Friday, August 31, 2007

Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson - Ring of Fire

Europeans won't get Dodge Challenger

Autoblog: Although DaimlerChrysler had originally planned to bring the upcoming retro-rod Dodge Challenger to Europe, it seems Cerberus has had a change of heart. They apparently see the Challenger as a limited production model that will only be available in the States, and as such they have made the decision not to sell the car in Europe, according to reports on AutoTelegraaf.

Dodge Challenger niet voor Europa

That's okay. They wouldn't know what to do with one any way.

Tell your car where to go...


I have a navigation system in my car and I use it a lot more than I thought I would when I got it. When I'm in a hurry or running late I have often thought how cool it would be to send my destinations for the day to my car ahead of time thereby saving the time of entering in the data in the parking garage. I don't' drive a Mercedes Benz and don't plan on it any time soon but almost every technology that MB has pioneered has ended up going mainstream soon thereafter.


Mercedes-Benz drivers can now search for directions from any computer, and send it wirelessly to their vehicle via Yahoo Local Maps and Google Maps. Once the location is chosen from either of these public sites on a PC, the user chooses to "send to vehicle" and the destination is automatically sent via SMS to the vehicle. To retrieve the destination in the M-B vehicle, the user then presses the Tele Aid "i"-button and the directions are download automatically via the Tele Aid system and are displayed on the navigation screen. From here the "location code" is taken over by the on-board map resources. Mercedes-Benz is the first OEM to offer this function in the U.S., while BMW has a similar system already active in Europe. The first year is complimentary with a subscription to Tele Aid's Security and Care package, and is complementary with the Luxury & Convenience package. The feature will be available soon on the MY07 S-Class, CL-Class, and MY08 C-Class with the Multimedia Package and Navigation system. OnStar has a similar feature available in trial in the U.S. at this time with pubic availability later this year.

HT Telematics Research Group (Minnetonka, Minnesota)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This is no "consensus."

I haven't' written on Global Warming for a while out of boredom with the topic and because I've been dwelling more on the next big thing, universal health care. However, this article, which I noticed on Drudge today, caught my interest because it supports what I have believed all along. The data is flawed as it the the continued assertion on the part of Man Made Global Warming enthusiasts that there is an irrefutable scientific consensus.

The Man Made Global Warming movement is not about science, its a liberal political movement.

...from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:


...a July 2007 review of 539 abstracts in peer-reviewed scientific journals from 2004 through 2007 that found that climate science continues to shift toward the views of global warming skeptics.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

While today we are even more certain the earth is warming, we are less certain about the root causes. More importantly, research has shown us that -- whatever the cause may be -- the amount of warming is unlikely to cause any great calamity for mankind or the planet itself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Flirting with Disaster

A young Ben Stiller plays Mel Coplin, an entomologist and new father who sets out on a journey to meet his real parents much to the displeasure of his neurotic parents played by Mary Tyler Moore and George Segal. He takes along with him his young wife, played by Patricia Arquette, and their baby, played by a baby, as well as the psychologist from the adoption agency, played by a young Téa Leoni, who thinks Ben's case will make an interesting documentary case study. She offers to tag along and pay for the trip.

Their Planes Trains and Automobiles style cross country trek is marked by a couple false starts but they finally discover Ben's parents, played by Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin, who end up being basement-LSD-producing baby boomer hippies living in the middle of the desert. This wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that along the way, Ben and his ensemble pick up two homosexual FBI agents, one of which is willing to look the other way (and swing the other way I might add), the other who now has an acute interest in the parents.

Released in 1996, Flirting with Disaster is well cast, fast paced, and punctuated with some early Ben Stiller-style humor (see There's Something about Mary, Meet the Partents and Along Came Polly), along with some pretty funny slapstick and LOL situational humor but in the abruptly tacked-on end, the viewer is left wondering "...is that all there is?"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is the Thompson campaign in trouble before it has begun?


Anyone who has visited Roosh Five knows that I am an early Thompson supporter.


Being a movie buff and specifically a Tom Clancy-movie fan, I've known who Fred Thompson was since The Hunt for Red October. When I discovered that he was also a senator, I thought way back then that he'd be a viable Presidential candidate.

But lately I am wondering who is in charge over there or at the very least, who Mr. Thompson is getting advice from. (I'm not going to comment on the news today of Thompson's communications director leaving because Fred Thompson hasn't told us why yet.)

I've been told to be patient by fellow "Fred Heads", and have read comments in defense of Fred Thompson that his approach is "old school" which is to say he's going to start his campaign at the traditional time, and not participate in the extended version we see today.

But I feel this is a contradiction as Fred Thompson's campaign has also been lauded for it's early and innovative use of the Internet and viral videos, so I'm having a hard time buying that explanation.

The problem with waiting, at least as I see it, is that whether you like it or not, more than a few (albeit mostly redundant) debates have already taken place. Fred Thompson has missed opportunities to go head to head with Rudy Giuliani, his only competitor for the nomination in my estimation. Worse yet, I think he is starting to lose the interest of his earliest supporters. I can't imagine momentum not being important to a political campaign in this day and age where information and opinion moves at the speed of the Internet.

I want to get behind someone who shares my beliefs, but I also a candidate that is politically viable. Someone that can win. Someone that has people that know how to win.


Thompson smiled broadly when he was introduced as an "all-but-declared GOP presidential candidate" while interviewed live at the WCCO-AM radio booth by Eleanor Mondale, daughter of former vice president Walter Mondale.

"I think it's pretty clear the direction I'm headed in," said Thompson, who plans to announce his official candidacy next month.

No, Fred. It's not that clear. We've heard "next month" at least a couple times now. There are many would-be Republican voters that don't even know who you are yet. What is the point of "hinting"? It's annoying. It seems to me that there is much more to lose than to gain by being coy with us. I don't think political campaigns are won by attrition. Besides, Rudy's not going anywhere. Once Fred does announce, will it be anticlimactic?

If you're walking around our State Fair shaking hands and kissing babies it isn't to promote your acting career. That's a campaign. Go for it Fred, or set us free.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Look Daddy!


JBird has an affinity for catching Sunnies.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift is a "Message Movie" and as such I suppose it may be a little corny for some, but get over it because if you have a problem with the message in this movie you might consider taking a vacation. It's a refreshing break in the all too common formula of gratuitous sex and/or violence that dominates screens large and small these days.

