Final Four news changes by the hour around here. Yesterday Michigan State and Illinois rolled into town amid cameras and fans. Louisville and North Carolina show up today. If you are in town and want to go by the teams' hotels, here is a list of where they are staying. I am going over to see some of the practices tomorrow and hope to have some photos on this site afterward.
Illinois-Downtown Marriott One Broadway St.
Michigan State-Sheraton Clayton Plaza 7730 Bonhomme Ave. Clayton
Louisville-Sheraton City Center 400 S. 14th St. Downtown near the Jones dome
North Carolina-Adams Mark 4th and Chestnut Downtown
Practice times free to the public are scheduled as follows:
Barack Obama's decision to align himself with Moveon.org's effort to get Senator Robert Byrd re-elected is a strange one considering Byrd's personal history. A former "Grand Kahuna", or whatever in the KKK, he spent many years working in opposition to the civil rights movement. The only way this scenario makes any sense at all is one in which politics is "all".
A Lutheran clergyman's view of the Schiavo case which begs the question as to why we keep hearing from bio-ethicists on news programs even when they claim the religious activists are controlling the agenda down there. A brief statement:
"The Bible doesn't define end of life with the hair-splitting that we do today. Life is body, soul, and spirit all wrapped in one and belongs to God, not to us. We're just stewards of it. Death is part of our fallen order, came in with the sin of Adam and Eve. What we've long said in the church is that it's OK to let imminent death happen. No extraordinary measures need be taken when a person is dying soon. However, causing death is different. A person may have a terminal illness but not yet be in the process of dying. That person should be helped to live until the inevitable process begins. Sometimes all this involves physical suffering... but Christians understand that suffering is part of our fallen life. We try to alleviate suffering but not by causing death."
Senator Obama spoke to a group of students at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville yesterday in a Town Hall format. The discussion centered on his plan to increase the money available in Pell grants from its present maximum allowed of $4050 to $5100.
While it is obvious his intentions are good and his motivations appear to be to make college more financially do-able, there are a few questions about this plan and at least one major financial sticking point.
1. What is not spoken about or even commonly known is that for every $100 the Pell maximum is raised, the costs to the government (or taxpayers) is $400 million. You can do the math as to what his proposed increase would cost. Pell grants, unlike student loans do not need to be paid back.
2. Is higher education a right, like high school, where schooling should be free? Some students and elected officials seem to see it that way. "My parents and I pay out of our pockets,I have friends that are paying out of their pockets. Some have three and four jobs trying to pay for school." Since when is this new? Hasn't college, important as it is, always been a matter of personal choice...a voluntary step rather than a "right" provided at little or no cost?
3. Obama suggests the Pell increases can be accomplished by "nicking" the lenders presently involved in loans for higher education,i.e. taking away some of the benefits they now receive for this business. The sticking point here is these lenders were often the only ones who had much desire to get into these transactions because the lendees were so often young people with no credit history, having no basis on which to prove an ability to pay back. Take away the benefits these lenders receive and they may just walk away from the student loan business leaving many many potential students in the lurch.
Certainly looking to alter the landscape of college affordability is worthwhile, but for every plan there is a mine field. It is not as easy as it sounds, ramifications abound.
Charlie Powell, East St. Louis city councilman and local democratic party honcho, recently indicted for vote fraud, now has an attorney. Bruce Cook, long a part of the St. Clair County Democratic Central Committee has agreed to represent Powell. The case involves vote buying in this past November's election with three races a priorty: The president, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, and the St. Clair County board chairman. Cook, who devotes much of his practice to medical malpractice actions, has taken Powell's case out of friendship, a friendship dating back to the early 70's.
Funniest line in this story, laughing out loud funny, is this from attorney Cook on what is driving this investigation of vote fraud in ESL: "Of course politics is involved, I think that anybody who doesn't think that politics is involved in this is just a fool". A St. Clair County democratic machine guy talking about politics, how divine. Vote buying in order to get the St. Clair county board chairman elected wasn't politics?
One of our D.C. daughters flew into St. Louis today in order to spend a few days at home. I headed out to Lambert Airport and as I neared the west end of the bridge over the Mississippi the Edward Jones Dome loomed in front of me wearing all manner of Final Four decoration. Here is a front view.
