Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Since 1445

Pancakes are great to eat!!!
Now that I have stated the obvious let me note that February 20th was "International Pancake Day" (highlighted in Men's Health magazine) this year which has been celebrated in Liberal, Kansas since 1950 when they partnered with the City of Olney, England.
"In England there are several celebrations on this day but perhaps the best known one is the Pancake Day Race at Olney in Buckinghamshire which has been held since 1445. The race came about when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell summoning her to confession. She ran to church wearing her apron and still holding her frying pan, and thus without knowing it, started a tradition that has lasted for over five hundred years. "
As my own tribute to pancake day let me highlight some of my favorite versions:
  • Buckwheat -- give them a try at Mickey's Diner (downtown) in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Swedish -- my mother is an expert chef with this version. Love 'em!!!
  • Potato -- served with a side dish of apple sauce and bacon strips of course. I have always enjoy eating these with my father.
  • Oat bran -- ideal venue to have these is Minnesota Grill at Byerly's supermarkets with cranberries and walnuts added by request. Simply delicious. .
  • Blueberry -- yes the classic pancake but best served on the North Shore in Minnesota at one of the local coffee shops/restaurants
  • Volume -- if you have not seen "Chris Cakes" ( perform at an event you should. One of their "flippers" cooks huge volumes of pancakes for events like a golf tournament I attended in Iowa then flips and throws pancakes to people across the room which is always entertaining when guests are caught by surprise via flying pancakes.

Consumer choice -- not a government regulator deciding what we should eat -- always produces great results like my list of pancake varieties as restaurants/entrepreneurs pursue customers.

Bon appetit,



While working in Austin, Texas this week I stopped in a local deli called "Kevin's Cookies and Deli" ( There was only one man working at the time which prompted me to ask, "so are you Kevin?", to which he replied , "no I am Trey, I purchased the store from Kevin about 3 years ago............" I was interested in knowing if he was "Kevin" since it is always interesting to meet entrepreneurs focused on building their little piece of the world. As basic as it may seem we need to remind people constantly -- entrepreneurs created jobs not governments, governments simply allow jobs to be created.

So to Joe P. "Trey" Williams III and the other entrepreneurs out there let me say "thank you" for doing what you do. I hope we see tax reform that allows you to keep more of the wealth you produce so you can create more jobs for the rest of us.

Try the bran muffin,


Monday, February 26, 2007

Cheap Furniture

Well the USA "celebrated" Presidents' Day last week but I can't help but wonder -- what exactly is this holiday? When I was young we celebrated Presidents Washington and Lincoln's birthdays but that evolved into the generic "Presidents' Day" set on the same Monday each year thus creating a three day weekend dominated by sales at furniture stores.

For my niece Presidents' Day was a day off from school -- which reminds me that I need to ask her if she was given any presidential history homework by her school. Instead of yet another day off from school I would have preferred that my niece and her classmates spend Presidents' Day sitting in school studying the Office of US President from a political, economic, historical , and cultural context. Don't you agree that having such a "dedicated day of study" (DDS) would yield better results for civil society? What were our teachers doing on Presidents' Day? As a taxpayer I would like a better return on my "investment" in our school system via a series of DDS's. Just imagine a series of DDS's over the school year and summer vacation -- Memorial Day (does anyone even remember what this is for today? I do.) , Fourth of July, Labor Day (the teachers' union should have an interest in this idea), etc.

No I am not suggesting students need to sit in a classroom on the 4th of July but given the prevalence of Internet access why not develop some online courses that students are expected to do during the summer vacation so we minimize the "drop off" in learning teachers always notice in students happening by the time school resumes in the fall.

I did notice a few newspapers devoting some space to Presidents' Day including a Presidents' Day poll compiled by Gallup which showed how Americans ranked the "greatest president" of all. The results were as follows:

1. Abraham Lincoln -- 18%
2. Ronald Reagan - 16%
3. John Kennedy - 14%
4. Bill Clinton - 13%
5. Franklin D. Roosevelt - 9%

Such a list would be a good starting point for students to study the Office of President in greater depth to see if they agree with the polling results.

More homework please,


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Iowa State University -- football schedule changes

February 23, 2007

To: ISU Athletic Department/National Cyclone Club (NCC)
From: Todd
Re: 2007 Football Season Tickets

Today I paid for our four football season tickets via telephone under protest because you have once again (done in 2006 also) moved an already scheduled Saturday game to a Thursday evening -- Kent State from September 1st to August 30th, 2007.

This upsets my family for the following reasons:

We printed the 2007 schedule from your website earlier this year then planned our August vacation based on the schedule so that we would return home on August 31st for the drive from Minnesota to Ames on September 1st for the game. Yes, I know you had a disclaimer stating dates may change but this has happened two years in a row now so how about some better long term planning?

