Monday, December 14, 2009

News Corp/Fox is greedy

Two acts of evil of late by News Corp has shown its greed. I was reminded today that News Corp, which owns Hulu, will begin charging users to view previously free content on the site. Chase Carey, the deputy chairman of News Corp, said that "It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online."

The other incident occurred last night. I was watching "Family Guy," and at one point there was a four-minute commercial break! I kid you not. Commercial breaks should be two minutes. My God does Fox milk the few good shows it has.

Lastly, just thought I'd throw this in: Has anyone else noticed that Fox keeps freezing? As in, you're watching a show and all of a sudden the show freezes? This happens on both the regular cable and digital HD versions (through Charter). No other channel does this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Day in Madison

This is deja vu from our last two winters here. On the CBS morning news Tuesday, they sent weatherman Dave Price to Flagstaff, Ariz., site of a huge snowstorm that was making its to the midwest. The weather band stretched from Arizona to Wisconsin, where the majority of the snow cut through the middle of the state (south of Hayward, north of Janesville), which meant that once again Madison would get more snow than up north. In fact, this did happen: UW-Superior was the only UW system school to stay open yesterday.

It sucks that Madison just happens to sit in the eye of all these snow storms. Waking up yesterday, I thought it was eerie to see the quiet streets, downed branches and basic white-out. The plows did a nice job, though I'm surprised how much ice there is today given that hardly any cars drove yesterday to pack it in. There was so much ice on the steep hill that is S. Hamilton St. that a bus got stuck this morning, and all the cars behind it got stuck.

How bad was the 19.5" of snow yesterday? All state agencies closed; no mail, no busses, nothing. The hospitals were super busy with people experiencing chest pains from shoveling and several injuries from snowblowers (FOR PETE'S SAKE: DON'T STICK YOUR HAND IN THE SNOWBLOWER!!!). UW-Madison played host to a snowball fight on Bascom Hill, though not enough students came out to break Michigan Tech's World Record.

Speaking of snowballs, did you see the seven-foot snowball near the Vintage (University Ave/Frances St.)? It took at least 10 people to build it. There also were reports of 10-foot tall (or taller) snowmen all over campus, including one in the roundabout near the Natatorium.

By evening, I saw several pizza delivery cars moving about, as well as a taxi or two. I was willing to venture out to pick up some champagne at the liquor store, but no surprise, it was closed.

Sadly, winter still hasn't even started yet (11 days away). I thought this was supposed to be a tamer winter?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jewelry war

I enjoyed listening to Scott Chalmers (of Chalmer Jewelers) bash Richard Kessler (of Kesslers Diamonds) on the radio the other day. Kessler has flooded the radio market with his annoying ads (I hate them so much I vow to never buy from him, and I steer my friends away from him). Now Chalmers has called out Kessler for its yellow diamonds. Just priceless!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bash the Bashers

A letter-to-the-editor appeared in today's Cap Times that ridicules anti-RTA advocate Bill Richardson. An excerpt:

"Richardson has no vision for the future of transportation in Dane County except to advocate for building another south beltline, and using valuable farmland for a North Mendota parkway north of Madison. When I asked him about gas prices in the future, he said, without even batting an eye, that he 'would pay $10 per gallon for gas' in front of several witnesses. To me, that shows a high degree of selfishness, and a definite lack of vision for the future of transportation in Dane County."

Richardson lives in a C.A.V.E. (citizens against virtually everything). Thank the writer for further illustrating Richardson's selfishness.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mayor Dave: 'Unreasonable Opposition'

In Mayor Dave's recent blog entry on the Edgewater Hotel proposal, he wrote that "What remains now is unreasonable opposition from a slim minority that vows to use every tool at their disposal, including the courts, to block this project."

I completely agree, as mentioned in my previous entry on this topic. Projects in Madison are too often fought tooth and nail, and it really does no one any good. Let this project proceed for Pete's sake!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What will the IOC do?

The International Olympics Committee is definitely unpredictable, as described. Look at a few years ago when it picked London--nowhere near considered the favorite--for the 2012 games? (What the hell did Tony Blair do when he met with IOC officials in his hotel suite?)