When I walked through the airport, I noticed the floors had the Final Four logo embossed on them at intervals.
Then, since I had some time to waste before her flight arrived I thought I would check out the gift shops and see if they had any tournament stuff displayed. Sure enough, a couple of workers were just setting up a table, with a red cloth, in front of all manner of items.
But you could also pick up uniquely St. Louis things as well. $9.99!!! What a deal!
There was also a huge banner over the golf apparel shop which is right next to where passengers go through security and on to their gates.
In any event the daughter got off her plane and wandered into the sightlines of my camera.
Home we went...to a gangbusters greeting between dog and daughter. Blurry, but blurry is truth in this case, they were both so excited to see each other.
I had a brief discussion with the MAtH (man about the house) this morning about whether it is possible to really know if she is able to hear, think, or understand conversations directed to her. I asked how anyone can really know. The only real evidence we have to go on is testified to by those who have come back from similar situations and who state that they could hear what went on around them and that the worst part was not being able to communicate that fact. Evidence to the contrary is just not available.
In what has to be one of the world's most concise responses, the MAtH told me that when he was in the seminary students were taught that should they, in their future pastoral ministry, find themselves in the position of making a hospital visit to someone like Terri, they should treat that person as if he/she "was there". And that they teach today's students the same.
There will be a forum showcasing candidates running for Collinsville Township offices tonight at 7 o'clock at the Senior Center. The township election is often given short shrift while the "glamour" offices like city council and school board garner all the newspaper stories. The same holds true for reporting on their meetings...when have you last read any story at all about a township regular meeting?
The fact is it is wise to pay attention to what goes on in township government. And it is just as important to choose your ballot choices wisely. The township receives tax money from residents living in the city limits as well as those living outside of it, and decisions made by the board affect more than unincorporated areas. If you cannot attend tonight's forum, make it a point to watch a cable broadcast later this week.
The MAtH greeted me this morning with the news that Dianne Isbell's Monday Etiquette column in the Belleville News-Democrat was back below the fold. But...the good news is she is back the front page of the Lifestyle section after a brief exile to page 5.
Me: Oh, no, don't tell me after 2 weeks she actually got some.
MAtH: uh huh, looks like there actually are people who write letters the old fashioned way and then put them in the mail.
Me: Maybe that's why it took so long for any responses to turn up in her column.
MAtH: If she had email, her articles would be more timely.
Me: And what's more timely than etiquette discussion?
MAtH: Don't you mean "timeless"? heh heh
MAtH: The entire piece is given over to her readers responses to whether or not Dianne should "take a chill pill" or address their own envelopes at bridal showers.
Me: Let me see that paper...Looks like most everyone was offended by the "chill pill" remark and, its funny, Dianne actually put in the names of those who wrote her.
MAtH: So she is not "making this up", as Dave Barry would say...
Me: Here's one from a mother-in-law who is disappointed in her daughter-in-law...
MAtH: Shock the world!
Me: And a bunch of women who think "etiquette has no age" and plead with Dianne to "keep her standards high".
Me: Oh, wait, the best one is from a local priest.
MAtH: Clergymen...don't they have enough to do during Lent?
Me: He says, "I wanted to respond to...the ill-mannered barbarian who told you to "chill out" because you raised a very legitimate objection to asking people at a wedding shower to write their names and addresses on an envelope..."
Me: He also said, "It is very sad to watch Western civilization flushing itself down a toilet...yet it is comforting to know that there are people like you still around, to remind us that there are proper standards of conduct to which we all should conform, if we ever hope to regain any semblance of a polite society peopled by ladies and gentlemen."
MAtH: Oh brother, he sounds like someone out of a 19th century novel. And how is talking about toilets and barbarians polite discourse?
Me: He's a clergyman
Me: Anyhow, I still think Dianne would be better served if she had email. Common courtesy dictates newspaper people stay with the times, right?
MAtH: Maybe she and that clergyman believe computers are barbaric. Like answering machines and call waiting and cell phone conversations in public and...
Me: Ok, I have lots to do today, gotta get moving.