March 31, 2005

A History of Credit Cards

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.

Posted by Ryan at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Beware, College People, Beware

So, I couldn't decide whether this guy was being an amazingly mean jerk, or whether the little plagiarist sort of had it coming. Whatever the case, this just shows the amazing, and kinda creepy, power of the Internet to totally destroy someone's life, whether they had it coming or not.

The aftermath can be read here, which is kind of anti-climactic, but you do reach the conclusion the girl probably got expelled.

Posted by Ryan at 04:41 PM | Comments (6)

I'm Too Lazy To Write Something Interesting

So, I'll let someone else do it.

Posted by Ryan at 02:52 PM | Comments (1)

Attention Spans

Ryan says: Terri Schiavo. RIP.

Caroline says: who?

Ryan says: Heh.

Ryan says: The funny thing is, three months from now, that will be a legitimate question.

Caroline says: yeah.

Posted by Ryan at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2005

I'm a double dipper

How about you?

Posted by Ryan at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)

Schiavo Living Will Discovered

Shocking New Document Reveals Desire To Be Political Football

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (Rhodes Media Services) -- In an earth shattering announcement, lawyers in the Terri Schiavo case today announced they had discovered, in a previously unknown bank safety deposit box, a living will apparently penned by Terri Schiavo herself before the onset of her severe brain damage.

The newly-discovered will, although it doesn't state explicitly whether Schiavo desired the removal of artificial life-supporting measures in the event she could not make her wishes known, does state that, no matter what, she wanted to be thrust into the national spotlight and become a political football, at the expense of all dignity and privacy.

"I, Terri Schiavo, being of strong mind and body," begins the will. "Do hereby declare that I want the entire nation to be transfixed on my plight, whatever that plight may be, and to have that plight played over and over on the 24/7 cable news channels, while also prompting officials in the U.S. government to make Constitutionally-questionable decisions on my behalf. I hereby authorize the videotaping of my unresponsive body to be circulated to every major news outlet. Oh, and also, if you could demonize my husband and make him out to be an abusive wretch and basically destroy his reputation, that would be pretty funny, too. I'm sure he'd get a good laugh out of that. It would also be cool if protesters could make asses of themselves by putting tape over their mouths and stuff like that. That would be a nice touch."

lawyers on both sides of the issue, though disappointed that the living will does nothing to quell the debate, were deeply pleased that Schiavo's wishes had been so thoroughly carried out, without even realizing those were her exact wishes.

"Hey, sometimes you just get lucky like that," said one Schiavo attorney, speaking on condition of annonymity.

Posted by Ryan at 10:43 AM | Comments (5)

March 29, 2005

Now THAT'S how it's done

In today's Star-Tribune Letters To The Editor:

An opportunity to learn

In the articles about Terri Schiavo, there is usually a brief sentence referring to her struggles with bulimia, but nothing further is discussed. I think this whole experience could be an educational tool for young men and women.

As a young woman, I received educational material regarding eating disorders in high school, in college and through television programs, but never have I seen a case as bad as Terri Schiavo's gain media attention. This is a real life example of an eating disorder gone wrong.

Educating the public about the consequences of Terri's eating disorder would be a great way to turn this entire experience into something positive.

Jen Sandbo, Bloomington.

Is there such a thing as an eating disorder gone right?

Posted by Ryan at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2005

Hot Pants


Posted by Ryan at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)

Having Just Argued With My Girlfriend Yesterday

I tend to endorse this.

Posted by Ryan at 10:50 AM | Comments (3)

March 25, 2005

Most. Unfortunate. Logo. Ever.


UPDATE: Heh. They took the logo off their Web Page. I wonder why? It's still above the entrance to their facility, apparently. I wonder how long that will last.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now the whole Web site is down, but you can still do a Google search to find information about the Pediatric Center, and pictures of the logo can still located. I suspect they're in the midst of a logo redesign. If not, they should be.

For those suspecting the logo is a hoax, there's also this.

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM | Comments (12)

Late For Work? Excuse #1354

Sorry, boss, it was the tsunami.

Posted by Ryan at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Sick Day

I slept until 2 p.m. today, trying to sleep away what I thought was a minor migraine but what turned out to be a major bad headache. It's starting to come under control now, but man, it felt like my skull was being crushed in a vise. Like my head is caught between the breasts of Lucy Pinder. Mmmm, Lucy Pinder breasts.

Posted by Ryan at 03:35 PM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2005

Journalism 101

One of the first journalism classes I had to take covered some of the various methods of reporting news. For example, there are human interest reporting methods, hard news reporting methods, observational reporting methods, etc.

Personally, I enjoyed hard news reporting: being sent to the scene of unfolding news and trying hard to report what I saw as well as speaking with witnesses and available authorities. It's a rush, there's no question about it. It was fulfilling work, even though I was making $6 an hour.

I was often torn, though. On the one hand, I was getting the story, yes, but on the other hand, I definately inconvenienced my fair share of witnesses and authorities. Many was the police officer directing traffic that I annoyed in order to get an interview. It was a necessary but ugly aspect of hard news reporting.

