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Archive for June 2012

Weird NBA Story: Commissioner Stern Insults Sportscaster Jim Rome During Interview

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Folks, I really don’t understand what the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern, thought he was doing on Wednesday afternoon, June 13, 2012, but here goes: Stern intentionally insulted sportscaster Jim Rome during Rome’s live call-in, nationally syndicated radio show after Rome asked a perfectly legitimate question regarding the upcoming NBA Draft.  This happened about twelve hours ago, and is all over the news.

Here’s what happened.  According to the Yahoo Sports blog “Ball Don’t Lie,” Rome asked the question everyone’s been asking since the New Orleans Hornets won this year’s NBA “draft lottery,” meaning the Hornets will get to pick first, consequently getting the best player available in the 2012 NBA Draft.  As the Hornets are currently owned by the NBA (and have been since December of 2010), this didn’t look very good.  Rome, being a well-known sportscaster, asked the question in what surely appears to be a rather non-confrontational way.

To wit (as transcribed by Yahoo Sports from the article referenced above):

“You know, New Orleans won the draft lottery, which, of course, produced the usual round of speculation that maybe the lottery was fixed,” Rome said. “I know that you appreciate a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy — was the fix in for the lottery?”

“Uh, you know, I have two answers for that,” Stern said. “I’ll give you the easy one — no — and a statement: Shame on you for asking.”

“You know, I understand why you would say that to me, and I wanted to preface it by saying it respectfully,” Rome replied. “I think it’s my job to ask, because I think people wonder.”

“No, it’s ridiculous,” Stern answered. “But that’s OK.”

“I know that you think it’s ridiculous, but I don’t think the question is ridiculous, because I know people think that,” Rome said. “I’m not saying that I do, but I think it’s my job to ask you that.”

“Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Stern asked.

Now, this was a truly ridiculous answer, especially as Stern had already said above that the draft lottery wasn’t fixed.   It’s especially dumb because Stern is sixty-nine years of age, an accomplished and learned man, and really shouldn’t have said any such thing, especially because his asinine statement has for the moment eclipsed the NBA’s premiere event — the NBA Finals.

Rome handled this pretty well, as you’re about to see from the transcript:

“Yeah, I don’t know if that’s fair,” Rome responded. “I don’t know that that’s fair.”

“Well, why’s that?” Stern asked.

My aside — oh, come off it, Commish!  You’re playing dumb here.  (Or were you having a “senior moment?”)  Whatever you’re doing, it’s wrong.  Cut it out.

Back to the transcript:

“Because I think that there are — and I know you read your emails and I’m sure you follow things virally on Twitter — people really do think it, whether it’s fair or not,” Rome said. “You don’t think the question’s fair to ask if your fans think it?”

Good question.  So, how does Stern answer it?  (Warning: this next exchange is rather lengthy.)

“People think it because people like you ask silly questions,” Stern said.  “I expect it to be written about — and actually, I commented last night in my presser that there was one guy who I won’t dignify by naming who says, ‘I have no reason to know anything, and I don’t know anything, but I tell you, I believe it’s fixed.’ OK, that’s good. Why is that? ‘Well, because this team won.’ And if that team won, it would’ve been fixed also, and if that team won, it would’ve been fixed also. And if every team was invited to have a representative there, and there were four members of the media there, and if Ernst and Young certified it, would you still think it? ‘Yes.’ So, I guess …”

“I think two things, which responds to this,” Rome interjected. “Number one, I don’t think so. I don’t think so — and I’m not covering myself — I don’t think so, and I think by asking the question, it would not suggest I think so. But the one thing I would say: The league does own the team, does it not?”

“… Yes,” Stern said, a question mark at the end of his sentence.

“Does that not make the question fair?” Rome asked.