Kent State University is NOT a worthy opponent for ISU to justify taking vacation time during a work week, securing a baby sitter, etc. for the 3 hour drive to Ames from Minnesota even if we were home from our vacation in time for this game. Playing such low quality teams just to get the Cyclones eligible for a bowl game seems to be a poor trade off because there is almost a “bowl game for everyone” as one sportscaster noted this season since there were over 30 bowl games. Even worse, what if you lose this game? I would rather lose two games to Texas and Ohio State versus one game to Kent State wouldn’t you? Let’s improve our team by having them play the great teams in the country to show our alumni supporters what we are up against if we want to compete at the highest levels.

The NCC staff told me today that the Kent State game was moved to “please the students given the Labor Day holiday weekend given their feedback……..”. I find this amazing since the vast majority of seats in the stadium appear to be filled with non-students/alums like my family. If you want to market to the students as a distinct market segment then create two season ticket packages. How many of those supportive students might not even return to school for Spring Semester 2008??

Since the NCC staff also told me that the Thursday night game, held in 2006 was, “so well received that we looked into doing another Thursday night game in 2007………..” So it took you from September 2006 to February 2007 to make such a decision?? That is a huge delay in terms of using marketing data/consumer feedback when it is fresh -- September 2006.

The last alumni geographic distribution data that I saw years ago showed that beyond the Ames/Des Moines corridor the Kansas City (a 3.5 hour drive to Ames) and the Minneapolis/St. Paul (a 3 to 3.5 hour drive to Ames) areas serve as the homes of the greatest concentration of ISU alumni. Shouldn’t your planning of a Thursday night football game take these demographics into consideration? If my statistics are out of date I would appreciate your insights regarding what the current distribution is today.

Despite my concerns noted in this memo I still plan to support the Cyclones and will be tracking their performance via my editorial comments, suggestions, and complaints such as this memo on my blog –

which I will continue sharing with the alums I know so I can get a better sense of their feelings on issues such as this scheduling change. If I am over-reacting to this schedule change I would welcome a clear explanation for the athletic department management, NCC, or readers of my blog. We remain very upset with the re-scheduling of this game which you have forced my family to miss.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

5 of 10 pages

While reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (SLPD) newspaper yesterday the front page headline caught my attention -- "XM-Sirius Merger" -- which is the story of the two competing satellite radio companies merging into one company thus raising "regulatory challenges." What a joke -- when will consumer groups and big government advocates leave the economy alone???!! In case these people don't know it already let me state the obvious -- satellite radio service is NOT a basic human need by any means thus leave this merger alone because if the merged company raises rates on consumers they will simply drop the service (and still live somehow!!) thus creating an opportunity for new market players to enter.

That said, what I want to focus on in this posting is the fact that the SLPD's business section had a total of 10 pages --- a full 5 of these pages were consumed with full page employment ads focused on "Health Care Opportunities" -- primarily looking for nurses.

This got me wondering what Missouri's unemployment rate is so I found it at --

The end of December 2006 rate was at 4.9% which in economic terms is considered "full employment" so since the states of Michigan and Mississippi were dead last in this ranking at 7.1 and 7.5% unemployment rates let me encourage the laid off/recently retired auto workers of Michigan to escape their poor economy by relocating to Missouri via job re-training I am certain they can secure from General Motors.

Health is wealth,


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


The Simpsons TV show has always been a favorite program of mine. I was reminded of one particular episode earlier this week after reading an Associated Press article entitled, "Starbucks to buy more East African coffee." In the episode I am referring to Bart Simpson is walking through the Springfield Mall as construction workers close stores in the mall while simultaneously converting them into Starbucks stores -- still makes me laugh today!!

Starbucks announced (, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) that it will double its purchases of fine coffee from East African countries by 2009. However, Starbucks will extend this purchasing relationship to include:

  • Providing US$1 million in micro-financing loans to small-scale coffee farmers
  • Create a farmer support center in 2007 to "improve bean quality"
  • Continuation (apparently - the article does not clearly state this as fact) of their current US$ 4.2 million fund for "social development projects in East Africa.

I am not a coffee drinker myself but I do salute Starbucks for their efforts to develop the coffee farmer population via their purchasing power. However, I would offer them these additional options for leveraging their corporate infrastructure to benefit an even wider community while also pursuing profits:

  • Stores -- Open at least one Starbucks store on the African continent in 2007 since it appears none exists there today ( Starbucks has a presence in only 30 countries today, out of the nearly 190 countries in our world, and none of them are in Africa. Having a store in East Africa would benefit farmers so local communities see the final product, more non-farming jobs would be created, local workers would gain new job skills, and ideally a group of African franchise owners would be developed once this first corporate store proves successful.
  • Music -- Advertise for East African musicians to burn audio CDs in a mini-recording studio added to this first Starbucks store as part of Starbucks' music program (. Perhaps this idea could be expanded by partnering to create an "African Idol" contest to help discover talented musicians.
  • Books -- Starbucks' currently featured author coincidentally comes from Sierra Leone having written "A Long Way Gone" ( Their book program could be expanded to benefit a larger segment of the African population by partnering with my friends at Books for Africa (, which is based in Minnesota, to help distribute books and inspire reading (and drinking coffee in their stores while listening to the musical talent discovered by Starbucks............) across the continent.