The prevailing theory is that Brazil and Chicago are the favorites. Why? South America has never played host to the Olympics, and Brazil would be a nice start as it builds toward becoming a superpower (along with Russia, India and China). Chicago is a favorite because it is a "safe" bet, as America always is.

I'm not sure why Madrid is not a favorite, and Tokyo is not supposedly because Beijing just had the Olympics.

I don't think Brazil will get it because it is already playing host to the World Cup, perhaps a more important event to the country. Madrid does not have the appeal that Barcelona does, and Tokyo just picked the wrong year. Go Chicago!

Here's an AP article that explains the agonizing decision process of the IOC.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More speed traps

I love that the Madison police department announces where it will lay its speed traps. Here are this week's:

• Tuesday: 900 S. Midvale Blvd., school zone

• Wednesday: 3500 block of Highway 30, construction zone

• Thursday: John Nolen Drive, speed and red light

Watch out, drivers!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Broom/Gorham done

Thank God the construction at the intersection of Broom Street and Gorham Street is finally done. Not sure why such a small area took so long (bigger projects in other parts of the city took far less time, such as Campus Drive). Anyways, that was one of the most annoying of all projects.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

IAM Union Should Accept Mercury Marine Offer

Mercury Marine, an outboard-engine manufacturer, has 1,900 employees at its headquarters in Fond du Lac. Like many other companies, it has been hurt by this recession. In order to save jobs, Mercury offered a contract that kept wages at $20/hr while hiring back laid-off employees at $13/hr (same wage for new hires).

No surprise that the union (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 1947) overwhelmingly rejected the proposal. That short-sightedness and greed will come back to bite them in the ass, because Mercury will now likely move to Oklahoma, which offered to pay for moving expenses (estimated to be several million dollars) and doesn't have a union to deal with (at the Stillwater plant).

I repeat: the union's shortsightedness and greed will be its own undoing. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that there has been talk of a re-vote. The members would be wise to change their mind. Otherwise, why should anyone feel sorry for them?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Congrats Mad-City Ski Team

For the fourth straight year, the Mad-City Ski Team won the National Show Ski Championship, which took place this past weekend at Shorewood Park in Loves Park, Ill. Check out full results and a highlight video from the state championship on the team's Web site,

We are fortunate that we can watch the team perform for free every Sunday in the summer on Lake Monona (by the Monona Terrace). Bring a lawn chair and your own snacks!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Catch those bicyclists

Many bicyclists forget that they must obey traffic signs as cars do. This is easily apparent when bicyclists blow through stop signs/lights, go the wrong direction on one-way streets and don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

(Recently, a bicyclist didn't stop at a stop sign and got hit by a car on the near-east side. It was the bicyclist's fault.)

In an article in today's Capital Times, Madison police are starting to crack down on these bicyclists, who really mar the image of otherwise good people. I like that Madison is bicycle-friendly; I just hate when the few idiots out there feel empowered to do whatever they want.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Let's not lose out to Gary, Indiana

Just read this amusing letter-to-the-editor in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about transit (or lack thereof).

My favorite part:

"By 2016, Gary, Ind., will more than likely have a more viable transit system than Milwaukee and probably a new venue or two. Then Milwaukee can stand up and proudly say it lost jobs and income to Gary."

In a related MJS article, the Urban Mobility Report produced by the Texas Transportation Institute said that traffic congestion in Milwaukee cost about $307 million in extra fuel and lost time in 2007.

So, let's get our transit improved in Madison so that we don't lose time or money or lose out to Gary, Ind.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Approve the Edgewater Hotel expansion

For a city built around beautiful lakes, it's a shame there are only a handful of public places (non-beaches/parks) to gather on the lake. Take Lake Mendota, for example: you have the Memorial Union and the Edgwater Hotel (places like Captain Bill's are not adjacent to the lake, as they claim).

Developers have proposed expanding the Edgewater Hotel, and plans include giving the pier a make-over. Of course, with every proposal in the city, it has to be fought tooth and nail. As reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, the proposal is supported by Downtown Madison Inc., the Wisconsin Alumni Association, nearby First United Methodist Church and several neighborhood leaders, but not by Capitol Neighborhoods Inc. and the Mansion Hill Neighborhood Association.