I also did my share of observational reporting, which is basically just looking around and writing down what I saw. How many people were there? What was the mood of the crowd? That sort of thing. With observational reporting, I learned, you had best be precise. I once got an angry letter to the editor complaining that that I had used the term "handful of people" to describe the number of attendees at a meeting. After that, I made damned sure to do a head count during sparsely attended meetings.

There is a time and a place for hard news reporting and observational reporting. And it's usually up to the discretion of the reporter when it comes to which reporting method to use.

In the case of the Minnesota school shooting this week, I think it's pretty fair to say that a healthy mix of hard news reporting and observational reporting is required. As much as I'm turned off by the carnivorous reporting methods utilized by many in the media, I do understand the underlying desire to gather information and interviews and file a story. It's the nature of the beast.

All of which, of course, is a long-winded segue into the latest column by Nick Coleman, a journalism veteran with over 20 years of experience. I could just as easily rip on the latest lazy bit of observational reporting by Doug Grow, and his odd obsession with a pipe, but I'll stick with Coleman, who we all know I don't particularly care for.

PONEMAH, MINN. -- Way out on the ice, a small huddle of men squatted around a hole in Red Lake on Tuesday, basking in the early spring sun, squinting into the glare bouncing off a seemingly endless expanse of frozen water and fishing for perch. On land, parked at the tip of a peninsula, watching the action out on the ice, two guys in a car with a back seat full of kids rolled down a window:

"Hey, this is the end of the world, huh?" one said.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. You're sent to the scene of the most tragic school shooting since Columbine, and probably the biggest news story to hit Minnesota since Jesse Ventura took office. So, what do you do? You speak to a carload of people watching ice fishing "action." And, not only that, you don't even bother to get a NAME for the person you just QUOTED. Hmm. Gosh, it's almost like, I don't know, he almost made it up or something.

*several paragraphs omitted here, because Coleman does his usual act of taking freakin' forever to even come close to getting to the point.*

Ten were dead, and the traveling ghouls turned out in force Tuesday -- the media horde that attends each new atrocity.

Hey, look! Nick Coleman's amongst them, too! That ghoul!

There were a dozen satellite TV trucks in Red Lake, a town of 1,889 souls where the fire lookout tower seems higher than the water tower and keeps vigil over the birch scrub and stunted pine forests along the flat southern shore.

Like I said earlier, I'm all for observational reporting as a necessary component to journalism, but what the hell does a fire lookout tower have to do with anything? It's like Coleman suffers from reporting ADD or something. "Ten were dead, and there were satellite TV trucks and. . . hey, look! A fire lookout tower! And that dog has a puffy tail! Here Puff! Here Puff! Hee, hee, hee!"

"Did you say you're the 'tribal leader?' " one guy with a microphone asked Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., who was weary with exhaustion and from repeating the basic crash course guide to Indian Country.

One guy with a microphone? Wow. What a shock. And, apparently, Coleman is, himself, an expert when it comes to reporting from "Indian Country," so much so that he doesn't even bother to enlighten the readers with his own personal knowledge. Could it be that Coleman has no idea about anything even remotely associated with Indian Country, so he just belittles his microphone-wielding counterparts instead?

"This is Indian land," Jourdain repeated, over and over. "You are our guests. We are a federal entity without state laws and, as far as we are concerned, some of the last Indian land on the planet."

Yes, yes, the impatient media man said. "But some of us have been to school shootings across the country ..."

He must've realized how stupid that sounded, because, after an awkward and self-conscious beat, he added "unfortunately." But what he needed to know was when would Red Lake hold a memorial for the shooting victims? Because in other towns when people are cut down in cold blood, there are flowers and candles and visitors who come and build emotionally moving tributes.

Point?! Anybody see a point here?! If anybody sees a point, please call 1-800-NEEDAPOINT. The story, to Coleman, isn't that there was a school shooting, it's that the media (an admittedly often dense media) is trying to get interviews and information. Forgetting, of course, that Coleman is right there amongst the "ghouls." But, he's not ghoulish himself, because he's reporting on the ghouls. . . or whatever it is that makes sense in Coleman's mind.

Red Lake is not just another town. Poverty runs deep amid the squalid conditions for some who still live in backwoods trailers or tiny government homes. Red Lake is a place of deep roots, a place, elders often like to say, where human beings have lived continuously in one spot longer than anywhere in Minnesota.

To be accurate, a lot of Northern Minnesota consists of backwoods trailers. When you get up around Red Lake and Northome and basically anywhere north of Bemidji, you're going to see a lot of shanties and hovels. I'm reminded of one place in particular, on the way to Black Duck, I think, that's basically a trailer with so much junk strewn around the "yard," it looks like a landfill. The owner is so proud of his sprawling mess, he sports a big spray-painted sign facing the road that reads "Anti-DNR." Clever. Point is, Coleman's description of squalid conditions is definately not unique to Red Lake or Indian reservations, though I certainly can't deny such conditions exist. At any rate, poverty and squalid conditions, as far as I've read, weren't contributing factors in the shooting, so why mention them at all? Oh, right, it's a Nick Coleman column, which simply isn't complete without some mention of the poor.

School slaughters take place in suburbs or declining factory towns. Not in a place of connection and community. Not Red Lake.

Well, um, no, not really. But, simple research and fact-checking have never been much of a Nick Coleman strength.