"Suspension of disbelief" is a wonderful thing for movie fans. It allows you to believe, if only for a moment, that Arnold Schwarzenegger can pilot a harrier jet and rescue his daughter from rabid terrorists atop a skyscraper, that a high school senior can enlist the whole city of Chicago in the entertainment of two friends, that Jack Black can be a romantic interest, and that a wealthy oilman and cattle rancher can create a twelve-step obstacle course to craft a worthy successor from a would-be spoiled-brat grandson, posthumously no less.

Despite the movie's made-for-TV production values and simplistic storyline, this movie makes you believe, in no small part due to the selection of cast members and their solid performances.

Drew Fuller skillfully takes you through the gradual transition of his character from rotten billionaire playboy to homeless desperado to visionary benefactor. His character's interplay with the precocious young Emily played by Abigail Breslin is mostly sweet and heartfelt - you may remember her from Little Miss Sunshine for which she won an Oscar. She appeared here first though.

Emily's mom, played by Ali Hillis, delivers a moving portrayal of a single mom, losing a desperate battle with her daughter's leukemia, holding in the balance the only family she has.

James Garner, who I think has gotten better with age, plays a deceased patriarch whose only failure in life is his family, with one exception, and one last chance for redemption, his grandson. He enlists his posse, not the least of which is played by Brian Dennehy, who lends substantial weight to the film.

The music, which includes a well-placed track by Bob Dylan, is excellent, the direction as well. Don't miss the full credits during which you revisit each gift, highlighted with short segments of the film.

U2 - I Will Follow live from Milan 2005

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Tide is Turning

Car guys hate minivans, calling them minimans, mommyvans, etc., and it would appear not unlike Congress, that the approval rating of minivans is finally, thankfully, starting to erode.

American drivers are finally coming to their senses. American automakers, not so much.

Chrysler bets on new designs to restore minivan sales
Who's Killing the Minivan?
Minivan sales down

Of all the minivans on sale here, only the Honda Odyssey continues to gain in sales. Every other minivan is showing a decline in sales. So, have minvans peaked? Is their popularity indeed on the decline? Are they too smarting from the high gas prices, like SUVs and pickups? Are the 3-row seat crossovers starting to steal traditional minivan customers? Is the "soccer mom" stigma finally taking its toll?

The problem with minivans isn't just the stigma. No automaker has ever been able to design one that is "cool" looking, and Minnesota statutes don't allow you to tint the windows dark enough so that your friends can't see you. Minvans would be like mopeds (fun to ride until your friends see you) but they're no fun to drive either.

Automotive industry surveys have repeatedly shown that Americans care as much about style and fun as they do any other feature. Vans were once cool in the 70's, remember "....in my Chevy Van and that's alright with me..."? Minivans were never cool, and as far as I know have never appeared in any song about anything.

The Honda Odyssey, the only miniman that has not lost sales, comes the closest to achieving a level of groove but last I checked Daniel Craig (or Patricia Heaton for that matter) isn't going to be seen in one any time soon.

The problem is, if you have more than two kids, and abhor minimans like any red-blooded American man should, your choices are limited, especially if you put a lot of miles on and don't have a $500 monthly gasoline budget. A good ol' Buick Roadmaster Wagon would work, but they haven't made them since 1996. A Volvo Wagon would be great but they come equipped at the factory with a faded Kerry/Edwards sticker on the back.

As millions of minimans hit the street, the novelty wore off and increasingly, crossovers like the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook, Ford Edge, Lexus RX , Chrysler Pacifica and Mercedes R-Class are displacing minivan sales.

Ironically, many crossovers have at their foundation minivan underpinnings, hiked up for effect (and coolness quotient), and with the dubious (even in Minnesota) addition of all-wheel drive for those two days per year that it is needed. I drive rear wheel drive cars and have never had to stay home more than a couple hours in any recent winter.

The problem with all of these new crossovers is with all three rows of seats up, there is very little storage area behind the last seat. They can't pull a (real) boat. But, they are still way cooler that your miniman, and isn't being cool what really matters any way?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cameron's Dad's Car sells for $4.5M

This is not the actual car from the Ferris Bueller's Day Off, its the wrong year too, but you can see that it is quite similar to the notorious red Ferarri that Ferris Bueller convinces Cameron to loose from his father's one-car museum. Obviously the car in the movie, at least the one that is destroyed, was a replica.

From Wikipedia:

250 GT California Spyder LWB
Designed for export to America, the 1957 250 GT California Spyder was Scaglietti's interpretation of an open-top 250 GT. Aluminum was used in the hood, doors, and trunk lid, with steel specified elsewhere for most models, though a few aluminum-bodied racing versions were also built. The engine was the same as in the 250 Tour de France racing car with up to 240 hp (179 kW). All used the long 2600 mm chassis. About 45 were made before it was replaced by the SWB version in 1960, a fact mentioned by Cameron Frye in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day off." This film made that car famous. Since a replica of one of these called a "Modena" appeared in the 1980's as Cameron's father's dream car in
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the Ferrari 250 GT California may be the most widely recognized of the various models produced.

This particular example sold at auction for $4.5 Million

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Have A Nice Day

Bon Jovi

PolitiChoice Candidate Choser

Here is what the poll told me:

Candidate/Total Score

  1. Sam Brownback/75.57 %
  2. Tom Tancredo/74.72 %
  3. Fred Thompson/73.86 %
  4. Duncan Hunter/70.74 %
  5. John McCain/70.45 %
  6. Rudy Guiliani/69.89 %
  7. Mitt Romney/68.75 %
  8. Ron Paul/68.47 %
  9. Mike Huckabee/67.90 %
  10. Joe Biden/45.17 %
I suppose I should find out who Sam Brownback is?

Polaris branches out...


Branches of the military that is...

Medina-based Polaris (PII) has had an exciting run of late between the launch of their new Victory Vision, a striking design and their release of the new Ranger ATV's, and now this:

Polaris Industries Inc. today announced the Company was awarded a contract by the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command to continue to provide the company's highly successful militarized ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle). This competitively awarded contract will supply Polaris MV700 All Terrain Vehicles, parts and accessories. The MV700 has already proven to be a very versatile vehicle in supporting a wide variety of missions conducted in urban, rural, mountain and desert areas in Southwest Asia. The contract will cover three years and has a potential total value of more than $16 million; deliveries under the contract will commence prior to December 31, 2007.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stossel: Where Michael Moore is Wrong


Where Michael Moore is Wrong

Michael Moore loves government.

OK, he doesn't love a government headed by George W. Bush, but he believes that once the Democrats are in charge, government will do a better job providing health care.

In his new movie, "Sicko," he praises government-controlled health care systems in Canada and Europe. He suggests that Americans pay more for health care but have a shorter life expectancy than people in other countries because our health care is driven "by profit."

