Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The legendary NBC affiliate has been the top dog of Ozarks TV news since Ned Reynolds was a pup with a crew cut (hint: that's a long time). It has that rep for good reason: It's the best show in town.

Jerry Jacob's live reports from Picayune, Miss., were anything but picayune. Jacob is with the Convoy of Hope as it conveys help -- in the form of much-needed water and ice -- to those suffering the shocks of Hurricane Katrina.

His reports illuminated the local angle, and it brought the expected pang of professional jealousy -- Christ, JJ's in the middle of the biggest story of his life. We should be there, too!

Ah, but that's that, and this event is too cool to pass without noting. Jerry Jacob is doing his job this week. He's practicing good journalism. Viewers are the lucky recipients.


America's mainstream electronic media have yet to broadcast images of the dead from Hurricane Katrina.

We're not sure why. By this time in the tsunami cycle, TV viewers were inundated with images of bloated, floating corpses.

No, we don't advocate death porn.

Yes, we do advocate an uncensored media. Especially when they practice self-censorship.

Reporters are delicately walking the line today. CNN reporters discuss refrigerated semi trucks outside funeral homes in Mississippi. But no official is giving them a casualty count. The numbers are too staggering.

People will be offended by images of dead Americans floating in cesspools. Let it happen. It's needed to fully tell this story -- and it will impact people in ways they haven't yet experienced.

The mainstream media, however, are screwed. If they show the images, some will call them ghouls and goremongers. If they continue to shield us from graphic images of death, they will not be doing their job.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The Associated Press just issued an urgent, citing an emergency management official for the now-confirmed "more than 100 dead in the Biloxi-Gulfport area of Mississippi."

Right now, who knows how many perished in New Orleans and the rest of southeastern Louisiana. Given the population density and the breadth of damage, it's hard to believe that toll won't be in the hundreds.

The governor of Louisiana wants a complete evacuation of New Orleans. Her face blank with shock, Kathleen Blanco said the situation is "untenable ... "It's just heartbreaking."

We can expect tent cities, refugees, images of misery. We've already had plenty of that last category, and it's only Tuesday.

Rescue dominates the current mission. Recovery -- the delicate word for the rounding up of corpses -- hasn't happened yet. The living souls in New Orleans are too busy trying to stay alive.

This evening, an attempt to plug the breech in a canal at the Hammond Highway bridge has failed. Water could rise to 3 feet above sea level -- or as high as 15 feet in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. Anyone still alive in the attic of their flooded home might be overwhelmed.

We started this post fully expecting to ask whether the media will show graphic images of bodies, as they did during the 2004 tsunami. We were then going to wonder why President Bush didn't show public leadership today, when the storm's damage became apparent, and whether he planned to repeat his tsunami performance by keeping quiet until forced to speak.

But screw that noise. It ought to matter, but it doesn't. Tonight some people who survived the storm's first blast will die in the dirty water engulfing a great American city.


History may well record Hurricane Katrina as the storm that extinguished Fox News.

We haven't see any ratings on the Katrina coverage, but we have seen the running storm commentary at Free Republic, and it's enough to make a conservative scream.

Normally Fox-Friendly Freepers have turned on the cable network and its hurricane coverage, using words like "worthless" and "stupid" to describe the efforts of Shep Smith and Steve Harrigan. Especially galling was Smith's Monday afternoon assessment of the storm; from his drunken perch in the French Quarter, Smith said New Orleans had "dodged a bullet ... gotten lucky."

Eighty percent of the city is flooded. Some crazy luck, huh?

So where did Freepers turn for real news coverage?


As more than one Freeper noted, "They've been the best -- have to admit it."

Some people find it fashionable to say they hate the mainstream media. Right up until they need it.


Thank you, Thomas MacLeod of Kimberling City, Mo.

Without you our morning would be completely grim. But once we electronically picked up the morning paper and found your letter to the editor, we smiled and realized that one ray of sunshine -- albeit a tiny one -- was going to shine on our Tuesday.

Mr. MacLeod opines on the new constitution for Iraq:
What's the big deal? So the Sunnis don't agree with what the Shiites and the Kurds propose. Is that any different than the Democrats opposing everything Bush proposes? I don't see why we should be alarmed at this action.
Mr. MacLeod is correct. He does not see.

Monday, August 29, 2005


CNN reports the dreadful news -- screams for help coming from attics of nearly submerged homes. Too dangerous to save them in the dark.

The Times-Picayune news blog (click the headline to go there) offers this line:

As the sun set, the faint smell of rot drifted up from the water.


The Times-Picayune in New Orleans has been keeping a blog, but it's pretty sparse; reporters, after all, have other things to do right now.

But the paper's Monday night update contained a hint of the tragedy yet to be fully reported:
Police/Emergency scanner traffic was busy Monday afternoon with reports of trapped residents, some calling and pleading for help as heavy storm conditions still limited efforts to rescue them. There were reports of buildings collapsing with people still inside. And officers reported some people slipping into the water.
Other heartbreaks from New Orleans, culled from across the 'net:

•The Faubourg Marigny district flooded. It's adjacent to the French Quarter.

•The courthouse at Tulane and Broad had (or has) water up to its top steps.

•An apartment complex in Westbank has been leveled. It was occupied, according to early reports.

The French Quarter might have been saved from destruction, but that doesn't mean New Orleans was spared.


Is it better for Missouri to have Claire McCaskill remain as state auditor -- or would state residents benefit more with McCaskill in the U.S. Senate?

Randy Turner, brother blogger over at The Turner Report, asks the question and raises good points. Click the headline above and be magically transported to TTR.

State Democrats have for months courted McCaskill to run against Sen. Jim Talent. Internal polling (allegedly) shows McCaskill and Talent at a 43-43 dead heat. McCaskill is expected to announce her campaign on Tuesday.

Talent's complete lack of charisma would normally be expected to doom his bid for reelection, but that's offset by McCaskill's rather brusque public persona. "I'll vote for her," one woman Democrat told CHATTER. "But I don't like her. She's too harsh."