My overall point here is that Starbucks' support of coffee farmers is great economic news but the world's wealthiest countries have moved the vast majority of their population from the agriculture sector to manufacturing and now services/information society sectors -- so to truly create wealth in African this same evolution of moving farmers to non-farming occupations needs to be accelerated.

Trade not aid,


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Family Business

While driving through Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas this week I listened to a political talk radio show which had a guest speaker (I did not catch his name) who predicted that US Senator/former first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will be elected President of the USA in November 2008. The speaker went on to note that some big players in the Democratic Party in New York State want former US President Bill Clinton to be appointed to fill the remainder of Senator Clinton's term should she be elected in 2008. This is very possible since New York's current governor is former Attorney General Eliot "you are under investigation" Spitzer.

But why stop there??!!!!!!!!!!!???????

Let's call on President Hillary Clinton to appoint their daughter - Chelsea Clinton - to any future opening on the US Supreme Court.

Even better -- let's hope that US Senator Barack Obama (Illinois) is elected as President Clinton's Vice President thus creating another open/unexpired US Senate seat to be appointed by the Democratic governor of Illinois. Now this would be an opportunity to get Senator/Vice President-elect Obama's wife, Michelle ( appointed to fill this senate seat.

Now that is a clan-like consolidation of power that should be avoided at all costs -- but it is politically and legally possible. Good thing Hillary declared New York as her legal residence and not her home state of Illinois otherwise she and Obama could not run as a party ticket together.

This is one family business I would note support.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Candidate Sprawl

While traveling to Des Moines, Iowa I read today's USA Today which included an article entitled, "Campaigns find new homes in Iowa." This article was focused on the 2008 presidential candidates who are opening campaign offices in Des Moines. Due to impressive business development in downtown Des Moines office rents have increased since the 2004 Iowa caucuses thus forcing presidential candidates to secure offices beyond the central business corridor.

Now this is interesting!!! When a family decides to leave the central city for a bigger home, better schools, and lower taxes in the suburbs far too many politicians label such freedom of choice -- "urban sprawl" -- but when presidential candidates pursue a similar quality of life improvement it is simply labeled a search for "inexpensive space."

One candidate example to consider is Iowa's former Governor and 2008 presidential candidate, Tom Vilsack's spokesman -- Josh Earnest -- who is quoted by USA Today as saying this regarding their office being located on the "city's (Des Moines) western edge":

"We're closer to the airport, closer to the freeway, and there's plenty of growth space."

This sounds like a quote from two yuppie parents explaining their move from the city to a suburban address. For an overview of quotes regarding urban sprawl from a wide range of US governors please visit this website:
Governors' State of the State and Budget Speeches
January 4 - March 7, 2000

See you in the 'burbs,


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dying Alone

For 2 years, 6 months, and 17 days I lived in Fort Dodge, Iowa. I remember my time there to the day since I was originally hired to live there for 6 months for training while the company that hired me finalized plans for an office in Des Moines, Iowa where I lived at the time. I never intended to stay long but time dragged on so I found myself increasingly involved in this community including a local project sponsored by Norwest Banks (which eventually merged into Wells Fargo ) called -- "Paint-a-Thon".

The central objective of this program was to mobilize teams of volunteers across the community to paint the homes of the elderly/disabled/poor in an effort to retain the value of the homes, improve the beauty of the neighborhood, and assist these residents so they could continue living in well-maintained homes. The one home I remember painting was for a widow who was probably nearly 80 years old who had a warm personality but apparently a very dis-engaged family. I know this because as we completed our nearly two week old painting project I learned that this "lonely widow who needed assistance" had several children and grand children. So I had to wonder -- "where the hell is her family and why aren't they painting this home or even pooling their money to pay for a professional painter??"

I was reminded of this woman today since she was living alone when I read an Associated Press article ( entitled, "Mummified man found in front of TV." The story goes that Mr. Vincenzo Ricardo, 70 years old, was found dead in his chair by Hampton Bays, New York police responding to a call about burst water pipes. Mr. Ricardo had been dead for over one year sitting in front of his television which was still on according to police. One neighbor, Diane Devon, was quoted saying, "We never thought to check on him."

Two books speak to the "sense of community" that Americans have or want to acquire:

1.) "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam -- who argues that the sense of community is dead in America and people are searching for "something to connect with....."


2.) "Applebee's America" by Matt Dowd and others -- which argues that Americans have found "community" but it is not geographic in nature but is definitely strong and adaptive due to technology and mobility.