He is wrong in so many ways.

First, life expectancy is no measure of a country's medical system. Lifestyle and culture matter more, and Americans are different.

Interviewing Moore for an upcoming health care special on "20/20," I said, "In America we kill each other more often. We shoot each other. We have more car accidents. Forgive me, more of us look like ... you."

He smiled at that, but still argued that that people live longer in Canada "because they never have to worry about paying to go see the doctor. That means at the first sign of being sick they go right away to the doctor cause they're not worrying about whether or not they can afford it."

Please.

Freedom brings anxiety, but its other rewards are so superior to passive care from a smothering government. America's medical system has problems, but profit is the least of it. Government mandates, overregulation and a tax code that pushes employer-paid health insurance prevent the free market from performing its efficient miracles. Six out of seven health-care dollars are spent by third parties. That kills the market. Patients rarely shop around, and doctors rarely compete on price or service.

Moore told me, "Government can do things right. ... My dad gets his Social Security check every month. Comes not only every month, it comes on the same day through the so-called 'dilapidated' U.S. mail. ... [A]sk your grandparents what they think of Medicare. Although it has its flaws, although it may be underfunded, it's a much better program than the HMO that somebody has."

Underfunded? Medicare has a 75-year $34 trillion unfunded liability! Its costs are growing faster than inflation. Social Security has a 75-year $5 trillion unfunded liability. These are Ponzi schemes that will be bankrupt before Moore reaches retirement age. The U.S. mail manages to deliver his dad's checks, but compare its performance to FedEx or UPS. The Post Office said it wasn't possible to deliver packages overnight.

I want FedEx health care: innovation, new cancer treatments, hip replacements and pain relief. We get that from private-sector competition, not government lethargy.

Moore said, "You don't introduce profit into your city water department."

He's wrong about that, too. As I wrote in "Give Me a Break", Jersey City, New Jersey's water tasted foul and failed safety tests. City workers said there wasn't much they could do. In fact, water prices would have to be raised ... just to maintain the lousy service they had.

So Jersey City turned its water system over to a for-profit company. Within months it had fixed the pipes government workers said couldn't be fixed, and for the first time in years, Jersey City's water met the highest cleanliness standard. Taxpayers saved $35 million. The private company could do it better and cheaper because their skills were honed by constant competition.

Private competitors innovate or die. Government workers do what they did last year. That's why I want the private sector to provide my health care. Pursuit of profit will give us our best medicines and medical devices.I'll pay you $1,000 if you can name one thing government does more efficiently than the private sector.

Moore laughed at me, saying, "You are, like, so Thirteenth Century," but he conceded that America's founding libertarian philosophy has made us a rich and innovative country. "Look at everything we've invented," he told me. "I say to my British friends, can you tell me something you invented in the last 50 years. I mean, what have you given us?"

"Can they come up with anything?" I asked.

"No, they have a hard time. That can-do spirit served us well in building this country." (Yes that's Michael Moore saying that)

Served? It still does. And will -- if government would just get out of the way.

[emphasis mine] HT fellow MOBster what if?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Notebook

This is one of my favorite movies and the second time we've seen it. It is well written and directed and features James Garner's best performance anywhere I've seen him.

I last saw Rachel McAdams in the Family Stone, also an excellent film. She and James Garner totally make this film. Ryan Gosling also appeared in Remember the Titans although I don't remember him in that film.
Its difficult to tell much about his story without giving it away. It has all the makings of a classic romance: amazing scenery, a war, promises kept against all odds, a good breakup and of course a reunion.

The Notebook is not exactly unpredictable in it's plot however the editing is very tight and you never lose interest in the story.

Lucky Shot - Mackinac Sunrise

Click on this photo to see it full-size. Mrs. Roosh took this with a Casio PowerShot A540 6.0 MegaPixel Digital camera in Landscape Mode while driving across the Mackinac Bridge.

So small and so strong

Imagine reading a book lying on your bed singing along with Radio Disney, while your mother installs a three-quarter-inch needle in your thigh, the infusion site for your insulin pump.

She doesn't miss a beat, and smiles (most) all the while.

The Island

Wealthy and famous future Americans enlist a new service whereby their bodies are cloned in an underground fortress to provide them with future replacement organs.

The clones are cultivated in an underground utopia where a lottery is held each day whereby the winners are transported from the underground facility to The Island, a faraway paradise.

Think that famous 1984 Mac Commercial where the running woman throws the sledgehammer through the big screen brainwashing machine, extended to motion picture length and you have the gist.

The lottery is a ploy to give false hope and keep the clones in compliance as the winners have actually been called in by the client for needed organ harvests and transplant. They are whisked upstairs, sliced open and discarded.

Meanwhile, one clone, well played by Ewan McGregor starts to have nightmares and through an likely series of events realizes what is really happening and snatches new found friend and fellow clone Scarlett Johansson from her trip to “the island” just in the nick of time.

The ensuing manhunt its production values are reminiscent of The Rock, Enemy of the State Total Recall, and Minority Report.

The special effects and stunts are well choreographed, quite impressive and on par with and Mission Impossible and or recent Bond film.

The “car chase” which actually includes futuristic flying vehicles of all sorts, is impressive and includes the destruction of a budget-busting amount number of Chrysler 300’s and Dodge Magnum’s. Watching Ewan McGregor pilot a jet powered flying jet cycle through the streets of 2009-era Los Angeles is reminiscent of the Jet Speeders in the Star Wars Sixology.

The suspension of disbelief required to process the survival of the two key characters through the chase scenes is unsurpassed in any movie I can recall.

While questions surrounding cloning, genocide and abortion are potentially raised in this film, it is too far fetched to be taken seriously as any sort of social statement.

In the end, the formulaic battle of the “Mad scientist with God concept” and the hero is a bit prescient especially contrived that he himself, rather than his hundreds of minions, battles at the end to save his underground empire.

While entertaining, unless you are a die hard science fiction junkie (which I am not), I recommend you pass on this one.

I35W Collapse Cartoons

See how cartoonists around the country are portraying our disaster. Go here.

HT Centrisity

Starbucks leverages the brand even farther

Starbucks coffee shops on Wednesday are hosting discussions on climate change with hopes of inspiring "community conversations about the vital issue" and to promote a new movie about global warming.

Is Starbucks genuinely concerned for the environment or just jumping on the bandwagon to drive traffic to their stores? I don't have a problem with either, but let's not forget that while our planet may or may not be in a warming phase there is still no proof yet that it is man-made, especially amidst recent disclosures and discoveries of corrupted or inaccurate data.

