Friday, February 24, 2006


It seems like a funny way to evangelize, but many members of one of the three great monothiestic faiths seem bent on convincing us that their religion is made up entirely of humorless yahoos with chips on every shoulder. Some Malaysian Muslims are upset at this cartoon by Iowa cartoonist Wiley Miller. Look for yourself; if you find that cartoon offensive, there's just no pleasing you. If Catholics were as easily offended you could navigate across the midwest at night by the light of burning Buca Di Beppo restaurants.

I'm going to have a Carlsberg and play with my Legos.

UPDATE: more insanity

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Iowa Legislature passes anti-Kelo bill

Good work by the Iowa House:

The Iowa House late Wednesday approved legislation to put greater restrictions on the power local governments have to take private property for public purposes.

House File 2351 is a response to last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled governments can use so-called eminent domain to spur business development.

The bill moves for consideration in the Senate, where similar legislation is already being considered.

The House-passed bill looks like it actually does a nice job in tightening up the rules that have enabled well-connected developers to use government eminent domain power to force businesses and homeowners out of coveted property. If the HF 2351 becomes law, it will be very difficult for municipalities to condemn property solely for economic development. As best I can tell, HF 2351 doesn't have a worrisome loophole that was in the original Senate version of the legislation.

Its a great sign that majorities in both parties voted for the bill. I expected city and county governments would have their buddies kill any limits on their condemnation powers. What a great thing to be wrong about.

Not everyone is happy, though:

Des Moines City Attorney Bruce Bergman said the bill goes much further than dealing simply with the concerns brought up by the Supreme Court ruling.

"There are aspects of this bill," Bergman said, "that would quite frankly promote urban sprawl. There are certainly aspects of this bill that will make the property acquisition process more expensive for property taxpayers."

I would respecfully suggest that closing small businesses so as to curry favor with well-wired developers is pretty likely in itself to send the small businesses out of the city limits. As urban sprawl is a phenomenon going back at least to ancient Rome, city attorneys aren't going to roll back the tide by condemning ZZZ Records. If they really want to reduce sprawl, you'll do a lot better by improving city schools so families don't flee, and by making it as easy to get construction permits in Des Moines as it is in the fast-growing suburbs. For starters, anyway.

Mr. Bergman will be addressing my luncheon club, the Sertomans, March 14. If you'd like to see what he has to say about eminent domain, drop me an email and I will be happy to bring you as my guest.

Clive to become rear-end collision capital of the Golden Circle

Some local governments just hate their citizens and visitors. They show their contempt for their constituents by finding new ways to stick them with traffic fines. For example, Windsor Heights is notorious for ticketing scofflaws who have the nerve to drive 26 in a 25 zone. Now neighboring Clive is declaring war on its citizens by installing red-light cameras.

As governments are wont to tell you when they are jacking you, it's for your own good. Clive has in its hands a study showing rampant red light violations, jeopordizing the the lives of its citizens. Guess who performed the study?

Council members have reviewed an accident history for some of Clive's high volume intersections and traffic violation data compiled with the aid of temporary cameras at those intersections. The traffic violation survey was conducted by Redflex, an Arizona company that Clive City Manager Dennis Henderson will consider contracting with for traffic signal enforcement operations.

Well, there you have it. Redflex makes its money installing and running red light cameras. Their study shows a need for... red light cameras. Imagine that.

We can now can look forward to an epidemic of rear-end collisions in Clive. But that won't be the fault of the cameras, which will only be responsible for the accidents that don't happen.

Maybe it's all about economic development. At least one Clive business can look forward to a windfall.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

That would explain the annual pitch tourney...

Want to know what "service clubs" are really all about? Check out Article 28 of the Hamas charter:

The Zionist invasion is a cruel invasion, which has no scruples whatsoever; it uses every vicious and vile method to achieve its goals. In its infiltration and espionage operations, it greatly relies on secret organizations which grew out of it, such as the Freemasons, the Rotary Clubs, the Lions and other such espionage groups. All these organizations, covert or overt, work for the interests of Zionism and under its direction, and their aim is to break societies, undermine values, destroy people's honor, create moral degeneration and annihilate Islam.

That explains why we never have been able to line up a Hamas lunch speaker.

Via Powerline.

Billions and Billions Mourn Heroic Ronald McDonald

Oak Park, Illinois (February 14): The World Headquarters of McDonalds, Inc. has been deluged with flowers and condolences following the heroic death of the company's iconic mascot in Lahore, Pakistan. Mr. McDonald is credited with saving the lives of dozens of Pakistanis by throwing himself onto a bomb just before it exploded. Mr. McDonald's shocking death was captured by a nearby photographer just as the bomb exploded.

Ronald McDonald's heroic death.

Mr. McDonald was on the street in front of a Lahore McDonalds franchise after the store had been sacked by a peaceful crowd of activists protesting the franchise's use of the name of their prophet to sell fast food. This turned out later to be a mispronunciation, according to one activist: "McDonalds, Mohammed's - they sound much the same with an accent, you know."