“I don’t think so,” Stern said. “Number one, we sold it. We’re gonna close this week. We already have established our price. I think that if it had gone to Michael Jordan, which was the next team up with, in terms of a high percentage, they would’ve said, ‘Oh, David’s taking care of his friend Michael.’ And if it had gone to Brooklyn, which is going into Barclay Center, it would have been fair to speculate, I suppose, that we want to take Brooklyn off of the mat. So there was no winning. And people write about it, and it’s OK to write about it, and we sort of expect it, but that’s not a question that I’ve been asked before by a respectable journalist.”

This actually is a logic chain that makes sense.  But why did it take Stern so long to come up with it?  And why did he have to needlessly insult Rome before he got there?

———

Edited to add:

Upon further reflection, it seems that Stern wished to “frame the narrative” by giving a reason that explained why Stern had said something so insulting to Rome.  Notice the slur about “respectable journalists” who supposedly  wouldn’t ask such a question about “rigging the draft” — what was the point of that, especially as Rome had asked a perfectly legitimate question?  (And am I really supposed to think that other sportscasters and journalists hadn’t asked Stern this question before Rome got around to it?  Because I have a hard time buying that, too.)

That’s why, upon further reflection, I don’t think that Stern’s attempt at framing the narrative passes the “smell test,” even with the proviso that Stern’s logic chain regarding the other teams does make sense.

Back to the original blog.

———

From the transcript:

“I think I understand why you’re frustrated by that; I think that I understand why that would upset you,” Rome said. “I would hope that you would not hold that against me.”

“I wouldn’t hold it against you — you know, you and I have been into more contentious discussions than that,” Stern said.

“I don’t know, I’d put that one right up there,” Rome replied.

That’s the understatement of the year.  But Stern was not yet done; check out this next line:

“Well, you know, it’s good copy, and you do things sometimes for cheap thrills,” Stern said.

I don’t know what Stern thought he was doing here, but that just escalated an already tense situation.  And by this time, Rome was obviously getting exasperated:

“I did not do that for a cheap thrill,” Rome answered.

“Well, that’s what it sounds like,” Stern said.

“No, not at all,” Rome answered. “See, that’s where you and I — that’s our point of disconnect. That was not a cheap thrill and I was not throwing anything against the wall, and I was trying to be as respectful as possible. I’m just saying that people wonder about that. And here’s what I don’t want to do — I don’t want to say, ‘Hey commissioner, people would say …’ Because I’m going to ask a direct question. But people do wonder. But that was not a cheap thrill. I got no thrill out of that.”

“Well, it’s a cheap trick,” Stern said.

“No, flopping is a cheap trick,” Rome said.

Good one!  (I get tired of watching NBA players, especially the stars, doing this all the time.  It weakens the game and slows down the action.)  This was an excellent way for Rome to re-direct the conversation back to basketball rather than whatever it was Stern thought he was doing.  But once again, Stern didn’t take the high road:

“Well, no. But listen, you’ve been successful at making a career out of it, and I keep coming on, so …” Stern said.

“Making a career out of what, though, commissioner?” Rome interrupted. “See, I take great offense to that. Making a career of what? Cheap thrills?”

“What offense are you taking? You’re taking offense?” Stern asked.

I really do not buy Stern’s “I didn’t do anything” response here.   Neither did Rome.

“I am. Now I am,” Rome answered. “If you’re saying I’ve made a career out of cheap thrills …”

“… taking on the world, and now Jim Rome is pouting? I love it,” Stern said.

Um, excuse me?  Why do you wish to keep escalating an already bad situation, Mr. Commissioner?  (Especially when this was entirely your own fault.)

Here’s the rest of the transcript:

“I’m not pouting; I take offense,” Rome said. “There’s a difference between pouting and taking offense. I take offense like you took offense to the question. What if I said — were you pouting when I asked the question?”

“What offenses? Do you want to hang up on me?” Stern asked.

“No, I can’t hang up on you, because I’m running out of time — I would never hang up on you,” Rome said.

“OK,” Stern said. “Listen, I’ve got to go call somebody important, like Stephen A. Smith, right now. He’s up next.”

