November 30, 2007

Answering Nick's Questions

Bridge Boy is at it again.

Lieutenant Gov. Carol Molnau has spent four months avoiding unpleasant news stories (she says she ignores them) about the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which she ran without close scrutiny of her leadership until Aug. 1.

Really? And I'm sure Nick has all sorts of proof of this lack of scrutiny. No wonder Molnau "says" she ignores unpleasant news stories, what with such fair reporting approaches as this.

That was the day -- four months ago -- when the most-inspected bridge in the state collapsed, killing 13 people. And when the Pawlenty-Molnau administration started scrambling for cover.

It was also the day Nick Coleman lost his last tenuous strand of sanity and started jumping around whipping his feces like a deranged spider monkey. For the Star-Tribune, this is also referred to as "Pursuing a Pulitzer." Although, to be fair, Nick's his own deranged spider monkey, because he's nobody else's monkey.

Two weeks after the fall of the Interstate 35W bridge, Molnau stopped answering most questions about her department and her decisions. She has declined repeated interview requests from the Star Tribune newsroom since mid-August.

Gosh, given the fair treatment she's been given from the Strib, who can blame her? Sure, I'll do an interview where the interviewer has only a loose grip on facts and is intent on blaming me for everything from the Big Bang to the bridge collapse. Can't wait!

To help get her back in the habit of answering questions, I have included a dozen pertinent queries at the end of this column.

Wow. Thanks, Nick. But, seeing as how Molnau is supposedly "ignoring" your twaddle, doesn't that strike you as a meaningless exercise? But, hey, don't let that stop you.

This is sadly necessary because, in carefully choreographed interviews, Molnau has been waging a public relations campaign not on behalf of enlightening the taxpayers, but on behalf of saving her own hide.

Also known as repeatedly providing facts that just don't jibe with the accepted Star-Tribune narrative.

At least one poll shows Minnesotans want Molnau to resign as transportation commissioner.

At least one poll! One! One beautiful poll! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Sorry, I was channelling "The Count" there. Notice how Nick doesn't cite that one poll, which was probably conducted at his desk, and consisted of him talking to himself.

But Molnau remains in the job Gov. Tim Pawlenty assigned to her, serving the governor the way a back-yard hay bale helps keep Little Jimmy's arrows from hitting the side of the house.

Sweet Mother McGee. Yet another Nick Coleman analogy that falls dead on impact. Who taught this guy to write? Jed Clampett?

Taking the hit for Pawlenty is politics. But when she took the helm of MnDOT, Molnau was no longer merely a politician. She was a public servant. And she is doing the public no good by staying in her job for political reasons.

Except for, you know, presiding over the whole bridge clean-up and rebuilding. That kind of thing.

Molnau has ducked journalists and legislators who want to ask in-depth questions about the maintenance debates that took place before the bridge fell, or the spin-control efforts that followed (MnDOT decided within hours of the collapse to hire an outside consulting firm -- for $2 million, the same price as the plan to strengthen the bridge that had earlier been rejected).

ARGH! Nick knows, or at least SHOULD know, that plan to strengthen the bridge was rejected. . . BECAUSE THERE WAS CONCERN IT COULD FURTHER WEAKEN THE BRIDGE. I can just about imagine the clucking Nick would be doing right now if that $2 million plan had gone through, and the bridge still collapsed; you just KNOW he'd be saying "they went ahead with a flawed $2 million plan knowing it could further weaken the bridge, those idiots, and now here they are spending an additional $2 million hiring an outside consulting firm."

If I were Molnau, I'd be ducking retarded journalists and legislators, too, since they're more interested in selling a flawed narrative in and scoring the cheapest of political points.

Most of these woe-is-me exchanges have boiled down to questions of the "How are you holding up" variety. (Short answer: Better than the bridges). Molnau cried on one newscast as she described visiting the bridge and shed tears on another station when asked if the collapse had changed her life.

To Nick, they weren't real tears. They were fake tears. Fake PR tears. If she was really being sincere, she'd be nailing herself to a cross and admitting to personally removing 10,000 rivets from the bridge on July 31.