The Ponemah Community Center, where some of the villagers gathered for grief counseling Tuesday, looks like a community building in a much bigger and badder city. Graffiti scar the back of the building, steel bars cover the lower windows; some of the upper ones have been smashed. While the grief counselors worked, cars full of kids wearing baggy clothes and backward baseball caps cruised by, hip-hop music booming from car windows.

Funny thing is, it takes a school shooting for Nick Coleman to acknowledge that the cultures developing on Minnesota Indian reservations are a bit, um, scary. Coleman forgets to mentions that the Red Lake school has featured metal detectors and security guards for some time, precisely because of the culture that Nick Coleman is just now apparently aware exists. Graffiti and steel bars didn't just appear overnight.

Not even an isolated Indian reservation in the muskegs of northwestern Minnesota can keep violent America at bay. Or Nazi chat rooms.

Yeah, we should really look into curbing that nasty free speech thing that's all over the Internet. As much as I loathe the darker side of the Web, and as much as I think Nazi chat rooms are vile fountains of hate, I can't deny their right to exist. Free speech can be a bitch, but it's a bitch I'm willing to die for to protect. Nick Coleman? Not so much.

Back in the town of Red Lake, the Seven Clans Casino was closed for the day, flags at half-staff and the parking lot empty outside the former hockey arena that now echoes to slot machines, not slap shots.

More Nick Coleman ADD. "Ten dead, former hockey arena-turned casino, lack of slap shots. Here Puff! Here Puff! Hee, hee, hee!"

By the way, extra points awarded to those of you who get the "here, Puff" reference. Even more points awarded for images of Wanda Nara nude. Man, Wanda Nara has big breasts.

Posted by Ryan at 11:50 AM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2005

Oh, and by the way. . .

There was a school shooting here in Minnesota. My grandmother lives in Northome, which isn't all that far away from the shootings. As far as remote locations go, Northern Minnesota is tough to beat, so it didn't surprise me all that much that the reporting out of the area was slow to begin with. Hell, it's a four hour drive to get there from Twin Cities. To say nothing of the fact that reservations enjoy some sovereign status, so access may be difficult. I'm sure we'll hear more as the story unfolds.

I'm curious to see how this story will play out politically as a soccer ball for gun control and gun rights activists.

UPDATE: So, I dropped by good old reliable Atrios, and some of the comments seriously almost made me ill. Some examples:

Guns don't kill people; Angels of Death kill people.
Shaw Kenawe | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:04 am | #

angel of death? did he belong to the GOP?
Mrs. Ibrahim al-Jaafari | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:04 am | #

Native Americans = brown people.

ergo, we care not so much.
watertiger | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:06 am | #

rural school shootings get regular coverage as long as the victims are white. lack of news coverage here is no coincidence . . . .
shelley | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:12 am | #

The Republicans just don't want to draw attewntion to the fact that they'll be losing a voter in the midterm elections in a swing state. Of course, now they might start pushing for felon voting rights.
Ben Grimm | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:13 am | #

Nazi ?

He'd make a great Whitehouse intern.

He could replace Guckert/Gannon.

It's good to know there's a whole new generation of leaders on the way
Karl Rove | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:21 am | #

Sick bastard musta been a Repuke.
Vicki | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 - 11:49 am | #

And that site is one of the beacons for the Left?

Come on, people. This is a tragedy. Can we keep the petty snarks and poison politics out of it? Jeez.

Posted by Ryan at 12:44 PM | Comments (4)

Couldn't they have used some other word?

Pope to SKIP Good Friday, health precarious

Yup, he's going out for a steak and a beer, instead.

Skip? SKIP?


Posted by Ryan at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005


Ryan says: Here's your TMI for the day: I ate broccoli cheese soup for lunch, three hours ago, and my farts already smell like broccoli.

Caroline says: sigh

Ryan says: If you'd like, I can come over to your office and do a "cup and throw."

Posted by Ryan at 03:01 PM | Comments (3)

Mu.Nu. Anniversary

Well, it's been about one year since this blog moved to the strange Mu.Nu domain (Thanks, Jim!). Since that time, this blog has exploded in its readership, mostly due to Google searches on "Exposed+Thong" and "Blue+Whale+Ejaculation," but, hey, visitors are visitors.

Some highlights of the last year are illustrated here.


Posted by Ryan at 10:22 AM | Comments (7)

Two Years, Two Voices

There's this.

And then there's this.

Posted by Ryan at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

The Eternal Question, Finally Answered

Warning: This link absolutely oozes nerd.

Posted by Ryan at 12:44 PM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2005

Roll Your Own Kitty


I know that, for some of you, this .gif won't come through, but I had to try. I saw this earlier today and almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Posted by Ryan at 03:32 PM | Comments (4)

Blogs Do Not Equal E-Mail, duh

I just read this piece at the Star-Tribune Web site.

As if blogs haven't had to defend their credibility enough, now they're being equated with Internet e-mail spam.

A fellow arrived at the gym the other morning with a printout of an e-mail he'd received. "Listen to this," he said.

He then read a letter from an active-duty Marine sergeant describing how a Marine serving in Iraq had written to Starbucks asking for a donation of coffee. According to the letter, Starbucks had written back saying that "the company does not support the war, nor anyone in it, and would not send the troops their brand of coffee."