The Man Made Global Warming movement is big business and Starbucks is taking full advantage. Which is fine, since after all it is not their job to prove or disprove the science. It is their job to make money for their shareholders. Starbucks has proven to be very adept at leveraging their brand into the supermarket, convenience stores, music, movies and now politics.

The "National Day of Discussion" will "raise awareness about climate change and facilitate conversations on solutions to positively affect the environment," according to the Starbucks Web site. Coffee shops in more than 60 U.S. cities are hosting the discussions in partnership with several environmentalist groups, including the Earth Day Network and Global Green USA. The sponsors hope to "host an engaging dialogue and help people collectively develop solutions that they can use in their communities and daily lives."

They also hope to promote "Arctic Tale," a new film from National Geographic and Paramount Classics, the studio that distributed former Vice President Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."The new movie follows a polar bear named Nanu and a walrus named Seela as they grow up in the Arctic.

"Once a perpetual winter wonderland of snow and ice, the walrus and the polar bear are losing their beautiful icebound world as it melts from underneath them," according to the movie's Web site."We're really proud to share this powerful and entertaining story with our customers,"

Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, said in a statement about the movie."Starbucks has a long and significant commitment to communities and the environment, and by highlighting 'Arctic Tale' to our customers, we can spark discussion on this issue and impact change from right inside our stores." Lombard's statement highlighted Starbucks' efforts to fight the "climate crisis" by purchasing renewable energy, conserving energy and increasing public awareness.

"And in an effort to show a credible commitment to the environment, we are immediately closing all of our drive-through windows nationwide to reduce the greenhouse emissions stemming from Flip-Phone-Chatting Baseball-Capped Soccer Mom's idling for twenty minutes in their Cadillac Escalades in our drive through lines waiting for their Skinny-Half-Caf-Extra-Hot-No-Foam Chai Tea Lattes."

OK. They didn't actually say that last part.

The reviews? There are many out there, and they are mixed. Here's the one I liked:

"ultimately Arctic Tale is only moderately more engaging than if it were literally cobbled together from parts of those other films, because its pre-teen targeting and vague hipster posturing ultimately distracts from what might have been a more effective message movie."

"it's slightly disappointing for a movie that purports to be so sensitive to the environment and the natural world to sometimes feel, well, quite so plastic."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More Cowbell

It's Saturday night and this is one of funniest and most famous SNL bits.

Love Actually

Love Actually is one of the most contrived, predictable, sappy, silly movies I ever seen.

Three times.


Set over the Christmas holiday, Love Actually is a collection of several vignettes conspiring to show love in different forms. Love of a brother, love surviving a crisis, love of a lost spouse, between coworkers, father and son, between young kids and new found love. Multiple subplots overlap and intertwine and come together ultimately in an emotional if not predictable crescendo.

Don't miss the deleted scenes. The movie is better without them as it would be way too long, but the deleted scenes are a story unto themselves.

The music is awesome. The message and the multiple ending are perfect. If it weren't for the nudity and language (both of which it could have easily done well without), it would be a Christmas classic.

Is support for a special session waning?

I sent an email to the Governor asking him not to call a special session. I am sure he reads my stuff personally because I got a reply (what's that, you got the exact reply I did. Oh.).

Drew at Wright County Republican sent one too (his is much better).

Polls show Minnesotans believe that even if MNDOT is found to be culpable in the I35W Bridge Disaster, it isn't a revenue issue, rather a spending and management issue, further mitigated by the Federal Government's pledge of $250 Million.

While we haven't heard the Governor mention a special session in a while now, It would appear some legislators are starting to reflect the majority of Minnesotans that feel new taxes are not the answer. Andy at Residual Forces covers one example here.

We can only hope the Governor's speech writers are at work as we type figuring out how the Governor can change his mind.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Van Halen Jump/80's Video Games Tribute

NASA?...politics?...corruption?

That couldn't happen [Kevin Nealon: challenger disaster] at NASA!

Unbelievable.

Our Collective Longevity


There is was a fairly balanced editorial today in the Star Tribune that is relevant to my recent posts on Michael Moore's SiCKO, and Universal Health Care.


The richest nation on the planet, the one that spends more per capita than any other on health care, has dropped to 42nd place among the world's nations in life expectancy.

This is an often-cited statistic, but like any statistic, it is important to know what is measured and also to discern if the data are being interpreted correctly.

There is on doubt that our health care system is broken. But is does this statistic really say what many think it does?

Recently I was listening to Ask the Doctor with Dr. Gretchen Phillips on WCCO in the morning and here is what she had to say regarding this statistic: when a baby is born in the US, it is much more likely to be born alive and live for some time than in other countries. When a baby lives even a week, it is counted in these statistics. When you average that lifespan with some one that lived 80 years, you get something close to 40 years average lifespan. So these statistics tend not to favor the US for this reason.

I can't substantiate this hypothesis anywhere else, at least not yet. I will post it if I do.

Not many respondents seemed to pick up on the comments by researchers in the AP story: The absence of health insurance and unhealthy lifestyles both shorten American lives.

Which is to say, Americans are suffering by their own lifestyle choices as much as by the inadequacies of our health system. Another statistic that should probably accompany the lifespan rankings is our obesity rankings. We are a heavy, heavy people. As much as one third of our population is considered obese.

The lifestyle choices that lead to obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise, are the cause of many conditions and diseases that rank at the top of the leading causes of death in the US. Heart disease and Type-2 Diabetes are good examples. Sadly, many children are now among the ranks of the obese and consequently are also developing Type-2 Diabetes and even heart disease at younger ages than ever before.

As for Universal Health Care resulting in a healthier nation, I am becoming convinced that it is the emphasis on preventive care and not just the fact that everyone gets access that is the secret of it's contribution to a healthier society.

I have also been hearing much more of late that our system isn't failing so much because the government isn't involved rather because of our current third-party payor (i.e. employer-paid) system whereby employees are stuck with whatever is offered to them versus being able to shop, and bring competition to bear on the providers and insurance companies.

If people have a choice, they are not going to put up with providers and insurance companies that for example won't cover certain conditions or procedures, or don't have streamlined operations.

In other words, improving longevity shouldn't be either an individual or a societal effort. It's both/and. We're left wondering why Americans so quickly leap to polarized, either/or, red/blue analyses of their shared problems, and what creative problem-solving possibilities they overlook by failing to consider purple.

Before we jump headlong into Universal Health Care, we need to assess our collective lifestyle choices, understand the benefits of preventive care incentives and most certainly dismantle the third-party payor system. All of which can almost surely be done without the federal government getting involved.