"A lot of people's lives have changed," she told one station. "A lot of the employees here at MnDOT ... and a lot of the families who were affected. So all of our lives have changed a bit ... and mine's no different."

Thirteen people are dead, dozens are injured for life. And some are being criticized for how they do their job. See?

And Molnau is refusing to be interviewed? Can you imagine? With fair and unbiased news outlets like the Strib (which has no designs on a Pulitzer at all, nosiree), how could she possibly refuse?

We're all affected.

Molnau is entitled to have feelings. But the taxpayers are entitled to straight answers from the politician running the Department of Transportation when the bridge fell.

Which have been given as they've become available, which has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention, but which Nick is determined to ignore in the name of his obsessive witch hunt.

Here are a dozen Molnau could begin with:

Oh, this ought to be good.

1. Why do you need an assistant (Bob McFarlin) to answer basic questions about MnDOT practices and decisions?

Because Lt. Governors have assistants for dealing with ignorant assholes driven by agendas.

2. What role has the governor played in managing MnDOT and the bridge crisis?

For that matter, what role does the governor play in managing snow removal during heavy winter storms. Some streets aren't cleared until noon or later. What does the governor know about that?

3. MnDOT paid a consultant to figure out how to fix the 35W bridge, then ignored the recommendations. Why?

The recommendations weren't ignored. They were considered and it was decided the "fix" may unnecessarily weaken the bridge. Nick knows this, but he apparently chooses to ignore this little tidbit in his "Knows Stuff" tackle box.

4. What changes, if any, have you made in inspection and repair procedures since Aug. 1?

Since inspection and repair procedures may not have been at all at fault for a collapse that has yet to be explained, why would changes be required?

5. Why did you hire a private consultant to study the collapse (in addition to the National Transportation Safety Board)? Who besides you and the governor will see the findings before release?

Gosh, two studies. It's almost like they really want to know the underlying cause of the collapse or something. Conspiracy Coleman is in fine form here.

6. Do you truly believe there is nothing you could have done to prevent the collapse and the loss of lives?

Long answer: Absolutely. Short answer: Yep.

7. You say MnDOT decisions aren't solely "engineer-based." Not even when public safety is at stake? Please justify.

Because engineers often disagree on a proper course of action, so you make decisions based on their input, factoring in traffic impacts that may be required, factoring in financial considerations and accepting there are just some unknowns floating around out there that could take everyone by surprise. See how easy that was, Nick?

8. The governor says money was not an issue in the collapse, but you say MnDOT "looks at costs to maximize resources." Reconcile, please. How did "looking at costs" limit work on the 35W bridge?

Money was not an issue in the collapse. The bridge did not collapse because of money. The bridge did not collapse because of lack of money. The cause of the bridge collapse has yet to be fully researched and explained. If you'd exercise some patience instead of fingerpointing, the facts of collapse will eventually emerge, and the results will likely yield a "oh, wow, we didn't think of that" moment that would have nothing to do with money.

9. Many defects on the 35W bridge went un-fixed for years. Why are bridges repeatedly re-inspected instead of repairs being made as problems are discovered?

Because "problems" aren't necessarily structurally compromising in nature, and fixing them would be a complete waste of time and resources. A question for you, Nick. If these defects have been noted for years, where are all your columns lamenting them prior to Aug. 1? If the 35W bridge was a stack of toothpicks just waiting to fall, why wasn't the Star-Tribune actively reporting on the impending disaster? Why did the Strib fail its readers by not dutifully informing people of the years of defects? Why does the Star-Tribune hate its readers?

10. Sonia Morphew Pitt, the fired MnDOT manager, led emergency preparedness drills, and yet you say her presence wasn't required after the collapse. Why not? What was your role in supervising her? When did you first receive complaints about her travels? If it was before the collapse, why was she still in her job?

Nick "Nikolai" Coleman, the perpetually hired metro columnist whose brother is the mayor of St. Paul, has written some of the worst, biased literary tripe ever penned in Minnesota, and he consistently misleads and misinforms readers with little or no editorial oversight to be seen. How many complaints does the Star-Tribune receive regarding his moronic drivel? How many bloggers and ThunderJournalists have mocked him endlessly, casting scorn on both him and his newspaper? How much has Nick's Eeyore-ish droning impacted the Strib's value. Why does he still have a job?