“All right, you go make that call, and I’ll go talk to somebody else, too, I guess,” Rome said.

“All right,” Stern said.

“All right, commissioner. Have a nice day,” Rome said. “I did not hang up on him — we are officially out of time. We will come back and reset that momentarily. Stay tuned.”

As writer Dan Devine of “Ball Don’t Lie” said, Stern should not have done this because Stern is a “grown-ass man.”  Devine also said, earlier in his critique:

Setting aside the moral/ethical/sensitivity argument you might make — “Hey, we probably don’t need to evoke domestic violence during a sports talk radio interview, especially when it’s not one about, y’know, domestic violence” — this wasn’t a loaded question. There most certainly was a way for Stern to answer Rome’s question — which, again, was “Was the fix in for the lottery?” — without in any way implicating the league in any impropriety.

Exactly right. 

This is undoubtedly the strangest sports story in the past ten years or more, because here, we have a commissioner in David Stern who’d rather cause trouble for a sportscaster than talk about his own product — the teams who are playing in the NBA Finals (the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, to be exact). 

Let me say it again, louder this time: David Stern would rather score cheap shots off Jim Rome than do his job, which is to promote NBA basketball.  Stern shouldn’t behave this way no matter what questions Rome or any other sportscaster asks (even though Rome’s questions were fair), because it’s part of Stern’s job to handle the tough questions.  (Otherwise, why accept the paycheck?)

And if I were an owner of any of the twenty-nine NBA franchises that aren’t owned by the NBA at this time, I’d be furious at Stern and be looking for a way to oust him over this.  Because it’s just not right when a commissioner of a professional sport makes the story all about him, rather than about the players, coaches, or even the owners.

Just reviewed Maxton’s “The End of Progress” at SBR

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Folks, if you haven’t read Graeme Maxton’s new book THE END OF PROGRESS: How Modern Economics Has Failed Us, you should.  While it’s one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read — and while I pointed out, a few days ago at this blog, that Maxton has a few beliefs of the odder sort regarding the Internet, blogs, and opinions — this is an important book that needs to be read and debated.

Put simply, one of Maxton’s most important premises is that the world’s finite resources (such as water, oil, and agricultural land) aren’t being husbanded well.  They also aren’t being valued properly on an economic level.  Worse yet, because of this undervaluing, there’s a real problem due to how quickly these resources are being used up.

Another of his important premises — that capitalism, per se, only works when ethics and restraint are involved, as Adam Smith pointed out back in 1776 in THE WEALTH OF NATIONS — needs to be pondered by many.  Because somewhere along the line, way too many of our business leaders and power brokers have completely lost our way.

Anyway, go read my review, then go read Maxton’s book.

Here’s the link:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/graeme-maxtons-the-end-of-progress-depressing-yet-necessary-look-at-world-economics/

Enjoy!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Lehman Widens Lead, is Senator-Elect

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For those of you waiting for official Wisconsin recall news, here’s a news flash for you: John Lehman is still the Senator-elect from Racine’s state Senate District 21.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012, the official canvass re-ran the numbers from the June 5, 2012 election.  The only thing that changed is that former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) widened his narrow lead over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) to 834 votes instead of the previous 779.

Please see this link from the Racine Journal-Times for further details:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/lehman-keeps-lead-in-recall-wanggaard-has-three-days-to/article_2a466a82-b4ab-11e1-ac84-0019bb2963f4.html

Here’s a brief quote from that article:

The results totaled Tuesday increased Lehman’s lead by 55 votes, but Wanggaard as of Tuesday afternoon had not conceded and had not ruled out a recount, with his campaign manager citing reports of voting irregularities.

The final total was Lehman with 36,351 votes and Wanggaard with 35,517 votes, Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen read Tuesday after finishing the canvass for the 21st Senate District at the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave.