Frankly, we'll take harsh over bland every time.

Fans of Missouri politics like to play the "what-if" game. Old-timers go all the back to 1976, when Rep. Jerry Litton died before he could beat Jack Danforth for the U.S. Senate. Newbies flash back to 2000, when Talent lost the governor's race to Bob Holden. History would have been kinder to the Dems if Talent had won in 2000; he would have been saddled with an economic downturn, he wouldn't have run for a truncated Senate term in 2002 -- and he probably would have kept Matt Blunt from running for governor in 2004.

Of course, history could have been kinder still. Mel Carnahan could still be alive and serving in the Senate.

Ojala. Oh, if only.


Whew. Took a few hours, recharged, plugged back into the network. The latest on Hurricane Katrina:

•Now a Category 1 storm, soon to become a has-been.

•Not a moment too soon. Casualty reports remain sketchy; anecdotes abound, but hard numbers remain elusive. It will likely be Tuesday before a real assessment uncovers the death toll.

•Entire neighborhoods in New Orleans are underwater, according to fresh vid from WFOR. Some businesses have been looted; a CNN reporter was live on the phone and described people walking out of a supermarket with carts full of stolen food.

•Flood waters are still rising in New Orleans, according to CNN's Jack Cafferty. A network employee has relatives in the Big Easy; they phoned to say they were trapped on the second floor of their home and were waiting to be rescued.

•There could be "a lot of dead people" in Mississippi, according to a state official. Alabama could also suffer sobering casualty numbers; at Gulf Shores, Highway 59 is a lake right now, courtesy of storm surge.

•Damage to the local oil industry could top $3 billion, according to CNN.

Everyone is thankful that New Orleans didn't become Atlantis, as The Associated Press feared in a Sunday night headline. The best party city in America lives to throw another bash.

But no one has a clear picture yet on the real damage from Hurricane Katrina. And no one can even begin to think about when life might return to normal along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.


11:35 a.m.
Downtown Mobile, Ala., is in trouble. Very high water, very serious flooding. A two-level causeway seems fine until you realize the lower deck is under water. WKRG-TV is showing a causeway coming up from the water -- an entrance ramp from the soup.

10:43 a.m.
President Bush will reportedly free up strategic oil reserves. Probably a savvy move after oil jumped past $70 a barrel overnight. Higher prices at the pump are almost a certainty.

About 45 percent of the country's crude oil production in the Gulf was shut down for the storm, according to MSNBC.

The latest footage from New Orleans shows a lot of rain, some wind, countless damaged buildings. Water outside the Times-Picayune building is hubcab-deep, according to the newspaper, "and rising quickly."

10:32 a.m.
CNN's Bill Hemmer is now Fox's Bill Hemmer. He still looks like Dudley DoRight.

New Orleans will be battered for several more hours and the winds have flipped around and are coming from the north, whipping waves off Lake Pontchartrain. The storm surge is expected to top out at 15 feet; that will still cause tremendous problems for some parts of NO.

10:20 a.m.
Katrina is now down to a Category 3. Storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain now at its peak. The Times-Picayune reports that some areas of the city are under several feet of water; the newspaper's building has several shattered windows.

Down in the French Quarter, Fox's Shepard Smith reports that signage still stands in the party zone. The Quarter is "in very good shape," Smith reports. That said, "multiple reports" that the Pontchartrain levees have been topped and the lake is spilling into the city.

Some media naysayers are already blaming reporters for hyping this storm. Of course, if the media had downplayed the story, the naysayers would blame them for every storm-related death.

9:10 a.m.
Steve Harrigan of Fox is standing outside in Gulfport, Miss., making a lot of "whoa" noises as he gets blown around. He acts like he wants to take one for the team. He may get his wish.

9 a.m.
Generator power inside the SuperDome. The lights are still on, but the AC is off. Getting warm in there.

The western eyewall of the hurricane is directly east of New Orleans. Biloxi is about to get slammed, and police there say they can't respond to any more calls.

WVUE reports that 10 people are trapped in an apartment complex in Harvey, and that eastern NO is filling with water.

8:50 a.m.

Tornadoes swarming New Orleans. Winds gusting up to 120 mph.

8:36 a.m.
The levee has been breached along the industrial canal at Tennessee Street. Three to eight feet of water expected to gush into the 9th Ward of New Orleans.

MSNBC just finished a clever demonstration of storm surge heights. A meteorologist clambered aboard a lift and took it up -- six feet, 10 feet, 17 feet. Seeing the gap between him and the floor was sobering.

In Harvey, La., a hotel collapse. Early reports say people are trapped.

8:25 a.m.
The lightning rod atop the SuperDome has come crashing down onto the field. Daylight peeks through several small holes in the roof. Siding and roofs along the Gulf Coast are peeling away with great rapidity.

Egads, Anderson Cooper has emerged from his lair and is yammering live from Baton Rouge, at the Mississippi River. He shouts into the wind and winces from the driving rain. Perhaps he should learn to turn around.

Odd thing about Cooper. He's shouting into the wind. His colleague, Miles O'Brien, is also in Baton Rouge. He's able to stand without discomfort and talk without screaming into the mic.

8:10 a.m.
CNN reports about 10-percent of the SuperDome roof has peeled away. Authorities moving people under the second-level overhangs. About 10,000 people are inside. Over at the Hyatt, windows are breaking at the 25th floor.

Boats are floating up the street in coastal Mississippi.

The worst weather will hit over the next two hours, according to forecasters. About 97,000 people remain in New Orleans. Nearly 400,000 people in Louisiana are without power.

This is grim.

8 a.m.
Sections of the SuperDome roof are coming off, according to CNN. The eyewall floats just east of New Orleans with 7.56" of rain already dumped on the city.

Biloxi, Miss., is in the most danger at this hour.

7:46 a.m. Monday
A few words about Shep Smith of Fox News.

The dude's on Bourbon Street. He's live on the phone. He sounds positively manic, describing pieces of roof flying into the intersection. Windows blown out. Still a half-hour away from the "worst of it in New Orleans." Standing water, about curb-high, in the French Quarter.