11. Why did you pick a design for a new Wakota Bridge (years behind schedule and far over budget) that fails half of the time it is used?

When Nick gets a degree in engineering, he'll be entitled to an answer.


12. Is it not best for Minnesota, and the employees and reputation of MnDOT, for you to resign immediately?


Is it not best for Minnesota, and the employees and reputation of the Star-Tribune, for YOU to resign immediately?

Posted by Ryan at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2007

That Farmboy Strength

Keep on trucking, Tommy Speer.

Having been on the receiving end of Tommy's "farmboy" strength during a couple Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu sparring sessions, I can say I don't envy those who have to oppose the man. Seriously though, the armbar he wiggled free from would have had most mortals tapping out and screaming for their mothers. Unreal.

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November 28, 2007

That was fast

It only took about an hour to start getting ads about cats showing up.

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Retiring Your Feline

Over the years, I've used this ThunderJournal to inform you, my three valued readers, about all sorts of pet-related information. For example, I've told you all about the Lavakan—a pet cleansing system that's basically a washing machine for animals—I've told you about newspapers offering to run pet obituaries, and I've even enlightened you about the amazing world of kitty litter mining.

Well, earlier this week, a co-worker called my attention to the little-known emerging industry that is cat retirement. For those of you thinking you just read that wrong, let me just assure you: you read that right. . . a retirement home for cats.

There was a time, not that long ago really, when—if your cat got up in years and couldn't get around very well, or developed a terminal condition, or you just plain got sick of it shedding and spewing hairballs everywhere—you'd take it out behind the tin shed and give it a .22 caliber send off, or take it to the vet to inject it with a life-ending green serum.

Well, no longer! Now your cat can suffer on into its golden, debilitated years at a cat retirement facility in sunny Florida and, for a presumably considerable fee, you can rest easy without the guilt associated with deciding to end your feline's life. Alternatively, it may be you yourself who is worried about passing on into the afterlife and leaving your cats to an uncertain future. Through the wonders of this cat retirement facility, however, you can pass on knowing the
future of your cats is secure.

The cat retirement home is called—and I swear I'm not making this up—the Palm Meow, and dubbed "A Tropical Paradise for Your Cat," because we all know cats desire nothing less than a tropical paradise to while away their final days.

For those of you demented (or hilarious) enough to look it up for yourself, the Palm Meow can be accessed online at If the animated image of a blinking cat doesn't tug at your heartstrings, the repeated playing of a Calypso barrel drum will make you want to yank the power cord from your computer. It is, quite frankly, about the most annoying Web site you'll ever visit, so of
course I highly recommend it!

The Palm Meow is, in fact, a single family dwelling inhabited by two self-proclaimed "cat people." They ventured into this new and uncertain business model back in 2004 when, after extensive research, they discovered, and I quote, "there were not many places where one could place cats for life long care after the owner passes away or can no longer care for their pets. We also found there were few places to board cats long term in a cat's exclusive resort."

I know what you're thinking: you're thinking "Of course! A cat's exclusive resort! How could I have missed such a glaringly ignored business niche?!" Well, too bad, because the niche has been filled, by "cat people" no less, which I imagine must be hard to compete against.

The Palm Meow provides information about "cat retirement planning" and advocates setting up a "pet trust" to ensure your critters will want for nothing after you're six feet deep in the wrong side of the ground.

For those of you unsure about the credentials of the people running the Palm Meow, fear not! They're certified pet sitters through the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), an association I didn't even know existed until I visited the Palm Meow Web page. After reading up on the rigorous standards that have to be met to attain NAPPS certification, I think it could very well warrant a future ThunderJournal post.

As the owner of two cats myself (although I can't profess to be a "cat person"), I know I'll sleep better at night knowing the Palm Meow exists should I pass into the next world as I slumber. Unfortunately, I'll probably have that dang Calypso music ringing in my ears for eternity.

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November 27, 2007

The Business. He Was Giving Him It.

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Because I Can

This is my most current earworm. Now it's yours'.

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November 26, 2007

A Suspense Thriller

Ryan says: I'm really tasting the onions that were in that fried rice.