An issue that was raised was concern over traffic and noise. That's odd, since the Edgewater is one block from Gorham (very busy) and on Langdon Street (home of Greek row). Anyone living in that vicinity should already be used to traffic and noise!

One thing that former Mayor Paul Soglin correctly points out in his blog is that we need to have density in downtown or face more sprawl.

Lastly, I think the Edgewater would make a nice north-of-the-Capitol complement to the south-of-the-Capitol Monona Terrace (which should also have a terrace like the Memorial Union's--save that for another blog).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Road construction: lessons learned?

In Business Magazine has a nice story about how the City of Madison completely botched the planning of the East Washington road construction and how it drove several stores out of business. Meanwhile, did the City learn its lesson for University Avenue?

According to Michael Gay, the City's Business Development Coordinator, "The first time we did this, we weren't so good."

Check out the story at:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can't Drive in Madison

Drivers: please avoid campus and downtown if you can! Gorham, University Ave (downtown), Campus Drive and University Ave (west) are all one-lane at the same time. Not sure why that entire stretch was chosen to be worked on at the same time, but it's a nightmare going to and from downtown and the near west side.

Complicating matters is that the Mills Street construction has crossed Regent St., so now Regent is a parking lot. Plus, Mills Street (between University and Johnson) and Randall Ave. (between University and Johnson) also are closed, so it's hard to use Dayton Street as an alternative.

For those keeping track, that means three of your routes out (westbound)--University, Dayton and Regent--are fucked. Langdon Street has some building construction that has clogged the road, too. Try driving from the Capitol to Hilldale Mall in less than 20 minutes--it's nearly impossible.

Soon Farley Avenue (which becomes University Bay Drive and connects to UW Hospital) will be under construction, so you can't cut through the neighborhoods, either. Advice? TAKE THE BELTLINE!

(If we only had light rail...)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Road construction woes

How brutal is it now to drive through east campus? Drivers coming from the east side via Gorham Street or coming from the south via Broom Street have been feeling the pain of the construction of one of the busiest intersections downtown. It's just one lane on Gorham there, so cars turning left from Broom or coming down Gorham get severely bottle-necked. Most drivers have taken parallel streets (Gilman and Langdon), only to find themselves worst off (Gilman takes you back to that intersection, and Langdon is tight because of building construction).

Those coming up Broom and avoiding the intersection have tried Dayton Street, but that, too, is under construction near Randall where the new Union South is being built. The city never plans anything out well.

Move-out and graduation weekend (May 16-17) will be a complete cluster-fuck. Stay away from campus if you can that weekend!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Playboy Ranks UW No. 6 for Party Schools

Damn! The last time Playboy ranked party schools (2006), the University of Wisconsin-Madison was No. 1. This time around UW has fallen to No. 6 behind Miami, Texas, San Diego State, Florida and Arizona. At least Wisconsin is the northern most school!

I'm sure you can find more info at

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Live Like You Mean It

I'm not the first to bash the state's choice for a new slogan, but I won't be the last, either. To reiterate, the state paid ad agency Red Brown Kle $50,000 to do the work, and all it did was steal a slogan that has been used many times before (e.g. by Bacardi)--"Live Like You Mean It."

Here's the piece of crap we have to deal with for at least a year.

Here's my favorite parody so far:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Parking rates increase again

Madison is raising its parking rates again. Downtown meters, for example, will increase from $1.25/hour to $1.50/hour. I'm not surprised by this action, given how poorly the city is run, especially in regards to all financial matters. It would be easier to swallow if:

1) We had better public transit options--namely, light rail, which could transport people from one side of town to another. Obviously, we are still years away from this.
2) The meters took credit cards. Who the hell carries that much change all the time? Two summers ago Madison experimented with meters that took credit cards, but so far the city has not indicated it will make them permanent.

I worry for downtown businesses, as most don't have parking lots. Hopefully the increased meter and ramp prices don't deter would-be diners, drinkers and shoppers too much.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another west side grocery store

As a former west-sider, I know the benefits of living on that side of town--better schools (Memorial and West), homes that aren't run-down or 100 years old, better layout (e.g. not dependent on one street--East Washington--to go anywhere), and the list goes on.

