Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Binding contractual agreement

Re: Wager on Colts v. Bears
Hoskins v. VanAcker, No. 07-SUPERBOWL-XLI
Pursuant to an email agreement reached Jan. 28, 2007, this is a binding contractual document that constitutes an official wager between Bob VanAcker and Mike Hoskins. This wager shall be settled upon final outcome of Super Bowl XLI, to be held Feb. 4, 2007 between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears (hereafter referred to as "The Game").

Whereas, Loser shall - upon notification of outcome of The Game provide brewed alcoholic beverages (herein: "beer") to Winner. This said beer shall be of Winner's choosing and in packaged form of 24 cans. Said Loser shall make arrangements to deliver said beer within 60 days, or by April 4, 2007.

Therefore, said Winner shall determine how settled debt is to be divided. Parties shall individually bear responsibility for additional expenses related to these terms, including but not limited to room and board, travel and mileage, and extracurricular activities.
Delinquency in satisfying disputed debt shall result in third-party arbitration with a mutually-agreeable arbitrator (i.e. Cory Heck).

Copies of this binding agreement have been sent to Larry Hoskins and Jeremy Sarnovsky, retained legal counsels; Cory Heck, selected third-party arbitrator; Susanne Hoskins, witness and asset-holder of contractee Michael W. Hoskins; and Scott Andrew and Justin Doescher, witnesses.

Done in both Indianapolis, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois, this 1st day of February, 2007.

Hoskins and Bobby bet their respective teams would stomp the other into the ground in the 2007 Super Bowl (GO COLTS!).
Whoever loses has to buy a case. We're not going to wait forever, though, and no one's getting away with crappy beer!
Winner decides if other can share in beer-drinking of the winnings. While winner might put loser up at their place for the stay, paying for traveling, bar tabs or extra entertainment isn't included in this bet.
If it doesn't happen like this, Cory (a neutral party) decides what happens.
These people got copied because it's funny and they'll appreciate the legal humor. And Suz, since she'll have to live with the consequences of whoever wins or loses.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Call for Conscience Journalism

Posted today on by Jerry Mitchell, a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

These are dark days for the Fourth Estate, days when Americans trust auto mechanics more than journalists, days when crazed lawyers host news programs, days when people refuse to believe what they read in their newspapers but believe any babble they hear on talk radio.These are days when footage of celebrity faux pas is held up as news exposé, days when partisan rancor masquerades as political debate, days when amateur blogging is passed off as investigative reporting, days when a photo spread of a celebrity couple's baby is touted as an evening news exclusive.To make matters worse, the things that have been happening lately to the American press sound as if they'd be more at home in a totalitarian nation than a democratic one -- military leaders detain media members, courts subpoena reporters' phone records and journalists go to jail for refusing to reveal their sources to government officials.

Despite all this bad news, there is good news.The good news is that good journalism doesn't wait on public opinion in order to make a difference. John Peter Zenger didn't wait for libel laws to be changed before he printed the truth. Ida M. Tarbell didn't wait for monopoly laws to be changed before exposing fraud by John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Co. Edward R. Murrow didn't wait for the Senate to police its own before challenging the claims of Joseph McCarthy.

Murrow's words to the nation seem more appropriate today than they did a half-century ago: "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. ... This is no time for men ... to keep silent. ... We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."

Murrow would certainly agree that we in the press bear responsibility for the ways we cover the news. We cannot let the public's fascination with celebrity overwhelm that which is important. We need not feel for the public's pulse to determine what stories we should publish. And we must never give in to those trying to thwart our attempts to expose the truth.

It is time for a journalism that perseveres in spite of hostile forces.It is time for a journalism that believes in doing the right thing.

It is time for a journalism that desires to help the undesirable.It is time for a journalism that never forgets the forgotten.It is time for a journalism that cares.

Call it conscience journalism, if you like ...... Conscience journalism willing to expose the truth. Conscience journalism willing to seek justice for those who've suffered injustices. Conscience journalism willing to seek to correct the sins of our present as well as our past.Conscience journalism willing to stand up for the very people we have so long beckoned -- the wretched refuse of our teeming shore.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

True Circle City spirit

A few co-workers and I journeyed to a Colts rally Friday in downtown Indy at the Circle Center Mall, few-a minute walk from the paper. Free posters, long lines at the pro shop, massive fans with painted faces and costumes cheering, singing, dancing and posing for pictures with "Blue" the Mascot. I course bought two AFC Champions sweatshirts, as we have little Colts attire since our move three years ago from Detroit. So, that was a necessity.

