Funny thing about consultants and their studies. No matter how solid they may be, no matter how good the math, if they don't reach the desired conclusion, they're not worth much to the movers and shakers.
So it's no surprise that Peoria Mayor David Ransburg would characterize as "useless" a study that dares suggest a $60 million museum would be "the highest and best use" of the Sears block. Ransburg has already made up his mind that the museum doesn't fit that description, so this study doesn't tell him what he wants to hear. For that he has his own consultants, or he'll find them.
What the mayor doesn't want to hear is that his desire for denser development - a hotel, high-rise residential, retail, offices - may be unrealistic in this economy, and in any event would require millions in public subsidies. What he doesn't want to hear is that the museum may be able to carry the Sears block, perhaps by itself.
To be sure, the same charge of preordained bias could be made against this study, conducted by Northbrook-based Gruen and Gruen Associates, commissioned by the Heartland Partnership - the parent organization of the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce - and paid for by the Lakeview Regional Museum coalition. That allegation of prejudice could be leveled as well against this newspaper, which has championed this museum project for the better part of the last decade. Fair enough.
If anything gives this report credibility, it's that it didn't deliver all good news. Indeed, it acknowledges that central Illinois' economy and population are flat. That there is significant competition for the heritage tourism dollar. That outside of major cities, museums by themselves are not likely to lure visitors. That Peoria is not well-established as an entertainment/cultural center. That most folks hereabouts would rather go see a basketball game. Despite those challenges, the consultants conclude this museum has the potential to be a plus for the riverfront, for Downtown, for central Illinois.
Potential is the key word there. Fact is just about any local development requires some leap of faith. Even the findings of the mayor's favorite consultant, Duany Plater Zyberk - which envision some sort of scaled-down Manhattan on the prairie - mandate that same jump. You have to believe in the good things the development can do, and then do what is necessary following the decision to ensure its success.
We have never been hung up on this museum's "economic impact," though we do believe it would have one. What we have been sold on is the boost it would give central Illinois' quality of life, its ability to generate foot traffic and make an architectural statement in a way that would make everything else around it more valuable, its chance to tell Caterpillar's story, its positive impact on how this community perceives itself.
No one ever said this museum was a savior. It's just one more piece of the puzzle - arguably a critical missing piece - along with a renewed riverfront, East Peoria's gambling boat, the Downtown ballpark, an impending zoo expansion. Let's face it, people do not visit Peoria just to stay in a nice hotel. Give them things to do, then they might stay. This museum's proximity to the Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield is also a plus. Just last week it was reported that the Starbucks coffee chain will put its first downstate store in downtown Springfield, in part because of the additional 300,000 visitors the museum is expected to bring annually. It's a small thing, but telling.
Finally, there is this: If not the museum, then what? What is this museum competing against, besides a question mark? What other developer is out there, ready to go?
The window of opportunity regarding this museum will only stay open so long. We hope everybody is fully cognizant of that.
NOTE: I did NOT write this. I am posting it as a service to readers of my column in the Community Word.
On April 25, 1976, Chicago Cubs center fielder Rick Monday saves an American flag from being burned by two fans at Dodger Stadium. During the fourth inning of the game, two fans race onto the field and head for the outfield, where they prepare to ignite an American flag. Monday runs in from center field and snatches the flag, prompting an ovation from the fans at Dodger Stadium.
I was watching this game (on television) and it was at this moment the Cubs stopped being just my favorite team and became My Beloved Cubbies. God Bless Rick Monday. I still get all teary when I think about it.
I wish I knew where those freaks live so I knew where to spit.
The Eyeranian, has a lucid post about the problem in Iran:
Without a doubt there will be others. Arrest of Sina Motallebi isn’t the first time someone has been arrested for expressing his opinion in Iran, and it certainly won’t be the last.
This is however part of a new offensive with new targets. It is not the political activists or human rights advocates that are being targeted this time. It’s not even the so called ?reformers? or those mildly critical of regime’s tactics or approach. This time it is the youth and the ones who have found new ways of expressing their dissatisfaction with the ruling class that are the new enemy. In particular, freedom of expression via the Internet is now being targeted.
I have no doubt that if possible, Hossein Derakhshan (better known as Hoder to the web log community) would have been the prime new target and not Sina Motallebi. But Hoder is safely away in Toronto and anything he does or says is beyond their court’s jurisdictions. The target this time was the highest profile ?Internet personality? of the new generation they could prosecute and Sina was it. The content of his web log or his writing had very little to do with anything.