Caroline says: I told you: oniony.

Ryan says: I didn't know. I DIDN'T KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Caroline says: The smell smacked me in the face when I walked into your office. How could you not know?

Ryan says: You never know when you're the one eating the onions.

Caroline says: That was deep.

Ryan says: That would be a great first line in a book.

Ryan says: Or a book title.

Posted by Ryan at 03:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The same thing takes over my brain this time of year: the looming ugliness of a winter poised to sieze control and cast its dark pall over the landscape for the next several months. It really sucks the life right out of me. Blech.

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November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you sup upon the succulent bird of the pilgrims and injest copious amounts of ale and wine.

May the day of turkey decimation find you with bulging stomachs and of good cheer.

May "Black Friday" find you sparring with fellow shoppers in pursuit of the most excellent of consumer deals.

Whatever your plans, do enjoy the days spread out before you, and may you arrive rested and refreshed next Monday.

Posted by Ryan at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

A Preemptive Retrospective

When historians look back at the first decade of this new Millennium, I predict at least one chapter of every history book will be dedicated to the phenomenon of unhinged Internet commenters. I'm all for free speech and all that, but there are a lot of completely obsessive nutjobs out there who can't resist hitting the "Comment" link on blogs and other Web sites and blatherating their unique form of insanity. It warrants its own psychological classification.

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November 19, 2007

Shoot the bad guy!

There's an amusing Google ad appearing on my ThunderJournal as of today. It instructs you to "Shoot the bad guy!" Don't get me wrong, I'm all for shooting the bad guy. Bad guys, after all, should be shot once properly identified.

However, the ad just says "Shoot the bad guy!" and then an animated guy wearing a snow mask and carrying a gun creeps by, and you're just left to assume he's the bad guy. Only, there's no real reason to suspect him as a bad guy, unless you automatically assume someone wearing a snow mask is a bad guy and you open fire first and unmask later.

I mean, isn't it possible the creeping guy is a GOOD GUY who is going after the bad guy? For that matter, maybe you're the bad guy, aiming after the good guy who is going after you and doesn't see you lurking off to his right, about to take a shot, thinking he's the bad guy.

Think about it.

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November 16, 2007

My Only Political Say. . . For Now

If Hillary Clinton gets the primary nod for the Democrats, I either won't vote for a Prez candidate, or the Republican candidate had better be pretty stellar in the general race, because honestly, I'll have lived 20 years of my life under the national leadership of a Bush or Clinton, and I'm not all that keen on extending that run an additional four to eight years. A new name. PLEASE.

Oh, also, Melissa and I saw the Edwards ad about universal healthcare tonight, and we both laughed until our sides hurt.

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50 Odd Things

Lifted from Erik.

1. Do you like cheese?
How can you not like cheese? Cheese = Win.

2. Have you ever smoked heroin?
Never smoked it, no. Now, INJECTING, on the other hand. . . Just kidding.

3. Do you own a gun?

4. Your favorite song?
Don't have one. I have songs that are faves for awhile that just fade away.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?
Nope. Me healthy like horse. A HEALTHY horse.

6. What do you think of hot dogs?
Depends on the brand. A dog at a baseball or football game is not to be missed.

7. Favorite Christmas song?
Santa Got Ran Over By A Reindeer.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Diet Pepsi.

9. Can you do push ups?
At work, I'll occasionally drop and do 25 over the course of a day. Focuses the mind. So, yes.

10. What do you think about your job?
Back when I was a managing editor for two years? Did not want. Now that I'm back in a writing capacity, me like.

11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
The only jewelry I wear is a necklace I bought in Hawaii five years ago.

12. Favorite hobby?
Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.

13. Bedtime?
Midnight or a little later.

14. Do you have A.D.D.?
I'm sorry, what was the question?

15. What one trait do you hate about yourself?
No complaints. I was born perfect.

16. Middle Name?
*grumble* CARROLL *grumble*

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment…
- Lousy middle name.
- I'm only on #17?
- This is my third thought.