Fed: Down 50 Basis Points

The last time the Fed lowered rates, as far as I can tell, is Jan 2003.

Fed Cuts Discount Rate to 5.75 Percent to Ease Credit Crunch

The Federal Reserve, in an unscheduled announcement, cut its discount rate and said it's prepared to take further actions to ``mitigate'' damage to the economy from the rout in global credit markets.

The central bank reduced the rate at which it makes direct loans to banks by 0.5 percentage point to 5.75 percent. Policy makers kept their benchmark federal funds rate target unchanged at 5.25 percent. It's the first reduction in borrowing costs between scheduled meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee since 2001 and Ben S. Bernanke's first as Fed chairman.

``Financial market conditions have deteriorated, and tighter credit conditions and increased uncertainty have the potential to restrain economic growth going forward,'' the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement released in Washington. ``The downside risks have increased appreciably.''

Happy Birthday Kate


Today is my (kid) sister's birthday and since she's been reading my blog lately (only for a lack of better things to do no doubt) I thought I'd make mention of it. That's her. I don't know who the other dude is. He looks a little old for her.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Rolling Stones - Monkey Man (2003)

It's Friday (almost). Care for some Rolling Stones?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wild Hogs

Four middle-aged guys decide to turn their regular weekend ride into a road trip to the West Coast and rediscover who they are. No cell phones, no plans, no rules.

The concept is cool. The execution?

There are so many things that were unfunny about this movie I can't begin to count them.

"Final Ride Home" I35W Bridge Collapse Tribute by Phil Thompson

A friend of mine, Phil Thompson, has composed a beautiful peice of music to raise money for the victims of the I-35W collapse and memorialize the victims:

It's hard to believe it's been two weeks since the horrible tragedy occurred on the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. Please take a few minutes out of your day to watch the following video tribute to realize the magnitude of this event and the countless lives that were affected.

Also, the accompanying song to this video, Final Ride Home, is available on iTunes with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit the local chapter of the Twin Cities Red Cross. Thank you for taking time to reflect and send your thoughts and prayers.


Please take this opportunity to send this along to those who you feel would also be touched by this tribute.


Starting today, we can all help raise a million dollars, through a million downloads, one song at a time. If your office does not allow YouTube, you can also view the full tribute on my
web site.

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.

Check it out...

here (Ecker.net caption contest)

and

here! (Best of the MOB)

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Weather Man


"Sucked."

That's Mrs. Roosh's immediate reaction when the credits rolled. Notice the quotes.

I'm not as sure as she is (and she is sure).

Sometimes an ending makes a movie. Hopefully that is true because that's all this one had. I would not recommend it yet I found it entertaining in a way that leaves me concerned for my mental health.

I like Nicholas Cage. I thought he did very well with the role of a local TV weatherman whose life, all aspects of it, is completely coming off of the tracks. His marriage is failed. His twelve-year-old daughter is overweight and smokes. His fifteen-year-old son is in drug treatment and is molested by his counselor. His wife is now with another man. Oh, and his father is dying of cancer. All he has is his career, and his health, presumably.

The Departed was to violence as The Weather Man was to depression. The violence of the former was so gratuitous it made us laugh. The depression of the latter had the same effect. Cage's character's life was so pathetic, it also made me laugh. Mrs. Roosh was not amused.

I guess the message of the movie, as articulated by his father, played by Michael Caine, is "...you can always start over. You have time."

It wasn't enough. I was entertained, but don't bother with this one.

Fleetwood Mac - Don't stop (thinking about tomorrow) LIVE!

I love this version with the USC Trojans...check it out.

Daddy...that's not "Happiness to see Me" is it?

Advisers love Rudy, hate Hillary

According to 205 advisers surveyed by the Brinker Barometer, a quarterly gauge of financial adviser confidence and sentiment towards the economy, 36% of advisers said former New York Mayor and Republican candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani would have the most positive effect on the U.S. economy and investing.

Rounding out the list were fellow Republicans, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who collected 30% and 15% of the support, respectively.

No surprise here. Advisors tend to be pro-business and fiscal conservatives as many are self employed and/or believe in letting the markets and free enterprise do what they do best and without undue government intervention.

When asked, “Which candidates would be worst for the U.S. economy and investing?” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., garnered 60% of the vote, followed by John Edwards, another Democratic presidential candidate and a former senator from North Carolina (13%). Mr. Obama got 12% of the vote, followed by Mr. Giuliani (6%), Mr. McCain, (6%) and Mr. Romney (4%).

"Being such a Republican-dominated industry, Hillary Clinton is despised because she represents everything that Republicans dislike,”
I don't know...after watching SiCKO, I'm not so sure Hillary is completely anti-business if being in receipt of special interest dollars and specifically campaign contributions from health insurance companies. Either way..."despised?". Them's fightin' words.

But then this...

Caroline Giuliani, Mr. Giuliani’s 17-year-old daughter, had listed herself as a member of a Facebook group belonging to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., called “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack).” She left the group Monday after Slate, an online magazine, asked about her Facebook profile.

If Rudy's daughter isn't a conservative after 17 years....one wonders how Conservative Rudy really is?

How would you like to be at the Giuliani dinner table this Christmas?

PS: Can anyone guess what movie "that's not 'Happiness to see Me' is it?" comes from? Take a guess and then click here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Cure - Just Like Heaven

Is Michael Moore right?



Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.

So is Michael Moore right? Not so fast...

Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

"The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. "We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times."

Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.

Murray, from the University of Washington, said improved access to health insurance could increase life expectancy. But, he predicted, the U.S. won't move up in the world rankings as long as the health care debate is limited to insurance.

Which is to say that the answer to our health care crisis won't be found simply on relying on our government to socialize health care. It will be solved by somehow effecting a fundamental shift in our approach to health care, our lifestyle choices, and the recommendations our health care providers offer on a daily basis.

Our health care system has to evolve from a reactive, pharmaceutical-based system to a proactive nutraceutical-based system. Incentives will have to shift from decreasing care or costs for given aliments and procedures to an approach that rewards preventive care and the reduction of risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol.

Our system is so driven by the pharmaceutical industry that now they are inventing things for which to create a reactive treatment (see Take a pill).

But that doesn't explain Michael Moore's assertion that the French smoke as much as we do and also eat fatty foods and drink plenty of wine and still exceed us in most measurements of our collective health.

Essentially, our health care system is going to have to find a way to wedge it's way into our lives before we need it instead of us wedging our way into it after we need it.