"I know this war might not be very popular with some folks," wrote the sergeant, "but that doesn't mean we don't support the boys on the ground fighting street to street and house to house for what they and I believe is right."

The sergeant urged a boycott of Starbucks.

I realize that I work in front of a computer all day, so I'm fine-tuned to the realities of e-mail spam and irritating forwards. If you take either at their word, you may as well forever go through life with a giant "GULLIBLE" stamped across your forehead.

For all the advantages of the Internet, it is still the most unaccountable of all media, precisely because there's no one to complain to, no one to officially and universally set the record straight.

As far as e-mail spam and forwards go, yeah. But the author here is ever so gradually trying to equate blogs and Web sites with e-mail spam, which is just incredibly skewed and unfair. Granted, you shouldn't take blogs and Web sites as the unvarnished truth, either, but they're generally 8000 times more reliable than freakin' e-mail spams and forwards.

Ultimately, Katz believes, Internet information sites will sort themselves out by their own reputations.

Meanwhile, it's worth remembering that some of what we find there is more froth than latte.

Some? SOME?!! Jeez, the same could be said for just about ANYTHING you can find in the mainstream media. Anything about Michael Jackson, or Martha Stewart, or Robert Blake, or Scott Peterson is basically froth. Where's the author's indignation about THAT?

Posted by Ryan at 03:17 PM | Comments (3)

I should send them my resume

I nominate me.

UPDATE: Position has been filled. *sigh*

Posted by Ryan at 11:27 AM | Comments (9)

March 16, 2005


My blog is becoming more well read than I really ever thought was possible, which is a good and bad thing.

I started this blog as a means by which to strengthen my writing skills, which I think it's done, at least marginally. It also provided a much more interactive method of keeping a journal, which I thought was cool.

The downside of all of this is that, more and more, people I know are stumbling across this blog, and not all of those people, not surprisingly, are pleased about what they're reading here. That happened again today.

I'm torn about what to think here. On the one hand, I've always known that blogging under my real name and about my own personal experiences, thoughts and politics, entails a certain amount of risk. People I know and like could find something here that displeases or disappoints them.

On the other hand, despite all the self-assurances I pile upon myself that I'm being truthful and honest in my narratives, at least as far as I perceive them, my face still gets hot from a twinge of embarrassment or regret when someone I know drops an e-mail or comment saying they read something here that they didn't agree with, and that they'd like a certain post removed. That's still tough for me to swallow.

On the third hand, I can't help but think it's probably a good thing to get such subtle reminders that this blog is available for public consumption and, although I'm fine with people reading about me and viewing pictures of my rear, some of the people I mention here may be uncomfortable with the content.

At any rate, I got an e-mail today from someone I like and respect, and they didn't like something they read here, even though the post accurately reflected my thoughts at the time.

It makes me wonder about my approach to blogging, and whether I'm doing it right or wrong, or if there is a right or wrong way to blog.

Posted by Ryan at 02:21 PM | Comments (11)

Great Moments In My College Education

Greek Mythology Professor (GMP): History can be a deeply satisfying area of study, provided you have the right teacher.

Class: *Nods in agreement.*

GMP: The problem I see a lot with new college students is that they're not inspired by history because they had bad history teachers in high school.

Class: *Nods in agreement.*

Me: *Slumps back in chair.*

GMP: You know what's the worst? The worst is having a history teacher who is also the school's phys ed teacher.

Class: *laughs*

Me: *Slumps further back in chair.*

GMP: Raise your hand if you had a history teacher who was also the phys ed teacher.

Class: *about 2/3 raises hand, myself included*

GMP: You, Ryan, was your history teacher any good?

Me: He was my dad.

*crickets chirping*

Posted by Ryan at 12:55 PM | Comments (3)

Nick Column Vs Guns; Guns Win

Okay, today's installment of "Point-Out-Nick-Coleman's-Horrible-Writing-And-Logic" is almost too easy. So, let's begin!

DISCLAIMER: I'm really busy today, so I can only dedicate a couple seconds to this every once in awhile. Apologies for it's inevitable sloppiness. Sloppy though it be, it's still better than Coleman's column, I imagine.

There were a million moms at the Cathedral of St. Paul Tuesday.

Minus 999,979.

Great googily moogily. What is it with Nick Coleman attending poorly attended events? I wonder if he includes himself in the final attendee tally. Any bets?

Five years ago, the moms could have taken a run at a million. But five years ago is a long time, when you are talking about politics.

Five years ago, the Million Mom March turned out thousands against guns in St. Paul and then, on a beautiful Mother's Day in May of 2000, assembled three-quarters of a million strong in Washington, D.C., to demand that the nation's lawmakers put an end to the carnage.

It's one of those great leaps in Coleman logic that's so hard to grasp here in the world of reality. Leave it to Nick to try and draw a parallel between the Million Mom march five years ago, in Washington D.C., during a beautiful May day, with a totally different march in St. Paul, Minn. Gee, what a surprise: a St. Paul, Minn., "march," during the month of March, couldn't garner more than 21 marchers. What a shock. Of course, Nick offers up his own unsubstantiated hypothesis as to why there was such a poor showing.