Speaking of his web log content, his last few posts before being summoned were (in order) about Iranian newscaster’s inability to pronounce names properly, retirement of the ?out of this world champion? Michael Jordan, his son’s teething problems and a reprint of an already published statement by Kambiz Kaheh, a film critic arrested on bogus charges of distributing illegal videos. Hardly risky material.
What Sina represents to them however, is far bigger. He is the symbol of all the young, intellectual, Internet and technology savvy new generation this regime has failed to suppress. The latest battleground is the cyberspace and thousands of Persian web logs, from the progressive and politically charged ones to teenager’s sexual experimentations or mundane adolescent babblings is the chosen arena it will be fought in.
In this new confrontation there will be more sacrifices inflicted by the other side. As always, we have a choice; distress and holler as loud as we can or remain unruffled. By choosing the latter, would they even think twice before delivering the next blow? I doubt it. By raising our voice and causing as much uproar as we can manage, they may just be forced to do that.
At the end of the day this struggle is not about Sina or Hoder or Hooman or Simin. This is about their and our right to free speech and in this battle, remaining quiet equals defeat.
Nothing new about Sina. After a few days of shock, many bloggers have started to post again. Although many of them were very active supporting him with writing about him and putting up the banner that calls for his release, some well-known bloggers who use their real names are a bit frightened. Some of them have only put up the banner without anything about him and a few of them have not mentioned a single word about him, fearing of risking their jobs in mainstream media.
Woodward, Bernstein turned Deep Throat into celebrity
Enough hypocrisy to go around
William Gaines, a two-time Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who is now a professor at the University of Illinois, gave his students a project: Examine all the clues and name the person most likely to be "Deep Throat," the famous anonymous source used by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their coverage of the Nixon White House and the Watergate scandal. The Cleveland Plain Dealerquotes Bernstein criticizing the prof:
"The last thing students in a journalism class should be doing is trying to find out who other reporters' sources are," said Bernstein, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine who broke the stories with colleague Bob Woodward. "They should be learning how to protect sources."
Absolutely, completely true. Presumably, these future journalists might one day want to use an anonymous source. I've done it exactly once in my off-and-on career in newspapers, and I did it then only to protect the identity of a young child. Nothing would anger me more than for another journalist to expose that person's identity. People who speak to reporters on condition of anonymity must be able to trust that their identity will remain secret. If they think a different journalist will try to expose their identity, they will be less likely to do so.
But, Mr. Bernstein, if the identity of Deep Throat must remain secret, why write about him in such detail in "All The President's Men," and why further ratchet up the intrigue by identifying him with the name of a notorious pornographic movie? Yeah, I know an editor came up with the name, but Woodward and Bernstein didn't have to put it in their book.
The book also didn't have to provide such specific clues about his identity, such as his smoking and drinking habits.
To raise Deep Throat's profile even higher, Woodward's meetings with Deep Throat in a darkened parking garage were the most dramatic scenes in the movie as well.
So you can imagine why the public's interest in Deep Throat's identity was piqued.
It's a truism in journalism that people who endeavor to be celebrities have little right to complain about losing their privacy. It follows that journalists who want to protect the identity of their anonymous sources should not turn them into celebrities, then whine about fellow journalists who treat them as such.
For the record, Gaines' students claim that former Nixon administration attorney Fred Fielding was "Deep Throat." Fielding has refused to comment and Woodward and Bernstein said they will not reveal Deep Throat's identity until after their source has died.
Dr. Weevil (whose blog I don't link to nearly enough) says that by this time next year, there will either be two Islamic theocracies in the Middle East, or none. Since we will be calling the shots in Iraq for at least five years, I vote for none. Someone please explain to be how we are somehow required to allow Iraq to turn into an Shi'ite-run theocracy. We didn't allow Japan to devolve into a Shinto theocracy. We stayed there and established democracy, which was our right as the victor. We fought a war with Iraq because their government posed a threat to our nation. How foolish would it be to shrug our shoulders and let evil people assume power again, because that's what they seem to want. And furthermore, if Iran keeps acting up, its own people will toss the bums out.
When does "unlimited" not mean "unlimited?" When it refers to bandwidth. Apparently, the promise of unlimited bandwidth really meant no more than 40 Gigabytes of transfer, according to the good folks at Shipzone.com, where I had been storing the pics and graphics I use for all three of my Web sites I host on Blogspot.
As long-time readers recall, I sued to have my own server (the now defunct billdennis.net), but right after I started Page 3 Girls as a secondary site to PeoriaPUNDIT, the massive increase in hits caused me to crash through my measly 3 GB transfer limit like a sneeze though tissue paper. I am recently received notification that Shibzone will automatically delete my account within the next 24 hours . As a result, sometime soon, there will be no more graphics and no more pretty girls at Page 3 Girls or any other of my sites. So enjoy them while you can, boys. I'm going to bite the bullet and use the check from my next completed writing assignment for a premium hosting service.
