Stupid Bengals

In 2005-2006, when the Bengals won their division and went to the playoffs, many fans including myself thought that it was the start of something great. Apparently, that's all we get.

So every 15 years, we get 1 playoff game. Perfect. Who dey!

When The Levy Breaks

When I married Sarah, hidden in the vows was the clause that I am to vote yes for public school levies for the rest of my life. I could live with that, despite my Libertarian-ish ways.

Despite being bothered by the fact that only a government institution could abruptly find itself $72 million in debt. Despite the fact that only government budgets must separate capital funds from operational funds, leading to a ridiculous situation where teachers and staff are cut while nearly $1 billion is spent on building new schools. Despite the fact that these levies continue to feed into a public school funding formula that has been declared unconstitutional multiple times by the Ohio Supreme Court (SCOO?). Despite the fact that the teachers unions allow the youngest, cheapest, most energetic teachers to be cut first, while the teachers who have taught the longest are allowed to do and change the least while being paid the most.

Despite all these things, I support the upcoming CPS levy. And you should too. Because they haven't asked for a new operating levy in 7 years. Because these teachers work in extraordinary - no - super-ultra-extraordinary environments. Where they are required to do more and more with less and less. Get to school at 7 am. Use one hour to plan 6 hours of talking. No bathroom breaks. A half-hour for lunch, maybe, if you don't eat while grading. No office supplies. No assistants. No climate control. Advanced education requirements with no advanced salary. Kids who misbehave. Kids who are behind. When you get home, maybe you can grade some more. At least you get summers off.

And that was all before No Child Left Behind. You see, in the past few decades, kids who were behind, or were severe behavior problems, were either casually advanced or forgotten about altogether. But NCLB is literal in its name and its intent. But that last 10%-20% of kids who never graduated high school and weren't thought of again, it takes a lot more than 10%-20% of extra effort to get them to meet ever-rising federal standards. A lot more.

So now, on top of all the problems with education that were already there, now teachers have to participate in counseling, intervention, special education, and behavior plans. More counselors. More psychologists. More aides. More specialists. And where does the money to pay all these people come from?

No where at the moment. But the levy, our disproportionate property tax unconstitutionally funded levy, will help.

Vanilla Sky (Or Pink Lemonade Perhaps...)

The sky looked funny this afternoon from outside the office.

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Streetcar Drivers Wanted

The reality of streetcars in Cincinnati is closer than it ever has been before. I've seen more criticism of the plan than support so far, and I can understand it. $102 million is a lot of money to pay for a streetcar system, and I still won't be able to get from UC to downtown. $102 million is a lot of money when the Banks are still not developed, CPS thinks it needs a levy (which it does), and the county thinks it needs a new jail (which it doesn't).

But I support this plan and you should too. Many people who criticize the plan say they are in favor of it ultimately, but it's not the right time when there are so many other needs. I say that, like most things in life, there is never a good time. And so many things that don't get done in this town is based on lack of political will, and this may be the only time there is political will for this project for a long time. If the political will is there, let's get it done, details be damned. We can add the route to UC later.

War On...?

Not much time today. Off to Bowling Green this afternoon, back tomorrow.

From AlterNet (a bleeding heart blog, but I happen to agree on this one):

What would you buy if you had an extra $42 billion to spend every year? What might our government buy if it suddenly had that much money dropped onto its lap every year?

For one thing, it might pay for the entire $7 billion annual increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program that President Bush is threatening to veto because of its cost -- and there'd still be $35 billion left over.

Or perhaps you'd hire 880,000 schoolteachers at the average U.S. teacher salary of $47,602 per year.

Or give every one of our current teachers a 30 percent raise (at a cost of $15 billion, according to the American Federation of Teachers) and use what's left to take a $27 billion whack out of the federal deficit.

Or use all $42 billion for a massive tax cut that would put an extra $140 in the pockets of every person in the country -- $560 for a family of four.

The mind reels at the ways such a massive sum of money could be put to use.

Why $42 billion? Because that's what our current marijuana laws cost American taxpayers each year.
Read more. This November, avoid voting for City Council members who support last year's ridiculous marijuana ordinance.

How To Save Cincinnati

Okay, I don't know how to save Cincinnati. I did try to compose something more coherent, but after wasting a lot of time just staring, I think I'll just try a list.

1) John Fox's editorial in last week's Citybeat caught my eye. In it, he wonders why the corporate powers-that-be have never sought to sponsor Midpoint Music Festival but fall all over themselves to get behind the Bengals, when arguably MPMF in many ways is a more important event for the city than the Bengals have ever been in recent times, despite their success. He referred to an old CityBeat article on the Creative Class with this quote: "And here's the kicker -- there isn't a density of high-tech workers in a place without a thriving music scene."

2) Why do people move to a city? Jobs? Culture? Friends? Family? Reputation? There are people who move to California because they love to tell people that they live in California. There are people who move to New York City for the same reason. But there are people who move to California because they love the weather. There are people who move to New York because they love walking to the store and riding the bus and taking the subway to see a play and so on. There are people from Cincinnati who think Cincinnati is nothing, and move to Chicago. There are people from Grayson County, KY, who think Grayson County is nothing, and move to Cincinnati to live in a great city. I don't know of anyone who moved to, say, St. Louis because they didn't like it in Cincinnati.

3) I read this article a long time ago about how to be Silicon Valley. He claims that the two main requirements to duplicate the Valley are nerds and rich people. Pittsburgh has lots of nerds, but no rich people. Hence you don't hear about the next Google coming from the Steel City. The same applies to Miami, which has lots of rich people, but no nerds. In considering things like personality, creativity, and youthfulness of a city, I like the following passage:

...Most good startup ideas seem a little crazy; if they were obviously good ideas, someone would have done them already.