But before we get to that, did you know that the Million Mom march was against "carnage?" That's some pretty sweeping legislation those moms were marching about. "Down with Carnage!"

It looked like they even had a chance. But that was then. Before 9/11, before President Bush let the ban on assault rifles lapse, before a government agency warned that terrorists can buy weapons easier than they can get on airplanes, before the National Rifle Association bought Congress. Before we stopped giving a rip.

So many straw men, so little time. So much incoherence, so little time. So much bad writing, so little time. I mean, seriously, "giving a rip?" The Strib should be ashamed but, seeing that it's the Strib, they're probably just proud. Yes, after 9/11, everyone has a gun. Yes, the "assault" rifle ban lapsed, and now everyone is on the street with an SKS with a filed down catch. And, you can actually view the receipt at the national archives that shows the NRA purchase of Congress.

On Tuesday, the remnants of the million moms mustered around the country to jog our conscience about the daily mayhem, the 82 Americans who are shot to death each day, including eight kids under 18 years old.

Won't somebody think of the children!

It was something called National Bell Ringing Day, an effort to focus attention on the fact that Congress seems more interested in protecting gun makers from lawsuits than protecting kids from guns. It would seem to have been a timely effort, with the country reeling from almost daily massacres.

Yep, our country is reeling. Daily MASSACRES! And, of course, you get a good dose of Nick Coleman splashing about unsubstantiated claims: "Congress SEEMS more interested in protecting gun makers." Anything to back that up, Nick? No? Hm.

But when the bell started tolling in St. Paul, only 21 "moms" had shown up, including a couple of priests and a few stragglers who joined the somber assembly during the 15 minutes it took to ring 82 times.

Oh, Nick, don't call yourself a "straggler." That's being mean to the real stragglers of the world. Don't belittle the stragglers so cruelly. They don't deserve to be lumped in alongside yourself.

"We have thousands of members and friends," said Million Mom organizer Mary Heller, who nevertheless seemed chagrined at the turnout. "And we're still fighting for the same thing we have been fighting for the last five years -- sensible gun laws."

There's that magic word again: "seem." Heller sure "seemed" chagrined. Maybe she was just constipated, Nick. You never know.

One thing Heller and the other moms wanted me to help them make clear is that they are not "anti-gun." Instead, they stressed, they are "anti-gun violence."

Hey, I'm not anti-KNIFE. I'm anti-knife VIOLENCE. Jeebus Christmas. Who ISN'T against gun VIOLENCE? Is there a "pro-gun violence" movement of which I'm not aware? Oh, wait, I'm sure in Coleman's mind, there is a pro-gun violence movement, and it's called the NRA. Just a guess on my part, but it SEEMS like a Coleman point of view.

OK. Point noted. But the victory goes to the gunslingers: If not even the mothers can come right out and say they hate the bloody guns, then it is clear: The bloody guns have won.

Suddenly, Coleman is channeling a British Lord. Those bloody guns. Also note: the victory goes to the gunslingers. One imagines a motley crew of cowboys, draped in gunman dusters, wildly shooting their peacemakers in the air in victory. YEE-HAWWWWWW.

*sigh* This is getting tiresome, so I'll just excerpt a few other idiocies in the column:

Today, we don't care about stopping gun violence. Today, we discuss what kind of handgun best suits your mood and complements your outfit.

Just the other day, I was buying a pair of hiking boots and I thought: "you know, a .38 Special would look GREAT with these. Unless I'm feeling somber, in which case a .50 calibre Desert Eagle would look ravishing.

Americans don't have the will to put the guns away. We are a gun-toting, gun-loving, gun-happy bunch. With blood on our hands.

The only gun I actually own is a .22 rifle, which I haven't used in years. No blood on my hands either. Oh, wait, I do have a hangnail that's seeping a bit.

More than 150,000 Americans have been shot to death since those million moms went to Washington in 2000, including more than 16,000 kids. The kill rates have been falling somewhat since the moms first marched, but some of the improvement is due to the morbid fact that big-city emergency rooms have gotten better -- through experience -- at saving people who are bleeding to death.

Anybody else spot the unsubstantiated claim? If not, here it is: but some of the improvement is due to the morbid fact that big-city emergency rooms have gotten better -- through experience --

No one cares about this anymore. Americans love their guns and they have made peace with the price of having guns under their car seats and on their nightstands and in their closets and in their loved one's mouths.

Just the other evening, my girlfriend was twirling a Colt .45 barrel in her mouth in that coy way of hers, and I just had to tell her: "Honey, please, stop it. I need to get up early tomorrow. If you need to shoot, shoot a cat." *Cover my head with a pillow * *BANG!*

As for the rest of the column, I'll leave it to you to read, if you feel the need to torture yourself. It's typical Coleman dreck. You've been warned.

Posted by Ryan at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2005

Quick, call a waaaahmbulance


Posted by Ryan at 01:14 PM | Comments (3)

March 14, 2005

Beer blogging

It's the complimentary beverage part of the evening, so I stole away quick to sip a Miller Lite and tell you something about Chicago. Seeing as how I only left the hotel/conference grounds once to go to dinner last night, I can't tell you much about Chicago.