I'd also like to take an informal poll: How many folks would donate to a PayPal or similar account to help defray the costs of a premium hosting service?
TEHRAN, Iran - A journalist and liberal critic of the hard-line clerics who rule Iran was arrested Sunday after police questioned him for several hours, his wife said.
Sina Motallebi was taken to jail after he responded to a summons Saturday to report to a police station for interrogation, Farnaz Ghazizadeh told The Associated Press. She said police promised to release her husband in two days, but she believed he would be held longer.
"Sina has been summoned by the judiciary several times over the past four months," Ghazizadeh said. "They object to materials in his web site including interviews he gave to foreign media."
Motallebi runs the Farsi Web site www.rooznegar.com, which he developed after the hard-line judiciary banned the reformist newspaper he wrote for, the daily Hayat-e-Nou, or New Era. The newspaper had published a cartoon showing the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran's 1979 revolution, being crushed by a hand.
The editor of Hayat-e-Nou, Hadi Khamenei, is the younger brother of Khomeini's successor as Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hadi Khamenei opposes his older brother's policies.
Since early 2000, Iran's hard-line judiciary has closed down about 90 pro-democracy publications and jailed several dozen writers and activists on vague charges of insulting the authorities.
The crackdown is widely seen as part of a power struggle between reformists who support President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites)'s program of social and political reforms and hard-liners who oppose any dilution of clerical rule and resist change through the unelected institutions they control, including the judiciary and police.
As Jeff Jarvis points out in a recent post, when journalists from the West are jailed by oppressive regimes, the full resources of multi-billion-dollar corporations spring into action. All Sina has is us. Please spread the word. Please blog about Sina every day. Please take Big Media to task for not reporting on this.
This little piece of news, via MSNBC, greeted me in this morning's email:
Groups tied to Yasser Arafat’s main Fatah faction and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed joint responsibility Thursday for a suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Kfar Saba. The attack, which killed one and injured 13, was the first such attack inside Israel in nearly a month and came after the Palestinian leadership agreed on a new Cabinet - an essential move for keeping a U.S.-backed peace plan for full Palestinian statehood within three years. The explosion during morning rush hour on Thursday sprayed blood and body parts across steps at the station, which serves as a link between Tel Aviv and its suburbs.
The bomber was stopped by security guards at the entrance to the station, preventing greater casualties, police said. One of the guards was killed.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Arafat’s Fatah movement, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades called the attack, a ?strike against enemies of god and humanity.?
Well, those in the Bush administration who are trying to push this "road map" for establishing a Palestinian state must simply be ecstatic at this wonderful news. What better was to piss away the gains made by beginning the establishing of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq than be creating a brand, spanking new Jew hating nation in land already under control of the only established Democracy in the Middle East.
It's been said before, but I will say it again: There is no Palestinian nation. Establishing one under control of these Jew-hating terrorists would be a horrible mistake.
I hate it when this happens. At least three times, another blogger has lifted entire posts of mine, two of which were fairy long, and posted them on his own site, with minimal acknowledgement that someone else was the author. Look here and compare it to this. There is also this and this, as well as this one and this one.
At the end of all three posts there is this simple phrase: "Via Page 3 Girls." That's the phrase I use when I want to acknowledge where I found link or a picture. I never use an entire post, photos and all, unless it is very short and I include my own comments and acknowledge it is someone else's work. The fair use doctrine says that you can use bits and pieces of a writer's work, not the entire damn thing! There's no money involved here, so it is not like he is not stealing food from my family's mouth or anything. But, it is still annoying. And illegal. Stop it.
I feel compelled to reprint this entire post from Editor:Myself, an Iranian blog:
More bad news are coming these days in Iran: daily paper, "Arya", which was to be re-published is banned; some other young female reporters (including Masoumeh "Masih" Alinejad) are in court, and many others that I can't remember now. Seems to me that hard-liners have started a new wave of pressure and this time they are targeting young journalists and activists. (I'm not in the mood to link to them now)
I have no idea why they are doing that while U.S forces are now on both sides of Iran (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and their threat to the regime is more than ever. Are they trying to omit the whole reformist or opposition from the scene? Are they encouraging U.S. to challenge Iran militarily so they can close down all semi democratically elected institutions? Do they really think they can afford resisting against Americans?
Make no mistake, I am totally against any military action against Iran, but I can't ignore so many comments that I get in my Persian Weblog from ordinary people, saying that they'd rather Americans than mullahs ruling them. Maybe they are having very times when they are saying this, but this is a fact that people are extremely tired of everything in Iran now.
