Baseball91's Weblog

June 1, 2017

The Geek Squad

Bounty hunters and government employees. Concerning those ghosts in your computer and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, Best Buy Corporation employs, in this new Iron Curtain, with Independent Contractors, trained, directed, and paid like Booz Allen Hamilton, the Geek Squad. Concerning those ghosts in your computer, let Booz Allen Hamilton get their hands dirty!

Keep your own employees hands clean!  Keep honoring Independence Day, with the old procedural manual. Your own employees need to be above board. As to the procedural manual which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Geeks. In the Land of Independence, there are those independent contractors. So, by whom had Edward Snowden been hired? When the evil was not Edward Snowden but the method of operation in the Land of the Free, ignoring the procedural manual.

About ‘probable cause?’ The Justice Department has been sued by a non-profit privacy group seeking information, for the public, about the FBI’s alleged recruitment of the Geek Squad to search consumer computers for child porn during repairs, without probable cause.  They were the police entering your home, for no good reason.

1000-dollar-us-bill

In every Best Buy store, there is the ‘Unmatched Service,’ by the armed forces of cyberspace. A subsidiary of American multinational consumer electronics corporation Best Buy, the Geek Squad is working inside the box, providing trusted, expert service for millions of customers, in the Haunted Land.  Your electronics installed, protected, repaired…. in government service, for whomever is now heading the Executive Branch. Whether with and without probable cause, inside the Box Store!

It is just like health insurance, as an invisible self-supported premium now required by law like a tax never affecting what your health care provider is being paid – whether too much or too little.But you were so personally choosing and paying the cost. And your medical records had to become electronic, available to everyone.

Informants who are trained, directed, and paid by the FBI to conduct searches for the agency are acting as government agents,” said David Greene, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department, about crossing the line.  Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is demanding access to records about any FBI training and payment to Geek Squad workers to search customer computers without a court warrant – without probable cause. The FBI refused to provide records to EFF based on the agency’s policy of not confirming or denying ongoing investigations.

At issue isn’t the efforts to stop the exploitation of children or the criminality of child pornography. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is concerned that the FBI may be violating the constitutional requirement that law enforcement agencies obtain judge-approved search warrants, based on evidence there is probable cause of a crime, to search computers.” – Startribune.com

Bringing foreign operations to these shores, paying government informants unconcerned over issues of probable cause, in public policy and private detection, just as what was behind the NSA surveillance, with revelations by an employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, the independent contractor. 

Moneyball.  Inside baseball.  The off-the-book employees. Law  enforcement has turned away from trying to solve crime to now trying to prevent crimes.  The “not on my watch!” fear that elected leaders carried has led to laws placed on the books, like first in the United Kingdom, for the purpose of “preventing” serious crime, with intervention. So, entrapment, to detect serious crime.  Like the thinking that led to the Watergate break-in.  And if the Feds can engage in these methods – in the age of metrics and preemptive attack – why can’t local law enforcement?  In one private corporation, the Geek Squad carried their own name, on their own company car.

According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Blue Earth County District Court, the adult son of Hennepin County Sheriff has been charged with four felonies for allegedly trying to solicit a young adult woman and her 13-year-old friend for sex as well as for possessing pornographic images later found on his cell phone involved children.  It was the Blue Earth County prosecutor who destroyed the career of a football coach at the University of Minnesota-Mankato over these kinds of charges, determined to be unfounded.

Court documents in federal court in Santa Ana, California, allege the FBI has launched a program of training and paying Geek Squad employees to look for child porn on customer computers sent in for repairs, without probable cause, and to report any porn discovered to “the authorities.”  — Startribune.com 

A San Francisco-based non-profit privacy group has sued the Justice Department which had refused their request for documents about how the FBI recruits, trains, and pays the geeks as Geek Squad workers to find illegal child porn on customer computers sent to Best Buy for repairs.

“The public has a right to know how the FBI uses computer repair technicians to carry out searches the agents themselves cannot do without a warrant,” EFF senior counsel David Sobel said in a statement. “People authorize Best Buy employees to fix their computers, not conduct unconstitutional searches on the FBI’s behalf. The FBI cannot bypass the Constitution’s warrant requirement by having its informants search people’s computers at its direction and command.” — Startribune.com

Was it a wonder that Best Buy was reducing its international footprint, exiting from Canada and Mexico? Why, as companies across industries are focusing on international expansion, would any foreign government trust Best Buy? Internationally, Best Buy closed all of its nine Best Buy–branded stores in China, in March 2011. In April 2013, with 2,400 stores in Best Buy Europe, Best Buy sold its 50% stake to its joint venture partner Carphone Warehouse for $775 million. This was a good business decision when you start to lose trust overseas.