Smith began his phoner by making some groaning noise and bitching about someone trying to make him move. That's what happens when you don't know you're on the air.

7:42 a.m. Monday
In New Orleans, the mayor says: Levy systems overwhelmed. Some pumps have stopped pumping. Water starting to rise in some areas of the city.

The SuperDome looks like a refugee camp for frustrated Saints fans.

CNN has live footage from Biloxi, Miss. The Comfort Inn sign is not long for this world. In Pascagoula, 113 mph wind gusts.


7:33 a.m.
After some form of unconsciousness, we return to see Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center at his post. Makes us feel like a slacker, he does.

The storm is on shore, and the surge is huge. Up to four feet of water over a highway in Mississippi. Plaquemines Parish, La., was the epicenter; then again, the eye is about 42 miles across, so there's plenty of epicenter to the hurricane.

1:40 a.m.
Jefferson Parish Fire Department units ordered to stand down.

Wind gust of 107 mph in NO. Forecasters expect sustained winds at that speed starting in the next couple hours.

1:30 a.m.
One more thought, and then a little break:

We read, with disgust, the remarks of some conservatives who blamed the imminent wollop to New Orleans as a sign from a wrathful God, condemning NO's hedonism. We read, with satisfaction, the swift condemnation of such remarks. The condemnation came from other conservatives.

1:13 a.m.
The ABC affiliate in NO reports looting.

1:01 a.m.
Wind gust of 90 mph reported in downtown New Orleans.

12:54 a.m.
More live vid coming in. CNN has a sodium-tinted shot overlooking the SuperDome. Yes, it's still there. Curtains of rain, too. The lights are still on. We wonder if the National Guard will enforce the SuperDome's no-smoking policy. Doubt it.

Did you know that CNN is your Hurricane Headquarters?

12:48 a.m.
Finally, some fresh vid. It's only a static shot showing the tops of some trees, but at least it's live. That's on MSNBC. Over at Fox they have a herky-jerk vidphone shot showing some high rises and a rainy business district. Fox also has a crawl saying that Katrina has killed again. Three dead in Louisiana, apparently from a storm-related wreck.

CNN had a commercial. At least it's not for Enzyte.

12:42 a.m.
Another damned Enzyte commercial! Bob dives into the pool! Bob loses his trunks! Bob steps out naked and even impresses the black woman!

God, how we loath Bob.

Back to the storm. Maybe some lessening on the southwest side of the hurricane, or maybe the ground-based radar is overwhelmed and can't see past what's already in its face. The satellite snap seems to confirm the latter theory.

Current wind gusts of 63 mph in NO. Predicted landfall in New Orleans: 7 a.m. Central.

MSNBC is showing Brian Williams -- on tape -- at the SuperDome. Another case of letting the talent rest so he can shine for the daytime audience. Where are the Iron Men of broadcasting? If Dan Rather was still around we'd expect to see him tied to a tree all night long. Especially if he scored some smack.

12:30 a.m.
You know it's a lull when CNN interviews a PR specialist with Ritz-Carlton Hotels about "hurricane hospitality." Jesus, no wonder people hate the media. If reporters aren't out in the wind and rain, they're interviewing flacks about how hurricanes treat their guests during deadly storms. It's a feel-good world, ain't it?

This just in: Station 42040 of the National Data Buoy Center reports a wave height of 38.1 feet. The buoy is located 64 nautical miles south of Dauphin Island, Ala.

12:05 a.m.
Katrina is still a Category 5 storm -- 160 mph sustained winds, storm surge up to 30 feet in New Orleans.

Bonnie Schneider, a CNN meteorologist, is really into this hurricane. She seems to dig her wind speeds. We dig her.

Cherry-picking the 'net, we came across this nugget: WWL-TV reports that the SuperDome has a single primary generator. It is underground.

11:40 p.m.
We are sorely disappointed at the lack of good (or even fresh) vid. One live and shaky remote cam from WVUE, showing a parking lot, some trees and the hints of waves in the darkness beyond. Videophone reports from CNN and Fox. It's slow going right now.

MSNBC has Lisa Daniels pulling a late-nighter. Fox has Greg Jarrett and the mandatory Foxbabe in the sidecar. The A-Teams must be catching a few Zs before the eyewall brushes New Orleans at sunrise.

Relacore for your belly fat. Enzyte to increase your manhood. Damn, but we are sick of Smiling Bob and his dangly bits at every commercial break.

11:25 p.m.
Like rust, Max Mayfield from the National Hurricane Center never sleeps. Earlier tonight he was lining them up and knocking them down -- on MSNBC, then CNN, then Fox. Best part: He didn't repeat his lines. He mixed it up and gave fresh stuff to each outlet.

On CNN right now: David Mattingly on the French Quarter, via videophone. Showing some snips of interviews with drunken fools in a daiquiri go-between joint. The sight of all those spinning daiquiri blenders -- a wall of frozen, intoxicating goodness -- made us flash back to previous lives.

As a person: Great times had by all in America's best city. We loved visiting New Orleans because it felt like a foreign country and you didn't have to cross any borders, excepting the frightening Pontchartrain causeway.

As a former reporter: Watching Mattingly and Fox's Shep Smith on the Quarter made us long to be Right There, notepad and recorder in the pockets of a slicker. We miss that part of life, the experience of parachuting into a situation, talking to as many people as possible, capturing the scene for history.

We even miss the surly moments of that life. Shep Smith had one on Sunday. He pigeonholed a bystander and asked the man what he was doing outside, walking his dogs as a hurricane loomed.

"None of your f--king business," the man replied.

Nothing beats reporting.

Katrina is now 170 miles from New Orleans. The heart of the storm looks a little smaller than it did an hour ago, but that's partly because the hurricane's leading edges are already over land.

11:08 p.m.
CNN's Aaron Brown called it "the storm of our lifetime." Another reason we like the guy, despite his decidedly thoughtful, un-TV ways.