Iranian bloggers have affected my way of thinking. For years, I wanted to turn Iran into a radioactive parking lot. An overreaction to be sure, but after so many of my countymen were held hostage and other murdered by proxy by the Iranian government, an understandable overreaction.
After reading things like this, I am reminded of the humanity of the average Iranian person. I hope and pray that a revolution comes soon to Iran, but I am ready to support the liberation of Iran through other means. A student-lead pro-Democracy revolution in hard-line Iran truly would be the beginning of the end for the Islamofascist movement coming out of the middle east. I also hope Hossein Derakhshan avoids the fate that has befallen Sina Motallebi.
Thanks and a shout-out to Jeff Jarvis for keeping us up-to-date about Mr. Motallebi, who is in jail in Iran because he did what Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Moore, Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Alec Baldwin, Jane Fonda and one-third of the Dixie Chicks can do in the United States with complete freedom and protection from the law (despite their contentions to the contrary): Expressed an opinion about the government. The conditions Motallebi now endures are completely unlike those faced by anti-war protestors whose contrived acts of civil disobedience get them temporarily thrown in some local lockup.
In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank bemoans the lack of information that is reveals at White House press briefings. Duh. I could have told Milbank that. More than 20 years ago, my journalism professor in junior college explained that press conferences are a lousy waste of time. The good stories are gotten by cornering officials in private when there are no other reporters around to steal the story. What kind of idiot wants to ask the really good questions in front of others. Want to turn press conferences meaningful? Turn off the friggin' cameras, or at least stop broadcasting them live on ever friggin' news channel. That way, neither the official spokespeople or the journalists will be as worried about their friggin' images.
According to my referral logs, someone arrived at Page 3 Girls via a link at this Andrew Sullivan page. I've looked everywhere, but I cannot find the link. I'd love a mention on Mr. Sullivan's site. I'll assume that unlike most guests, he would only be interested in the articles.
Kinky Friedman is the world's greatest former Jewish country musician turned detective novelist. I eagerly await his latest novel, Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned. Meanwhile, Brian Linse has photos of the Kinkster's visit to Los Angeles.
The OmbudsGod doesn't have a commenting system, or I would have made this point on his excellent site. He had this to say this morning about how Charleston Post and Courier reporter James Scott quoted a protestor "Heywood Jablome" at The Masters golf tournament. "His editor really deserves some of the credit, too."
"Some" is not the word I would use. Editors are supposed to be smarter than reporters, although I have found this to be the exception rather than the rule.
Well, not quite. But a SF Gatereport cited by Joanne Jacobs says that boosting self esteem does nothing to improve students' grades and may in fact lower them:
AT THE ANNUAL meeting of psychology researchers in Boston three years ago, two scientists weighed in on a question that seemed to be as much in need of investigation as whether the sun rises in the east.
The pair had asked a professor to send weekly e-mail messages to students of his who had done poorly on their first exam for the class. Each missive included a review question. In addition, one-third of the students, chosen at random, also received a message -- advice to study, for example -- suggesting that how well they did in the course was under their own control. The other third received the review question plus a "You're too smart to get a D!" pep talk aimed at raising their self-esteem, which everyone knows boosts academic performance.
Compared with the other e-mail recipients, the D and F students who got the self-esteem injection performed notably worse on later tests.
Simple common sense says that people who believe they are perfect just the way they are have no reason to try to improve themselves. Common sense also says that an elevated sense of self esteem can be dangerous in the wrong hands. The guy who points a gun at you and demands your wallet so he can buy the expensive Air Jordans he believes are his God-given right certainly has an elevated sense of self importance.
I once left a comfortable job at a very small, rural newspaper and took one at a place that had a somewhat more progressive owner. I went from electric typewriters and photo offshoot to laser printing and pagination. I could have stuck to reporting and refused to have anything to do with those damn computers. Even worse, the staffers who knew how to use them were young and, therefore, annoying because they didn't remember the days of hot wax. But, I knew that computers were the wave of the future and if I didn't master them, I would always be less valuable than younger journalists. Had I put allowed elevated self esteem overrule my common sense, I would never have subjected myself to the indignities of having to learn how computers worked. Thankfully, I managed to escape the Peoria public school system before the odorous notion of self esteem uber alles became trendy.
Learning how to use computers was not much fun at first. I was a 30-years-old newspaper veteran with a highly cultivated "been there, done that" attitude asking stupid beginner questions of snot-nosed recent J-school grads.
