Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From C.S. Lewis

Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

--C.S. Lewis

Thank you to Jacob Aleksandr for this quote from his excellent Orthodox Christian website, "Incendiary". A link in my blogs list coming soon.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

QSME Annual Show

Come on, you know it. I know it.

Everybody likes trains--at least the model kind. And this weekend is the annual train show at the Quincy Society of Model Engineers, on the lower level of Good Samaritan Home on Harrison Street.

As usual they have the HO-scale Hannibal Bridge layout by Dave Scharnhorst, this year with the barge running under the bridge (the bridge goes up first, of course, and that stops the trains).

There's the big G scale layout on the floor, very popular with the kids, as well as an old tinplate Lionel/American Flyer setup that you can operate yourself.

Top that off with a small N-scale demonstration loop that shows you how nice these small (half the size of HO) wonders of machinery look and run.

And I haven't even mentioned the "big layout", QSME's huge Chesapeake & Lake Erie railroad.

If you haven't been down to see it, go. It's in the basement at Good Sam, just go in the front door and follow the RR Crossing crossbucks.

They run until 5 p.m. tonight (Saturday 11/11) and then from noon to 5 on Sunday.

Come on, EVERYBODY likes trains!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

News story on WTAD

Last week when I got back from vacation, I was reading through the blog of a fellow Quincyan who is concerned about the job we in the local media are doing. That would be ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS OUR BENT, an excellent survey and review of what we media types are doing (or not doing) in the region.

He mentioned a missed story, namely the Better Government Association's study, released in late October, of Freedom of Information Act compliance by Illinois government bodies.

FIND IT HERE: http://www.allthenewsthatfitsourbent.blogspot.com/ and titled "Another missed story", and the BGA study is at http://www.bettergov.org/policy.html .

It was not a pretty picture: 62 percent of agencies contacted with FOIA (pronounced fo-ya) requests either denied the request, failed to respond in the required amount of time (7 business days), or didn't respond AT ALL.

I went to the BGA site, downloaded everything and set to reading.

ATNTFOB was right: it was a missed story and it needed to be reported. While it took me 10 days to talk to all the Adams County agencies involved, as well as the BGA's investigator Dan Sprehe (pronounced spray), the work is now done and, Mary Griffith willing, should air in two parts during the Morning Show news (6-9am) on WTAD, AM 930.

Thursday (11/9) and Friday (11/10) are the expected air dates for the two parts. Thursday will be the background and general results; Friday will look mostly at Adams County with some reportage on other Western Illinois counties. Sometimes I DO so wish I was in the print media so I could delve deeper into these things...Rodney, how about you or Doug pick up on this, or Ed?

I will say that the BGA report is not quite as cut and dried as it seems (and Mr. Sprehe agrees), and that many agencies had some good reasons for their failure. However by all the evidence the BGA did bend over backward to give the benefit of the doubt to the agencies involved, and they did run into some serious resistance (though not, as far as I can tell, in Western Illinois).

I hope you'll give the story a listen. Your comments and thoughts will be welcomed here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An interesting article

In the tradition of my friend Joe Irvin, here is a thoughtful piece about hypocrisy by religious commentator Terry Mattingly.

(Sorry this isn't a live link but I cannot make heads or tails of blogspot's instructions for adding a link, and doing it the way they say in their "help file" does NOT work, so you'll have to cut and paste, I'm afraid).


BTW, Dr. Mattingly is, as am I, a convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. He writes well, too.

Election Day

This is the day, my friends.

No matter what you may think, no matter how angry or disgusted or tired you got listening and viewing and reading from and about the various candidates, this is the moment when the rubber hits the road.

Today is election day and you NEED to exercise your right to vote.

In the last few weeks I've spent a lot of time listening to the candidates. I've had the opportunity to ask questions and, in a couple of cases, ask some pretty hard ones. I believe I got reasonable answers and I know how I'm going to mark my ballot later today.

You haven't had the opportunity I have though I've tried, through my job, to at least give you a hint of what I have learned so you can make an informed decision. I know that my confreres in the Quincy media have also tried to do that, and I hope you listened at least a little.

But now is the time for your decision.

For two weeks I have collected snippets from candidates and this morning I handed Mary G. a brief story titled "Vote Montage". It was a minute and ten seconds of candidates urging people--not just people in fact, but YOU--to get out and vote.

Of all the "sound bites" in that cart, the first and last were the best.

The first was from Treasurer candidate Alexi Ginaoulias. He said we have an obligation--if we like the way things are going, you must vote to keep things going that way, and if you're disgusted by how things are going, the aame applies.

The last was our own Senator John Sullivan. And he said that this was our time, our place to guide the destiny of our region, our state, and our nation.

So if you haven't yet, go. Step in the booth. Regardless of who you feel led to vote for, do vote.

Your voice, your vote, is a privilege and a responsibility.

Use it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A long time away...

I've been a long time out of keeping any semblance of regular updates to the blog. Sorry about that. I'm jealous of Rodney Hart and Joe C. who keep their blogs regularly refreshed with new stuff. I have no real excuse--I'm just lazy, I guess.

Anyway, I spent last week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin visiting my brother and his family.

Oshkosh is a very nice community of about 60-thousand people, part of that line of cities from Fond du Lac at the south end of Lake Winnebago up through the big O, Appleton, Kimberly, Kakauna, and on up to Green Bay.

Its biggest claim to fame is the Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-in, an annual get together of all manner of cool aircraft. Of course they have a kick-a$$ museum too, which is open year round.

My point in all this was my visit to the downtown area of Oshkosh. It is in some ways a mirror image of Quincy's central business district.

There has already been some good development and growth in population in the downtown Oshkosh area, but only in the last couple of years have most of the industries that used to line the Fox River been tempted out to the edges of town. The riverfront therefore is even less developed than the Quincy riverfront--I guess the 93 Flood helped kick start some work for us by "natural" urban clearing.

Anyway, while we are ahead of them in that regard, they are miles ahead of Quincy in straightforward development of their downtown--and perhaps there is a lesson for us to learn there. They have large numbers of young, professional types taking apartments in the central city, and while there are still many delightful botique-type shops, the city has managed to get some "anchors" in to help make the area more attractive to residents--something I wish Quincy could manage.

One area we outshine Oshkosh is in historic architecture. We have a committment to saving and using historic buildings in Quincy, something I hope we do not lose.

Of course, Oshkosh *is* part of that long line of small cities, and during my visit I routinely accompanied the family to appointments and activities stretching from just south of Green Bay all the way back to the homestead in Oshkosh and even across to the other side of Lake Winnebago. We have nothing to compare to that population base and the consequent relief for Oshkosh from having to do *everything* to revitalize itself (because other nearby communities are doing some of those things and they don;t need to be duplicated).

Still, we are in a good position here in Quincy, and I hope we continue to push for re-use of our downtown resources and growth of the city through increased economic activity. If Oshkosh can do it (and they haven't done everything we have by any means) so can we.

Now if we could tempt the EAA *here*... :)