Of course, the Democratic Party is calling on Wanggaard to concede, especially due to the analysis done by this Journal-Times article from June 6, 2012, that proves Lehman, a Democrat, won the Senate district while Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican incumbents, won the races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  Here’s the first three paragraphs from that article, which describes what happened:

While it appears Democratic challenger John Lehman led state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, in the 21st Senate District, in those same wards Republican Gov. Scott Walker won over his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.

Walker had 36,505 votes to Barrett’s 35,744, and, in total, 916 more people in the senate district voted in the governor’s race than in the senate race, according to unofficial results.

Lehman said he couldn’t really explain the difference in the votes. But he said possibly he is better known in the 21st Senate District than Barrett. For instance, some voters may have had him as a teacher, Lehman said. Also he said, “I really think a lot of people have questioned Sen. Wanggaard’s representing them and the way he has gone about it.”

My analysis of this occurrence is simple: Wanggaard, as I’ve said before, is a past City of Racine policeman and a police union representative.  Everyone who votes in the City of Racine knew that, which is why Wanggaard lost there by a 2-to-1 margin; in the county, Wanggaard needed to win by a substantial margin to make up that difference.  Wanggaard couldn’t do it.

Now, what has to be extremely difficult for Wanggaard to swallow is this: going back to his vote on SB 10 last year, had Wanggaard voted with Dale Schultz of Richland Center to oppose that bill, the likelihood is that Wanggaard would not have been recalled despite the many other things the district did not agree with Wanggaard about (such as Wanggaard’s signing of the non-disclosure agreements regarding redistricting, or Wanggaard’s agreement with the rest of the sitting Republicans in the Senate that state education funding should be slashed, which substantially hurt the Racine Unified School District).  Wanggaard did support, along with Schultz, a proposed amendment that would have allowed for collective bargaining to be reinstated after two years — a “sunset” provision under the law — but procedural moves by the Republican leadership in the Senate kept that amendment from ever going to the floor.  Schultz’s opposition to SB 10 was largely due to the refusal of the R leadership to hear his amendment, which is why if Wanggaard had followed Schultz’s lead and voted against SB 10 — which would’ve meant the R Senators would’ve won the day with a 17-2 margin instead of 18-1 — Wanggaard likely would never have been forced to this recall election.

Ultimately, Wanggaard was done in by his own inexperience.  My guess is that he didn’t really know what was going on when he took that vote — at least, he didn’t realize the district would recall him over it (even though I, and others, wrote to him and told him bluntly that this would be the result).  And his own leadership, which perhaps forgot about the fact that former Sen. George Petak (R-Racine) was recalled in District 21 in 1996 for far less than this, may have believed that everything would “blow over” — if so, they were plain, flat wrong — or may have believed that due to redistricting, had Wanggaard just been able to get to November of this year, he’d be in a “safe” Republican seat that would not recall him.

But I have news — people in Racine County were upset with Wanggaard, too.  Not as many of them as in the City of Racine, demonstrably — but enough that Wanggaard could not make up Lehman’s lead.  And with this split-ticket voting (where some people voted for Walker/Kleefisch on the one hand and Lehman on the other), along with some people either writing their own names in or refusing to vote for Senate at all due to their disgust with Wanggaard’s hypocrisy, it’s obvious there were more than enough people in the entirety of District 21 to recall Van Wanggaard.

So, what does Wanggaard do now?  His options are two: request a recount by Friday, June 15, 2012, something he’ll have to pay for himself as the margin of Lehman’s apparent victory is large enough that the state of Wisconsin will not pay for the recount.  Or concede.

My belief is that Wanggaard will request a recount, which is sensible from his context.  He probably wants to know, for a certainty, the  hard data that backs up this “split ticket” phenomenon from a hand recount.  And he also probably wants to know, for a certainty, that the voters of Racine really did reject him, personally — especially as they retained Walker and Kleefisch.

But the hand recount won’t change the facts: Wanggaard has lost this race to Lehman. 