Well, we glance over at one during the rally, and see a Bear and Colt (who we thought was a unicorn) nearby, being hassled by security guards. At first, we thought it was two innocents on a work-assignment who happened to stumble upon the rally, unknowingly garnering the attention of fans in a different light. Those securing the scene wouldn't let the custome-wearing folk near the rally and told them to leave. Bear threw his hands up in disgust. Great moment.

Later that day, we discovered the true identies of the pair: Bear v. Colts. Check out this site to see more.... As it turns out, both Friend the Bear and Friend the Colt (who looks like a unicorn) have MySpace pages.

Also during the mall trip, we met a Colts fan dressed up in a Bears jersey and had two bow and arror darts protuding from his head. A joke, he explained. Though, he also pointed out that his Elvis getup last week got more positive reaction.

Now, we await a larger, outdoor rally in Monument Circle on Monday. And the weeklong showing of spirit leading up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. Everyone says this is what the city needs, a united and festive front to what was a crime-ridden, politically-divided 2006 that was leaking into 2007. So, leave it to true football sprit to unite us in the Circle City!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Google me this, Google me that

Google has thoughts on press: "More is better." Outstanding. Here's the story from today's the Wall Street Journal online. Hail to the press.

For journalists who wanted to spend an hour with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page... the payoff was catching a glimmer of optimism about the news business.

After tracing a labyrinthine route to Google’s meeting room, reporters heard the search giant’s founders express just a hint of optimism about newspapers, which have struggled to hold onto advertising and readers as online readership has soared. “It will be a long time before displays will be as good as paper,” said Mr. Page, who gets his news online. “I’m still a believer in paper.” Papers will have to focus more on creating unique content,” Mr. Brin added. “I think unique content is going to become a lot more valuable.” He also said he worries about the small number of professional journalists, which he said is too low for the world’s information needs. “I think it’s a problem for the world.”

During the hour-long session, the two comforted the assembled journalists by assuring them it wasn’t Google’s goal to put newspapers out of business. “I would like to see a strong, healthy ecosystem encouraging people to do what you guys do, ” Mr. Brin said.

I completely concur. It's a 21st Century calling to journalists worldwide... Let's just hope it leads to "real reporters" and doesn't backfire and lead to more bloggers.... Hmmm. Wait a minute..... Scratch that.

Who should die?

Death penalty issues are always interesting to watch. They're so charged with emotion on all sides, from the victims' families wanting revenge or death (the "eye for an eye" theory), to the inmates pleading for life, advocates arguing against unjust behavior, and the legal world debating what the law says about "insanity" and methods of death.

Good stuff. Now, an Indiana lawmaker has pitched an idea of voluntary selection of the death penalty. In other words, anyone sentenced to at least 200 years inprisonment or life without parole can elect for this death option. Of course, any deemed "mentally ill" would be excluded from all this somehow. How fascinating!

This comes following a recent decision from Indiana Supreme Court justices disagreeing on the issue, but ultimately deciding to halt the execution of a "mentally ill" man condemed for shooting a state tropper back in 1993. They want to hear what the U.S. Supreme Court Justices say about the issue - specifically, if someone is sane enough to be executed. (Not to be confused with sane enough to be tried or assistance in defense). Plus, the way our Indiana man was supposed to go was by lethal injection - also a controversial topic. As of today, North Carolina became the 11st state to block executions as it studies how to change its lethal injection procedures. Apparently, many are starting to think and examine if this process is "cruel and unusual" because it allegedly causes "undo suffering, pain." Hmmm....

All this begs the question? When it comes to the justice system, who are we executing for? Are we putting someone to death for the benefit of victims' families and friends, or moreso as a way to supposedly "teach a lesson." Prove a point. Should it matter what the crime and nature of offense is?

This one also has a nice political over/under tone: CNN reports today that President has Okd the killing of Iranians plotting attacks in Iraq. We can kill those people, without "justice." - though, is this more a national/international security issue than one of moral eptitude? Taking life is certainly an interesting one to debate and ponder...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Children, parents, and teaching lessons

Once, when I was a young child, I screamed and acted like a child when my parents took me out to a restaurant. They warned me, but the story goes that I apparently didn't listen. So, they took me outside, locked me in the car, and went back in to eat. I could see them while they were dining on the other side of a window. I learned a lesson.

At age 11, I played with pink muscle men. Also played "guns" with a neighborhood friend, but using sticks, hands, and cool alien-like weapons. When I misbehaved for whatever reason, and didn't listen, there was a threat from dad. At times, he only had to refer to a belt to get me in line. I learned a lesson - of course, that depends on who you talk to.