But, Chicago is expensive. I bought a pack of gum and a small bag of Combos yesterday, and it cost me just under $7. I bought a Diet Coke 20 oz. this morning for $2.16. To put this into perspective, I'm used to pop machine 20 oz. sodas for $1.10, and a pack of gum and combos would normally cost me about $2.30 or so.

The snow also falls up here in Chicago. Okay, that's only partly true. I'm on the 23rd floor of the Hyatt Regency on (heh) Wacker Drive and, this being the windy city, from my 23rd floor perspective, the snow actually appears at times to go upwards.

Oh, and judging by my recent comment log, my blog is getting spammed big time from some fucking spammer called Spy Software. Ironic. I banned their IP address. We'll see how long it is before they change it. Damned spammers.

A bunch of the editorial and sales staff for the magazine is supposed to go out for Chicago-style deep dish pizza tonight. We'll see if it's as good as I've heard.

Posted by Ryan at 06:56 PM | Comments (3)

No Smoking

So, I'm going through my hotel room last night. I open a nightstand drawer, and what do I find? I find a cigarette ash tray, with a label on the bottom of said ash tray reading "This is a non-smoking room. Thank you for your cooperation." So, why provide the ash tray in the first place? That's kind of like placing a big cardboard sign on the bed that reads "This is a non-sleeping room. Thank you for your cooperation."

Never mind me. Carry on.

Posted by Ryan at 01:15 PM | Comments (4)

March 13, 2005


I'll be in Chicago until Tuesday evening. So, if I don't blog much until about mid-week, that's why.

Posted by Ryan at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2005

No matter who you are. . .

You must love BikerFox. He's a phenomenon, kind of like Richard Simmons, or Tony Robbins or Carson from Queer Eye for the Straight guy. Learn about BikerFox, for it will make your life better.

Oh, and don't forget his 2005 Photoshoot. And certainly don't miss out on signing, or at least reading, his guest book.

Kelly Brook is hot too. Kelly Brook . So is Kim Kardashian. Kelly Brook. Kelly Brook. Jennifer Lopez . Kelly Brook. Kelly Brook. Kelly Brook.">Kelly Brook's rear. Kelly Brook . So is Kim Kardashian. Kelly Brook. Kelly Brook. Jennifer Lopez . Kelly Brook. Kelly Brook.">Kelly Brook's rear. Kelly Brook .

Posted by Ryan at 04:29 PM | Comments (1)

March 08, 2005

Protesting Can Also Be The (Hairy) Pits


Story here.

Posted by Ryan at 02:13 PM | Comments (11)

Protests Are "Worrisome"

Atrios put up what I think is one of his dumber posts today:

Democracy's Messy

Is it okay now to acknowledge that things in Lebanon are a bit messier (and, in fact, quite worrisome) than the 101st Fighting Keyboarders have been saying.

Sure, it's okay to say that. Go ahead. But, please, be sure to cite some specifics, please. Where has it been messy?">The protests? The PEACEFUL protests? On both sides? If the protests on either side were met with a hail of bullets, "Atrios" might have some sort of point here. As it is. . . NOT. Ah, but it gets even better, with twice the hand wringing.

One reason I don't jump on every "yay! signs of protest by the good guys!" development or the latest "support the Iranian students!" calls which I regularly get in email is that some times these things end very badly.

Ah, yes, sometimes these things end very badly. And, sometimes, when I get in my car, I could possibly die in a horrific, decapitating car crash. Doesn't mean I stop driving. Sometimes, when I eat food, I could possibly get a hunk of steak lodged in my throat and choke to death. Doesn't mean I stop eating. On the flip side, sometimes peaceful protests can result in sweeping changes in policy and governmental rule, so maybe, you know, such protests should be encouraged and applauded, especially when they're unprecedented in the history of a region.

It's all very nice to support dissident movements and protests, but it's very easy to do when you're not the one facing down a billy club or a tank or in a country falling into civil war.

Anybody hear anything about Lebanon falling into civil war? Anybody hear about the Lebanese protesters facing down billy clubs or tanks? No? Why, it's almost as if "Atrios" is making shit up or something. In some convoluted way, "Atrios" thinks that, because Lebanese protesters may potentially be putting themselves in harm's way, nobody else has a right to support or encourage them. They should go it alone, those protester's should. We shouldn't be encouraging their dangerous actions with our reckless support, because we're not in danger ourselves and. . . what the fuck was his point again?

But, for more specifics get your smart commentary on Lebanon elsewhere. Don't know a damn thing about the place.

Apparently not. Didn't stop him from making a dumb-ass post though, so here's to free speech and all that.

And perhaps "Atrios" could entertain the blog reading world with his uninformed thoughts about protests in:





Never mind all that, though. Those are just worrisome protests that could, you know, potentially, maybe, possibly, but not necessarily likely, end very badly. So, shhhhhhhhhhhh. Nothing to encourage here.

Posted by Ryan at 10:19 AM | Comments (11)

March 07, 2005

Bi-Partisan Sacrifices

Clinton.ap/index.html">And here I thought they spooned.

Posted by Ryan at 02:47 PM | Comments (1)

Post Deleted

I had a post up that featured pictures of the supposed car involved in the shooting of the Italian journalist. The validity of those pictures is now under speculation, so I deleted the post until further notice.