MSNBC had Tucker Carlson on live. His interviewing technique is awful, just awful. Carlson hasn't met a hurricane question he can't dumb down; no wonder he kept getting monosyllabic answers from his guests.

11 p.m. CDT
The latest word from the National Weather Service has the hurricane slamming into southeastern Louisiana as a strong Category 4, with winds around 150 mph. Small consolation; as Max Mayfield from the National Hurricane Center put it, the difference between a 4 and a 5 is the difference between being run over by a semi or a train. Either way, the smackdown is extreme.

Then there is this warning from the NWS:



We're keeping an eye via the cables. More TK.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Tonight's hurricane earworm comes from The Tragically Hip, a Canadian band.
Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete
Under skies all smoky blue green
I can't forsake a dixie dead shake
So we danced the sidewalk clean
My memory is muddy
What's this river that I'm in?
New Orleans is sinking man
And I don't wanna swim ...
Chin up. Literally.


Click here to check the rising water level in Lake Pontchartrain. The gage height is already up, and not going down anytime soon. This will be a good indicator of the storm's strength.

We have great memories of being on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain in 1987, when John Paul II held an outdoor mass at the University of New Orleans. We hope the storm goes easy on the Big Easy. But hope alone isn't going to cut it this time.


We still have live reports from New Orleans, though that certainly will change when the power drops and reporters face reality -- they are stuck in a city in the crosshairs of an epic storm. Don't expect CNN's Anderson Cooper to be doing his breathless, look-at-me reports from this hurricane.

You might want to check out some web cams from New Orleans before it's too late.

Here's a great causeway camera.

City traffic cameras remain up, for now. See them by clicking here.

And then there's this, a shot from the Inn on Bourbon. The inn is located at Bourbon and Toulouse.

Use 'em while you can. Time draws short for the people of New Orleans.


We've noticed a lot of Sunday traffic from Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. We're thinking of you.

As Sunday afternoon melts into evening and Hurricane Katrina makes its final approach before landfall -- and before the power goes out in Louisiana -- we hope to hear from bloggers and freelancers in the affected area.

Tell us what you're experiencing, what you're planning. Feel free to leave comments, or ship us an e-mail by clicking here. We'll pass along your info to the landlocked masses in the Midwest.

And hey: Be safe.


Shep Smith of Fox News is in New Orleans via telephone, blabbing with people in the French Quarter, hanging out around the daiquiri machines.

CNN let Wolf Blitzer yammer on with his Sunday political talk show. Like we care right now about the Iraq constitution.

That's the low side of the cable networks on this Sunday, as Hurricane Katrina comes closer to the Gulf Coast and reporters become battier.

We like MSNBC on Sunday afternoon. Donna Gregory is in New Orleans, feeding solid reports devoid of the hype one can expect from Fox. Colette Cassidy, a former Philly anchor, is doing great work riding the anchor's desk; she's much better than we expected, and certainly worth more than the cut-in news breaks she does in the evening.

And sure sure, the Weather Channel is fine, but what they know in weather, they lack in speedy news judgment.

Everytime we see footage from the French Quarter, from the Dome, from the causeway over Lake Pontchartrain, from the Monteleone, we wince. Will it all be there after the sun comes back out?


The National Weather Service often hedges on its predictions, using words like "may" or "could" to describe potentially severe weather.

Not with Katrina.

The Category 5 hurricane will slam into New Orleans sometime Monday morning. The NWS bulletins from Louisiana are chilling:






What we're witnessing is history of the worst kind. Remember your last visit to New Orleans, if you were lucky enough to go before August 2005. Those memories may be the only things left after Monday.


Kanye West was hosting a party at the Shore Club in Miami, site of Sunday night's Video Music Awards. Marion "Suge" Knight shows up and before you know it -- blam!

Is anyone really surprised?

From The Associated Press:
Knight, 40, was hospitalized in good condition, police said. He was shot during a celebrity-studded party at the Shore Club, one of the many celebrations in Miami Beach ahead of the MTV Video Music Awards scheduled Sunday night, said Miami Beach Police Officer Bobby Hernandez.

Sonja Mauro, a guest at the club, said a shot in the party's VIP section rang out shortly before 1 a.m.

"I was in there and I heard a pop and I ran out and got trampled," she said.

People attending the party began screaming and running for the doors, she said.

Celebrities who attended included West, actress Jessica Alba and comedian Eddie Murphy, but it was unclear whether they were still there when the shooting took place.

Knight co-founded the pioneering rap label Death Row Records and hit the charts in the 1990s with West Coast stars including Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.

Knight was convicted in 1992 of assault and weapons violations and was placed on probation. In 1996, he was jailed for five years for violating probation after he and several associates, including Shakur, were recorded on videotape beating a gang rival at a Las Vegas hotel. Shakur was later shot to death in Las Vegas.

Relatives of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. have also accused Knight of involvement in B.I.G.'s death, though police have never named Knight as a suspect.
Keep Suge Knight away from the VMAs before someone else gets killed.


The hurricane is taking dead-smack aim at New Orleans, our favorite city in the United States. Yes, there's often an evil, fetid smell in the French Quarter, and yes, it's far too easy to party far too hard while visiting NOLA. Reasons enough to love the place.

Unless the storm weakens, by this time on Monday we'll either be greatly relieved that the storm turned, or we'll be mourning the loss of a place that used to be. Let's hope it's not the latter.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Now in the Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane is expected to hit Louisiana on Monday.

If it does arrive as a Category 4 (some are predicting a Cat 5 landfall), its current track will lay a huge hurt on New Orleans. The storm surge alone could doom the city.

Betsy hit in 1965 as a Category 3. Since then, an orderly evacuation plan has been developed. It requires 72 hours lead time. New Orleans is already a day late.

Friday, August 26, 2005


And that's exactly where many social conservatives want Jack Danforth, the former U.S. senator from Missouri.

Go figure. Danforth personally ushered the Clarence Thomas nomination through the Senate, angering nearly every liberal in the country. You'd think a politician with his bona fides would get nothing but love from Republicans.