Not liking it, lessons were learned and parents were there to keep me in line. Not bribing me with snacks, or allowing me to take an inch and mile and watching while it happened. They did the job.

Now, enter recent news stories. The now 21-year-old Pontiac man who at age 11 shot another man in the head with a rifle, who's been released from jail after eight years and is now getting state-subsidized tution and apartment rent. Don't forget about the pink suit and shoes he wore at the final hearing. Secondly, the parents angry with an airline because they were kicked off the plane following their 3-year-old's 15-plus minute trantrum before takeoff. So, rather than "giving them more time" or abide by a request to illegally place the kid on their lap, the crew told the parents they'd have to leave the plane to accomodate the other 112 passengers and the schedule.

Anyone missing any pieces here? Can't say, but it seems like we're missing some important lessons in life here. Parenting is needed. Of course, these stories come on the heels of others in the past year where schools have banned tag, dodgeball, playground-typical activity because of parent gripes and the fear of being sued. We should all fear for what's ahead. With the type of parenting we've got, and the type of children that are being raised these days, I'm afraid to think what kind of lessons these children are being taught and the adults they'll grow up to be. Not a very reassuring thought.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Live State of the Union blog, minute by minute

Well, as outlined earlier in the day, here's the game. Minute-by-minute, live blog of the State of the Union. And, as fellow bloggers did during the Indiana Gov's State of the State, we had a patent-pending SOTU Drinking Game. All in all, a 50-minute speech that was half and half on domestic, foreign policy. Of course, watered down with too much applause and way too much media anaylsis before and after. Nonetheless, here's the rundown. (Be warned: I'm a cynic.)

