The last featured a wicked baritone sax. The Band has a surprising number of instruments of color, i.e. bassoons, oboes, bass clarinets, etc. A. J Kalanick contributed his usual corny jokes. A good time was had by all.

Sorry for the lack of images. Apparently, Blogger is having some problems. You can check out other blogs.

Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday in Advent

Gaudete, from the first word of the introit of the day's Mass in Latin: And the refrain of a pretty good Advent carol. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

A little joy in the midst of a generally penitential season, at least in the liturgical branches of the Church.

Sorry dear friends of the visual persuasion: Blogger is not uploading my images. When I just plop them on the page they disappear the next time I open the blog. They seem to have been working on this problem for some months now. Check out another blog to which I occasionally contribute.

11 December 2010

O Come Let Us Adore Him

We enjoyed this program so much last year that we decided to double up on the fun and meaning of Christmas this year. If you have Sunday afternoon free, be sure to check it out at 3pm on 12 December.

It's even better than last year.

I especially like the angels' dialogue, one of them was named Herald of course but I've forgotten the name of the other. These guys were funny with really good timing. There were a lot of pretty good singers in the large crowd scenes as well as smaller ensembles. The song that Mary sang on her heavy-with-child way to Bethlehem was very nice too and I've never heard it before. The whole thing emphasizes the incongruity of God becoming part of the "people planet" and a real baby on top of everything else that seems so unbelievable.

Emmanuel Baptist on Shiloh Road really does a good job of putting this together with nearly seamless transitions from one part to another. The choreography of the little kids was surprisingly good too. There really is a Singing Christmas Tree. And we got to sing a few good Christmas carols.

Sorry about the lack of images. It's Blogger's fault. See my other blog.

An Interesting Story from New Jersey

I had mistakenly thought that New Jersey was one of those eastern one-party states, like Massachusetts, or Maryland etc., in which no one with any sense would take on the machine in control. Apparently I was wrong. And maybe the governor has his own driver and wears a bullet-proof vest.

If Climate Science Were A Hockey Game . . . Oh Wait

Check out this amusing and probably true analysis of the climate wars.

09 December 2010

The Rain in Panama Falls Mainly in the Lakes

Panama Canal and Lakes
Panama Canal and Lakes

And when it does, it leads to the first closing of the Panama Canal in its 96 year history. Let me think, cold and snow in the UK and Europe; torrential rains in Australia and now in Central America. Is this the canary in the mine of global cooling? This same guy at this very useful blogsite also looks at the level of the Great Salt Lake and raises the same interesting question. How long does it take for weather to become climate?
By the way, the Canal runs more north and south than east and west.

08 December 2010

Here is a Burger

This is from a great Website:

Portland, OR: Grüner Makes a Burger Worthy of Obsession

[Photographs: Adam Lindsley]


527 SW 12th Ave., Portland, OR 97205 (map); 503-241-7163;grunerpdx.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: German-inspired restaurant serves what's debatably the best burger in Portland
Want Fries with That? The burger is served with fried smashed potatoes, which laugh in the face of common fries
Prices: 8-ounce burger w/cheese and fried smashed potatoes, $11
I've eaten a lot of burgers over the years, and while many of them were quite wonderful at the time of consumption, over time most have faded from memory like a Polaroid photo in reverse. But every now and then, when the planets align and a patch of four-leaf clover sprouts in my yard and a double rainbow arcs over my house, one comes along that makes me want to drop to my knees and weep at the sheer pleasure I have been so generously granted by whatever higher beings currently reside in the firmament. The burger at Grüner in downtown Portland is one such trigger of emotionally jellifying bliss.
Chef/owner Chris Israel describes Grüner's cuisine as "Alpine"—a quick perusal of the restaurant's offerings reveals a slant toward German dishes, served in a classy, simple, upscale setting by chefs who are not content to serve you the status quo. While everything I've eaten here has been outstanding, the burger is so good that it completely overshadows everything else on the menu. To have it once is to set yourself up for a lot of disappointment thereafter: Most of the rest of the burgers you'll eat in this lifetime won't be nearly as good as this one.