Mary Dillon, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer of McDonalds Corporation, said that McDonalds employees everywhere are overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion that has followed the death of the iconic red-haired mascot. "Vladimir Putin just called. Kofi Annan was in tears. Our phones haven't stopped ringing. Ronald touched something deep in the human spirit, and his heroism is a distillation of the sacrifice our employees make every day to have your McMuffins ready when you drive up at 6:00 a.m."

Parvez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, postumously awarded Mr. McDonald the Sash of Righteous Rage, his country's highest civilian honor. President Bush will speak at the memorial service Thursday in Washington's National Cathedral, and Vice-President Cheney will participate in a 21-pellet salute at an undisclosed location.

(Thanks to MM).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Chasing Daylight - The Transition

At the opening of Eugene O'Kelley's memoir of his terminal illness, he declares himself blessed. As his body fails him and his goal of showing his daughter around Prague becomes unreachable, he accepts his new circumstances without complaint.


He knows that in some important ways he is blessed. The struggles of his fellow radiation patients is enough to remind him that at least he faces his death knowing his family is provided for. Where others have to ride buses around New York alone for hours to reach their doctors, he has a family with the time and resources to take him where he needs to go. When radiation is over, he can get on a jet and go to a Tahoe vacation home. While he shares worries about how his wife and daughter will deal emotionally with his death, there is no sign that finances will ever be a problem.

It would be a mistake, though, to make too much of his material circumstances. If you've spent time at a hospice, you've noticed that wealth isn't required for a good death - and there is such a thing. (though squalor is something else.)

O'Kelley prides himself on his clear-eyed ability to accept and face change. As death looms, he tries to to die well. He "wraps up" his relationships and withdraws into his family. Each day his goal becomes stringing "perfect moments" together to make a perfect day. The progressive failure of his body is barely mentioned. As long as his mind remains clear, not being able to dress youself is a mere annoyance.

He struggles with the meaning of God after spending an afternoon with a non-believing nephew (who must be just a great guy to party with).

After another "perfect" day, where he wraps things up with his brother, we lose his voice.

Corrine O'Kelley takes over the narrative for her husband in the last chapter. A siezure dashes his plans for the trip to Prague.
"And it was that that signaled the beginning of his transition."

Corrine gives us a hint of a man with "..a 'cut to the chase' approach that had made him so successful in businezz but could sometimes come off as abrupt in personal interactions." Maybe this same approach is what enabled him to face death with serenity and surroundef by doting family.

So he was blessed - with a clear acceptance of his fate, with a pain-free death and a clear mind, and with a loving family to care for him. Without his impending doom, would he ever have spent time with his 14-year old daughter before she moved away? For a brief time, while he died, in important ways he lived like he hadn't.

The challenge for the reader is to not put off living. We don't all get a three-month warning or a clear-headed, pain-free end, or a chance to wrap-up things with our friends and warnings. For me, an accountant in the middle of tax season, it's like a visit from Jacob Marley.

This is my last post on Chasing Daylight. My prior posts are here, here, here, here and here)

Sunday, February 05, 2006


The 2006 Blogger bash belongs to the ages. It was great to get to socialize with such a group of smart and fun people. As Blogger was down for the evening, we had to actually talk with each other, and that worked out well. The conversation was spirited, especially when non-State 29 mixed it up with Royce and Jeff. We solved a number of pressing problems, including the economics of the rain-forest project (short version: joint venture with Hooters and the Survivor producers).

A few pictures:

Jeff from Tusk and Talon; Doug Halsted from Iowa Geek; Mike Sansone of Copywriting Watch and; Mike Wagner of; Chris from Celtic Cross.

Blue Fish from Purple Fish Guts; Royce Dunbar, the Iowa Libertarian; and KL Snow, of Diary of a Political Madman (apologies to KL - he's a fascinating guy, and I didn't get a decent picture of him. I hope he doesn't hold it against me when he's famous and powerful).

From right to left: Mystery Anonymous Blogger (she swears she's not State 29); Jody of Iowa Geek (she told us a new little geek is on the way!); Celti and Chris of Celtic Cross; Mike Wagner (I don't think he's that Mike Wagner) and Mike Sansone.

Kris of Anywhere But Here; Red Fish and Blue Fish; Royce's nose and chicken wings. Background: our long-suffering waitress.

The last holdouts of the evening, as photographed by our waitress (revenge?). Left to right: me, not State 29, Royce, KL, and Jeff.

I left shortly after this last picture was taken. I would have loved to stay, but it was time to leave things in the capable hands of the hard-cores.

It was a great time. We were hoping Brent could make it, but he was probably keeping the bad guys out of our hair. While it would have been fun if the eastern Iowa set had been able to make it, that just means we'll have to road trip this summer to the Eastern Iowa edition of the bash, if and when that happens.

If you can, plan on joining us for the next Des Moines bash, which Mike Sansone has graciously agreed to organize. To all who were there: thanks for coming - and I hope to see you again soon!