Posted by Ryan at 01:06 PM | Comments (3)

March 04, 2005

Testing, Testing

Via Doug, at Bogus Gold, I took a test, which yielded odd results:

English Genius
You scored 86% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 77% Expert!

Compared to users who took the test and are and in your age group:
100% had lower Beginner scores.
100% had lower Intermediate scores.
100% had lower Advanced scores.
100% had lower Expert scores.

First off: only 86% Beginner? My Mom would be rolling over in her grave if she knew that, provided she was dead, I mean. That last part, with all the 100% figures? I don't buy those results. It was an interesting test, though. Some head scratchers were in there.

Posted by Ryan at 04:18 PM | Comments (7)

That Good Old Objective Media


You gotta give Martha Stewart's PR people credit. If you can take a convicted insider trader and make her a bigger and more respected star after a five month prison stint, man, you're doing one hell of a job.

Posted by Ryan at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

Tough Call

During the summer of 1998, when I worked as a reporter for the Winona Daily News, I was given a very sucky article assignment. It was sucky in that it involved an interview I would have gnawed off my left foot to get out of.

Two teenage girls had gotten into an accident while driving a pickup truck. They were driving to a campsite they had prepared for a weekend outing. The driver lost control of the truck, the truck rolled over, and the driver was killed. Well, the Daily News tried to do human interest stories in the event of a tragedy such as a teenage death, and it fell on me that weekend to write the story.

As if writing about a teenager's death wasn't hard enough, I also had to make a call to the girl's family. Now, I'm fine with people thinking I'm an asshole or a jerk; that's part of the magic of being Ryan Rhodes. But, I don't like thinking of myself as a ghoul. And, let me tell you, that day I felt about as ghoulish as you can get.

The thing is, though, it was a necessary ghoulishness. Like it or not, I wasn't going to get a complete article about the girl unless I spoke with her family. I couldn't find out who she really was and what her interests were unless I picked up that phone and spoke with her mom or dad. I knew all this. I hated it, but I knew it.

I stared at that phone for about an hour. I'd pick it up and start to dial, and then I'd put it down again. I couldn't think of a good introduction that wouldn't make me sound, and feel, like a completely insensitive ass.

When I did finally make the call, the girl's dad answered. I could tell there was a lot of funeral-related activity going on in the background; a lot of people in the house.

I honestly can't remember exactly how I introduced myself, or how I explained why I was calling. What I do remember was just how eager that father was to talk about his daughter. He told me about her for a good half hour; what she was like, what her interests were. . . how much he loved her. That sort of heartbreaking kind of thing.

I wrote the article, which admittedly wasn't one of my better pieces of writing, thanks to the pressures of daily deadlines, but it was decent. A week later, I even received a thank you card from the girl's family.

All of which brings me to this. Now, I was a grunt reporter at the time. I was 23 years old, making $6 an hour, for a daily newspaper that wasn't particularly huge.

So, given all that background, I have a few questions: if a 23-year-old grunt reporter can summon the cajones to make a difficult call to the family of a recently and tragically deceased teenage girl, why couldn't Nick Coleman, a "seasoned" reporter working for the biggest newspaper in Minnesota, make a call to the family of a 25-year-old soldier who died in the line of duty in Iraq? Why did Nick, instead, speak with an insurance and real estate agent whose son, Patrick, went to school with Day? Why did Nick, instead, speak with George Graff, a retired teacher and high school wrestling coach who knew Day's family back when the fallen soldier's sister, Kate, was a school cheerleader? Why did Nick, instead, speak with Lisa Nieland, 24, a production assistant in the factory (where another worker is in Iraq with the Guard). And, as long as I'm asking questions: WHAT factory? Nick just says "the factory," and the readers have no idea what the hell factory he's even talking about. Why did Nick, rather than trying to speak with the soldier's widow, opt instead to speak with a third worker watching the choppers, Pat Needham, 50? Why did Nick, rather than interview someone who might actually have been, you know, CLOSE with the fallen soldier, opt instead to simply quote from the priest presiding over the funeral?

Not that I expect any answers from Nick, mind you, but I just thought I'd ask.

Gee, it's almost as if Coleman is a terrible, lazy, or selective, reporter or something. Nahhhh, that can't be it.

Posted by Ryan at 11:37 AM | Comments (9)

March 02, 2005

I'm Moving To Lebanon

Because it apparently consists entirely of pretty hot women.


Holy smokes she's good looking. *growl*


Posted by Ryan at 03:05 PM | Comments (4)

March 01, 2005

Placing Blame

DISCLAIMER: I'm not an economist. The following post is based purely on my own observations and opinions. I fully admit that the information contained within this post could be wrong. Feel free to tear me a new butthole if you wish. It wouldn't be the first time.

There's plenty of items I could dismantle with this post, but it's this part that I most want to address:

The year after I graduated from college your presidency (W. Bush, of course) hailed in the worst economic downturn since Hoover.