And if you listened close enough to the statement released by the Geek Squad, about how the genie got out of the box if not the bottle or the box store, you would hear a disclaimer for all the damages which ensued, from the ghosts in your computer.

So at what point does a bounty hunter get paid by the FBI?

December 2, 2016

Do Too Many Cooks Spoil the Re-opening?

Filed under: Minnesota,St. Paul,St. Paul Pioneer Press,Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 4:46 PM

Restaurants in the Age of Free Agents. Nostalgia for old places, with the Team of “dazzling chefs and restaurateurs.” Kevin Fitzgerald. Josh Thoma. Jack Riebel. These are owners of the The Lexington, a restaurant in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The managing partner is Lorin Zinter for the ownership – Josh Thoma, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jack Riebel – of the Lexington and Il Foro. The Team had been busy filling a hole of missing Italian eateries in downtown Minneapolis. Behold Il Foro!

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Jack Reibel fondly remembers his days as the up-and-coming chef inside the kitchen when the address went by the name of Goodfellows which had a nine-year (1996-2005) run here [before that this had been The Forum Cafeteria]. Il Foro brought on Troy Unruh, who had worked in the Goodfellows kitchen with Riebel, to serve as executive chef.

Opened. The 11-month-old effort. Now closed. This Team composed of superstar cooks planned to open Il Foro first. Il Foro closed in May 2016. Like The Lexington Restaurant in St. Paul, closed since 2013. The Lex then had been under different ownership.

The best laid plans of mice and men. Opening of The Lexington was to follow some time in the spring of 2015, said The Team. After 30 years of cooking, Jack Riebel won a James Beard Award nomination for the Butcher & the Boar. Being mentioned in the top 25 best new restaurants in America, as a semifinalist, he is part of the Team.

Riebel, formerly of Butcher & the Boar which is open, remains in place as the executive chef at The Lexington. Butcher and Boar opened in 2012; Riebel’s co-owners bought out his share of Butcher & the Boar in 2014. At that time he told Mpls-St Paul magazine that he no longer was involved in the restaurant’s operations. He described the split as being friendly. The Butcher & the Boar building just sold for $6 million reported in September 2016.

Knowing that they needed another partner, enter Lorin Zinter, former co-owner with Jim Christiansen of Heyday; yes, Restaurant of the Year, Heyday. Zinter left Heyday to pursue an opportunity at soon-to-open Italian eatery, Il Foro. Zinter had been the front-of-house hospitalitarian at smoothly running Heyday.

At this point, the Team is about 20 months behind schedule with the mentioned re-opening of the Lex. The Il Foro ownership – Josh Thoma, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jack Riebel – wouldn’t talk to the Star Tribune about the demise.  And no one in St Paul seems able to find out what transpires inside The Lex.

How does this team of chefs eat?  Where is the money?  Who is Josh Thoma? Or where has he been? In a joint venture with Chicago’s Four Corners Tavern Group, whose owners visited the Minnesota Smack Shack, proposed a partnership in what became a 10,000-square-foot restaurant at he base of the Google building in the Chicago West Loop, which opened April 21, 2016 and seats 300. Co-founder of La Belle Vie and Smack Shack, with his Smack Shack partner Kevin Fitzgerald, Josh Toma’s Smack Shack started as a food truck zipping around Minneapolis, the first legal food truck in town. Founder Josh Thoma, six years later, has two Smack Shack: a 200-seater in Minneapolis which opened in 2013 and the Chicago location.


In June 2010 StarTribune story, Tim McKee’s partner in La Belle Vie, Solera, and Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque, Josh Thoma, who more recently entered partnerships with the Barrio (with McKee) and La Grassa restaurants – stood accused of improperly transferring funds to the tune of $100,000 between Bar La Grassa and into two restaurants — Solera and Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque — via La Belle Vie. Thoma’s partnership at Bar La Grassa is history, as he and his longtime business partner, Tim McKee, were no longer managing Barrio.  City Pages quoted Thoma, “It was just one of those things where I told the accountant to make it work.  To a degree, I didn’t know how much was going where and when, although ultimately I’m responsible.”  City Pages reported that Thoma and McKee repaid the funds by relinquishing their stake in Barrio, and Thoma’s equity in Bar La Grassa.