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday.
- Cat food
- Cat litter
- Mach 3 razors

19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink.
- Diet Pepsi
- Pepsi that's Diet.
- Water

20. Current worry right now?
Money. Always money.

21. Current hate?
Not having money.

22. Favorite place to be?
Financial Indepedence-ville.

23. How did you bring in the New Year?
Playing Texas Hold-em at a friend's house.

24. Where would you like to go?
Back to Tokyo.

25. Name three people who will complete this.
Nobody, because I generally don't pass on memes.

26. Do you own slippers?

27. What shirt are you wearing?
Purple, long sleeve "St. Johns Bay" dress shirt.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
Never have.

29. Can you whistle?
Yes, very well. I can't do the thumb and forefinger, super loud whistle though, which is a bummer.

30. Favorite color?

31. Would you be a pirate?
Yes, but a tough pirate, not the gay Johnny Depp pirate. Pirates should not walk all swishy. They are Swishbucklers and are not real pirates.

32. What songs do you sing in the shower?
Me no sing in shower. Me soak in bath and read.

33. Favorite girl’s name?
Pussy Galore.

34. Favorite boy’s name?
Karl Hungus.

35. What’s in your pocket right now?
47 cents.

36. Last thing that made you laugh?

37. Best bed sheets as a child?
Mickey Mouse and Goofy sheets.

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
Torn knee cartilage due to wrestling.

39. What happened to 39?
I've always wondered that.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house?

41. Who is your loudest friend?

42. Favorite gadget?
Not much of a gadget guy, but a laptop would be neat I think.

43. Does someone have a crush on you?
I do.

44. What’s your favorite quote?
"Holy shit, Rhodes, you're awesome at everything." -- Ryan Rhodes

45. What is your favorite book?

46. What is your favorite candy?
Not a candy eater, although Jolly Ranchers are pretty tasty.

47. Favorite Sports Team?
Unless the Vikings are actually not sucking, I don't have one.

48. What song do you want played at your funeral?
Happy Birthday.

49. What were you doing 12 AM last night?
Just turning in for the night.

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
Where's the frickin' snooze button?

Posted by Ryan at 04:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Movie Review

"Transformers" is pretty frickin' awesome.

Posted by Ryan at 09:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 14, 2007

Bridge Fisk

Since August, Nick Coleman has positioned himself as the foremost expert on the I-35 bridge collapse. Why, he's practically an engineer, at least in his mind. He knows, by gum, who the guilty parties are, where the failures occurred and why his underwear insists on being brown and damp each morning.

Nick's latest brain dribble:

Get ready to be gusseted.

Don't worry, Nick. This being one of your columns. . . we're ready.

I doubt that many Minnesotans heard of gussets before Aug. 1, but since the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, "gusset" has become a favorite word in the mouths of politicians, particularly those looking to cast suspicion not on their politics or policies, but on inanimate steel objects.

Yes, because it was "politics and policies" that caused the collapse, not something engineers and architects simply didn't expect. For Nick, it's always failed politics and policies that are to blame for everything. The very idea that engineering experts could have made a mistake or accidentally missed something crucial until after a disaster is just unthinkable. No, it HAS to be politics and policies, because everybody knows a state governor has the ability to keep bridges aloft through mind powers alone, like Palpatine was able to keep Darth Vader wheezing through his warped manipulation of the Force.

Gussets are steel plates used to reinforce joists or connect girders. Although a three-year study of the problems of the ailing I-35W bridge did not focus attention on the bridge's gussets, and although the bridge was still in the Mississippi River, it took only a week after the bridge fell for the Bush administration's secretary of transportation, Mary Peters, to finger the culprits: Gussets.

Ah, yes, of course, it's gotta be the fault of the Bush administration. It always is. I had a cough last week that I was fairly certain was attributable to the Bush administration.

She was immediately echoed by a private consulting firm hired by the Pawlenty-Molnau administration within hours of the collapse -- without public bid. That firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, was hired for $2 million -- coincidentally, the cost of a plan for reinforcing the bridge that was rejected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation months before the collapse.

And, coincidentally, since we're talking coincidentally here, that reinforcement plan was rejected because it was feared such reinforcement efforts may, coincidentally, weaken the bridge they were, coincidentally, meant to reinforce. Of course Nick, coincidentally, fails to mention that, because he's a shitty assed columnist with a stick up his butt.