Policymakers also should focus on ways to reduce cancer, heart disease and lung disease, said Murray. He advocates stepped-up efforts to reduce tobacco use, control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

"Even if we focused only on those four things, we would go along way toward improving health care in the United States," Murray said. "The starting point is the recognition that the U.S. does not have the best health care system. There are still an awful lot of people who think it does."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Michael Moore's SiCKO


As the War in Iraq runs it tortured course and Man-Made Global Warming loses it's hold on Americans, I have no doubt that our health care crisis will be the next national concern...again.
SiCKO is to that issue as An Inconvenient Truth is to MMGW. It behooves all of us to become involved and educated on this issue, whatever your political leanings.

It would be impractical for me to fact-check every assertion made in this film so I will simply share my experience with the film and encourage comments, rebuttal, or corroboration and encourage you to watch the film yourself.

This is the first Michael Moore film I have ever seen. I expected his approach to consist more of satire or sophomoric antics and to feature himself more. Such was not the case, at least not in this film.

As an artist, I found Moore’s style witty, fun and entertaining, and then emotional and poignant. His creative skills are undeniable. As objectionable as many find him personally or politically, he is an effective filmmaker and a master at eliciting an emotional response. His narration is well done and his sincerity appears mostly genuine. His goal is not to be exhaustive, rather to be provocative.

As a political statement, I found the film substantially effective, but as you might expect, quite well tilted to the left.

His premise is that America’s health care system is broken in a fundamental and measurable way evidenced by benchmarking against other Western countries. He repeatedly cites potentially unsubstantiated but commonly used statistics on infant mortality, longevity and comparative rankings.

He asserts unabashedly that socialized health care works in other countries and that we are the last Western nation that hasn't figured that out. He offers that even in America, we have already successfully “socialized” many services. Is this valid?

His examples:

Police and Fire: Good Point, ...the Postal Service: OK, Education: oops...not so much.

He offers harrowing case studies of injured or ill American citizens. One after another, they have gone without care or have lost loved ones because they could not access or afford insurance or basic health care. Others were insured but denied access or coverage by insurance companies and the medical facilities that have to abide by their payment provisions. One was simply pushed out of a cab hired by a medical center, which was caught on a security tape.

No one will deny the fact that this goes on and is a real problem. While Moore’s vignettes are excruciating emotionally, they don’t add or detract from his credibility just yet as one can always find exceptional cases of this sort no matter what point you are trying to make.

There is a history of the origins of HMO’s and the smoking gun of a Nixon Oval Office tape marking their purported birth. He showcases insurance company executive compensation including our own Bill McGuire, pertinent in an era of increased scrutiny of executive compensation, corruption and increased stockholder vigilance. He also cites America’s obsession with a "pill for every ill" versus preventative care, also timely and effective.

His prerequisite treatment of Hillary Rodham Clinton was at first a bit much and then unexpected given Moore's presumed political leanings.

Initially it is a cinematic shrine to a “Sassy, smart, and sexy” champion of universal health care who cedes to forces greater than she. Not the least of which are her husband’s political realities. Moore then discards her, counting her among all bought-and-paid-for politicians, asserting that Hillary succumbed to the siren song of health care lobbyists and political contributions.

It begs the question: If elected President; could Hillary resume her crusade now even if she wanted to?

The film then takes the viewer on a field trip to Canada, Great Britain and France, to discover if universal health care is the debacle that the US media and many of our government officials depict it to be, and along the way moves tangentially into a giddy celebration of socialism.

Apparently, there are no lines and no long waits. Prescriptions are cheap or free, and plentiful. Care is high quality and high-tech, as far as we are shown. Moore posits that Canadians, Brits and the French live longer than we do, work less than we do, have lower infant mortality, and are all the happier for it.

Here Moore tips his hand and starts to lose some credibility. He interviews former US citizens that have moved to France including one to gain access to treatment of his cancer. Everything is taken care of and is free. He gets paid to recuperate for three months by his employer on the merit of a letter from his doctor. One wonders if three months on the French Riviera was what his employer had in mind, let alone the systematic repercussions of this sort of policy.

The French are depicted as living a care-free, stress-free life in utopia. Free daycare, unlimited sick days, free health care, doctors perform free house calls, paid medical vacations, and government-provided nannies for new mothers. Moore unashamedly depicts life in France as a bunch of people lying around in parks, kissing each other all day long and at the same time claims that productivity in France is higher than America. It begs the question: is that true, and again, who pays for all of this?

His answer is an “investigation” of how the average French family is affected by the increased tax burden of their governmental system. It consists unconvincingly of an interview of one upper middle class family…and he quickly moves on.

In Canada and Great Britain, more of the same only Moore heads me off at the pass on one of my lingering questions: what about the doctors? Are they as credentialed, motivated and as well compensated as in America?

Moore interviews a British doctor; living in a $1 Million dollar home, driving a $70,000 Audi A8, and earning $200,000 annually plus pension and ostensibly, free health care. All good.

More intriguing however was the fact that the good doctor earned a bonus on his performance, receiving incentive pay based on such metrics as the lowering of blood pressure, cholesterol and tobacco use of his patients. It's a convincing interchange and a compelling approach to medical care.

Now, you have my attention. This is good stuff. SiCKO inadvertently makes as much if not more of a case for preventive care, a common thread in all the other countries featured, as it does for socialized medicine.

Fade to the notorious roundup of neglected 9/11 volunteer rescuers, injured or ill due to their service on site, and denied care by our government on the grounds that they weren’t on the payroll. Fact or fiction, these scenes are moving and effective.

Moore rents boats, skirts the Coast Guard, and takes these patients to Gitmo where enemy combatants including the 20th hijacker are receiving free quality health care. His point: shouldn’t our heroes get the same? A fair question.

Denied entry to Gitmo, Moore takes to the streets of Cuba with his crew of heroes where they all receive high-tech tests and treatments apparently denied them in America. The 9/11 rescuers are then invited to a Cuban firehouse where in a moving scene, the firefighters stand at attention in honor of their esteemed visitors and express their fellowship as firefighters. The Cuba sequence, while almost surely staged, was also effective in making Moore's point.

All in all, SiCKO is an entertaining, well-crafted film that dispatched my preconceived notions of Michael Moore as an artist if not his political views. It is emotional, compelling, and provocative, but leaves as many important questions unanswered, which is probably fine with Moore, if not intentional.

One such question: Does the pharmaceutical system in America subsidize the rest of the world, allowing them to offer drugs so cheaply?

If the health care systems in Canada, France, Great Britain and even Cuba result in lower costs, longer lives and reduced infant mortality, is it because the government pays for it or because of the emphasis on preventive care?