La Belle Vie, the last bastion of fine dining in Minnesota called it quits, on October 24, 2014. La Belle Vie chef/owner Tim McKee made the announcement that he was closing his restaurant, one day short of their tenth anniversary in Minneapolis. Before that La Belle Vie had been open for seven and a half years in Stillwater, Minnesota.


City people in Minnesota leave the city on summer weekends. Fourteen years after opening the doors to the original Heartland location on St. Clair Avenue, Lenny Russo announced in October that Heartland would be closing the doors in downtown St. Paul.

It is next to impossible to make money operating a restaurant on the profits of 9 months of the year. “If all of those people would have come in twice more a year,” said Tim McKee on the closing of La Belle Vie, “we’d still be open. It’s so important that if there’s a restaurant or business in your community that you feel is important, you’ve got to make it your mission to support them. Otherwise they will close.”


What is the state of the union of good restaurants? A cursory list of Tim McKee mentees, both at now-closed Solera and at La Belle Vie, would contain Sameh Wadi of the recently announced closed Saffron; Jack Riebel of the recently announced closed Il Foro, and Minneapolis’ most recent winner of the Food & Wine top ten chefs in America, Jim Christiansen of Heyday, which is actually open.


Keeping The Lexington’s name, renovating and giving the place a more casual atmosphere, with plans to renovate the structure and add a rooftop patio, these three Saint Paul-born big-time operators led by Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald of Smack Shack seem to be leaving Jack Riebel waiting. A news conference at The Lexington restaurant was where St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman introduced the trio of new owners, in November 2015. Speculation about the new owners ran high, until the names of the owners were released, followed by the theme of stagnation, just keeping a lady waiting.

February 3, 2016

Concerning Bulk Surveillance & Video Policing

Filed under: Law,Minnesota,Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 12:50 AM
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Each American household seemed to have an ability to freeze time, with cameras and camcorders. And in a sense there has been a loss of spontaneity, a loss of freshness in the Information Age, if you have listened to the Grammy Award-nominated songs in the recent years.

batman

Bulk surveillance program. Time, frozen. In a sense, freezed time is what newspapers did each day, explaining what is in a series of events, near and far away, though news rooms these days are staffed by less than fifty percent the number of professionals that were there ten years ago.

Police investigations were the next to be cut back. In early 2016, police will begin asking local camera owners to join “a network” to provide ‘critical” video evidence, after the Rochester City Council on November 18, 2015 approved an annual $16,749 contract for the SecuroNet software program, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin. SecuroNet Founder Justin Williams and Accounts Director Gregory Boosalis were in Rochester the following day to demonstrate their software program which links access by Rochester Police to private businesses and residences with existing security cameras part of the bulk surveillance of their SecuroNet system.

In The SecuroNet system, when does a third party contractor become part of the public sector? Expected to go live early in 2016, who can view the collected video, logged as evidence and kept, according to Minnesota law, from public review? With a contract in place with SecuroNet Founder Justin Williams and accounts director Gregory Boosalis, the Rochester police department had some internal steps to take before SecuroNet system would be ready to accept participants, before police begin asking local camera owners to join the bulk surveillance network, Captain John Sherwin said.

Surveillance programs: As part of this new investigative response for Rochester, Founder Justin Williams mentioned The SecuroNet program is voluntary! Doesn’t this idea of selling cybersecurity sound suspiciously like a protection racket.

“With that existing camera infrastructure in place” – adding video policing to the standard procedure for the Rochester police – “it’s something that we want to tap into even more and we feel that this is the tool that can help us do that,” Captain John Sherwin said about the bulk surveillance program, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin.

With the software rights retained – like in the case of my computer, with the Internet Service Provider and the municipality that installed the broadband, and now SecuroNet Founder Justin Williams – who does the SecuroNet system video belong? With their hand in at least hyping and most likely launching the SecuroNet network, who do these cameras now belong?  Why is SecuroNet Founder getting an annual $16,749 contract out of the private cameras in the community? Are these more of the things that members of the public seldom think about, when 61 private sector security cameras become part of a public network? The Fifth Amendment provides the right not to self-incriminate, but what of the computer installations in the operation in the 2016 model vehicle? What of the private camera on my property, once a business volunteers to join the network tied to the SecuroNet founder as well as the public sector? Will I get prosecuted for something that happens on my own property that incriminates the owner of the camera/tape?