The Pawlenty administration has been accusing critics of jumping to conclusions about the cause of the collapse because we argue, whatever the physical causes, that there was a dereliction of a public duty to keep bridges standing and bridge users alive.

There was actually a bill, signed by Pawlenty earlier this year, calling specifically for a "dereliction of public duty in the interests of ensuring the collapse of bridges in order to kill people." I kid, of course, but I do so just to point out the simplistic way Nick's "mind" works. Something like a bridge collapse is great fodder for simpletons like Coleman. He can get away with throw away lines like "whatever the physical causes," in order to jump ahead and point to a dereliction of duty, even if there wasn't one. It's not like anyone can disprove a dereliction of duty. See, no matter what the physical causes for the collapse turn out to be, no matter how minute, unexpected or impossible to detect until after a disaster, Nick and his ilk can always point to a dereliction of duty and Strib-reading lemmings will always nod their heads in agreement because it's such an easy narrative to follow.

It isn't the critics who are jumping to self-serving conclusions.

The hell he hasn't. Nick's been conclusion jumping like Q-Bert ever since this disaster happened. Nick's written countless inches of self-serving, self-righteous, conclusion jumping twaddle practically on a weekly basis.

It is officials who are trying to manage the political fallout of the collapse and who, after months of cautious release of information to the public, are complaining that the news media are demanding more.

Or, maybe the officials are telling an overly demanding media to slow the hell down and let the investigation into the cause of the bridge collapse to proceed before pointing fingers like a two-year old who can't find his blankie.

Did the bridge really fall?

If you listen to Minnesota's officials, it's almost like the bridge never fell. It couldn't have. After all, they had a great plan for keeping it up.

On paper.

If it was up to "Know-It-All-Nick," swarms of engineers and construction workers would have been crawling over that bridge in July, tightening every last bolt and securing every last rivet. Of course, if that were the case, Nick would no doubt have penned several columns about the waste of money going into bridge repair when roads need it more, and the dire impact of having the bridge shut down for repair. Nick would have obviously included man-on-the-street interviews with people who were inconvenienced by the shutdown for the bridge repair. Jesus, how creepy is it that I can see how Nick's little brain would have worked, in retrospect?

This is an illustration of the disconnect between no-tax politics and the real world, where gravity is stronger than wishful thinking. One of the most heavily used bridges in the state was deficient and consultants were urging it be reinforced, but MnDOT tried to get by on the cheap. Instead of bolting plates to critical parts of the bridge, the state crossed its fingers and decided to step up inspections.

No, you dipshit, the "state" decided that reinforcement efforts may, in fact, have made the bridge weaker. Nick knows this, of course, but why let something like that get in the way of his simple narrative.

Darn those gussets.

Blame the physical cause

Pinpointing the physical cause of the collapse will require long forensic investigation. But CYA is Chapter One in the political playbook, so the pols are clinging to their Grassy Knoll Gusset theory.

See, this is what's hysterical when it comes to Nick's "logic." On the one hand, he admits "the media" is demanding answers, but then he gets mad when a possible culprit, gussets, is provided. It's a no-win situation for state officials: if they stay silent during a forensic investigation into the physical cause, they're stonewalling and playing politics; if they provide a possible cause, like gussets, they're just throwing out a "Grassy Knoll Gusset theory" and playing politcs. Either way, Nick gets to write an outraged column. Great work, if you can get it.

Peters, the federal secretary of transportation, repeated her gusset tale Nov. 1, causing one gob-smacked Republican who heard her, Edina's Rep. Ron Erhardt, to state the obvious:

If gussets failed, he said, "What is that but a lack of maintenance?"


No, not "exactly." It neglects to ask the question "what would have gone into reinforcing/replacing the gussets?" Would such "maintenance" have further weakened the bridge in the interim? Would the bridge have to have been shut down for such maintanence? Would Nick Coleman have screamed his bloody head off either way?

But even if it was the gussets, blaming the collapse on them is like blaming the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on an O ring in a rocket booster.

Yeah, IT'S JUST LIKE THAT! 80 gazillian tons of solid booster fuel and cutting edge rocket science that could go disasterously wrong down to the smallest decimal point is JUST LIKE a bridge that's been standing since 1967. Nick needs a good cock punch.

