Gasoline
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You know, when gas was $4.26 a gallon, I would get chain e-mails about once a week with a stirring call to action to punish the greedy oil companies. We should all go on strike on a certain day and refuse to buy gas. The theory—the robber barons of petroleum would be brought to their knees. The e-mail usually ended with dire threats of what would befall me and the country if I didn’t pass the message on to my... Read More
Indian Summer
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Gosh, the days are balmy in my part of the world.  It seems as though summer never stopped. Who ever thought that we’d have the A/C running during the NLCS?  The official title of this October pleasantness is “Indian summer.” Don’t you love it? My original plan for this blog was to regale you with some stories of the origin and meaning of that term. That idea bombed. I couldn’t, because I don’t think anybody knows for sure how Native... Read More
Somebody Stop Me
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Only in America.   Vernita Lee has a problem. She lives in a tony high-rise in Milwaukee with a great view of Lake Michigan. She has also managed to rack up an unpaid bill of $155,547 for elegant designer clothes from the Valentina Boutique. Ms. Lee, who happens to be Oprah Winfrey’s mom, had a similar conflict with the boutique in 2002, when she managed to run up an immense unpaid account. Valentina, Inc. has sued Ms. Lee for the 2008... Read More
Dialing for Dough
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It’s not too hard to make fun of the way other people’s media ministries raise the money they need to stay on the air. Remember back in 1987 when Oral Roberts told his supporters if he didn’t raise $8 million by March that God was going to call him home? His pleas on the air were so emotional and tear-filled that some were afraid he might commit suicide. Well, he made it and is still around at age 90. Roberts... Read More
IKE
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As I write this, Galveston, Texas, is still a sodden ghost town. ¾ of its population has fled, and local government really wishes that the remaining ¼ had fled, too. Electricity and running water are still days away. Many homes, especially those right on the Gulf, were destroyed. What is even worse, Hurricane Ike destroyed the 4-6-foot dune that buffered Galveston Island. The State of Texas might have to seize and condemn all houses that no longer sit behind the... Read More
Guyland
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If you have a Y-chromosome, how do you know when you’ve made the transition from boy to man? In the world in which I grew up, it was when you finished acquiring three things—a wife, a house, and a kid. In 1960, according to Michael Kimmel’s new book, “Guyland,” 70% of men had reached those three milestones by age 30. Today the percentage is less than 33%.   “Guyland” both scares and explains. Let’s call “guys” the tweener stage between boys... Read More
Bristol 'n' Jamie Lynn
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What a rollout! John McCain must have thought that he would get at least one day of Wow Factor when he decided against an older guy (Joe Lieberman) in favor of a younger woman (Sarah Palin) as his running mate. Instead, the chattering class buzzed all day about Bristol, Mrs. Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, who is pregnant.   Several media geniuses opined that Mr. McCain must not have “vetted” his V.P. candidate very thoroughly to have picked one with such an immense... Read More
Olympic Gold
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Are you a TV Olympics junkie or are you exceedingly glad that it all went away? Gosh, who would have thought that Team China would haul away so many golds? My personal good vibe is to see this massive country take a few steps closer to the family of nations. The China of my youth seemed aloof and perpetually revolutionary, dressed in lumpy Mao jackets and clutching their little red books. Kind of cool to see Chinese kids last week... Read More
Captain Jack Sparrow
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Pirates of the Caribbean is a perfect movie for our times. It flows from our culture and then flows back and nourishes that same culture. It will join Star Wars and Lord of the Rings as a popular mythology that everybody in the youth generation knows. It will become a permanent point of reference.   For the last couple dozen of you in America who haven’t seen any of the “Pirates” trilogy, permit me to fill in a couple details. Captain... Read More
Summertime Blues
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It has truly been an odd summer in Wisconsin. In spite of all the drumbeating about global warming, the temps have not cracked 90 degrees yet. In a “normal” year by now we would have had at least ten.   The Janesville GM plant isn’t making many Suburbans or Yukons any more. $4.00 gas makes them about as hot as the big Hummers. The huge plant will close in 2010.   Up here we’re pretty safe from hurricanes, but we have had... Read More