On matters of public policy, the Rochester police seem interested in reducing the number of jobs, like corporations cut back the jobs of real people, with dreams of a real-time crime center, in the coming age of drones.

“Video collected by police through the SecuroNet system would be logged as evidence and be, according to Minnesota law, kept from public review until the criminal case had been closed,” Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department told the Rochester newspaper about the impersonal and confidential video files. “Quite frankly, many of our cases are solved through video evidence, and … based on private sector video,” Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department told the Rochester newspaper.

Beware the security experts, capitalizing on the fears attached in a free society, with freedom of the press, free speech, and freedom of religion! The proprietary software is poised to collect annual fees, as the world gets less personal – in the coming age of, the less human age of, drones – and the intensity of hate will increase between police and civilians. As government infringes more and more upon my privacy, a strong partnership between the private sector and the police is the most efficient way to address this growing threat of the Bogey Man?

The foot that you shoot, in your private parking lot, might be your own. On the seamy side when the police solicit your video tapes, does it feel like extortion? You will be kept on an enemies’ list – the opposite of the Better Business Bureau? – if you refuse? Would SecuroNet be asking me to donate my hunting rifles to the police, next? And should you refuse, the police will respond more slowly to a break-in? PLACE can be one day either be used against you, or claim you, based upon current events, like what happened with the passage of law called The PATRIOT ACT. Wasn’t this software program from the private sector unnecessarily separating in the public arena, on some kind of litmus test for patriots, those leery of a police state from those old-fashioned vigilantes?

April 1, 2015

Going Bare Against the Perils of the World

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 8:38 PM
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This is a reblog about the unseen things out there, mindful of the horrors of life in Europe in the late 1930s. Only this piece is written by an Olympia, Washington immigration attorney after she spent time in Artesia, New Mexico witnessing in late 2014 mostly man’s inhumanity to woman. The author is Jane O’Sullivan who should be read. 

 

Fifteen years ago as a Maryknoll volunteer in Bangkok, Thailand, I visited the immigration detention center there with two Maryknollers, Father Thomas Dunleavy and Brother John Beeching. I was shocked and heartbroken to see young Burmese children and their mothers detained in crowded cells in Bangkok. The Burmese government’s assault on ethnic minorities was well known at that time, yet these families were locked up and denied refugee protection. I couldn’t have imagined that one day I would see a similar situation here in the United States.

The Bangkok experience motivated me to become an immigration and asylum attorney. Recently volunteering with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Pro Bono Project, I came to know some of the 1,400 mothers and children detained in Artesia, New Mexico, between June and December 2014 by the U.S. government. Arriving at our southern border, they had expressed fear of returning to their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s current policy is to detain such refugees without bond for the duration of their asylum proceedings, which can take many months.

The average age of children detained in Artesia was 6 years old. The youngest child I saw was 6 months old, while many more were toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids.

As in Bangkok, these refugee children were suffering many ill effects of their detention. Again and again mothers told me their children were not eating or playing as they did before. They spoke about their children’s weight loss, lethargy, hair loss and persistent fevers. Some mothers were worried about their children’s deep sadness and frequent tears, while others mentioned the self-harming behaviors their children had developed during detention.

One 4-year-old boy, Juan Carlos (not his real name), had arrived in detention three months earlier. His mother fled with him from El Salvador after gang members had tried to kidnap him. Since arriving at the detention center, Juan Carlos had lost eight pounds. He often refused to eat the unfamiliar food at mealtimes, and his mother was not permitted to bring any food back to her room to feed him later. While I asked his mother questions to prepare a request for bond, Juan Carlos stayed at her side and gave her a hug and kisses when she broke down in tears.

I spent each of my days in Artesia working in a windowless metal trailer alongside Julisa Aguilar, a social worker from Seattle who translated for me. Eight other legal volunteers, both attorneys and law students, worked with us. Court also took place in a trailer, the immigration judge at a bench hundreds of miles away in Denver. More windowless metal trailers housed the women and children, and others contained the bathrooms that families had to ask permission to use. This large cluster of metal trailers in the desert, surrounded by barbed wire fences, made a strange sort of village. It was filled with women and children and presided over by mostly male guards. It was a village where the passage of time was punctuated by mandatory head counts.