While I am not yet convinced that socialized medicine is the answer, there is no doubt that our system is broken because among other factors it is reactive, and because it is predominantly tied to employment. SiCKO, by no means an exhaustive documentary, is a provocative and relevant film for anyone interested in becoming more aware of what will most assuredly be the next big thing in American politics.

In closing, Michael Moore offers: “You know, when we see a good idea from another country, we grab it. If they build a better car we drive it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. So if they’ve come up with a better way to treat the sick, to teach their kids, to take care of their babies, to simply be good to each other, then what’s our problem? Why can’t we do that?”

Charlie Daniels - Long Haired Country Boy

"...I aint askin nobody for nothin' if I can't get it on my own..."

SiCKO...stay tuned.

A good friend of mine, her husband and I were having dinner a while back and the topic of Michael Moore and his movie SiCKO surfaced. I expressed my unsolicited disapproval as I'm known to do from time to time.

She made her case.

I am nothing if not open-minded but mentioned that I would be happy to watch it if somehow it could be done without a penny of my hard-earned reaching Moore's pocket.

She obliged. I will be watching it this weekend...stay tuned. She agreed to watch The Great Global Warming Swindle. Fair enough.

Yesterday I also agreed to watch An Inconvenient Truth. Given my incessant posting on Man-Made Global Warming it is only fair that I actually watch the movement's most prominent installment.

The Departed

Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio play two Massachusetts State Cops. Matt grew up as a surrogate son of Irish Mafioso Jack Nicholson and becomes a cop to feed him information while Leo, having grown up in a family rife with petty criminals becomes a cop to break the chain. When Leonardo's heritage is discovered, they don't believe him and he is given one choice and one choice only. Go deep under cover, penetrate the mafia, and feed back information to the State Police's Special Investigations Unit.

The two Rats become aware of each other and the chase begins.

Bullets, blood, brains and the effenheimer and worse fly everywhere and it wouldn't work with out all of it. The dialog is graphic, tight and constant; as is the violence, both conspiring to reach almost comedic levels. We laughed out loud throughout the picture.

The direction is frantic and cuts this way and that; the music - and the sound effects for that matter - are awesome. You can't turn away from the screen for two and a half hours. If you have to go to the biff, best to hit the pause button.

The casting, like the dialog was also unending and reached almost comedic levels. More than once, I found myself asking "Who's not in this movie?" Damon, DiCaprio, Nicholson, Wahlberg, Sheen, Baldwin...I was looking for Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert DiNiro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci but alas, they didn't show. The crew that did however was very entertaining in their rough-shaven interplay and Irish/Massachusetts accents.

The Departed won four Oscars; Best Picture, Editing, Writing and Martin Scorese's first and long awaited for Direction, after at least six previous nominations.

We had three movies in the drawer. Mrs. Roosh surprised me by picking this one. She doesn't usually go for this genre but she appreciated it too. But make sure to keep the kids out of the room.

...the ending? Bang Bang Bang Bang, Surprise!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Global Warming: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


JunkScience.com is sponsoring the Ultimate Global Warming Challenge:$100,000 will be awarded to the first person to prove, in a scientific manner, that humans are causing harmful global warming. The winning entry will specifically reject both of the following two hypotheses:

UGWC Hypothesis 1) Man made emissions of greenhouse gases do not discernibly, significantly and predictably cause increases in global surface and tropospheric temperatures along with associated stratospheric cooling.

UGWC Hypothesis 2) The benefits equal or exceed the costs of any increases in global temperature caused by man made greenhouse gas emissions between the present time and the year 2100, when all global social, economic and environmental effects are considered.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

New MNDOT Bridge Video



HT Truth vs The Machine

Camp Daypoint


Mrs. Roosh and I took Jbird to the orientation meeting for Camp Daypoint/Camp Needlepoint, which was held at Park Nicollet's International Diabetes Center in St. Loius Park. It is a camp for kids with Diabetes, run by kids with Diabetes, and takes place at the YMCA's Camp St. Croix in Hudson, Wisconsin. Many of the camp counselors have had Diabetes for 10, 15 even 20 years and a few were from England, Scotland and Australia.

Both last through the week but Camp Daypoint is a day camp, Camp Needlepoint is an overnight program. There are doctors and medical staff on hand throughout. It looks like an awesome program. Jbird is already interested in being a camp counselor one day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I35 = 1 + 3 + 5 = 9....=August 1st, 2007 (Conspiracy Theories)


Popular I-35W Bridge Collapse Conspiracy Theories

  1. Russians report that they have evidence that this was caused by a secret US military sound weapon

  2. The bridge was damaged by experiments being run in a secret underground nuclear lab

  3. Numerology predicted this event

  4. The bridge disaster was a controlled demolition

  5. Police are keeping people so far away because MN-DOT screwed up so badly

  6. President Bush wants to fast-track the new bridge to be part NAFTA highway

  7. It was the alignment of the planets

  8. Police are covering up the fact that a large number of Somali people were killed

  9. Mothman was responsible

  10. The video tape of the collapse was edited to cut out the smoking gun

Very interesting (imaginations that is). Read the answers here.

The Hole we've dug...


...could come back to bite us. Hard. Where it hurts.

Our fiscal irresponsibility for years on the part of Democrats and Republicans has put us in a position where our military options aren't options in this type of war. WWIII may be fought in the world markets.


The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels.

It would also cause a spike in US bond yields, hammering the US housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession.

The threats play into the presidential electoral campaign of Hillary Clinton, who has called for restrictive legislation to prevent America being "held hostage to economic decisions being made in Beijing, Shanghai, or Tokyo".

She said foreign control over 44pc of the US national debt had left America acutely vulnerable.

"The words are alarming and unambiguous. This carries a clear political threat and could have very serious consequences at a time when the credit markets are already afraid of contagion from the subprime troubles," he said.

HT John H.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Big Two is back to the Big Three


This week Daimler sold it's interest in Chrysler to Cerberus, a US private equity firm. Minutes ago Autoblog announced the new CEO of The New Chrysler will be Bob Nardelli, a product of Jack Welch-era GE and former CEO of Home Depot. Time will tell if this is a good move for Chrysler's workers, for consumers, for automotive enthusiasts and for our country.

The Daimler purchase seemed to work for a while but ultimately marks one of the most poorly executed corporate acquisitions in all of history. Daimler bought a viable brand, mismanaged it and sold it for a fraction of its original purchase price, erasing billions of stockholder value.