That's the connection between technology and liberalism. Without exception the high-tech cities in the US are also the most liberal. But it's not because liberals are smarter that this is so. It's because liberal cities tolerate odd ideas, and smart people by definition have odd ideas.

Conversely, a town that gets praised for being "solid" or representing "traditional values" may be a fine place to live, but it's never going to succeed as a startup hub.
Does that last paragraph sound familiar? Does it sounds like a description that has ever been applied to Cincinnati?

4) If Zipscene is successful, it will have been in the face of the extraordinary limitations of where Zipscene started. Namely, Cincinnati. I love this town, but this is no place to start a internet-type startup along the lines of Google, or Facebook. One of the reasons I joined Zipscene was the idea of being a part of the first real consumer internet success in this city. I cannot think of anything else that comes close. (That's not true. would probably have been successful back in the 90's were it not acquired by eBay early on. There's also and (before it was acquired by Intelliseek) with varying degrees of success, but have you heard of them?)

5) Now, I love this town. But Larry Gross is right in this week's CityBeat when he says, "We have some very nice people here, but there is a tenseness -- some kind of a vibe that covers this city." I know this vibe. I've emanated it myself, I'm sure. It's the same vibe as, "Ohmigod, you're a stranger, can't talk to you." In Cincinnati, family is important. So is working hard, shutting up, and doing what you're supposed to do. It's why clubs like Club Clau and Bang get so much guff. It's why people take comfort in things that have been the same and familiar for so long, and why people get upset when the Fountain gets moved 30 ft. to the north. It's why the most successful businesses here are still in manufacturing, consumer goods, and insurance, despite the best efforts of Pill Hill and the likes of Zipscene. It's why the man with the most hits in baseball, who for 20 years worked hard, shut up, and did what he was supposed to do, can do no wrong in this city. This is why Cincinnati loves Pete Rose, and always will.

Why I Love Where I Live

Not to be an urban snob, but I love where I live. Here are some reasons why.

View Larger Map

And downtown is right down the hill. I know there are other places like this. Clifton on Ludlow. Probably some areas in Hyde Park. Even Short Vine, when you think about it. Now if only they'd build a Target nearby.

Cincinnati 28, Rutgers 23

Just got done watching yesterday's UC-Rutgers game on TiVo. Well, most of it. For live sporting events, I always, always record an hour past the end time. Except for when I only record half-an-hour past the end time. Like this time. Dammit. I missed the last 8 minutes of the game, but I saw the high points.

Full speed ahead, bandwagon driver! GO CATS!

Alas, Poor Wendy's

The Wendy's on Gilbert Ave. recently burned down.

Alas, poor Wendy's. I knew thee well. I can't even begin to think of how to replace you. There's the McDonald's on Victory, but eating McDonald's always makes me feel guilty. There's the Skyline, and I do love Skyline, almost as much as you, but a little Skyline goes a long way, and I usually pay for it later.

But I could eat you every day for some reason. Probably because you are healthier.

You had the best drive-thru service in Walnut Hills. It was open 'til midnight every night! Even though sometimes I swear your employees turned off all the lights and ignored the drive-thru at 11:45. But that was okay, I understood.

And you had the best dollar menu anywhere. I usually got two Jr. Cheese Deluxes and small fries. All off the dollar menu, all for $3! Awesome! Just like in college. And, on top of all this, I can't count the number of times Sarah and I hit the drive-thru to treat ourselves after a long day. "Two large Frosty's please. Chocolate," I would say. I tried a Blizzard at McDonald's, but it's not even close.

I'll see you again some day. You'll be back, bigger and better than before! I just know it! Maybe, not in the same place, but I'll see you again. Because true love is meant to last. And I am a lazy cook. R.I.P.

Fond Memories Of City Council Election Time

This week's issue of Citybeat covers the upcoming city council election. There are 25 candidates total, including nine incumbents and three former council members. That's a lot of candidates.

But not nearly as many as the 31 who vied for a spot two years ago. At the time, The Cincinnati Dealer was alive and kickin' and I put together this City Council ballot.

Click to enlarge and print!

It tooks me a while to lay it out, and so it remains one of my most favorite creations. I even got some comments from a few candidates! Though they responded primarily because I got their names wrong. No city council ballot this year - but it's like 75% the same people, so you could probably re-use it for bingo.

Take Me Out

So I may have exaggerated my big news earlier. The news isn't that big, at least, not until it pans out. And I don't know how long it will take to pan out, if at all. But to the point: I auditioned for a play!

Last weekend, Sarah and I saw the second running of Songs From An Unmade Bed at the New Stage Collective on Main St. A couple days later, I received an email from the a lady there asking me if I wanted to audition for their upcoming production of Take Me Out. I replied and said, "sure, why not?" and warned her that I had not been onstage since the 10th grade when I played Drunkard #3 in the sophomore production of Beauty and the Beast. That was in 1992.

So I did not even know what I was to do at an audition. Apparently, all I needed was a 1-minute monologue. Thank god for the internet. I settled on this scene from the movie Beautiful Girls:

Supermodels are beautiful girls, Will. A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinking Jack and Coke all morning. She can make you feel high full of the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gait of a beautiful girl. In her smile, in her soul, the way she makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be okay. The supermodels, Willy? That's all they are. Bottled promise. Scenes from a brand new day. Hope dancing in stiletto heels.
I didn't start getting anxious until Sunday afternoon. I hadn't had time to get anxious - or practice - thanks to LinuxFest. It went about as well as it could have, I suppose. At least they didn't ask for references.

At the end, I hightailed it on out of there. I guess they'll call me back if they're interested. For now, I'm trying to push it out of my head. I've got some systems monitoring to do.