8:55: CNN live coverage blogging begins, though they’ve been analyzing for days. Now, it’s Barack talking with and hugging his people. True emotion among politicians. Outstanding.
8:57: Senate President Nancy Pelosi - her mouth is moving, but she’s saying nothing. Smile some more, Nancy. Clapping for meaningless words.
9:00: Nice party-colored suit, Laura Bush.
9:01: Only four of nine justices??? WTF? So much for justice. Maybe it's for security purposes...
Minutes later….
9:08: Finally. He enters. DRINK for having to endure the handshakes and worthless media analysis. Uh, formulating strategy…. Like the Legislative session hasn’t started already? C’mon. Try this: represent the people.
9:10: Bad husband president. His tie doesn’t match her attire. He never learned that lesson. Don’t reach out to the Democrats, reach out to your wife.
9:11: As speech starts, CNN says, "Let’s listen in." Good idea.
9:12: Bang that gavel, Nancy. Be the judge.
9:13: Historic, “madam speaker.” He knows her family history – bonus points, prez.
9:14: Clapping. DRINK more.
9:15: Decisions, courage. Will to face enemies. And a sidenote thanks to Congress’ change of power. Read between the lines.....
9:16: Uncertainty. “Citizens don’t care….” Eh hem.
9:17: Did you say 41st….? There’s the uncertainty firsthand from the speech-maker.
9:18: Economic priority #1: Budget - let’s stand and clap for that obvious one. Oohh… Did I hear “No new taxes” like Daddy once said? Wiping out deficit in next five years. Now there's a pipedream.
9:19: Hillary looks bored. She’s wondering what Obama is thinking. He’s sitting row in front of her. Who’d John McCain wink at?
9:20: Conscious? What? Kennedy looks like he's napping. "Work together." DRINK.
9:21: Fix Medicare and Medicare… er, Medicaid. DRINK. Partisan differences. DRINK AGAIN.
9:22: Jobs of the future. DRINK.
9:23: Health care. DRINK. Now, cat’s watching SOTU with us.
9:24: New ideas. Math. Numbers. Yikes. Something about tax bills and health insurance. Eyes glazing over.
9:25: Golf claps. Looks of discontent. Leiberman, too. Proof that they don’t care, or don’t understand.
9:26: Health savings accounts. Hey, we have those at work! DRINK
9:27: Edwards thinking: “Yea, I said this a long time ago.”
9:28: Ah, immigrants. Borders, secure. Sneaking, bad. First terrorist reference! DRINK. Neither animosity nor amnesty. Nice alliteration. Immigration reform.
9:29: Oil. Hostile regines, terrorists. DRINK. Huge dis…dis…disruptions. Diversity energy supply. You are a smooth talker, Mr. Prez.
30: Big 3 must be loving the ethanol-loving, anti-diesel fuel theme. Sorry, Detroit. Reduce gasoline by 20 percent in next 10 years. Mandatory fuel standards. Oh, how the Michigan headlines will read tomorrow.
31: Suzi asks who’s the guy with glasses, looking giddy and getting excited? I’ve got no clue, but agree he’s a nerd.
32: We’re on the verge. Drink break for Pres. And I. DRINK.
33: Judges, courts…. WHAT? Is this work related???? Check on that tomorrow.
34: Danger. Terorists. 9/11. Five years have passed. We’ve taken stock of the situation. Horrors of that September morning. We must stop them. Good calendar reading, Mr. Prez.
35: Let’s talk about Iraq. War. DRINK.
36: Found the head-nodding guy in the front row. Don’t be that guy, Obama.
37: Alright, non clappers. We saw you on TV! Boo…. Patriots unite!
38: Yep. He confirmed it. We’re still a nation at war. Let’s recap the definition of terrorists.
39: Was 9/11 five or six years ago? Make up your mind, speechwriters. Technicality, but bad speechwriters.
40: Security of our nation is in the balance. Again, back to 9/11. DRINK.
41: Condolezza is possessed by the devel! Oh my… Is she really that angry?
42: Uh, oh…. Wine glass is empty. Pour the Merlot! (No beer in the fridge!)
43: Assassination accounts worldwide… Is this state of the union, or state of the world?
44: “Everyone wishes this war was over, and won.” Enter presidential ratings: Nixon-like approval rating. Victory. Good comeback. DRINK.
45: More troops for a “Democratic Iraq.” No applause. Silence. But he says, "Insurgents." So DRINK. Part clapping begins.
46: Safe haven. Free Iraq. Act, Iraq gov. Our commitment isn’t open-ended. In case you were wondering. I'd drink, but am really feeling it....
47: Oil, Iraq. I’d almost forgotten what we were fighting about.
48: We must not fail, but expect an epoch battle. Failing means ignoring lessons of 9/11 and inviting more danger. Chilling.
49: “Whoever you voted for, you did not vote for failure.” This isn’t war we went into, but it’s the war we have. And just in case you don’t agree….. blah blah blah SUPPORT OUR TROOPS…. Ok, applause.
50: Missed this minute. Wow, really feeling the wine.
51: Authorize army increase by 92,000 in next five years. Start a citizen reserve core. Wow. Let’s start a draft.
52: Congress shaking heads. Obvious disagreements in decision-makers.
53: "Pennin-shula." Yep, Michigan understands.
54: Freedom in Cuba? Fidel’s happy on his deathbed.
55: Money, money, money…. Money! Where did that come from??? $1.2 billion over five years for malaria?
56: It’s like a football game. Up and down. Really, some aren’t even clapping. They’re just standing and sitting. That sucks.
57: Heroic kindness of American kindness. I felt that one. Nod. DRINK. Course, didn’t we drink and nod to that in January 2002?
58: Oh, good. The feel-good stories. Better late in the speech than never.
59: Recognize the Baby Einstein woman. She’s rich. Wonder how much she donates?
10:00 pm: The NY Subway Superman is there! We’re a country of heroes. But don’t forget about Hiro, who’s from Japan. Heroes. Great show. Prez must watch the show, too!
10:01: More clapping. For the military this time.
10:02: “We’ve been through a lot together." And the state of the union is "strong.” The message at last!!!!!!! It’s OVER!!!!! DRINK, even if glasses and bottles are empty. Success!

Kudos to Suzi, who tracked a list of key phrases during the speech. Her findings: total 18-minutes clapping, 35-minutes talking. Clapping: 63, including intros and exits (31 in first 20 minutes). War: 8. Laughs: 2. Terms or phrases used - Insurgents: 2. Terror or terrorist: 22. Troops: 3. War on terror: 2. Iraq or Iraqis: 29. Resolve: 2. Oil: 7.

And, don't forget: The Democratic response! In case you wanted to get to bed at a decent hour....Rep. Jim Webb. He's wearing a red tie, opposed to Bush's blue one. At least they both tried to "reach out." Now, the election season.... er, lame duck session... um, Congress work begins.

Lame-duck, lackluster leadership

A fellow blogger out of D.C. made this outstanding observation from news coverage today.... "The 'best political team on television' has come to the remarkable and controversial conclusion that George W. Bush is in the final two years of his second term. As a result of this stunning research, CNN asks a question that rattles the very foundations of our elderly and disheveled democracy: Is Bush a Lame Duck?To support the very act of raising such a hot-button question, the teevee reporters have assembled shocking polls that show Bush is very unpopular. But how can we be sure that it’s okay to wonder if Bush is, indeed, a Lame Duck?"