I learned because my discomfort over being inferior would not allow me to remain ignorant. Had I been trained from birth that I was inherently perfect with no effort on my part at all, I would never bothered to learn computers. I would have belittled the need to use them or come up with other excuses that fit my world view. Now, my self-esteem is justifiably through the roof (*ahem*).
There is a lesson to be learned here: If popular education theory conflicts with basic common sense, follow your instincts.
The Iranian government has arrested Sina Motallebi, a well-known blogger and journalist. He is accused of threatening national security by giving interviews to Persian-language radio outside Iran and writing articles both in newspapers and on his Weblog. Spreading the word on the Web and other media may help the situation. Also, there is a petition, so please read and sign.
The Islamic Jihad terrorist Amar Ahmed Muhmad Mabruk turned himself in this afternoon to IDF forces operating in Tul Karem. Mabruk, 22 from Tul Karem, was meant to carry out a suicide attack inside Israel during the Passover holiday.
During the past two days, IDF forces have arrested all the members of an Islamic Jihad cell who were involved in the planning and directing of a suicide attack inside Israel during the Passover holiday, and uncovered the explosive laden suitcase which the cell members meant to use.
During the holiday, IDF forces arrested all three of the cell members who were planning on carrying out the terror attack, Maun Abu Salam, Furan Halifa and Amin Inayim and another female terrorist who was meant to smuggle the suitcase into Israel.
The explosive laden suitcase was uncovered yesterday north east of Tul Karem.
What's next? Drinking urine? Apparently, virtually moribund Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer is becoming the trendy thing to drink. According to an article in the Washington Post, young people are attracted by the fact that because there has been virtually no advertising for this product for 10 years, so no one is trying to force the beer down their throats. Ironically, Pabst isn't even Pabst. The company closed its last brewery long ago. All its product is brewed elsewhere.
I am very familiar with Pabst. My father worked for the company's Peoria Heights brewery for years. He lost his job about 13 months before he could retire. At the time, the Heights plant was the most efficient the company owned. But, the brainiacs that owned the company through there was more money to be made by raiding the pension funds and moving the jobs south. If the current owners are as stupid as the ones who owned Pabst 20 years ago, look for a new advertising stressing how cool the beer is. The trend-sucking losers who now force themselves to drink the slop because it's trendy will stop doing so. Ordinary people with working taste buds won't drink it.
Oh, and I'm not joking about the stuff tasting like it has been, shall we say, pre-filtered. In the final months, brewery workers expessed their anger and frustration by tinkling in the product. If you drank Pabst in late 1981 and '82, you had a taste of what I mean. Now, it tastes like piss on purpose.
Of all the Blogs I visit, Gut Rumbles has the most personality. Recent rants include dying Easter eggs for his visiting children and forgetting where he hid one of them, the virtue of real boiled peanuts, a Wal-Mart shopping trip and reasons why he is not a leftist. Visit and visit often.
Jane Galt has an article linking to a Wall Street Journal article (paid registration required) about how ACORN is fighting a drive by its workers to unionize. The workers say they earn a $18,000 a year for working 54 hours a week. The workers are seeking the right to have at least one weekend a month off. Jane also links to a City Journal article about ACORN's far-left origin.
Twice in my life, I worked for unions. I was a reporter/assistant editor for a labor newspaper in Peoria. My work there (I wrote virtually all the articles) was good enough for the paper to win a national award, but I got my sorry ass fired because of my darkroom work on the crappy equipment my boss made the mistake of buying. The next new two people she hired to replace me had the same problems and she had to go to her bosses to buy the more expensive equipment I recommended. It was a lousy deal, but one that could happen at any place of business. It was somewhat jarring to be treated so badly by people who supposedly oppose arbitrary dismissal of workers.
My second experience was with Service Employees International Union, a group closely associated with ACORN. I answered an ad saying they were hiring organizers in my area. Before my hiring became official, I was asked to come to their Chicago office for training, which consisted of actual work -- assisting organize a major rally for more taxpayer money. The union put me and other, younger activists in a home it owned. I received no money for the work I did for them. Any pay I got would be a commission for every home health care worker I could get to sign a union card.
It was quickly apparent I would never make any real money doing this. This was the perfect job for a young recent college grad who wanted to scratch a left-wing itch while getting a check from mom or dad, not for a guy who needed to pay rent. So I quit after providing almost a week of free labor, leaving me older but wiser.
Oh, by the way: Ten years later, SEIU still hasn't accomplished anything. The best way home health-care workers can improve their lives is get some education or training and get a better job.
As a real libertarian, I support the right of employees to organize and collectively bargain for a contract. This right is implicit in the Constitution. What I oppose are the silly positions taken by unions about issues that have nothing to so with better wages or conditions for their members.