Not from the new Republicans, the social cons who rule that party and loudly let everyone know it. Danforth angered them this week by daring to speak out against the increasingly religious agenda of the Republican Party.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Danforth maintains that the Republican Party has become too entwined with religious conservative agenda. "When religion and government become aligned with each other, it's inherently divisive," he said. He also warned against Republicans embracing a "particular sectarian religious agenda as their own."
What do the Freepers think?

Check some of the posts on this thread:
•He's retired and doesn't count anymore. We need to make our presence felt even more and totally shut people like him up!

•Danforth is an ordained Episcopal priest. Naturally, he wouldn't understand committed Christians whose faith actually impacts their lives and votes.

•Good riddance to this sap.
This is what passes for mainstream conservative Christianity in the United States. It's a full roar for blood and revenge.

We believe a majority of Christians rejects this kind of extremist rhetoric. We believe a majority of Republicans sees the injustice in such remarks.

Where is their din of inequity?


So our friend MIT rang up with the most marvelous suggestion. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Southwest Missouri State University bites the dust when Saturday becomes Sunday in Springfield. The regional school drops its first name and becomes Missouri State University.

But what to call the "new" school? MSU is definitely out, unless you live in East Lansing. "Mizzou State" will get you beaten to a pulp in Springfield and Columbia. "Mo State" seems rinky-dink. And "Missouri State" just sounds bland, like biscuits with white gravy but no sausage.

Enter MIT, a wise mind, who says: Make it MoSt.


MoSt gives the school a big, bold, brash sound. The stairstep lettering evokes the future -- kinda like NeXT, only without the cube computer. Easy to pronounce, too, most everyone would agree.

MoSt. Hey, it's shorter than "Mo State," and it doesn't remind us of cows.


We've railed before about political correctness gone mad. Here's another case.

On the north side of Chicago, there's an eatery called Max's Italian Beef. Want a side dish with that beef? Try the ghetto fries. According to WCBS, they're:
[T]hinly sliced potatoes smothered in Italian beef gravy, BBQ sauce, onions, cheddar cheese, and hot peppers ... The owner says that the fries were named after the employee who came up with the combination. He says it was the employee's nickname, and it was done in fun.
But not everyone thinks there's "fun" in the word "ghetto." Perhaps Max's should take a hint from Waffle House (aka the Awful Waffle) and order the hash browns, scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped and diced with onions, tomatoes, ham, chili and cheese. Or, as we've heard it called, "plate of puke."

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Just ask Tran Nghia Hong, a U.S. citizen who brought along 58 of his favorite DVDs when he moved to Singapore last year.

Tran wound up in jail, according to Reuters:
The films, found by Singapore customs officers in a shipment of [Tran's] belongings from California, included titles such as "Frivolous Lola," "Copulation Nation" and "Lord of the Strings."

"I was handcuffed and put in a lock-up for four hours after I was charged," the report quoted Tran, 35, as saying.

Tran, a financial controller at U.S. Internet equipment maker Cisco Systems, could have been fined up to S$500 for each disc, up to a maximum of S$20,000, or up to six months in prison, or both.

Despite efforts to loosen some of its social controls, many tough rules remain in Singapore. "Playboy" magazine is banned, while oral sex remains technically illegal under a law that says "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animals" can be fined and jailed up to 10 years, or even for life.

In recent years, Singapore has partially relaxed its famous ban on chewing gum, allowed some bars to stay open for 24 hours and ended a ban on the popular U.S. sitcom "Sex and the City."
In case you're wondering, "Lord of the Strings" is a "flesh-filled parody" of Tolkien, with throbbits instead of hobbits. It's also apparently filled with skanks. Just FYI.


In Iraq, a third deadline passed on Thursday without a constitution that Sunni Arabs can stomach. Shiites are threatening to take the document to a vote this fall -- even if Sunni boycott the elections. According to The New York Times:
Barring some last-minute deal, the decision by the Shiites to move ahead without the Sunni Arabs would mark a huge blow to efforts by the Bush administration to bring the leaders of the Sunni community into the negotiations over the Iraqi constitution.
Meaning more mess. The Bush Administration insists that democracy is messy, and that the new Iraqi government will be good for women, good for peace. The Bush Administration also insisted that Iraqis would greet Americans as liberators; that the insurgency would be dead by now; that the U.S. would have no more than 30,000 troops in Iraq by the end of 2003.

None of those things came to pass, either.


The congressman from southwest Missouri is one of five lawmakers tapped as "Waterboys" -- men who never met a lobbyist they didn't like.

Fired Up Missouri highlights this graf from Rolling Stone:
Blunt is the patriarch of a lobbying family: Blunt's wife is a lobbyist for the firm Altria, which donated $270,000 to Blunt-related committees. Meanwhile, Blunt's son lobbies for a number of companies with financial relationships to Blunt committees. [He is] the leading candidate to succeed Tom DeLay someday.
Also named to the list of suck-ups:

•Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Bill Thomas of California

•Mike Oxley of Ohio

•Billy Tauzin, a former lawmaker from Louisiana

Blunt and his ilk will dismiss Rolling Stone as sympathetic to the devil. They will ignore the ugly facts -- like Blunt's too-close ties to special interests, or Thomas' affair with a pharmaceutical lobbyist -- and criticize the messenger.

None of that noise will diminish the truth. Roy Blunt is a Waterboy.


Who's got the new penis in Bangkok?

Thailand's prime minister wants to know. According to The Associated Press:
"Who did it? Tell me," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told his ministers at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, triggering a round of banter and causing some to squirm in their chairs, The Nation newspaper said.

Last week, a woman -- being sued for defamation by a clinic after she claimed it gave her a face-disfiguring silicon injection -- said a Cabinet member had received a penis-enlargement injection at the same clinic and urged him to come forward as a witness in her defense.

Calling on the official through reporters on the steps of Government House on Tuesday, the woman, Rawiwan Setharat, said, "The problem of my face is bigger than the problem of your penis."