Having died alone over one year ago with NO ONE missing him -- family, neighbors, friends, or even apparently his local electric utility company -- really makes me wonder who was Vincenzo Ricardo?

A search on Google for "Vincenzo Ricardo" yields 676,000 results which I can safely predict will grow this week since I see bloggers already commenting on this death. I did not review the 676,000 search results of course but in my quick review I never saw any reference to him having any family members.

Stories like this one should make us all pause to consider our own ties to our community. Hopefully Mr. Ricardo died peacefully albeit alone.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

$96 per day

Our legislators in Minnesota are debating whether or not to increase the per diem expenses legislators can claim from the current $66 to $96 per day. Now St. Paul, Minnesota is not the most expensive city in the country so $96 per day seems very generous since it might break down as follows:

Breakfast - $15.00

Lunch -- $25.00

Dinner -- $50.00

Misc. -- $6.00 (legislators get free parking so perhaps $6 for some sodas and a candy bar but even better, a piece of fruit given the "War on Obesity" we have in this country -- thank God I am too old to be drafted for this one!!! )

Total -- $96.00 per day

Currently Minnesota legislators are paid about $31,000 annually PLUS the per diem expenses along with health benefits and housing allowances for members that do not live in the Twin Cities.

I was struck by the coincidental timing since I read about this per diem increase in my local newspaper on February 16th and was sent the following article (see weblink and excerpt copied below) on February 15th regarding legislative salaries across the country:
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
"Legislators' pay falling behind", By Eric Kelderman, Staff Writer

"Legislators in Alabama, New Hampshire and Texas are paid the same today as when Gerald Ford was president in 1975. In Indiana, lawmakers’ base pay has been stuck at $11,600 for 22 years. Nebraska has awarded only four legislative pay raises since 1934 – the most recent in 1988."

This article by Eric Kelderman notes that legislators in California are the highest paid in the country at $110,880 annually while New Hampshire's legislators are the least paid at $100 annually.

Now I see two schools of thought regarding legislative pay scales:

1.) Increase salaries high enough to attract the best and brightest in our society, and
2.) Reduce not only the salaries but also the length of legislative sessions to allow citizens with full time jobs to minimize the amount of time they need to be away from their careers in order to serve in the legislature.

Personally -- I am solidly in camp #2 above -- cut salaries and cut the length of legislative sessions. Why? Primarily because citizen-legislators are more likely to live like the rest of us tax slaves versus full-time legislators that sit around dreaming of new taxes and "services" to deliver to citizens to help justify their full-time jobs thus giving us greater potential for keeping the reach of government limited.

Would you prefer a full-time legislator - with no other outside job experience -- in your state getting paid perhaps $150,000 per year (so we can recruit talent!!!) or would you prefer electing your local restaurant manager - who perhaps makes $50,000 annually in his/her private sector job where they must deliver quality customer service everyday or risk going out of business -- to a state legislator job paying a nominal $500 per month ($6,000 per year) for perhaps a 60 day legislative session?

If the business community and the limited government community that I live and work in really want to reduce government/tax burdens then we should all unite to cut salaries and cut legislative session timeframes. Such a "double cut" would expand the range of candidates for public office thus enhancing consumer (aka "voter") choice via contested primary elections and the rise of third parties who would find it easier to recruit candidates since they would not have to quit their "day jobs."

Food for thought,


Friday, February 16, 2007

Go Ospreys!!

Some Space Beagle Notes readers might remember my declaration during the 2005-2006 college basketball season that I decided to become a fan of the University of North Florida Ospreys (UNF - - second only to my beloved Iowa State University Cyclones). The reason for this declaration was the pre-season "Sagarin College Men's Basketball Ratings" published in USA Today:

Mr. Sagarin's mathematical model named the Ospreys' men's basketball team is the #336 ranked NCAA Division One team -- the dead last, bottom of the rankings -- in the country so since we love underdogs in the USA I adopted the Ospreys as my team. Thus began a correspondence with the team's head coach -- Matt Kilcullen -- who is a very personable gentleman.

It has been several months since I have updated readers on the team's performance for the 2006-2007 season so here is their current status --- the Ospreys have 2 wins and 24 losses overall and a 0 and 15 record in their conference this season. This performance leaves the Ospreys ranked #335 in the most recent Sagarin ratings.