Now as another slap in the face to the east side, Hy-Vee grocery store will open in 2010 at Westgate Mall, right across the street from Copps. Not too far away, Sentry is across from another Copps, and Woodman's is a block away from Sam's and Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, on the east side, there are just a handful of grocery stores. If you're not shopping at Woodman's East, then where the hell are you shopping? (Hy-Vee wants to open a second location in the former K-Mart, but another grocery store proposal failed a few years back.)

Basically, I find it amusing that another grocery story is coming to the west side. A better use of that space: Crate and Barrel, Champp's, Dave and Buster's, etc.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Early sign of spring?

It was nice to have a mid-50s day today. But the biggest indication of spring? Seeing a food cart on the Capitol Square.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't raise parking rates

An article in the Wisconsin State Journal today reported the city's Parking Utility is proposing increases in fees of all meters and parking ramps. Our rates are already high enough. This is Madison, Wis., a city of 200,000, not Chicago or even Milwaukee.

The PU wants to raise meters from $1.25/hr to $1.50/hr, and ramps such as Government East (next to the Great Dane) from $1.10/hr to $1.40/hr. If the City Parking and Transit Commission is wise, they will vote this down.

Downtown businesses are hurting, and raising fares will drive away potential customers. Doesn't the city already make enough money on the myriad of parking tickets they hand out? Those parking enforcers often wait on expiring meters (jackasses).

Perhaps if we had a better public transit system, such as light rail from Middleton to the airport/Sun Prairie, we could swallow this increase. But in today's economy, this hurts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Newspapers are dying

Okay, the headline is not anything surprising. In the past year, several papers in Wisconsin have undergone extensive changes, such as the Capital Times (online only now) and the Superior Daily Telegram (now just publishing twice a week).

Chicken or the egg conundrum: Was the lack of revenue for papers leading to shoddy reporting, or was shoddy reporting leading to lack of revenue?

One paper that has done a great job over these tough times is the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. They cover Madison better than the Wisconsin State Journal or Cap Times does combined. Seriously! You'll find more stories on Madison business, politics, etc. in the MJS than in either the WSJ or TCT.

Why are these Madison papers so lazy? I know for a fact they get several major announcements in the form of press releases every now and then, and they never write about the subject, while the MJS does.

Plus, the MJS still does a lot of in-depth reporting. Read this column about the Journal-Sentinel's efforts to remain a strong publication.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Still Hate Nail's Tails

Doug Moe of the Wisconsin State Journal wrote a column the other day about Donald Lipski, the sculptor who created the hideous obelisk outside Camp Randall Stadium called "Nail's Tails." Lipski apparently created another ugly monstrosity for the spring training home of the Indians and Reds.

Why do people keep commissioning him to do more art? It's mind boggling. He even created a bouquet of bathtubs for a museum in Houston. Not surprisingly, that also was poorly received.

I know many people within the UW athletic department that detest Nail's Tails (all will remain anonymous). I remember at the press conference for its unveiling a few years ago, and the look on the faces of the senior staff was that of embarrassment rather than pride. Many bystanders were simply incredulous of this phallic statue that cost $200,000 (state law that it had to be bought).

I'm still hoping that some drunk college students (either from UW or a rival Big Ten school) try to steal it. I doubt anyone would put up a fight.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Still Hoping for Rail

Today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported: "Federal economic stimulus money could be used to build a Midwestern high-speed passenger rail system that would link Chicago to Minneapolis with stops at Milwaukee, Madison and even Green Bay, Gov. Jim Doyle told Milwaukee business leaders."

I am and have been an ardent supporter of this idea, but my optimism is not high. Look at Milwaukee: the city was granted $289 million 17 years ago for public transit but still hasn't done anything with it.

What's funny is that we (e.g. Dane County, Milwaukee County) can't even create a referendum to decide whether or not to create a Regional Transit Authority. So at best, we're still two steps away (re: years) from even working on any rail plans.

What combination of traffic, tolls, gas prices and drunk drivers will it take for people to share this desire?