"This has affected the reputation of the Cabinet, because the news went around the world. I don't want the people to think the Cabinet members are obsessed with this kind of thing," the newspaper quoted Thaksin as telling his ministers.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said no one had admitted to the enlargement procedure. Other ministers joked about various suggestions on how he could be identified.
Get the guy who squirmed the most. He's the culprit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The righteous reverend apologized on Wednesday for advocating the assassination of the president of Venezuela.

But Pat Robertson weaseled before apologizing; he first claimed he never said anything about "assassination ... I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time."

Later in the day, Robertson finally pulled the foot from his deep throat:
"Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement," Robertson said. "I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

But he compared Chavez to Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler and quoted German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "[That if a madman were] driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver."

Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazis for his involvement in a 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler.
Ah, Pat -- like other Republicans -- now brings Hitler into this mess. An automatic loss for Robertson and his allies, and just about what we expected from a false prophet.


Try to run, try to hide. You can't.

If Mr. Mojo Risin was still alive, would he sell out to Cadillac? To Apple Computer?

He would have had the chance.

Think Secret -- a web site devoted to insider Apple gossip -- has the skinny on Doormongering:
Court documents obtained from the recent lawsuit against former Doors members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, who had wanted to call their new band The Doors 21st Century, reveal that at one point Apple had offered $4 million for an unnamed Doors song for use in a commercial, while Cadillac had offered $15 million to use the song Break On Through.

Krieger and Manzarek were sued by former Doors drummer John Densmore and the estate of Jim Morrisson more than two years ago for the new band name. During the trial's proceedings, which ended with a ruling against Kriger and Manzarek on May 9, 2005, it came to light that at one point in recent history Krieger and Densmore had wanted to accept the money Apple and Cadillac had offered but were rebuffed by Manzarek and Morisson's estate. A long-standing agreement between members of the Doors had stipulated that the band could only accept such offers if every member was in agreement.
People certainly are strange.


Tropical Storm Katrina is expected to hit the East Coast of Florida as a hurricane before reemerging in the Gulf of Mexico, probably as a tropical storm.

Before this storm dies, we will have to hear daily cracks about Katrina and the Waves, the 1980s pop band that had one hit ("Walking On Sunshine").

Here, please feel old: "Walking On Sunshine" hit the radio 20 years ago. Katrina left the band in 1998, sang backup on a Natalie Imbruglia hit ("Torn") and now does the solo thing; her new album comes out in October.

And don't it feel good?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


In June 1999, he was asked about U.S. soldiers in Kosovo, and whether then-President Clinton was right in not setting a timetable for troop withdrawal.

George W. Bush told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Clinton needed to set an "exit strategy." The future president also said:
“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”
Thanks to Gay at Granny Geek for turning us on to the hypocrisy of Republicans who didn't support the president during a time of armed conflict.


Thousands saved from agonizing annexation process.

Here's the hot news release from the City of Springfield:
Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson and Rogersville Mayor Jack Cole announced today that the two cities have agreed to create new Urban Service Area boundaries in eastern Greene County, subject to approval by the Springfield City Council and Rogersville Board of Aldermen.

The agreement means that both cities will withdraw their annexation ordinances for the area along U.S. 60 between Springfield and Rogersville.

The proposed east-west boundary for the two cities’ Urban Service Areas will be Farm Road 213. The formal agreement is expected to be completed in about 90 days. After that, all voluntary annexations for the two cities will be based on the new Urban Service Area boundaries.

The mayors agreed that each city will be responsible for providing utility service for properties within their respective Urban Service Areas that sign consent annexations with either city. This agreement allows both cities to protect their anticipated growth areas.

Both cities also agree to take any necessary actions to protect U.S. 60 as a limited-access corridor through eastern Greene County. They also agree that a new interchange at U.S. 60 and Missouri 125 will be developed to the standards of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The City of Springfield initiated its annexation process because the developer of the proposed Logan’s Crossing commercial area at U.S. 60 and Missouri 125 indicated his preference to receive Springfield sewer services.

The City subsequently learned that the developer had previously signed a consent annexation petition with the City of Rogersville, though he still indicated a preference for Springfield.

“We felt it was important to resolve this consistent with that voluntary annexation petition,” Springfield City Attorney Dan Wichmer said. “We respect another city obtaining a voluntary consent.”
And there you have it, kids -- peace in our time.


The congressman from Missouri's 4th District had been married to Susie Skelton for 44 years. The couple had three sons, according to the congressman's official bio.

Skelton's office announced Tuesday afternoon that Susie Skelton suffered a heart attack at the family home in Lexington. She died at a hospital in Kansas City.

Click here and you'll find a picture of the couple in 1963, as they posed with Harry Truman. At the time the Skeltons had been married for just a couple years; he was then the state attorney general.

Our condolences to the congressman and his family.


One of our favorite nutballs in the world -- Saparmurat Niyazov -- is at it again.

After declaring bans on ballet and opera, the president of Turkmenistan now says lip synching cannot be tolerated. From The Associated Press:
Niyazov [cites] "a negative effect on the development of singing and musical art," the president's office said Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, one can see on television old voiceless singers lip-synching their old songs," Niyazov told a Cabinet meeting in comments broadcast on state TV on Tuesday. "Don't kill talents by using lip synching ... Create our new culture."

Under Niyazov's order, lip synching is now prohibited at all cultural events, concerts, on television — and at private celebrations such as weddings.
Let's see: ban opera and ballet, then rail against the "negative effect on the development of singing and musical art." Where's Pat Robertson when the world really needs him?


Norm Ridder met on Monday with employees of the Springfield Public Schools, and most of his utterances were of the expected variety -- I'm on your side, we can do this, rah-rah go team go.

But the new superintendent also showed a talent for mangling the language, according to the Springfield News-Leader:
"My mission is to become a humble servant-leader. It's my job to help you grow ... It's my job to make sure you're happy. And if I'm not doing my job, I expect you to give me a good swift kick where the sun don't shine most of the time."
Suddenly we have a vision of Ridder occasionally dropping trou and letting the sun shine in and the moon shine out. Yuck.