And ultimately, even though I do feel sorry for him as he’s the first one-year Senator in Wisconsin’s history to ever get recalled, Wanggaard has no one but himself to blame.  Because no matter what the Republican leadership in Madison told him last year, he should’ve remembered what happened to Petak in 1996 as he lived in Racine at the time and was active in Republican politics, and avoided this result by casting his vote with Schultz against SB 10.  Period.

Obvious Takes, Pt. 1: Most Blogs are Opinions

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Folks, I never thought I’d have to write these words, but here they are: most blogs, believe it or not, are opinions.

This is such an obvious thing to talk about, but apparently there are people out there who don’t realize this simple fact.  For example, if you blog specifically about sports, most of what you’re talking about are your opinions about what’s going on in the world of sports.  Ditto for politics (except double that, and then some), current events, and just about everything else.

Yet some people are concerned that the quality of writing on the Internet is so low that it’s leading people to forget this.  Take economist Graeme Maxton, for example.  In his recent book THE END OF PROGRESS: How Modern Economics Has Failed Us, Maxton said on p. 76:

It is not just that much of the information on the Internet is of dubious provenance, it is that much of what is posted as “fact” is actually opinion.

Maxton also goes on to say on p. 77 that:

The Internet is a particular problem.  As well as offering a cozy home for factual mistakes or a platform for those with ill-thought-out opinions, there is the diversion it provides.  Studies’ show that people who read text that is scattered with hyperlinks understand less than those who read the old-fashioned printed word.

Note that Maxton does not directly reference these studies, as there is no endnote available.  He also does not discuss anything specific regarding any actual studies that have been done in this paragraph, though in the next paragraph down he references a book by Nicholas Carr called THE SHALLOWS: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains that discusses the problem of hyperlinks and Web pages.

And, if you read the above-referenced paragraph very carefully, you’ll note that Maxton doesn’t point out the excellent, fact-based and fact-checked blogs that do exist on the Internet; he instead seems to paint all blogs and everything on the ‘net with a broad brush.  While it’s possible Maxton was making the case that fact-based research should not begin and end on the Web due to these limitations (a completely inoffensive statement), he cheapened his argument when he didn’t admit that at least some good, hard-hitting, factually-based articles have been posted on the Web — and that some of these hard-hitting, factually-based articles have certainly been posted on blogs.

So these words by Maxton, while to a certain extent truthful, are also a way for Maxton to frame the narrative.  In this case, Maxton’s narrative is simple: “The Internet is creating a bunch of morons who can’t think for themselves.  Because of that, people who read blogs on the Internet may not realize they’re actually reading opinions, rather than facts.  We must fix this!”

Yet that narrative, while it does contain truth, is also an opinion, is it not?  (And in a hard-bound book, no less.  For shame!)

That said, Maxton’s words remain prescient because there unfortunately are people out there who will read just about anything, then parrot it back without much further thought.  And at least some of those will send material “viral” that may not deserve to be read by many people — or at least may not deserve to be thought of as factual rather than the opinions most blogs truly are (this blog included).

Mind you, most people who read blogs do seem to understand the difference between fact-based commentary (which can and usually does offer an opinion) and opinions.

But just in case you’re one of the people who haven’t figured that out as of yet, consider this lesson #1 in the importance of being overly obvious.  Because when it comes right down to it, most blogs are opinions, folks.  And it shouldn’t take an economist like Graeme Maxton to tell you so, either.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Just reviewed Koch’s “Alien in the Family” at SBR

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Folks, if you’re looking for a funny, light book about love between a human and an alien from Alpha Centauri, you might want to read Gini Koch’s ALIEN IN THE FAMILY.  This book amused me to the point I read it three times; I thought the romance between Katherine “Kitty” Katt and Jeff Martini (AKA “the alien” who looks and acts like any human, except he has two hearts and can move at hyperspeed) was quite good.  I liked Kitty’s friends, especially her BFF, international male model (retired) James Reader.  And I thought the stuff about the A-Cs (what Koch calls her aliens) made sense, was well thought out, and added greatly to the book.