he meat is unctuous and full of so much beefy flavor you'll think they packed a thousand cows into each patty.
Not yet convinced? Let's tackle this godsend component by component, starting with theCascade Natural beef. It's ground in-house, with the fat taking up a glorious 25 percent of the eight-ounce patty. After a stint on the grill, that one-quarter fat ratio becomes abundantly clear, as evidenced by the juices nearly bursting from the medium rare center once you take your first bite. After that, expect a shallow puddle of fat to form on the plate beneath the bun, and if that's not an excuse to lick your fingers every time you pick up the burger, I don't know what is. The meat is unctuous and full of so much beefy flavor you'll think they packed a thousand cows into each patty. It's of such high quality that when bits of it crumbled off onto the plate, I couldn't stop myself from going back for them later with the fork.
With so much juice leaking out, a burger like this needs a competent bun to catch as much of that liquid flavor as possible without disintegrating. The house-baked poppy seed-topped potato bun is more than up to that task once toasted, with a browned crust giving way to a soft but substantial interior that remains intact while soaking up the fat (though some will invariably still find its way to your hands, your arms, and your clothing). I certainly can't think of a better burger bun, but as far as I know, Grüner isn't sharing.
Next up, the one-two punch of creamy Fontina and Nueske's smoked bacon. The cheese is nutty and rich, and strong enough to stand out among so many other powerful flavors. The bacon is cooked perfectly, neither limp nor brittle, with just the right amount of smokiness to create two distinct, equally delicious layers of protein in conjunction with the hamburger.
Finally, we have the greens, and like the meat they're key factors in what makes the Grüner burger so irresistible. Front and center are the insanely good bread-and-butter pickles. They're sweet and tangy and essential to cutting the richness of the meat and cheese; just try to resist the urge to pop them in your mouth instead of layering them on the burger. The neon pink pickled onions combine the sweetness of grilled onions and the bite of vinegar, and the mustard greens further widen the flavor spectrum by adding a touch of bitterness. I am a minimalist when it comes to burger toppings and often find vegetation extraneous, but here I cannot imagine the burger without it.
As if the burger wasn't already transcendent, Grüner also gives you one of the bestsides you're likely to find anywhere: fried smashed potatoes. Made with skin-on Yellow Finns, they're fried until crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, then dusted with salt. They're excellent, putting most fries to shame. They're great dipped in the house-made ketchup, which is sweet and tastes uncannily like the holidays, as it's spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. I recommend spreading a little on the burger as well for that one final touch of acidity.
Desserts at Grüner change frequently, but the raspberry doughnuts I had on my last visit were to die for. An order gets you three inch-and-a-half-thick spheres that have been deep fried and piped with a bright raspberry jam, then rolled in sugar. You can smell them frying from the dining room, making your mouth water and brewing a nigh-unbearable level of anticipation that escalates until they hit the table and you tear them open. One was undercooked and doughy in the center, but its two brothers were perfect, providing a magnificent end to an indulgent meal.
I won't lie: I am obsessed with this burger. But it's so godly that I think it deservesto be obsessed over. When a chef pays attention to the little things, it really does show, as this burger so epically demonstrates. If you're in Portland and looking for a hamburger, I cannot recommend Grüner enough.
About the author: Adam Lindsley is a Seattle-based novelist and the author of the pizza blog, This Is Pizza. He'd start a blog called This Is Burgers, but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

07 December 2010

Will There Be Something About this Case in the Gazette? or the Outpost?

I found this letter on Big Sky Blog, which looks like a useful blog. 16 year-old Demarie DeReu is an outstanding student at Columbia Falls High School.

She forgot that she had an unloaded rifle locked in the trunk of her car when she drove to school. When she realized what she had done she told the powers that be at the high school. Now she is in danger. Her expulsion case will be heard Dec 13th.

I wonder if we will hear about this important case. Apparently intent does not enter into the discussion of the "zero-tolerance" gun policy. Is it possible the school board must levy a harsh punishment on this girl whatever the facts of the case?

04 December 2010

TSA is part of ObamaCare II


A little humor while being sexually assaulted by strangers, the whole embarrassing thing being watched by the world.

01 December 2010

TSA is part of ObamaCare

A friend sent me this as an attachment to an email message. I don't know where she got it. I would call it a two-fer. TSA and ObamaCare: Wow, a current events cartoon.

Close Traffic Calls

Today, Wednesday, 1 Dec 2010,  there was a lengthy article in the Billings Gazette about a 5 year-old boy struck by a moving vehicle—identified only as a sinister “sedan”—as the boy and his 13 year-old brother—there is a picture of the two below—departed an Albertson’s grocery store in Helena MT. This occurred several weeks ago. Not sure why we are reading about this now and in Billings, but maybe yesterday was a slow day here in the Magic City.

The writer, Alana Listoe of the Helena Independent Record, gives us interesting detail about what the boys’ mother bought at the store, but there seem to be a few pieces of information missing. The way the story is told it sounds as if the driver of the sedan, mysteriously identified only as “the driver,” was at fault for not stopping at a stop sign. Apparently they have videotapes of the whole incident. According to the article the boy is doing well now.

Curiously, in addition to not identifying the driver they also mention that he—aha, so it was a male—has not been cited for this apparent lapse of attention. I wonder why. Was he the mayor of Helena?, the police chief?, a priest?, an under-aged or maybe over-aged driver?, a Muslim? All of these except perhaps the last would usually have been at least named as the “alleged perpetrator.” Are the lawyers at work here, either criminal, in the form of a prosecutor preparing his case; or civil, in the form of a lawyer suing the driver and of course the deep pockets of Albertson’s on behalf of the injured boy? Hmm.

Perhaps now things are beginning to make sense: A sympathetic story about an injured boy, through no fault of his own of course, two weeks after the accident. This might be the opening statement for this lawyer. This smells like a large settlement here.

This reminds me of several close calls that I have had while a pedestrian in parking lots over the last few years. I had long thought that pedestrians had the right of way in these grocery store and other off-the-main-road places but perhaps the same stupid people who drive through uncontrolled intersections without even slowing down and wonder why horns are blowing at them, also drive stupidly in parking lots. The older brother in the Gazette/Independent Record story suggested, after he had had a chance to cool down and think about his response said, “I’d make him go back to driver’s ed.” And so might we all say. I note that in addition to being impaired by alcohol and other drugs, we can now be cited for using a cellphone while driving. Is running over a child or coming close to that a form of negligent assault?

But even after we have cursed the driver, there is still some room to at least question the grocery store about their parking lots. I mean, stuff like parking spaces when the lines are covered by snow and ice; how about a one-way system around the lot, not including the entrances and exits from the store; and maybe a walk-way down the middle between the cars on either side. I have seen this, or at least a start along these lines, in some places. Why not more? I have a hunch we would see fewer injuries and maybe even a few deaths that are now taken care of only by the lawyers.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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