Archive for January, 2010

Roadhouse not just for Texans

January 30, 2010

Last weekend, I ventured out to Texas Roadhouse.

In case you aren’t aware, it is located close to the Interstate and East Towne Mall.

I’ve been there before, but it was years ago. This time I was really excited because I was in the mood for some good barbecue. And I received just that.

Texas Roadhouse is a chain restaurant, but they are extremely authentic in that they make a lot of the menu from scratch. This includes the rolls which I think are the best before-meal bread I’ve ever had, the baked beans which taste nothing like Bush’s and of course, the barbecue.

The most fun aspect of Texas Roadhouse is that you can throw peanut shells and basically whatever other trash you want on the floor. It truly makes you feel more comfortable, even if throwing trash on the ground is a little barbaric.

Perhaps my favorite part of this visit (which occurred on a Saturday) was that they had margaritas for $2.75! And they didn’t fill them with a ridiculous amount of ice. And they weren’t too sweet. Let’s just say we had a few.

I’m a fan of the appetizer, so we ordered a bloomin’ onion. It was pretty much the exact same thing as the one you can get at Outback Steakhouse. It was good though, nothing I could complain about at all.

For main courses, we had ribs all around. These ribs are good people. Totally fall-off-the-bone, just as advertised. The top is a little crunchy which I can’t resist and the bottom layers are succulent and soft. The barbecue sauce is plentiful and has a good balance of smoky to sweet.

You have to choose well when picking sides here. While the baked beans are a treasure, the mashed potatoes are just mashed potatoes and the mixed vegetables consists of nothing more than a few pieces of broccoli and some baby carrots steamed and coated in a buttery sauce. However, the sweet potato is divine. You have to order the marshmallow topping, no excuses.

The check for 1 appetizer, 2 adult meals, 1 kid’s meal and 3 margaritas came in at just under $50. Not bad at all.

Edited: I have been informed that the Logan’s opening on W. Johnson St. has no affiliation with Logan’s Roadhouse. Sorry to get your hopes up. I’m sad too.

Democrats unite behind Sheridan, blame lobbyists

January 29, 2010

Had Madison seen its last coup when Badger Herald partisans took over the Daily Cardinal board of directors back in the 80’s? That’s the question political observers were asking themselves as rumors circulate that Assembly Democrats were seeking to oust Speaker Mike Sheridan from the lower chamber’s throne.

According to Wispolitics (whose almanac I just received in the mail!), Sheridan denied the rumors, blaming them on payday loan lobbyists. It was a surprising accusation at first because most of the controversy surrounding payday loans took place last summer, when Democrats in the legislature first attempted to craft a bill that would impose stricter regulations  on interest rates for payday lenders.

In a phone interview, Rep. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) reiterated Sheridan’s message. Roys said lobbyists likely assumed they had defeated the legislation and were taken by surprise when it turned out that legislators had hammered out a bill. “They’re saying, wait, we just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill this and it won’t go away.”

When I asked her how a lobbyist might go about spreading such a rumor, she suggested that he/she would probably talk to other lobbyists at the bar. Where’s the best bar to find lobbyists? Madisons. the Local Tavern, Genna’s.

Lets actually ‘get the facts straight’ Critical Badger

January 29, 2010

I really hate to do this. But, at some point being publicly attacked, having your factual integrity questioned, and having a solid and personally important editorial responded to with an overtly condescending “/dur” from a campus fixture necessitates some kind of response.

To recap, Danny S. (aka the Critical Badger) really didn’t like my most recent column in the BH on campus safety, or the column I wrote a year ago that it was a follow up to. It looks like he even hated the first one so much that he failed to read the second one, which, I will admit, was a more complete and responsible column.

Danny sent an email to Jack, Jason Smathers at the Herald, Ald. Bryon Eagon and me titled “Getting facts straight,” where he implied that the facts in my most recent column weren’t correct. You can see his full explanation of this claim on his post at U&S.

This appears to be what he has an issue with in my column:

“In the column, I cited crime statistics from a then recently released Campus Safety Guide to show the miniscule risk violent crime posed to students on campus, in a general attempt to push back against the irrational emphasis being placed on crime in the campaign.

To which he opined at U&S:

Yes, crime literally on the grounds of UW-Madison is generally not a problem. That’s because they happen OFF CAMPUS. Data not included in this report.