As attorneys, we had meetings with 60 or more mothers each day. We also attended court hearings and asylum interviews with these courageous women. For some, despair turned into hope when asylum was given or a reasonable bond was granted. For others, there was no good news yet, and the only option for the mothers was to carry on caring for their children as best they could within the barbed wire fences.

On Dec. 15, the U.S. government closed the Artesia facility and transferred the remaining families to a family prison in Karnes, Texas. They joined hundreds of other Central American mothers and children detained at the Karnes prison since August. It grieved me to think of the many babies, toddlers, children and teenagers at Karnes who woke up on Christmas day behind bars.

I struggle to find words to explain to my own young children what is happening. Our government’s rationale that family detention is necessary to discourage other would-be refugees can never justify the harm to the detained children that I witnessed firsthand. Fear that these families are economic migrants instead of bona fide refugees has been proven groundless as asylum has been granted to each detained mother whose case has reached the final hearing stage.

In the words of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.” These refugee women and children have known great pain and shed many tears, both in their home countries and during their detentions after arrival. Let us walk with them, cry with them, and show them the hospitality that Scripture moves souls to feel. 

Jane O’Sullivan is a Maryknoll Affiliate in Olympia, Washington. She wrote this for the March/April edition of Maryknoll magazine.

August 19, 2014

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Navy Seals And U S Army Helicopters Invade Minneapolis and St Paul

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 5:17 AM
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Military helicopters flew low Monday night over St. Paul and Minneapolis in Department of Defense exercises in goings-on which, a Minneapolis government official said, should not be shared with the general public. St. Paul police officials told the St Paul Pioneer Press a training exercise involving Homeland Security and local law enforcement – reportedly involving Navy Seals with Army pilots, engaging in rappelling exercises from helicopters onto the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank – began just before 8 p.m. and was scheduled to last until midnight.

Instructions to the media from the City of Minneapolis read, “Please call with locations or addresses you have questions about. These are Department of Defense exercises that should not be shared with the general public and security is of the utmost concern.”

In 2002 the Pentagon established the U.S. Northern Command, charged with carrying out military operations within the United States. Prior to this, under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the U.S. armed forces had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances.

With all the exercises originating in the City of Minneapolis, a City of Minneapolis written statement released within 15 minutes of the exercise said: “There will be some night training going on, which includes military helicopters.” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder refused to answer additional questions from the St Paul Pioneer Press about the exercise. “It’s a training exercise.”

Watch commander of the St Paul Police Department initially had no information on the exercise. Those distant people from the Department of Defense didn’t have to tell the local people anything. Informed the exercise involved Navy Seals along with Army pilots from units in the southern states, St Paul City councilman Dave Thune told the St Paul Pioneer Press, “Apparently (local law enforcement) worked something out last March. Apparently they we are supposed to go through the city of Minneapolis PIO to let people know, but that didn’t work out so well. When you’ve got Blackhawk helicopters flying between buildings full of people in the middle of the night, it’s just not safe. … It’s absolutely wrong for us as a civilian police department to be engaging in military exercises. It shouldn’t happen here.”

Said a man named Bud from St Paul, “I live on the 7th floor of a condo building downtown St.Paul and to see a Blackhawk helicopter go spending by my window close enough to see the pilot with no warning is rather disturbing.”

The last of the helicopters flew over the Cathedral of St Paul at 11:55 pm on Monday night.

Said a woman named Betty who makes the 27th floor of a condominium her downtown Minneapolis home, “Watching Blackhawks weave in and out of the space between my building and the high-rise condo across the street was nerve-wracking. They were flying faster than scenes from action movies. Some of the helicopters had absolutely no lighting. I could see the faces of the military personnel hanging off the side of the helicopters, while holding their assault rifles. Don’t tell me that this is what I should expect because I live in downtown Minneapolis. The excuse that the public wasn’t given any warning about these maneuvers because of security reasons is hogwash. There should have been some kind of heads up.”

The New York Times reported in July 2009 that the Bush administration in 2002 considered sending U.S. troops into a Buffalo, N.Y., suburb to arrest a group of terror suspects in what would have been a nearly unprecedented use of military power. The Associated Press noted that dispatching U.S. army troops into the streets is virtually unheard of. “The Constitution and various laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.”