Before I forget, here’s the link to the review:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/gini-kochs-alien-in-the-family-equals-light-witty-amusing-sfromance/

Now, back to the commentary.

So with all that, you might be wondering, “Why did Barb give this book only a B-plus?”  (Not that this isn’t a good grade; it is.)  Simple — every person in there is just too good-looking for words.  And that’s not plausible.  Not even in SF/romance.

Here’s the deal, folks; Koch says her A-Cs are mind-bogglingly, stunningly gorgeous.  I buy that; they’re aliens.  (Who knows how much genetic engineering they’ve been through in the recent or not-so-recent past?)  But then, all of the people Kitty’s around are great-looking, too, including CIA agents, her sorority sisters from college, etc. — and I just do not buy this at all.

Further, it weakens a romance when there’s even the hint of the thought that normal-looking people  (or those like me, attractive but “big, beautiful women”) maybe don’t have the right to fall in love.  Or at least in this capacity, Kitty would rather not see them fall in love, or have anything to do with them — which is really quite distasteful, if you think about it overmuch.

That being said, this is a humorous SF romance so of course it’s not to be taken overly seriously.  (That is, if Kitty really were in the CIA or affiliated with them, she’d have to expect that a few of them wouldn’t be stunningly gorgeous; actually, most of them would probably be nondescript sorts, all the better to blend into the background.)  But as it was something that just kept hitting me across the face as there aren’t any normal-looking (or under) people that Kitty references in ALIEN IN THE FAMILY at all — certainly not among the primary, secondary, or even tertiary leads — I had to mention it.

If not for this really odd quirk (something I wish more romance writers would get beyond, especially if they’re writing SF/romance like Koch; she needs to study Lois McMaster Bujold for a while, who’s succeeded brilliantly at writing quirky characters who aren’t drop-dead gorgeous, but have extremely strong and believable romances anyway — I’d say “in spite of this” except that it’s because of who they are, warts and all that the romances work), this novel would’ve been an A-plus.  But because of it, the best I could do is a B-plus, as it strains credulity way past the breaking point when there aren’t any characters who are worth a damn in a book that aren’t at least average looking (or below).

Mind you, Koch understands that her characters are must be extraordinary on the inside and have inner beauty, otherwise we won’t care about them no matter how glitteringly gorgeous they’re supposed to be on the outside.  But her over-reliance on external beauty is extremely puzzling, not to mention off-putting; that I could get beyond this problem and enjoy her book so much anyway speaks to the fact that she really does write extremely well.

—————-

One final thought: for those of you writing romance of any sort, please remember that ordinary-looking people can be great characters, too.  Ordinary-looking people deserve great love stories, especially as it happens all the time that people meet, fall in love, and get married — with most people looking completely ordinary on the outside, but being completely extraordinary on the inside.

In other words, please try to let art imitate life, at least in this one, small degree.  OK?

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

For Those New to the Elfyverse . . . .

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Yesterday (June 6, 2012, to be exact), this all-purpose blog that deals with writing, the universe, and everything picked up 1,013 hits.  Most of this was due to the Wisconsin recall elections, part of it was due to my analysis of last year’s “Drop Dead Diva” season finale, and some of it was for other reasons entirely.

For whatever reason you came here, welcome.  I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while — or at least come back now and again to check up on what’s going on.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What is the Elfyverse, exactly?”  (Other than the original name of my blog, that is.)  It’s the multiple universes my favorite character, Bruno (the three-foot tall Elfy) Harrison-Johnson must navigate if he’s to live in peace, harmony, and contentment with the love of his life, Sarah — who is human, a bit taller than he is, and has different cultural beliefs and expectations.  The Elfyverse is a fun place with a great deal of mystery and intrigue; many stories can be placed there, so many that I’ve got a prequel and a sequel going at the same time to ELFY (my completed novel, which is still looking for a good home).  And, of course, I’ve got all sorts of other stories set in different places — some literary, some romance, some fantasy and/or science fiction, but most of them combine genres in a way that’s probably easier to read than it is to describe.  (Yes, even for me.)