Of course, he shouldn’t be so dismissive of the crime dealt with by campus police around campus, because anyone who lives in a dorm falls completely under that category, and it affects a great deal of additional students as well. Pick up a campus map and take a look, there are campus buildings on more than just Bascom Hill.

The shortsightedness of his criticism doesn’t stop there. In a response email I was forced to point out the obvious to him:

You will also notice that I bring in city crime statistics as well. Admittedly, I do not have exact numbers for the few specific streets or the very limited areas where campus and city are blurred. A consolidation of those numbers does not exist that I can find, and I have spent time looking for them, including asking Eagon if he has any.

At any rate, it is somewhat irrelevant. The point of the column wasn’t to calculate the exact risk of crime every student is subject to while living in Madison. It was to use some relevant data to show that safety issues might not be as big of a deal as the candidates were making it out to be. Citing a combination of campus crime stats as well as city stats (considering city stats include parts of the city much less wealthy and safe than the city around campus) seems sufficient to do the trick, while in no way being disingenuous.

Nothing factually inaccurate. No misrepresentation. Not disingenuous. Just an argument you fail to agree with or pick up on.

Update on liquor restrictions

January 29, 2010

Ald. Mike Verveer was nice enough to notify me that a proposal to restrict sale of four-packs of beer and 750 ml bottles of beer has been put to sleep.

Brunch Links

January 29, 2010

Notice something fresh and sexy about the site? That’s right, I added two new blogs to the blogroll! It’d been a long time coming. And you might have also noticed the new banner. Courtesy of Jaimie Chapman. Today will be slightly better weather than yesterday – it might get all the way up to 12 and it should not get lower than 3. Seriously folks, it’s time to get some long underwear. Beef hash from Prairie Cafe and Bakery.

Sweet Jesus, there are rumors of a coup within the Assembly Democratic caucus. Sheridan conveniently blames it on payday lobbyists. Plausible?

DEAD. The mayoral takeover of Milwaukee schools is dead.

But if those stories aren’t earth-shattering enough, Dick Wheeler, the editor of the Wheeler Report, emerges from the sea of press releases and news articles and slams a reporter from WKOW-TV. I honestly thought “Dick Wheeler” was the name of the robot that ran the site.

Bob Dunne says he wants to preserve the historic character of the Edgewater. Plus make it a lot cooler!

It looks like the Haiti Day of Action was a success.

Cap Times: Let the battle over the train station begin.

Governors heading to White House to talk Asian Carp.

ALRC meeting on the Alcohol License Density Ordinance highlights much criticism of the law.

Finally, mandatory sex ed bill passes the State Senate on a party-line vote.

Max Manasevit asks why the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies did not support Hirsi Ali’s upcoming event.

Mark Bennett argues that tuition at UW = good deal.

Most importantly, Woman with a “bomb” robs bank in Sun Prairie.

Keaton Nankivil rides a bike

January 28, 2010

Very upsetting loss for the badger men’s basketball team tonight on the road at Purdue. A couple of thoughts on a program worth everyone’s attention, sports fan or not.

1. Keaton Nankivil, the lone big man left on the starting rotation, who also happens to be from the Madison area, went off for 25 pts tonight.

An interesting anecdote on Nankivil: this summer I was walking around campus in an attempt to act like I was working, and witnessed the largest combination of man and bicycle I have ever seen. A double take revealed something I thought I would never see, Keaton Nankivil pedaling past me on Dayton St. Thats right, a starting basketball player that rides a bike. On a campus where mopeds are king, you have got to love the humility. Nankivil has been my favorite player since, even if he can’t play with his back to the basket.

2. Purdue seems to be becoming our basketball team’s newest rival. Then again, maybe I just really hate their whiny, uninformed fans. Either way, their coach is the only one in the Big Ten with a winning record against Bo Ryan.

Sam Clegg disses my boy Marlin Schneider

January 28, 2010

I now realize that what was meant to be playful kidding in this post came off as arrogant and judgmental. That is not the style I would like to be associated with, so I apologize.

Thanks Jim Arndt, for pointing this one out to me. Sometimes my friend Sam Clegg writes opinion pieces that have no point. Other times, he writes pieces that have a point that nobody reading can figure out. So it’s hard to determine which category his recent column on OWI laws (at least that I’m partially sure of) falls into. But one thing is sure: he dissed my boy Marlin Schneider.

“Any reasonable analysis of the voting tally, along with a consideration of the issue at hand, would conclude Schneider is either a Neanderthal or a frat boy who stumbled into the legislature by mistake.”