March Madness will have to wait,


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Health Care Apartheid

My teenage memories of talking with my grandfather, a World War II veteran, about his struggles with the Veterans Administration (V.A.) health care system bureaucrats came rushing back to me today when I read the Alaska section of USA Today's state by state news page. Essentially the American government practices a form of "health care apartheid" by forcing our military veterans to use the sub-standard V.A. system - separate from the system that regular citizens like you and me utilize -- and then extends this apartheid mind set by having "American Indians and Alaska Natives" receive health care services via the Indian Health Service (IHS), another federal government agency: -- an excerpt from the IHS website is copied below:

The Indian Health Service, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for providing federal health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The provision of health services to members of federally-recognized tribes grew out of the special government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes. This relationship, established in 1787, is based on Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and has been given form and substance by numerous treaties, laws, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders. The IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for Indian people, and its goal is to raise their health status to the highest possible level. The IHS currently provides health services to approximately 1.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to more than 557 federally recognized tribes in 35 states.

USA Today reported today that "about 40 tribal health organizations in Alaska are part of a nationwide $1 billion lawsuit (filed in a New Mexico federal court) " against the IHS which contends that the IHS has "knowlingly shortchanged them each year since the 1990's."

Given the long history of management incompetence and broken promises at the Bureau of Indian Affairs the IHS is probably no different so I would speculate that this "shortchanging" extends many years before the 1990's so I look forward to hearing what this court case uncovers.

Let me say there is a much better solution than a court case since our court system is overburden already -- let's end our health care apartheid system by having the US Congress phase out the IHS with a full distribution of any remaining funds to the "557 federally recognized tribes" noted on the IHS website. Get the money into the pockets of the natives and let them CHOOSE what health care insurance, doctors, or alternative medical solutions they want to pursue for their own well being. Our country has kept these native groups isolated from the mainstream American community for too many years -- let's reduce government by eliminating the IHS and empower these 1.5 million Native Americans at the same time.

End the red tape,


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ten Bad Men

NELSON MANDELA, quoted in The Independent

Just in time for Valentine's Day the February 11th edition of Parade magazine has published its annual ranking of "The World's 10 Worst Dictators" by David Wallechinsky. This year's "hall of shame" (with my editorial comments added in parentheses) includes these bastards:

  1. Omar Al-Bashir of SUDAN (can you say "genocide" in Darfur?)
  2. Kim Jong-Il of NORTH KOREA (starves his people while he has sushi flown in)
  3. Sayyid Ali Khamenei of IRAN (not their president but chair of their Guardian Council)
  4. Hu Jintao of CHINA (yea but they have great economic growth rates!!)
  5. King Abdullah of SAUDI ARABIA (will they buy ethanol from us?)
  6. Than Shwe of BURMA ("old soldiers never die they just fade away", General Douglas MacArthur, but these Burmese dictators/generals keep on living)
  7. Robert Mugabe of ZIMBABWE (they used to export food but now rely on food aid)
  8. Islam Karimov of UZBEKISTAN (the Soviet Union died but not totalitarian rule)
  9. Muammar Al-Qaddafi of LIBYA (but all is forgiven regarding Lockerbie, Scotland?
  10. Bashar Al-Assad of SYRIA (like father, like son)

So the tally count on a regional basis for this Top Ten list is:

Africa -- 3

Mideast - 3

Asia - 3

former Soviet Union - 1

Total = 10

Something to keep in mind as you consider where to purchase your vacation home :-)


Clinton Presidential Library

Well I walked the "sidewalk to the 21st Century" today by walking about four blocks from my Little Rock, Arkansas hotel to the President Bill Clinton Presidential Library ( which is located on a large parcel of land along the Arkansas River.

The library building itself is dominated by a very modern look and LARGE picture windows offering wonderful views of Little Rock -- perhaps symbolic of the transparency that was lacking in his wife's health care task force since she kept all debates secret from public scrutiny until my friends at the National Legal and Policy Center ( filed successful Freedom of Information Act requests to pry the meeting minutes/notes from her cold, dead hands :)

I admit I am biased since I never wanted to see him in the White House but the library seemed completely dominated by campaign buttons, gifts from foreign governments, and souvenirs of all kinds -- it left me with no great sense that it was designed to be a resource for academics and students of presidential history but I am happy to be proven incorrect.

One display that I read through was what I call the "before and after Clinton statistics board" which showed what the USA was like in terms of employment, computer penetration rates, crime rates, etc. in 1992 (when Clinton first ran for president) and in 2000 as he was leaving office. Funny enough -- the "percentage of people with either private or government provided health care insurance" SURGED from 84% to 86% under Bill and Hillary's eight year reign!!

Given that the current US population is nearly 300 million people today the 14% without insurance in 2000 would under 45 million people. Then coupled with the fact that the Clinton Presidential Library construction costs totaled -- $165 million --
(Source: I can't help but wonder why the Clintons did not raise this money to donate it to America's uninsured citizens instead of building this Temple of Clinton since the clearly felt our pain? The amount they raised for the library might have better used to house a health insurance company created by the Clinton Foundation designed to provide low cost health care insurance.

