Buffalo Bulletin bloggers

The Bulletin staff sound off on local issues, pop culture, and everything else under the sun. Read posts by staffers and write comments of your own.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Takeru Kobayashi, eat your heart out

On August 5, 2006, 29-year-old Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan ate 58 Johnsonville Brats in under 10 minutes.

Today, the torch has been passed to a new generation of eating competitors.

History was made at the Dash Inn on this, the seventh day of November, 2008, when Bulletin editor David Carkuff (new nickname "Scarf up") managed to eat not one, but two Dash patty melts.

My personal adoration of the DPM is no secret. However, I would never have the audacity nor the cojones to choke down two of these grease bombs in one sitting.

Scarf up met the challenge head on and the rest of our table sat in awe as he downed the two DPMs, a plate of potato wedges smothered in nacho cheese, and a banana/chocolate milkshake.

After a hedonistic mauling like that, one would think the young editor would be out for the count. Instead, Scarf up returned to the office and is more productive this afternoon than I've seen him all week.

Kudos to the man who in my mind is this week's athlete of the week.

The Taj Mahal

The need for a new justice center is hardly disputed among Johnson County voters, who rejected the proposed sales-tax increase by a pretty narrow margin. A common argument against it was that the price was too high.
I've heard the new facility's design compared to the Taj Mahal, "a monument to the Pharaohs," and a number of other lavish accommodations. People want to see what it would cost if the "frills" were removed from the plan. Would you please be more specific? Let me know in what ways you'd like to see the design modified and I'll ask for new figures.
I understand what it means to be too busy making a living to police your government officials. The Buffalo Bulletin can keep you informed, but if we're not asking the right questions, we want to hear from you.
As of 11:21 a.m., the commissioners are considering how to secure the WyDOT property they were planning to use for the new justice center. 
"What are the odds of WyDOT doing something else with it? They're probably not going to sell it to anyone else," said Gerald Fink, commission chair.
He wondered aloud if the county should pursue a first-right-of-refusal sort of agreement with the department or just go ahead and purchase it at today's prices "and know that we have it."
"Of course, is the price of land going to go up or down?" Fink and I both wanted to know.
The county treasurer said there is enough cash flow to purchase the property now at its current price of $192,000.
I wonder what they're doing with that land they bought east of town that was deemed less than ideal for this project.
Should we buy the WyDOT land or wait for the price to come down? Should we wait until there is a good, solid plan for funding the new justice center? One that has the support of the taxpayers?
Let's think about that.

So what's Plan B?

I'm camping out at the county commissioners' conference room hoping that the next brilliant plan for dealing with our local justice center deficiencies will come out of today's meeting. I don't want to miss anything.
Another thing I'd like to see at this meeting is the public. So many Bulletin readers obviously put a lot of thought into whether or not to support the proposed 1-percent specific-purpose sales tax that would have paid for a new justice center, judging from the comments coming our way, and some have offered suggestions that deserve consideration and questions that deserve answers.
While I'm waiting for you to show up, I might as well keep you posted on any discussion on the issue that comes up during this meeting.
As of 10 minutes past 10 o'clock, the only people in the room are Commission Chair Gerald Fink and commissioners Delbert Eitel and Smokey Wildeman; County Clerk Linda Barnhart and Treasurer Sharon Wagner; attorney Barry Crago; Commissioners' Assistant Peggy Sillivan; and myself. No one has yet broached the subject of the justice center.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We lost a great storyteller

Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, has died at age 66, after a "courageous and private battle against cancer," his family said. That was Wednesday morning's shocker.
With the exception of Tom Clancy, nobody perfected the techno-thriller like Crichton. I've read my share of both authors' works, preferring the early installments of both. Crichton possessed such a mastery of technical detail that his books didn't always translate well to film. Stephen King suffered a similar problem - his writing was so adept, evoking horror from a mundane world beset by fantastic challenges, that the ideas didn't always transfer well to the big screen. Crichton, likewise, loaded up his books with material that can't be captured on film. Crichton's "Jurassic Park" is a happy exception. Technical detail - convincing us that dinosaurs could be replicated from prehistoric mosquitoes - made the film work. Sorry to hear about the passing of a wonderful author.

California passes gay-marriage ban

When I left California last summer to move to Wyoming, my first thought on Proposition 8 — the then-proposed ban on gay marriage — was: No way that's going to pass. Well, folks, it did, according to the L.A. Times (other news outfits, including the Washington Times, withheld a declaration due to pending ballots, but the measure clearly held an edge). It seems the electorate, even in wacky California (my birthplace, so I can say that), weren't fully embracing a liberal mandate Tuesday night. The fact that the California Supreme Judicial Court basically spit in the eye of voters there and overruled their stance on marriage probably didn't help opponents of the constitutional amendment. When courts start passing laws, it tends to galvanize voters.
As for the Obama victory, although I have minimized the significance of issues in this general election, there's no denying the historic nature of his win. Congratulations go to the candidate and his supporters.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election night update

It's 7 p.m. on Nov. 4, and I'm killing time between checking in with the Associated Press and calling them back with a local update on election results. I'm predicting the local sales tax measure for a new justice center will fail. We'll see whether I end up buying co-workers lunch on that wager. Following the national news, I'm reminded of 2000 and 2004. "We're calling Ohio for Obama. Wait, we're not calling Ohio?" Ultimately, it looks like Obama will win. Is that surprising? Not really. Do I feel some angst? Truthfully, no.
I thought about writing a blog earlier about how this is one of the least consequential general elections of my lifetime. (I resisted the urge so I wouldn't be accused of discouraging people from voting.) But let's take stock. The War in Iraq is winding down as a U.S. victory. The 2004 election was the pivot vote that really mattered in regard to Iraq. Now (thanks to our remarkable troops as well as Petraeus, McCain, Bush and a few other intrepid politicians), it's a fait accompli in our column. So a new president, no matter what the party or persuasion, can't do much to mess that up (let's hope). Sure, there are high stakes with federal spending (out of control already) and stacking the Supreme Court (seems inevitable), but as general elections go, this one isn't that important.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Seems to be a disconnect

These two quotes speak volumes about devotion to a candidate in spite of that candidate's words.
“You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. ... Let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there. I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year. So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." — Barack Obama in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle
"Obama can lead us through troubled times." — Casper Star-Tribune newspaper, in an editorial endorsing Obama that appeared Nov. 3.
Leading us through troubled times includes bankrupting the industry that uses Wyoming coal? Feels like there's a disconnect.