It would be hard for me to nail Sam on this one. If I told him that Schneider is actually the longest-serving member of the Wisconsin Assembly in history, he would feel vindicated on his point that Wisconsin politics is run by morons.

However, what I will say is that there is no member of the legislature is as open to questions as Schneider. Although I often do not agree with some of the reasoning he uses to justify his votes, I have at least had the privilege of an unrestricted version of it –– something very uncommon when talking to politicians.

Yesterday I emailed him about legislation that will restrict public access to certain court records and he responded literally within the minute. On the issue of OWI he sent me two very long emails with a very sincere discussion of alcohol in Wisconsin that I can’t imagine any politician who worries about re-election would want to have. Among other things he called alcoholism classes in technical schools “a joke,” said that almost all people drink before they turn 21, and expressed compassion for people stuck with criminal records who cannot find jobs.

Sam, you might not like the conclusions Schneider draws, but I assure you, he’s your kind of guy.

Brunch Links

January 28, 2010

I actually thought the State of the Union was pretty good. I thought Obama got back to where he performs best: the campaign trail. He should have been more specific about health care, and Alito’s head-shake made me want to hear a lot more about campaign finance. But oh well. No brunch today –– I don’t have time to make it [find picture online].

John Nichols not as impressed with Obama’s speech.

That’s what I’m talking about! $810 million for high speed rail!

Incredible. Guess how much the average UW GPA has risen in the last 50 years?

If the feds aren’t coming with health care then it’s up to the Sconnies. Mental health parity and sex ed up for discussion in the Capitol today.

“I believe it’s a solution in search of a problem,” says Mike Verveer about an ordinance to ban bartenders from drinking.

Selling drugs from your food cart is understandable. But vandalism? That doesn’t make sense.

The Republican leader of the Assembly makes the case against climate change legislation.

Controversy gathers around the sale of land for a retirement home.

Milwaukee sheriff drops early release program.

Who says I don’t deserve an ‘A’?

January 27, 2010

A professor should be able to.

From a very long Cap Times article on grade inflation at UW:

The paper’s analysis also found that a surprisingly high number of A’s and B’s are being handed out all over campus, mirroring a decades-long trend. In the fall of 1958, the average grade-point average for undergraduates at UW-Madison was 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. It was 2.9 by 1988 and by 2008, according to the most recent reports available, had reached 3.2.

The typical response: students are just smarter and working harder for their grades. First, if students are getting smarter, why hold them to lower standards? Second, it is simply factually inaccurate that students are working harder.

In fact, as grades have crept up, the amount of time students are studying appears to be dropping.

According to a paper titled “Leisure College, USA,” which was published in 2008 by two University of California system researchers, the average study time for full-time students at four-year institutions across the U.S. dropped from 24.4 hours per week in 1961 to 14.5 hours per week in 2003. More recently, the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement indicated more than two-thirds of freshman and senior undergraduates at UW-Madison reported spending less than 15 hours per week preparing for class.

Yes, some departments don’t have the same function of assigning grades, and giving high grades across the board may be permissible in those cases. But, is it only those departments that are responsible for this inflationary trend? Probably not.

Students need to know if they are good or bad in certain subjects. And a greater intellectual commitment needs to be necessary to earn high grades at a “public ivy” like ours. Nothing will change, but it should.

Are craft brews endangered in Madison?

January 27, 2010

Can you think of a mid-sized city less interested in assaulting craft breweries than Madison, Wisconsin? Maybe Portland, Oregon? Nevertheless, that is the suggestion of a recent contributor to the Daily Page forum, who is concerned that an ordinance restricting the sale of beer or malt liquor in four packs or 750 ml bottles will chase craft brews out of Madtown.

The current language of this legislation claims to exempt microbrews, and it is being touted as an attempt to regulate cheap 40s. However, microbreweries are defined as producing less than 150,000 barrels a year. Unfortunately, the following craft beverages will fall under the ban:

22 oz bombers
New Belgium La Folie wood aged.
(Actually any New Belgium brew that comes only in a bomber.)

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Wet Hop Harvest Ale
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop Harvest Ale

Sam Adams Chocolate Bock
Sam Adams Utopias (not that it would be sold here – but if the ordinance passes, then it certainly wouldn’t)

Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams are not breweries that need protection, but Madison consumers deserve some chocolate bock if their beer-bellies so desire it.