This is something that bothers me whenever someone holds the economy forth as some sort of stinky fish that's the direct result of the Bush administration. Here's the deal: I don't blame Bush OR Clinton OR Reagan OR Hoover OR Freddy OR Jason OR aliens OR predators for the borderline recession that greeted us at the turn of the Millennium, and I think it's entirely stupid to place blame on any one administration for something as complex as economic stability. And, keep in mind, I was laid off in late 2001 pretty much as a direct result of the constricting economic woes of the time, so I should be more than willing to place blame on someone. . . ANYONE. So, here goes:

Back in 1998, in my Winona Daily News reporter days (WARNING: phony baloney street cred and folksy wisdom alert!), every time the stock market--NASDAQ in particular--did one of its 100+ point drops, I was tasked with exploring whether that particular drop was an indication of serious drops in the future or whether the said drop was just a "correction." Generally, the sources I interviewed chalked it up to a "correction" and, sure enough, in the next couple of weeks, the stock market would rebound, and everything was puppies and kittens again. Still, I couldn't help thinking that something wasn't quite right. The drops and rises were just so. . . big. And regular.

Also that summer, I was assigned an article that explored the Y2k "crises." If you don't remember the Y2k crises, let's just say, it meant a lot of jobs for a lot of techies. Hell, it was pretty much its own mini-industry. There are still soda machines here at IBM sporting stickers that say "Y2k compliant." SODA machineS, for crying out loud.

Come 1999, the stock market tech bubble started to deflate which, in retrospect, was hardly surprising. But, few people really grasp what the bubble burst really was, or what it meant. Hundreds, hell, maybe thousands, of Internet start-ups were largely behind the stock market boom of the late 90s. Those Internet start-ups were all vying for online advertising dollars which, apparently, nobody realized that there was a finite supply of online advertising dollars. Only so many companies were willing to pay for a banner ad for

The other thing about all those Internet start-ups was that they all basically bought new technology hardware. Nobody was digging through trash heaps and rebuilding an old Compaq to act as a Web server. No, everybody was buying new, and expensive, technology hardware. Companies like Sun Microsystems were up to their ears in orders.

And, again, this all was building up under the Clinton adminstration, pretty much without any real input from said administration, which was busy dealing with blowjob-gate. For the record here, I wanted everyone to just STOP with the witch hunt during blowjob-gate. I mean, jeez, who really freakin' cared? Anyway. . .

The year 2000 rolled around, and Y2k did not, in fact, result in accidental global nuking and computers coming to life to feast on human brains. What Y2k DID mean was that a whole lot of people were suddenly not necessary any more, and a very lucrative and important part of the economy was pretty much shut down. Good news, bad news.

Oh, and all those Internet start-ups? They discovered they couldn't make ends meet because there wasn't enough advertising dollars and/or interest in their sites. So, they continued to shut down as well, leaving companies like, say, Sun Microsystems, with all these orders (expensive orders) that no longer needed to be filled. Thus, people got laid off. A lot of people got laid off. A lot of speculation didn't pan out. It wasn't the first time rampant speculation laid an egg, and it probably won't be the last time.

Again, not Clinton's fault. . . not Bush's fault. Bush inherited a crumbling economy that was, by 2000, not even nearly finished crumbling yet. What should the Bush administration have done? Pumped millions of dollars into Hardly. That would have been stupid. Hell, for my birthday in 2000, my parents gave me $1,000, with the stipulation that I had to invest it in the stock market. I put the money in a savings account instead, because I didn't trust the market. It was too volatile. And I didn't know shit. Still don't.

Thing is, rampant speculation wasn't limited to Internet start-ups. Everyone was pumping the stock market like a $20 prostitute. Enron comes to mind here, as well as others. If the market hadn't collapsed under its own inflated weight, we may never have known about all the malfeasance going on at Enron, and Arthur Andersen and the like. But, the market did tank, and companies went belly up like fish in a freshly dynamited pond. You can't blame Bush for that. You can't blame Clinton for that. You can blame greed, I suppose.

So, you have an economy and stock market on the decline, with technology companies getting a big old splash of cold water in the face. In the midst of that economic seizure, 9/11 came around, an attack that sliced the aorta of America's world economic headquarters. What did the market drop when it opened up again days later? 700+ points or something like that? Unheard of. Not something you bounce back from overnight, or even over four years for that matter.

The Bush administration inherited some pretty freakin' impossible economic circumstances and, given those circumstances, I think it's more amazing than anything else that we're still economically viable, let alone competitive.

So, when I read that Bush hailed in the worst economic downturn since Hoover, I usually think: wow, that's a really stupid thing I just read there. Really, REALLY stupid. Like, Titanically stupid.

Then I go watch Strong Bad, and I laugh.

Posted by Ryan at 09:57 PM | Comments (8)

Nickel For Your Thoughts

As a hobbyist coin collector, I think this is pretty cool.

Posted by Ryan at 04:54 PM | Comments (1)

Sin Stacking

From today's Rochester Post-Bulletin (you need a username and password) we get this amazingly horrifying lead paragraph. Keep in mind, Winona is the town where I graduated from college:

WINONA -- Bail has been set at $20 million for a 22-year-old man accused of strangling his pregnant girlfriend to keep her from going to authorities about his alleged drug-dealing, then raping and strangling her 10-year-old daughter before setting their apartment on fire in mid-December....

The full story, free of charge, can be read here. Gawd.

Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker. Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker. Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker.

Posted by Ryan at 01:05 PM | Comments (4)
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