Mis-guided priorities?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Competition not Kerry

Late last week I read this article in USA Today, "Baseball's proposed partnership with DirecTV would shout out many," which focused on US Senator John Kerry's (Democrat-Massachusetts) call for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to "investigate the proposed $700 million, seven year deal that would shift DirectTV's 'Extra Innings' package this season" -- this shift of Major League Baseball's (MLB) games to DirecTV would be EXCLUSIVE so if baseball fans want to continue watching "Extra Innings" they would have to become DirecTV customers.

Common sense time -- instead of calling on the FCC to investigate this market decision Senator Kerry should file legislation to eliminate the anti-trust exemption that MLB enjoys today:
Q: What is the antitrust exemption and how did baseball get it?
A: Any business that operates across state borders -- and therefore participates in interstate commerce -- is subject to antitrust legislation. Attempts to control trade and monopolize may be deemed illegal by federal circuit courts under the Sherman and Clayton acts.
Baseball has been exempt from these antitrust laws since 1922, when the Supreme Court ruled in its favor in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National Baseball Clubs.

Remove this anti-trust exemption and let the market (baseball fans) decide what teams should exist and in which markets by opening the baseball market to upstart leagues. Perhaps the American Association (home of the St. Paul Saints of Minnesota) would then expand to challenge the incumbent MLB teams.

Now that is a homerun,



While working in Little Rock, Arkansas this week I was happen to discover a season schedule at my hotel's lobby desk for the Arkansas Twisters ( of the Arena Football League 2 so hopefully I can catch a game later this year. Always great to see football being available. Overall I have really enjoyed working in Little Rock - my first visit here - since the downtown economy looks healthy, the people are friendly, and they have a great collection of restaurants.

Tonight's restaurant venue was "SO Restaurant -Bar" in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock. My meal began with their house salad along with their filet steak (butterflied, medium well!!!) with vegetable medley. I loved SO's decor which was dominated by a wine cellar motif and they had quality wait staff so I would rank them as a "3.5" on my 5 point scale primarily because my filet was simply excellent since it crumbled in my mouth.

Tomorrow's visits include the Arkansas History Museum, the state capitol, and -- I never thought I would be saying this -- the Bill Clinton Presidential Library!!!

Feel my pain :)


Monday, February 12, 2007

Governor Barkley

As a libertarian I make every effort to not judge people regarding how they spend their money but this sports story changed my typical response:

Former National Basketball Association star, Charles "Round Mound of Rebound" Barkley recently won "about $700,000 " while gambling in Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend.

The story went on to note that in a May 2006 interview with ESPN Barkley estimated that he had lost "about $10 million gambling over the years" and that he had "lost $2.5 million in a six hour period one night last year."

Again, I hate to judge Barkley's personal spending decisions but losing $10 million gambling is a complete waste of money!! Barkley has always talked about running for Governor of Alabama so he could have used that money for his election campaign so he would not have been beholden to contributors. Via some basic research I found Barkley's comments below regarding his number one priority in life noted in this interview excerpt below:
On his priority in life: "My No. 1 priority is to help poor people. In this country, 90% of the money is controlled by 10% of the people, and that's not right."

Clearly $10 million would have helped a few poor people and if really spent wisely he would have given a portion of this money to a free market think tank working to transform the welfare society government has created - designed to keep people poor -- such as:

Alabama Policy Institute

What is spent in Vegas stays in Vegas,


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global Economics

While working this week in Texas and New Mexico I am attending the 5th annual legislative briefing event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation ( in Austin. Tonight's dinner speaker, John Stossel of ABC, ( gave an excellent speech focused on how poorly run government monopolies are especially in our public school system comparing it to many of the Soviet Union's relics that are now in the dust bin of history (my wording here not his).

The overall message of the speech that the "elites and central planners" can not understand nor serve consumers well, consumer choice and competition are the things that provide us with a high quality of life. Stossel's focus on education reminded me of the guest lecturing I did for an MBA class at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis a year ago. The topic of the lecture was the political economy issues involved in international business. As I talked with the students I offered my own observation that "there is just too much focus on China which makes me believe the US business community is overlooking a much better market -- India................"

I made this comment based on the following elements:

  • India's population is set to surpass China's in the near future
  • India is the world's largest democratic nation thus it share a political heritage/culture closer in nature to the USA's versus China's politburo/Soviet political economy.
  • India and the USA both speak version of the English language :-)
  • India is a key regional/nuclear power which borders Russia and China thus a strategic ally for the USA
  • Indian food is tastier than Chinese food (laugh a little!!)

Thus I was happy to read last week's news in Minnesota that our Governor Tim Pawlenty will lead a trade mission to India in October 2007 so let me congratulate his office on recognizing the importance of this market for Minnesota businesses. It is an exciting market the justifies the creation of a program to rival our current "Minnesota-China Partnership".

As Mr. Stossel noted in his special on education in the USA, "Stupid in America", American high schoolers "did their butts kicked by Belgian students.........." so clearly we need competition in our public schools if we fully intend to compete in the global economy.