The failure that caused the deaths of seven crew members was the decision by NASA officials to proceed despite being warned that it was too cold to safely launch on a January morning.

That would be a patented Nick Coleman history lesson, courtesy of Google, or possibly Wikipedia.

Did MnDOT apply pressure?

One question in any investigation of the 35W bridge collapse should be whether engineers working for the state were pressured to back down from recommendations for reinforcing the bridge structure. Those recommendations, made by a San Francisco company called URS Inc., were made after years of studying the aging bridge. A Sunday Star Tribune article by reporters Mike Kaszuba and Pat Doyle recounted that URS recommended a $2 million plan to reinforce the bridge with steel plates. The plan seemed to be proceeding toward approval when it abruptly ran into opposition at MnDOT.

Yeah, an opposition that wondered whether such a project would further WEAKEN the bridge. Why does Nick insist on pushing that fact to the furthest reaches of his column? It's almost as if he knows people won't read all the way through, as per the rules of he "inverted pyramid" theory of journalism. The readers have already been told to blame Pawlenty and the Bush Administration, early in the column, so Nick will tuck any unfortunate little facts at the end.

The consulting firm (revealed in a 2003 e-mail to be hoping to win more work from MnDOT) backed off and agreed to a cheaper plan to step up inspections. Within two days of the collapse, MnDOT was defensively saying money wasn't the issue, but that adding steel plates to the bridge might have weakened it.

We'll never know.

Which won't keep Nick from postulating and blaming, of course.

Interestingly, URS made very little mention of problems with the gussets.

ARGH! Because the gussets weren't suspected until AFTER the collapse. Such is the unknown nature of disasters, Nick! Don't be such a moron!

So why are officials pointing fingers at the nasty little gussets instead of at their own failure to follow recommendations from engineers who studied the bridge for three years?

Do you really need me to answer that for you?

No, we don't, Nick, because your answer would be wrong. As usual.

Posted by Ryan at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2007

A Two Sniffer

Caroline says: It smells like cafeteria in the hallway

Ryan says: That's weird, because it smelled like hallway in the cafeteria.

Caroline says: s'tI sdawkcab yad ta BMI

Caroline says: sdrdawkcab

Caroline says: oh, nevermind

Ryan says: You don't write backwards good.

Caroline says: A true wordsmith I'm not

Ryan says: I'm going to name my first child Wordsmith.

Ryan says: Sounds haughty, with a dash of nerd.

Caroline says: just the right combo

Posted by Ryan at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fisking Tribunal

As far as I know, there is only one ThunderJournal willing, and dextrous enough, to attempt the near-impossible multi-fisk. It requires a certain level of cooperation, patience and silliness typically lacking in most Internet denizens. However, thanks to an amazing confluence of coincidences, there are three ThunderJournalists who can come together in good cheer to make fun of the most ridiculous idiots and their Internet droppings. By sheer luck, this trio of multi-fiskers are also members "in good standing" of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB).

Typically, we go after Nick "ANOTHER BRIDGE COLLAPSE COLUMN" Coleman, but we're capable of targeting other morons as well. In our latest installment, we take on one Ken Avidor, an online narcissist with a skin thinner than his logic, both of which, combined, are almost 2-dimensional in their thinness.

Go now, and soak in the nonsensical goodness that is the Fisking Tribunal.

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November 12, 2007

By the way. . .

The new site redesign sucks the sweat off the balls of 5,000 camels.

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Shameless Promotional Linkage


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November 06, 2007

Special Olympics

Travel back with me through time, to the spring of 1993. A special time it was, too: I was 18 years old, nearing high school graduation, and I still had hair. Also, I was on a class trip touring China, which took me to Beijing, to Shanghai, and back to Beijing, with a brief sojourn to Tiananmen Square to view the body of Mao Tse-Tung, since Communist nations are required by dictate to preserve their founders for eternity, even if they look like badly-carved pumpkins.

Well, back in 1993, China was on the short list of countries being considered to host the 2000 Olympics. China took this very seriously at the time. I was just a casual observer, but if the propaganda splashed on practically every wall was to be believed, you would have thought China pretty much had the nomination in hand.