Monday, August 22, 2005


A statement from Navy Capt. Scott J. Phillpott backs up the word of an Army intelligence officer who claims the military identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist, more than a year before Atta flew a plane into one of the World Trade Center towers.

According to The New York Times:
Phillpott said in a statement today that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. "My story is consistent," said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command. "Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000."

His comments came on the same day that the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters that the Defense Department had been unable to validate the assertions made by an Army intelligence veteran, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and now backed up by Captain Phillpott, about the early identification of Mr. Atta.

Colonel Shaffer went public with his assertions last week, saying that analysts in the intelligence project had been overruled by military lawyers when they tried to share the program's findings with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 in hope of tracking down terror suspects tied to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Di Rita said in an interview that while the department continued to investigate the assertions, there was no evidence so far that the intelligence unit had come up with such specific information about Mr. Atta and any of the other hijackers.

He said that while Colonel Shaffer and Captain Phillpott were respected military officers whose accounts were taken seriously, "thus far we've not been able to uncover what these people said they saw -- memory is a complicated thing."
Leaving aside the Orwellian tone of Di Rita's last sentence fragment, we're getting queased at the implications of Able Dangergate (hey, someone had to add the "-gate" to this growing scandal):

•By all accounts, Atta entered the United States in June 2000 -- at least four months after being identified by Able Danger as a potential terrorist.

•Atta was tagged as part of a "Brooklyn cell" of operatives. Shaffer has been vague when asked about the supposed cell, telling the Times that "we just knew there were these linkages between him and these other individuals who were in this loose configuration." In New York. Where Atta was not, until Sept. 11, 2001.

•Able Danger did "data mining" and drew intelligence from public and private databases. We'd love to see the database that linked Mohamed Atta to New York -- almost 20 months before he led a suicide mission in New York.

It appears the U.S. had Atta in its sights, but Defense Department lawyers wouldn't let Able Danger share its findings with the FBI. The unasked question: Did Able Danger share its info with other stateside organizations, like the NSA? The NRO? The CIA? Did the intelligence make it to our "friendlies" in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

We suspect it did. So why didn't anyone -- in the Clinton and Bush administrations, or perhaps in the Mossad -- do anything to stop Mohamed Atta?

"For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety."


'Tis true, unless you believe that Jesus advocated assassination.

Robertson -- founder of The 700 Club, purported Christian, chronic politician -- took to the cablewaves on Aug. 22 and said this about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias:
There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... this is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen.

We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly.

We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.

We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

There are those who will say "right on" to Robertson's rant. Some will even wonder what's so wrong with what he said. Like Pat Robertson, those people will claim to be Christians, too.

No wonder Jesus wept.


But most everyone we knew pronounced it "moog," a cow-like sound. Everyone but the musicians, of course. They knew better.

Now the name behind the synthesizer is dead. From The Associated Press:
Robert A. Moog, whose self-named synthesizers turned electric currents into sound and opened the musical wave that became electronica, has died. He was 71.

Moog was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, detected in April. He died Sunday at his home in Asheville, N.C., according to his company's Web site.

A childhood interest in the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, would lead Moog to a create a career and business that tied the name Moog as tightly to synthesizers as the name Les Paul is to electric guitars.

As a Ph.D student in engineering physics at Cornell University, Moog in 1964 developed his first voltage-controlled synthesizer modules with composer Herbert Deutsch. By the end of that year, R.A. Moog Co. marketed the first commercial modular synthesizer.

The instrument allowed musicians, first in a studio and later on stage, to generate a range of sounds that could mimic nature or seem otherworldly by flipping a switch, twisting a dial, or sliding a knob. Other synthesizers were already on the market in 1964, but Moog's stood out for being small, light and versatile.

Makes us want to play some Rick Wakeman today.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Brian Flemming is an artist and a filmmaker, and a lot of people hate him.

Why? Because Flemming questions whether Jesus Christ ever lived.

The Los Angeles Times has a good write-up on the controversy Flemming creates:
The 39-year-old Angeleno has made an hourlong documentary titled "The God Who Wasn't There." In it, the former born-again Christian argues that the biblical Jesus never lived, but is a mythological figure like Paul Bunyan.

Initially released theatrically June 17, the documentary grew out of Flemming's research for a fictional thriller-in-progress titled, "The Beast." In that film, which he hopes to release next year, a teenage Christian discovers that the Jesus she fervently believes in never existed.

"My position is that's the most likely scenario," the filmmaker said.

Asked why he chose to question Jesus' existence instead of his divinity, Flemming said: "I think that the idea that an individual could be the son of a god is already so ridiculous it doesn't need to be debunked."

We can already hear the cries of "blasphemy" erupting across the Midwest -- many coming from the same mouths that diss other religions as inferior to Christianity (some of those same pieholes also claim Roman Catholics aren't Christian and are thus bound for Hell, but that's a hypocrisy best left for another time).

Comparing Jesus to Paul Bunyan, we find the tall lumberjack falls short on several fronts:

•Jesus had 12 disciples. Bunyan had seven axemen.

•Bunyan drank milk from a purple cow. A Purple Jesus is a superior drink made with ginger ale, vodka, grape juice and Everclear.

•Jesus's beloved disciple, John, kept track of time in his account of Christ's life. Bunyan's head clerk, Johnny, kept track of everything for the big bossman.


Just a Sunday flog to let you know that the CHATTER archives have been updated in the Public File.

The "Old Chatter" folder contains columns from 2003 and early 2004. The "Chatter_02" folder includes entries from the past year.

Access the Public Files (and the odd collection of files contained therein) by clicking here. You'll also find a permalink along the right side of this page. Go, sin no more, all that.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


"My remorse, I think -- I think it's there," the admitted serial killer said in court this week, in a rambling statement that should be required watching (and reading) for anyone who believes Rader is a monster from Hell.

The things he did to men, women, children? Horrible.

Does that make him a monster? No.

Any illusions of Rader being a force of evil vanished for us when we heard the killer's statement to the court.

This wasn't the same Rader who earlier this year admitted -- with arch pleasure -- the crimes that terrorized Wichita over three decades. That guy seemed sinister; his half-shaved eyebrows added to the impression.