The world may be flat but public school budgets are not,


Super Bowl post-game

As with every Super Bowl there were a plethora of post-game stories regarding -- the TV ads, Peyton Manning as MVP, potential player trades, etc. -- but two stories that were of particular interest to me included:

SNOOP BOWL III - this championship football game was held the day before Sunday's Super Bowl for a youth football league created by rapper, Snoop Dogg, in 2005 designed to create football opportunities for at-risk children in the Los Angeles area. USA Today reported that this year the league had 2,000 players which is rather impressive. Snoop Bowl III was won by the Snoop Doog All-Stars over a team from South Florida by a 7 to 0 score. Perhaps ESPN's SportsCenter covered this story but if they didn't let me call on them to add it to their line up in 2008 to inspire kids and parents around the country since playing football teaches children discipline, respect for authority, and teamwork. The funny footnote here is that Los Angeles does not have a National Football League (NFL) team so perhaps the Snoop Dogg All-Stars should be playing at the L.A. Coliseum :)

SUPER BOWL COMPOSITE RECORDS - my thanks to USA Today for publishing the overall records of the all NFL teams who have ever played in the Super Bowl. At the top of the pile are the San Francisco 49'ers with a 5 wins and 0 losses Super Bowl record while at the bottom of the trough are my beloved Minnesota Vikings with 0 wins and 4 losses (which ties them with the Buffalo Bills). The funny thing for me is that in junior high I was a 49'ers fan after touring the city on a family vacation but I am sticking with the Vikings who I am confident will win the Super Bowl before I retire :)

Keep up the good work Snoop,


Monday, February 05, 2007

Betty for MVP

While at my gym today I noticed a woman, whom I will call "Betty" -- probably in her 70's -- that I have seen there several times. I have never talked with Betty but have always noticed her because she has to walk around the gym with the aid of a cane. I do not know if she has severe arthritis or some other medical condition but what I DO know is that she is an inspirational athlete simply because she makes the effort to exercise despite her physical challenges.

So within the last 24 hours I saw athletes at the pinnacle of their sport -- the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts playing in the Super Bowl -- coupled with a rather frail neighbor simply staying active. Of course no one scalped tickets to watch Betty exercise :) but I did hear on one of my favorite talk radio shows today ("Garage Logic" on KSTP AM 1500) that a father and son from Chicago had paid $4,800 per Super Bowl ticket so $9,600 total.

As regular readers know I LOVE football in all forms -- NFL, college, CFL, AFL, NFL Europe, Australian Rules, and maybe even Pop Warner football if my nephew or godson play someday -- but I would never be able to justify spending $10,000 to take my son to the Super Bowl. Disposable income like that amount would be better spent paying for a junior year abroad so my child could learn about another culture and hopefully learn a foreign language.

Personally I loved this year's Super Bowl -- although why don't we see some trick plays used in the Super Bowl like Boise State University used this past season including the hook and ladder and Statue of Liberty to add some excitement? A little trickeration goes a long way to mix up the game a bit. One observation I did not read in the sports pages or hear on talk radio is the fact that the Indianapolis Colts play in the RCA Dome but the Chicago Bears play in the open air Soldier Field. That very fact should have given the Bears the advantage in the game given the downpour of rain in Miami for this year's Super Bowl but that was not the case. Clearly the Colts had the talent and killer instinct to win this game. I was particularly impressed with Peyton Manning's ability to throw a touch down pass while a Bear defender had his arm wrapped around Manning's rib cage as he threw the ball. Now that is athleticism and a clear ability to concentrate under pressure.

Enjoy the Pro Bowl,


Sunday, February 04, 2007

12 Steps

My church had a guest pastor deliver the sermon at the service I attended this morning -- Super Bowl Sunday of course -- which was focused on "addiction and recovery" primarily alcoholism. The pastor's stories of his addiction counseling reminded me of my Saturday morning hand ball matches with my buddy, Jim Murphy, who tragically was killed in an airplane crash years ago. Jim insisted we play our weekly match at 8 am on Saturdays because he was an Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) sponsor so he could help others. Since these matches occurred during my drinking days I would show up for many of these matches with a hang over which always made me reflect on Jim's good works.

Now the pastor did not directly connect football and addiction but the term "football widow" was undoubtedly coined years ago because many men are addicted to being arm chair quarterbacks with SportsCenter as their mistress. Addiction of course takes many different forms so if any readers of this blog need assistance here are some weblinks provided in today's church program: -- Alcoholics Anonymous -- Narcotics Anonymous -- Gamblers Anonymous -- Citizens Against Government Waste - for recovering tax and spend politicians (you know I had to get that message inserted somewhere!!)