Alas, it was eventually decided the 2000 Olympics would be hosted in Sydney, Australia, and China took the snub in stoic and proud fashion, waiting a full 12 days before detonating an underground nuclear device in protest. They were going to detonate the device the day after the snub, above ground, in Sydney but, thankfully, cooler heads in the Chinese government prevailed.

The point is, China takes the Olympics very seriously, even while most of the rest of the world no longer does. So, with the 2008 Olympics being hosted in Beijing, you can about imagine what the atmosphere must be like in China—well, in addition to its stifling pollution. If the 1993 propaganda was any indication, the 2007 stuff probably claims the Chinese invented the Olympics, and that Greece is actually a Chinese province.

I’m exaggerating for comedic effect, of course, but I’m apparently not far off the mark. According to a Nov. 4, Associated Press report out of Beijing, “The upcoming Beijing Olympics is more than just a point of pride for China - it's such an important part of the national consciousness that nearly 3,500 children have been named for the event, a newspaper reported Sunday.”

“Most of the 3,491 people with the name ‘Aoyun,’ meaning Olympics, were born around the year 2000, as Beijing was bidding to host the 2008 Summer Games, the Beijing Daily reported, citing information from China's national identity card database.”

Can you imagine what China would have done if it hadn’t won the 2008 Olympic bid? In 1993, they blew off a nuke; one can only postulate what they would have done with 3,500 little Aoyuns running around.

I can just about envision the conversation that took place amongst members of the International Olympic Committee.

MEMBER #1: Okay, so it’s decided: we’re awarding the 2008 Olympics to Berlin, and. . .

MEMBER #2: Did you know China has 3,500 babies named “Olympics?”

MEMBER #1: I’m sorry. What?

MEMBER #2: Yeah, I just read about it today. Apparently, there are over 3,000 Chinese named Aoyun, which means “Olympics.”

MEMBER #3: Are you serious?

MEMBER #2: I’m completely serious. They’re that crazy. We may want to rethink awarding the Olympics to Berlin.

MEMBER #1: Agreed. Best not to risk it. Beijing it is, then.

Unfortunately for 3,500 Chinese children, they’re going to have spend their lives explaining why they were named after a sporting event nobody will even remember in four years.

By the way, I was perusing the Web site of the">International Olympic Committee. Some of the logos they’re sporting for various, er, sports, are a freakin’ scream:

gymnastics.JPG The Olympic art of falling on ice.

basketball.JPG Crawling towards a desert oasis, or a mirage, or a tavern.

cycling.JPG Massaging a pair of ginormous boobies.

footballsoccer.JPG Turning your ankle in the most ghastly way possible.

handball.JPG Hailing a cab while falling.

hockey.JPG Slave whipping (this is the politically correct version, with the slave edited out, which, in fact, became the oasis-crawling logo)

judo.JPG The Japanese art of sitting on an oversized, lit cigar.

pentathlon.JPG Running while drunk.

triathlon.JPG Running while less drunk.

rowing.JPG The lost art of champagne bottle smashing.

sailing.JPG Casting "Cone of Cold."

Posted by Ryan at 02:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 05, 2007

I call Him Gamblor!

For the second weekend in a row, Melissa and I went to gamble at Treasure Island. Normally, I'm an across-the-board video poker gambler. Slot machines have always stuck me as horrifically boring, like expensive pay-per-view for static.

Until we discovered Monopoly-themed slot machines. Hoo boy.

I don't know what it is about the game Monopoly, but when it's extended to such marketing ploys as McDonald's occasional Monopoly promotion, it just draws people right in.

Well, let me tell you, the Monopoly-themed slot machines are like gambler's crack, if it's possible to double stack your addictions, I mean. Oh, sure, it's just a regular slot machine. . . until you hit the right symbols, at which point it becomes an interactive GAME, and it's those games that keep you planted in your seat, oblivious to the fact you're going broke by about 20 cents per button push. If this is the future of gambling, consider me homeless.

And here we are slated to go to Las Vegas in December. This does not bode well for my future financial stability.

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November 03, 2007

Linked to. . .


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November 01, 2007

Because He's A Whiney Bitch


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