A 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) allegedly allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage. The Clinton administration had set up the Joint Task Force-Civil Support in October 1999 as a “homeland defense command.” Under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the U.S. Armed Forces had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances, to “enforce the laws of the United States” unless a separate statute provides otherwise. Even with existing exceptions, the Posse Comitatus Act continues to prohibit active duty military personnel from conducting searches, or engaging in seizures or arrests in the domestic arena.

Meanwhile, as protests continue in Missouri over what seems to have been an issue of arrogance of a police officer who could do whatever he wanted, President Obama called for calm: “While I understand the passions and anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown,” President Obama said from Washington in a two days interruption from his summer vacation, “giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions.”

 

 

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December 24, 2013

The Real War on Terror

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 6:43 AM

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The cost of freedom:  American presidents like to invoke patriotism in their speeches, reminding us of the lives that were spent to preserve the freedoms evoked in the United States Constitution.  September 2001 was nothing, compared to what transpired in the world in January 1919.     

 

It is unnerving to live in an age when a president and a Congress can pass The Patriot Act, quickly trading away freedom at a price of homeland security.  The passage of the act does not say much for the generations who have grown up on the age of television.  And there was little, if any, protest. 

 

Few Americans seem to know of the days of real terror that existed in Germany at the close of the War to end all Wars.  This was a time of real terror.  There had been a revolution in Russia

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October 7, 2009

Baseball 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 10:39 PM

If there was one league, it would have been quite a pennant race with two games left in the season. Especially if only one team went to the World Series as in before 1969.


Los Angeles 93 67 .581 – – – –
Philadelphia 92 68 .575 1.0 – – –
Colorado 92 68 .575 1.0 – –
St. Louis 91 70 .565 2.0 – – –

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August 24, 2008

Licensing Fees for Seating

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 5:51 AM

June 7, 2008

Just a Fishbowl in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 10:48 PM

I saw my recent life as living in some kind of fish bowl, rarely pursuing the waters beyond one little cranny   And Time was this great ocean.  I noticed the vessels around all the fish.  It was not unexpected to see the old vessels wear down.  I never thought what would happen to the fish born about the same time as these manufactured boats.  Some got rusty.  Others were scrapped all together.  And it struck me, this title of Elie Wiesel’s autobiography which I had read.  All Rivers Run to the Sea.  And then I learned he had written a sequel, The Sea Is Never Full.  Although in this maritime, the sea is more crowded these days, it was up to me to see that there still was courtesy if not order, from the river to the sea. Even in the storms. 

 

May 5, 2008

In Search of Scapegoats

I live in a town where since last August 1, 2007 there has been a heightened awareness about crossing a bridge.  One day last November, the oldest business in the state of Minnesota had lost its identity, with little note made. There is more awareness this week over the loss of the headquarters of a major airline. And there was awareness over the national convention of one of the major political parties which would be here in less than 5 months.


Most residents of the two cities seem asleep as to whether the Minneapolis StarTribune or the St. Paul Pioneer Press would be around to cover the national convention. 

A pending bankruptcy of the StarTribune Company has been written about on May 4th in The New York Post, though the bankruptcy has currently been denied.


The threat of collapse of either enterprise was not just the loss of a local source of news.  The news could be read elsewhere, without a local taste. Small towns in Minnesota had been going through similar change, with consolidated school districts over most of the last twenty-five years.  And that will be the direction of the churches in the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, as throughout the country, for the next decade.

What exactly did they teach in MBA programs where consolidations are supposed to be workable when smaller companies could not survive?

I had worked in downtown Chicago 18 years ago when I heard a contemporary, a suburbanite, bemoan the loss of identity of the suburb where he had grown up.  He felt that Arlington Heights was suddenly just like any other suburb in Chicago, in an America with less flavor and probably with less taste. Without any flavor.  Tasteless.   Or had it been Elk Grove?


How soon would Minneapolis–St. Paul be just tasteless, without a flavor?  The loss of ethnic identity was having an effect on this generation of Americans.  As people I saw lost a sense of belonging, a sense of anger seemed to be a substitute, to those of the other party who might be responsible for the current state of affairs. The community already seemed fractured.  But the stress fracture seemed to be getting worse.  A lot like what had happened to those gusset plates in that bridge structure that led to the collapse. 

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