Thanks Jim,


Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Religion of Football

For many arm chair quarterbacks in the USA the National Football League (NFL) IS their religion with them attending "services" every Sunday whether in a stadium or on their couch. Personally I am a religious person and I LOVE football so I live in both worlds so today's Pioneer Press ( newspaper article, "NFL sacks church Super Bowl bash", was of particular interest to me.

The issue here is that the Woodbury Lutheran Church (Minnesota) had planned to host a potluck dinner the night of Super Bowl Sunday for an expected crowd of 150 people but because the church advertised the event as a "Super Bowl Party" AND charged admission the NFL ordered them to cancel the event leaving the church with a lot of leftover food.

Now this is a classic case of a business -- the NFL in this case -- missing a market opportunity much life the recorded music industry (Recording Industry Association of America - RIAA) did when millions of people started downloading music illegally. Instead of embracing this new online market/technological change RIAA launched lawsuits against everyone and anyone thus killing off new ventures like Napster (which re-surfaced recently as a legal business). Let me advise the NFL's management and owners to review some of their own game films where players are quoted, "giving all thanks to God for what we did here today........" during post-game interviews or the numerous prayer circles I have seen on TV where players from both teams bow their heads in prayer while on one knee in post-game prayer sessions with each other.

As I read this article I was reminded of my drive across Missouri and Kansas last week where I saw the national headquarters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ( which was founded in 1954 thus providing clear evidence to the NFL that religion and sports have been very intertwined for over 50 years so perhaps they are missing an emerging market just like RIAA did with music downloading. Instead of ordering churches not to host Super Bowl parties the NFL should embrace their constituents via:

  • Hosting a televised prayer breakfast before the Super Bowl
  • Work with FCA chapters across the country to host Super Bowl parties
  • Work with the various religious charities such as Habitat For Humanity to get the NFL's players involved in their communities

A few basic ideas for some new thinking in the NFL.

God Bless the Vikings, (they need it)


Friday, February 02, 2007

Black History Month

My local newspaper's sports page had a very short but very telling article today entitled, "Major League Baseball (MLB) Launches African Tour for Prospects", which focused on a goodwill tour to Ghana in search of baseball talent.

Now this is evidence of social progress on many levels including:
  • MLB's delegation included several African-Americans such as Dave Winfield (formerly with the Twins and Yankees) and Dusty Baker (former Cubs manager)
  • This tour has the potential to create a pipeline for talent for MLB but more importantly it creates an incentive system for Africa's young men to avoid becoming "child soldiers" in the various civil wars on the continent -- assuming MLB's owners dedicate funding to create a network of youth baseball /semi-professional leagues.
  • The development of a "baseball league infrastructure" on the African continent would be an ideal "foreign aid" project yielding much better results that we have seen produced by the donor community -- United Nations, World Bank, etc. -- for at least the past 50 years.
  • This goodwill tour highlights the fact that the historic segregation in baseball -- which resulted in the creation of the "Negro Baseball Leagues" -- is dead and gone which we should all celebrate in a free society especially during Black History Month in the USA.

For a fuller understanding of how racism affected the history of American baseball please visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum website at:

Through the inspiration of Horace M. Peterson III (1945-1992), founder of the Black Archives of Mid-America, a group of local historians, business leaders, and former baseball players came together to create the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the early 1990s.

Baseball in Beautiful,


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wine Production

While listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows ( "Bob Davis on KSTP" , 9 am to 12 noon Central USA time Monday through Friday) this morning I heard the host comment on the fact that the Vikings (perhaps some of my ancestors!!) used to grow grapes in Greenland but then the Ice Age advanced thus creating modern day Greenland complete with permafrost and icebergs:,6137.html -- KSTP AM 1500

Are the global warming alarmists just now realizing that the earth's climate does indeed change regardless of human activity?? Perhaps our modern day world is SO dominated by air conditioning and indoor activities driven by big screen TVs, computers, and video games it has left modern day humans completely out of touch with Mother Nature. Personally I love to go camping, hiking, and canoeing so I have a greater sense of nature than most people do who simply go from their air conditioned homes to their air conditioned vehicles to their air conditioned offices to their air conditioned health clubs to finally return to their air conditioned homes.

Now back to the Vikings who were perhaps the original "immigrants" since they liked to "visit" :) many places including Greenland which they settled. In the USA our modern day focus regarding immigrants is on Mexicans which have increasingly moved farther north into the cold weather states like Iowa and Minnesota. Yes it is very large leap of logic but perhaps the global warming alarmists simply don't like the world's weather patterns changing because such changes cause immigration -- much like the Vikings who left modern day Denmark to settle in Greenland modern day Mexicans are "settling" large parts of the USA.

Does Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth", have an agenda to drive economic/public policy changes in the USA to stem the flow of Mexican immigration due to underlying racism driven by an effort to protect trade union jobs? Yes I love a conspiracy but love comments from my blog readers even more so let's hear from you.

More wine please,