As you probably have figured out, I’m a freelance writer, freelance editor, a musician, and I also compose music.  I’ve edited non-fiction books of a medical nature, non-fiction general purpose books, some science fiction, some fantasy, and some romance.  (References available upon request.)  I’m serious about what I do; though I haven’t made a ton of money at it, I’m a very good editor, I’m a very good writer, and one of these days I do expect to break out of the pack.  (Mostly because I will keep trying until that wall breaks down, come Hell or high water.)

If you stick around my blog, you’ll notice that I review a whole lot of books at Shiny Book Review (SBR).  These books run the gamut, too (mostly because I dislike being bored, partly because I enjoy learning new things); be sure to stop on by SBR at http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com and take a gander at what’s available over there.

And I still review books at Amazon, too, for whatever that’s worth.

Other than that — I’m a big baseball fan (the Milwaukee Brewers are my team, though the Mets’ Vinny Rottino is my favorite player), I follow NFL football and NBA basketball.  I’m a political junkie.  And I comment on publishing — a lot — as you might expect considering my chosen profession.  Or on anything else I please, mostly because I see life as various attempts to “frame the narrative,” and sometimes, those attempts fail.  (Miserably.)

So if you’re expecting this blog to be “all Wisconsin politics, all the time,” you’re bound to be disappointed — but if you’re expecting good writing on a wide variety of subjects, I hope you’ll be pleased.

Thanks for stopping by!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 7, 2012 at 2:43 am

Posted in Editing, Elfy, Elfyverse, Writing

Ray Bradbury dies at 91

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Folks, iconic science fiction and fantasy author Ray Bradbury (of Fahrenheit 451 fame and many, many other great stories and novels), has died.  Please see this link for further details:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/author-ray-bradbury-dies-at-91-daughter-says.html 

Bradbury will be missed.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Quick Lehman/Wanggaard Election Update

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Folks, former D Senator John Lehman claimed victory last night in the District 21 Wisconsin state Senate recall race over current R Senator Van Wanggaard, as I wrote earlier.  But as I’ve had a comment from someone who believes this particular race is nonsensical due to Walker winning the overall Racine County race, I thought I’d give a few more numerical particulars as  I’ve already explained the case to vote against Van Wanggaard many times on this blog.  (Click on the “Recall Van Wanggaard” category and you’ll find many posts explaining why I believed District 21 voters should first recall Wanggaard, then replace him.)

First, here’s an article by the Mount Pleasant Patch that shows the final vote totals.  They have reported thusly:

The final vote totals were posted after 1:30 a.m., and by 2 a.m., district-wide unofficial results stood at:

  • Wanggaard: 35,476
  • Lehman: 36,255

As you see, there were 71,731 votes cast.   Lehman leads by 779 votes.  This is a margin of slightly over one percent.

How can this be when Racine County, overall, went for Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch (as Gov. and Lt. Gov., accordingly)?  Simple.  The City of Burlington, which is heavily Republican, is not a part of the current District 21 boundaries.  So they could play no part in this particular recall race, though they did play a small part in re-electing Bob Wirch to the District 22 seat last year (as Burlington is in 22 until November, 2012).

Also, according to unofficial reports, John Lehman won the City of Racine by a 2-to-1 margin.  Van Wanggaard won the rest of Racine County, but not by enough of a margin to retain him.

And, finally, the City of Racine went out in record numbers — an 80% turnout has been estimated, which dwarfs any previous election including all Presidential elections.  Which helped Lehman gain the advantage he needed.

In short — the City of Racine votes heavily Democratic.  The county of Racine usually votes Republican.  Keep Burlington, which is heavily Republican, out of the equation (as they’re not yet part of District 21), and you have a victory for John Lehman.