Kudos, enough to repost it on my own and use as fuel to stand up on my own virtual soupbox. That's the thought process as we make our way toward tonight's annual State of the Union, which comes in about 9 p.m. to disrupt the reality-show, comedy sitcom-watching populace's prime-time viewing. I'd be afraid to ask how many would typically pull themselves from their cable-viewing protocol to tune into Mr. Bush's speech, especially since his approval ratings are lower than ever before and even Republicans are looking the other way. Word is he's a lame-duck, as are any Republicans still grasping onto some form of power. So true. We shall see how he address that tonight - particularly on the touchy topic of Iraq and his push for more troops.

Anyone else not particularly enthused about our current leadership? Nothing much is expected in the next couple years with G.W. on his way out, though his administration denies that. Nobody really cares what he says, and if they do have interest in the topic than there's usually disagreement and opposition these days. I'm itching for a great political debate, and hopefully the 2008 election will provide that. All (or those mattering most) are in now, with Hillary and Obama topping the list of desirables. I'm impressed with both. Haven't read her biography but it's on my reading list, and his first book has been a work-in-progress for months now. Hopefully I'll get to the end by next year. Anyhow, I see potential with both those candidates. Maybe moreso with Barack, who seems to emcompass that conservative, values-thinking along with traditional Democratic thought and philosophy. I don't see politics or partisanship with him - more kitchen-table, average household discussion that means something to the masses.

Personally, think that politics as we know it should be tossed out the window. None of them seem to really say anything anymore. Even there explanations are double-talk, and most can't answer a simple yes or no question. Time for a change. Of course, that means much debate and controversy stemming from all those fun issues such as how much religion should be practiced openly in government and factored into topics like abortion, education, and law - as well as what principles our leaders should bring with them to office. Good times ahead.

Anyhow, that's still somewhat far out and there's plenty time to hear those issues. But here's something fun for tonight: A minute-by-minute blog during the address. It'll probably come within an hour of the speech, listing my thoughts as Mr. President proceeds to make his remarks. Should be a fun way to look at this, as well as keep track of my own twisted and overanalytical examination of what he says. The plan is to start a few minutes early for pre-coverage. There should be a drinking component to this, also - say, everytime the Prez mentions troops, "staying the course", or any variation of oil and dependency.... The list goes on. So, tune in and enjoy.

Blue, Blue City

We missed Tiger-mania in Detroit last summer and fall. It's been years since the Red Wings graced our memories with Stanley Cup championships. And the yearly college football excitement of Michigan v. Ohio State has passed.

But now, here's the chance to get into the Blue Crew Craze of Indianapolis, now that the Colts are heading to the Super Bowl. Outstanding game, one that I wasn't that interested in watching at the beginning but - like everyone else - got sucked into during the amazing second half and record-breaking comeback. The type of football game every fan or casual watcher lives and hopes for. Now, city's ablaze with blueness, everywhere and everyone. Fun part, those who know Bobby know that he's moved to Chicago in recent months - so now he's a Bears fan, and we're on the opposite ends of the Super Bowl. We've already traded some fun emails and messages kidding each other, even though we're both native Detroiters (funny how Lions aren't a default team!). So, it's a crazy two weeks as Indy gets ready for Miami.

So, there it is: Go Colts! (P.S. Fire Millen, Fire Ford!)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

You're kidding... Another one????

Well, now I've crossed the line. Another blog created, another way to keep the world in touch with my random ramblings and insane mumblings each day, week, month. You should be scared. The decision came reading legal blogs, or "blawgs" related to work, as well as creations from politicos and friends across the country. Suddenly, the MySpace craze didn't seem to cut it anymore. So here's another attempt to create that boundless network of readers who can bounce in periodically when time permits. Maybe this means the coffee pot will brew more often, or that the pillow will welcome my sleeping head later or less often. Hope yes for the first, and no for the latter. As far as new year resolutions go, better health maintenance tops the list along with better financing, but other personal ones that should be on the list include more regular schedules and written or expressive reflection on daily life. So, here's my latest attempt at all the above. Read with pleasure or displeasure, whichever you prefer. But happy reading nonetheless. And in tribute to Hoskins' blog, raise those coffee mugs (or beer steins, if preferred) and toast to The Corner Booth. Here's to a daily dose of Coffee & Conversation - Hoskins-style.