During this brief era, Mercedes-Benz quality ratings fell to what must be an all-time low while Chrysler's increased along with it's popularity. It's difficult to fathom how Daimler could not make a go of the company that still dominates the ubiquitous mini-van market, parlayed that into the successful crossover Pacifica, and leveraged the cost-recovered last generation Mercedes E-Class platform into the 300, a conquest model that stole many high-end buyers from other luxury brands.

Automotive enthusiasts have a healthy disdain for thinly veiled platform sharing, but Daimler Chrysler seemed to have a knack for it, and in fact it made a couple significant cars possible due to costs being spread across more models. In addition to the 300, examples include the Chrysler Pacifica/Mercedes R Class and Chrysler Crossfire/Mercedes SLK.

Most significant of these from an enthusiasts standpoint was the 300C. Most significant from a shareholders standpoint was the Pacifica; it would appear there were millions of them sold.

General Motors has had a tougher time disguising shared platforms over the years with many models differing only by superficial cosmetic details. Witness the last generation Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade. The worst example I can recall is the Chevroltet Celebrity and Cadillac Cimarron, which many automotive journalists would concur was the low point for Cadillac.

Cerberus will have to go it alone. There will be no Daimler Benz drive trains or platforms to share, and I think that is a disadvantage in a world where GM owns and shares with Saab, and Ford owns and shares with Volvo and Mazda.

Time will tell what Cerberus' exit strategy is, as surely they went in with a way out firmly in mind. But what will become of Chrysler? We have to assume the executives at Cerberus are good investors, hopefully good managers, but only their product will tell us if they are good car guys.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Sweet Land


Set and filmed in rural 1920's Minnesota (filmed in Montevideo), Sweet Land is a simple poignant story of a time in all of our histories.

Director Ali Selim first read Will Weaver's short story "A Gravestone Made of Wheat" in 1989 in the Sunday magazine of the Star Tribune, a Minneapolis newspaper. After purchasing the film rights, he spent much of the 1990s working on a script in his spare time as he worked as a director of television commercials (from Wikipedia).

An "Indy" film financed by Ali Selim and several private investors, it is the story of a man and a woman who build a lifelong bond, completing each other as they work their land while at the same time gaining acceptance from a community troubled by her German ancestry, and accidental membership in the Socialist Party (now more accepted in Minnesota - but I digress) in the era after World War I.

When men were men and women were men too.

The characters are rich and unique to one another, the music and the cinematography are perfect.

You may recognize Elizabeth Reaser from Grey's Anatomy (which I've never seen) or from another excellent film The Family Stone. With the exception of the prodigious John Heard, Lois Smith (Aunt Meg in Twister), and good 'ol Ned Beatty, the cast is made up of talented but heretofore unrecognized actors, at least by me.

It's a difficult movie to convey or condense as there are no special effects, no gratuitous sex or violence, no subplots, no surprise ending...and the hero is everyone at some point in the film...well, except the nemesis, the banker, played by Ned Beatty. And therein lies the charm. It's a simple timeless story, well told.

I would rank this film among my favorites.

Losses mount at Caribou Coffee

I track Caribou coffee and post on them because I like Caribou, I am a coffee nut (no pun intended - I know, coffee's a bean), it's a Minnesota company and I just can't understand how a company in a thriving economy and a robust marketplace can still be losing stockholder's money after all these years.

I don't know if this is a case of poor management or stockholder apathy or both.

Losses widen at Caribou

I don't own their stock and don't recommend individual stocks to clients any way.

Two years ago their stock was in the 12 range. Last close was 6.66.

This is a company that needs to make dramatic changes in their model or their pricing or both.

My $0.02.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Premonition


Starring Sandra Bullock and no one else I can name, Premonition is a combination between A Beautiful Mind (one of my favorites), Groundhog Day (without the comedy), and The Lake House, which coincidentally also featured her.

The trailers basically give you the gist. Sandra Bullock plays a stay-at-home mother of two daughters. She comes to the door to find the Sheriff. Her car salesman husband is dead. She tells her daughters and her mother comes to stay with her to help her out.

The next morning she wakes up to find her husband downstairs having his morning coffee.

...and then the next morning wakes up to find her family preparing for the funeral, etc.

This movie starts off excruciatingly slow, especially given the fact that due to the aforementioned trailers, you already know the basic plot. Each scene is drawn out in an ill-advised attempt to add tension.

But its too much. I found myself asking to get on with it.

As Sandra starts to put the pieces of the mystery anomaly together the movie gains in interest and momentum, hurling ahead to the resolution and presumably happy ending.

And then it ends. Twice.

And abruptly in the second case.

And you are not satisfied. Too many loose ends. The ending isn't what you'd expect. And it really should have been. What you are left with is not enough to justify the twists and turns the plot took to arrive here.

I found the movie entertaining and judged Sandra Bullock's performance as very strong right from the beginning. The concept has potential. Yet, I can't recommend it. It just isn't enough to save the movie from it's empty ending and poor direction.

What Nick Coleman should have written...

"Minnesota's proudest moment..."
8/1/2007

In an unprecedented time like this, where we have Fox News, CNN and the like camped out in our own community because a local disaster is the nation's news, we can't help also being proud when we see how our community reacts to such an event.

Our public servants including law enforcement, medical, emergency services and other officials demonstrated that in fact the lessons learned at 9/11 were not lost on us. I have not heard of any confusion, lack of leadership or jurisdictional conflicts whatsoever.

Republican representatives and activists in town during this tragedy found themselves reassured of their selection of the Twin Cities for the 2008 GOP Convention.

But most impressive of all...and why we can be so proud to live here...is our observation and the media's corroboration of the fact that Minnesota Nice, as hokey as that moniker sounds, is alive and well.

It has been reported nationally over and over that mere seconds after the disaster occurred, passersby rushed to the aid of their fellow citizens, and no doubt lives were saved. Even more amazing are the stories of the rescued turning right back around and helping to save and give aid to others.

No doubt lives were saved even before our professional heroes were able to arrive on the scene.

We live in a high-tech world. We bring improvements to our lives and create economic growth through the use of technology. But not without risk.

Every day we get into our car or fly in an airliner or even bike to work we are exposed to certain albeit mostly negligible or least acceptable risks, as we employ these technologies in our daily lives.

Driving over a bridge is no exception.

While we can and should expect our government to maintain our nation's infrastructure, and certainly this disaster will bring increased attention and with it political pressure to increase or reallocate resources, we cannot remove all risks from our daily life.

Nor can our government. Nor can we expect our government to have the resources to completely mitigate the effects before, during and after a disaster of this magnitude.

All the more reason to find ourselves reassured and in awe, and so proud of the heroes of late - both professional and civilian, that have shown our entire country how great a place the Twin Cities of Minnesota are to live and work.