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Oh, yes — if you’re really that keen on the history of Racine recalls, there are two other posts you need to look at that will explain this result.  First, check out my commentary about the 1996 recall race between R George Petak and D Kim Plache here.  Or take a look at a recent post where I discussed Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Craig Gilbert’s analysis (a very, very good analysis) here.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm

John Lehman Ahead by 800 in WI Senate District 21 Race

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Former Senator John Lehman, D-Racine, has declared victory tonight after apparently defeating Republican incument state Senator Van Wanggaard in the June 5, 2012, District 21 Senate recall race in Racine. But as this is a close election, where about 800 votes separates Lehman from Wangaard, I’m only willing to say that Lehman is ahead, though it looks very unlikely that Wanggaard will be able to best Lehman due to there being only one ward remaining in Mount Pleasant — with that ward being unlikely to have 800 votes total within it (much less all 800 potential votes going to Wanggaard).

Here’s the latest report from the Racine Journal-Times:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/as-republicans-see-victory-wanggaard-in-razor-thin-lead-over/article_90a8c3ae-af76-11e1-ba46-0019bb2963f4.html?comment_form=true

Note the link says “Wanggaard in a razor thin lead” but the article itself says, “Lehman Claims Victory.”

Here’s a bit from the article:

As of press time, former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine leads state incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 34,834 votes to Wanggaard’s 34,038 votes, according to unofficial results with 59 of 60 precincts reporting. One Mount Pleasant precinct had yet to report. (numbers bolded by Barb Caffrey)

With there being an approximately 800 vote discrepency, this is not within the 1% margin where the state would pay for a recount — Wanggaard’s campaign would have to request one, and they would have to pay the bill.

Should this result hold up, this means the state Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, 17-16, as Wanggaard will have been recalled and replaced via election.  But as all votes will have to be verified later today in a process called a “re-canvass,” this result could still change.

Once again, I’ll keep you posted.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2012 at 2:11 am

Scott Walker Wins; Kleefisch (Maybe) Wins; Lehman-Wanggaard Race Too Close to Call

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With 85% of the vote in, it looks like Republican Governor Scott Walker has held off Democratic challenger Tom Barrett; the current vote percentages are Walker, 55%, Barrett 45%.   I say that it looks like Walker has won because there are a lot of votes yet to be counted; the last voter in Milwaukee County, for example, cast his or her vote at 9:30 p.m.  So the current voting percentage probably will narrow significantly — but there most likely are not the votes remaining for Walker to be defeated, which is why Barrett has conceded.

In addition, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) leads challenger Mahlon Mitchell (D) 54% to 46%.  This is an apparent victory, but as it’s a percentage point closer to begin with, it’s possible that Mitchell may pull within 1% of the vote once every vote has been counted in Milwaukee, Racine, and LaCrosse counties.  If that happens, a recount may come into play.  So keep an eye on this race.

Three of the state Senate races have been decided in favor of the Rs, including the Scott Fitzgerald-Lori Compas race (where Fitzgerald won handily over Compas, 60% to 39%); these races are over.

The only recall race outstanding is the John Lehman-Van Wanggaard race, which remains too close to call at this hour due to the extremely high turnout in the City of Racine wards (right now, most of the vote that’s in is from Racine County, especially the Town of Mount Pleasant, which trends Republican; the City of Racine trends heavily Democrat).  Right now, less than 1/3 of the wards in the City of Racine have been counted, possibly due to incredibly heavy turnout.

If Lehman prevails once the City of Racine has been counted, the Democrats will re-take the Wisconsin state Senate.  This is an extremely important race, especially considering the statewide outcome; I’ll do my best to keep you posted as more results become available.

According to the Racine Journal-Times, as of 10:50 p.m. CDT, here are the results:

Van Wanggaard (R): 14566
John Lehman (D): 11881
33% of wards reporting

If you wish to look at the overall Wisconsin map, the Huffington Post map is probably the best.  Take a look at it here.

Now, as to how I feel about Walker and Kleefisch apparently being retained?  One word sums it up: disgusted.

More tomorrow, once I’ve caught my breath.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm