Archive for October, 2006

Michigan Sports Mania!


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, October 16, 2006

Go Tigers! (And Pistons! And Red Wings! And Shock! And Wolverines! And Griffins! And Whitecaps! And Lakers! And Spartans! And Huskies!…)

Lions and politicians, not so much…

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Unsung Moments in Van Andel Arena History


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, October 9, 2006

Alas, I don’t have time to write much this week. But then this week’s comic isn’t terribly controversial, so I’ll make it short: This month is the tenth anniversary of Grand Rapids’ very own downtown sports/events venue, the Van Andel arena. It’s quite a gem, really. Seats about 12,000, and is just a terrific place to see sports, concerts, and those “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! BE THERE!” radio ad events.

It’s nestled on the south side of downtown GR, and it has been a catalyst for growth and re-development all around it. At first there was some question whether Grand Rapidians with their conservative, Dutch heritage would support such a building. But before long, Cher was stopping by every other week having sold-out farewell concerts, and even those who warned that large public works projects are a communist threat and those who (for whatever reason) resented the hell out of hyper-wealthy entrepreneurs giving money back to their community, they all had to admit to the Van Andel’s success. Cheers!

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I Don’t Like Dick Cheney… and It’s not Helpful


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, October 2, 2006

Dick Cheney has stopped in Michigan a couple of times recently campaigning for local GOP candidates. I don’t like Dick Cheney. There. I said it. And I mean it. I really, really don’t like the guy. Let the search engines spread the word: John Auchter does not like Dick Cheney.

It’s nothing personal. No… wait, maybe it is personal. I suppose it could be. With such a laundry list of reasons, it’s definitely possible for personal reasons to be in there. It’s hard to tell. I put Cheney somewhere in between Donald Rumsfeld (whose gross incompetence and deflection of responsibility infuriates me, although he has never — thank God — personally sent me to war without proper equipment) and Mike Greenlace (who was my caddymaster at Warwick Hills in 1977 and was a mean, patronizing, jerk-face SOB).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have a healthy dislike for the current vice president even though I might not be able to quantify it completely. It’s a righteous dislike. I’m entitled to it. There’s nothing wrong with it.

However, at a certain point even a vigorous and justified dislike can start to cloud judgment. For instance, when the whole “ABC 9/11 docudrama blaming the Clinton Administration for failing to stop the terrorist attacks” broke, my very first reaction was to defend the actions of Bill Clinton. Not because it’s a good idea to reflexively defend the actions of Bill Clinton (um, it isn’t), but because it was the opposite view of a certain Mr. Cheney. I had no idea what the 9/11 commission had said about this subject or what the actual truth was. But I was willing to call into talk radio and try to sound like I did.

So that’s what I was trying to say with the comic: Dislikes are fine but not typically helpful when clear thought is needed.

Well, that and the fact that I really, really, really don’t like Dick Cheney.

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Evolution in Michigan — Politician Noses…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, September 25, 2006

General Disclaimer: When I say “Democrats” or “Republicans” I’m talking in general terms, recognizing that individuals within those groups have differing ideas and opinions and (sometimes) brains. Also, whenever I draw something that you agree with, that was me. Whenever I draw something that you disagree with, that was the terrorists. Just so we’re clear…

Democrats will just out and out patronize you. They believe in their hearts that for certain (most) situations, they know better than you. So it’s no surprise that when they are in charge of the government they create laws and enforce laws to save you from yourself (whether you like it or not). As Garrison Keillor has put it, Democrats have a neurotic desire to “…make cowboys do their whooping in designated whooping areas.”

Republicans, on the other hand, will tell you with utmost sincerity that they want to keep the government out of your lives. They respect you as individuals and believe you are much better at making decisions about you. It’s your money, it’s your business, it’s your property –- do with it as you wish. That’s nice. That’s appealing. I’d vote for that. And often I have.

Here’s the problem, though. It turns out that Republicans can also be a big pile of steamy hypocrites. Whereas Democrats are willing to get nailed to the wall time and time again for following through on their stated beliefs (a political liability, certainly, but virtuous in that you know what you’re getting), Republicans say one thing and then poke their pointy noses into other people’s business whenever they feel the urge.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, the Michigan board of education was drawing up some general guidelines on how science should be taught in public schools. For evolution, this is what they came up with: “the policy directs that teachers demonstrate how fossil records, comparative anatomy and other evidence may corroborate the theory of evolution.” Pretty straightforward. Maybe even a tad weak. “But not weak enough!” thought two Republican Representatives, Jack Hoogendyk and John Moolenaar who, by the way, distinguish themselves by not being science teachers. And they delayed the adoption of the science standards by petitioning to replace “…may corroborate…” with “…may or may not corroborate…”

Yes! Yes! That’s exactly what Michigan needs! Vagueness and uncertainty in our science education! And we need to demonstrate to our growing science research facilities and bio-medical firms that our legislators aren’t afraid give their input and, you know, change rules whenever it might get them a few votes. Oy! I tell ya, it is enough to make you question how evolution works. But then, I definitely don’t see any evidence of intelligent design here.

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What I Really Learned in College


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, September 2006