Not much time for a full post so the rest of the interviews will have to wait a day or two but here are still images from PintasticNE 2017 The full gallery is below but we’ll highlight a few

Pinball giants

Jersey Jack and Todd Tuckey

Captain Pintastic and friend in the VIP room

Men of the Internet together at last!

DaTechGuy and Todd Tuckey of TNT Amusements

The Gallery follows below, for some reason wordpress is getting weird about picture rotation but I didn’t want to leave any out

Graphic courtesy of the Illinois Policy Institute

By John Ruberry

On Thursday the Democratic-dominated Illinois House, with aid of ten Republicans, overrode Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a 32 percent income tax hike. The corporate rate jumped by 35 percent.

Apologists for the income tax increase love to point out that many states have higher income tax rates, but last week’s override places Illinois within the top 20 of the 50 states. And these tax lovers always leave out some painful facts. For instance, while sales tax rates vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, Illinois’ sales tax rates are very high across the board. Chicagoans, at 10.25 percent, pay America’s highest sales taxes. And depending on who you talk to, Illinoisans suffer under America’s largest property tax burden–or they are near the top. Chicagoans deal also suffer with nuisance taxes such as a seven-cents-per-bag tax at grocery stores, and had a judge not temporarily struck down a Cook County–where Chicago is–a penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax would be in place right now. Food stamp recipients don’t have to pay those last two. And those nuisance taxes add up, of course.

As a lifetime resident of Illinois, I can assure you that the services we receive from the state are terrible. Last year the Chicago Tribune phrased it more eloquently, “As a result, Illinois government is a massive retirement system that, during work hours, also offers some services.”

Illinois’ personal income tax rate is now at 4.95 percent and the corporate rate is now 7 percent, but because of a local only-in-Illinois 2.5 percent state personal property replacement tax, the corporate rate is really 9.5 percent, which makes the overall rate the fourth-highest in the nation.

And before these tax hikes Illinois was one of the few states losing population.

So ends the Prairie State’s national record two-year span of operating without a budget.

“Shake Up Springfield, Bring Back Illinois”

Governor Rauner, a Republican, was elected by voters to, as his campaign slogan vowed, “Shake Up Springfield.” While never averse to a tax increase, Rauner, who never held public office before, said he’d approve one as long as it included such items as term limits, redistricting reform, workers’ compensation law changes, and property tax freezes. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has held his job for 32 of the last 34 years, of course views term limits as anathema to him, and this master gerrymanderer created legislative maps that gave the Democrats supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly in the first two years of Rauner’s term. The Dems still have a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

One of the reasons the Republican General Assembly members who sided with Madigan gave for their votes was that Moody’s and S&P warned that if Illinois didn’t have a budget in place for fiscal year 2018 its bonds would be rated as junk. Guess what? Moody’s says it might downgrade Illinois’ bonds anyway. The new taxes don’t address how Illinois will tackle its $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Pension payments already consume a whopping one-quarter of the Illinois budget. And even assuming enough funds are there for Illinois schools to open in the fall, more legislation is needed for allocating that cash. The state has over $15 billion in unpaid bills-which is over 40 percent of the ’18 budget. That backlog will take years to pay off. Adding to the debacle is a late June ruling by a federal judge for Illinois to pay $586 million per month to bring down its past-due Medicaid bills. Which means that other vendors will have to wait even longer to get paid. How many of them will go out of business waiting for their bills to be settled?

Didn’t I mention that Illinois is losing population?

Blogger at the border

At best, the Illinois budget deal is a band-aid for much more serious problems.

Rauner is a candidate for reelection in 2018. That task was made more difficult by the manner that the tax hike was passed. In the first go-round 15 Republicans–the Madigan 15–voted for the tax hike. That allowed Boss Madigan, who has been chairman of the state Democratic Party since 1998, to allow, yes, allow 11 Democrats in vulnerable districts to vote “No.” In the override vote, four of the Madigan 15 voted “No.” Another one missed the roll call. Of course Madigan “found” the other five votes among his caucus.

Democratic candidates for governor are of course calling the tax increase “bi-partisan.”

But already one Madigan 15 member has announced he’s not running for reelection.

In my opinion bankruptcy, even though it will be called something else, is still coming to Illinois, despite this budget “fix.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Like Blogging and Quilting etc the Pinball world has its giants and we interviewed several of them at Pintastic NE

Let’s start with the designers like Barry Oursler who was a featured speaker. He is a soft spoken man who approached me because of my Doctor Who scarf and told me he designed a house for his cats based on the TARDIS, that was easy for him as he had designed the Doctor Who pinball machine along with many other favorite over his long career. He was kind enough to wait for my son and I to get a game in before sitting for an interview

Mr. Oursler seems quite humbled with all the attention he is getting these days over his work.

Next let me introduce you to David Thiel whose sound work and composition you have heard a lot of if you’ve been anywhere near a pinball machine.

At this point my camera battery finally gave up it’s ghost so we moved to the emergency backup camera

His description of what he does really emphasizes that what he does is in fact art.

He also spoke at the event here is a very brief clip

The real stars of the show of course are the games and the games that brought the most attention were those by , you guessed it Jersey Jack of Jersey Jack Pinball.

His great game DialedIn based on a cellphone is worth a few videos

and here is the legendary Selfie mode

Dialed in is the first totally original product as opposed to the Hobbit which was the star of last year

and a source of success for me this year

I’m sure that score didn’t rule the whole day

But to me my favorite of his games will always be Wizard of Oz

But no matter how cool or well made a machine is, sooner or later it will need some work and that’s where TNT Amusements and Internet Sensation Todd Tuckey comes in. He connected to an interview and for the only time at the event I was on camera with him.

As he said his talk went two hours. Every seat was taken and I had to sit in the far back which is why these two video clips of his “pre-talk” talk

have such poor sound

and he makes a great point that a lot of the machines he works on are 20 or 30 years old or more, machines that David Thiel may have done the sound and Barry Oursler might have designed when we were much younger, yet thanks to Todd and his crew people continue to enjoy them.

Perhaps in a decade he will be fixing Jersey Jack’s machines as well.

So all of these folks should take a bow, because guys like them make this hobby possible.


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