But the Rader who babbled for almost a half-hour on Thursday was a shell, all husked out with no place to go but down the memory hole. He compared himself to his victims and thanked people like he had just won an Oscar. The half-shaved eyebrows looked ridiculous, not menacing.

The Wichita Eagle has posted the transcripts from this week's sentencing hearing. From Rader's statement, these words:
"And I think honesty, people will say I'm not a Christian, but I believe I am. So anyway, I faced up to the man himself now, my boss. I think that all points to accountability and full responsibility now ...

"Now that I've confessed, put myself out to let everybody know what's going on, I expect to be healed and have life, and hopefully someday God will accept me.

"I think Sedgwick County, myself, we speak of a man as an evil man. A dark side is there, but now I think light is beginning to shine."

The ramblings of a dangerous lunatic, signifying nothing.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Brother Smitty got an e-mail from his conservative cousin -- one of those "here's a good news story you won't hear about in the mainstream media" messages.

The e-mail had a link.

The click-thru took you to The Washington Post.

Knight-Ridder -- one of those damned mainstream media chains -- has a smart piece on media criticism. Exploding from both ends like a virulent case of food poisoning, the criticism shows the media are screwed, no matter what they do:
Military mom Cindy Sheehan, who got extensive media coverage for her anti-war protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch this month, voiced the view from the left in a conference call with supporters Aug. 10.

"Thank God for the Internet or we wouldn't know anything and we would already be a fascist state," she said. "The mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government."

That's not the view from the right.

"If you believe the liberal media's reporting on the American military effort in Iraq, you're almost forced to be ashamed of America," the Media Research Center, a conservative media-watchdog group, said in a recent message to potential donors.

Both sides are happy to toss acid on the foundations of the media. Each camp's corrosive actions spur their enemies into doing more of the same.

Who suffers? People who care about news, and who are smart enough to realize that without the MSM, we're clueless. We won't have watchdogs like the Springfield News-Leader going through records that reveal perks for lawmakers. We won't have reporters willing to ask tough questions of both sides; we'll have harpies shouting questions to their ideological enemies and gushing much love to their allies.

Cindy Sheehan thinks the media peddle propaganda? She ought to imagine a media world led by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, mouthing talking points issued by the White House. She'll pine for the days of the networks.

Conservatives think the mainstream media are liberal? Did they sleep through 1998, when the MSM spent the better part of a year doing daily updates on Bill Clinton's blowjob escapades?

Partisans from both sides like to evoke Harry Truman, the dead president from Missouri who relished his "give-'em-hell" image. The news media are today's Trumans, giving hell to both sides when needed. The Left and Right partisans sure as hell don't like it.


We're much too young (and our figure far too girlish) to remember Joseph Force Crater, a New York judge who vanished, sans trace, in 1930. But sometime in the 1960s we read a short story that included Crater's name and a skinny on his vanishing. We've been hooked ever since.

On Aug. 6, 1930, Crater climbed into a cab in New York City and slipped off the face of the planet.

Who got the judge? Mobsters? Aliens? Girlfriend? An alien girlfriend who worked for the mob? The judge had been known as "Good Time Joe," and he vanished with more than $20,000 in his pockets, so anything was possible.

The truth may be close, according to The New York Post. And a woman named Stella may have solved the puzzle from the grave.

Stella Ferrucci-Good died last April in Queens. Her granddaughter was going through Ferrucci-Good's stuff and came across an envelope marked "Do Not Open Until My Death."

Grandma being dead and all, the granddaughter opened the envelope and read the letter.

Ferrucci-Good wrote that her late husband, Robert Good, helped whack the judge. She also named two others: ex-NYPD cop Charles Burns and his brother, cabbie Frank Burns.

Ferrucci-Good claimed the judge was buried in Coney Island, under the boardwalk, where the New York Aquarium now sits.

During construction of the aquarium, workers found five bodies (it is New York). DNA tests are now being conducted to see if one of those skeletons belongs to Crater.


The vice president moseyed into Springfield on Thursday to speak to a convention of Purple Heart recipients. He spoke for 21 minutes, invoking Sept. 11, 2001, at least a half-dozen times.

Much to the surprise (and disappointment) of some convention attendees, Cheney did not speak about veterans benefits. The former Vietnam War dodger (five deferments in the 1960s) clearly had other priorities.

The written coverage of Cheney's visit in today's News-Leader is pretty flat and gives us the impression that inside the convention, nary a dissenting voice was heard.

We much prefer the coverage of KYTV's Dave Catanese. He actually bothered to correct false impressions; when one veteran mentioned Sept. 11, Catanese got him to acknowledge that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks in New York and Washington.

All in all, a much better retelling of what happened. Ditto for the report on KSMU, the public-radio station. Both answered questions, questioned authority.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Alas, no one informed him that the embattled state senator from Joplin is already too far gone to save.

Regular readers of this space know Gary Nodler, the lawmaker who whined in a movie theater when developmentally disabled adults made too much noise for his liking. Nodler complained, demanded an apology, insisted on a polygraph, made a fool of himself -- and then it emerged that he was using a free pass to get into the cinema.

Truly an asshat.

Nodler was at the (free) movies with his brother, Charles. Now that the senator's story has been met with derision, Charles wants us all to know that Brother Gary did nothing wrong.

In a letter to the Joplin Globe, Charles Nodler writes:
Although I rarely write any opinion letters, I am responding to Max McCoy's recent article that sought my comments. I will give my recollection of this event.

My brother (Missouri state Sen. Gary Nodler) and I went to a movie on my day off from work. We arrived just before the start of the movie. During the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film, there were continuous noise and distractions from the back of the theater. It was too loud to permit us to hear and enjoy the film. At this point, my brother said, "Do you want to stay or leave?" I said I wanted to leave because I wasn't able to enjoy the film.

There was a woman near the opposite door as we left the theater, my brother said to me that the noise was too loud. The young woman said, "You should have either more compassion or consideration for these people."

My brother then said, "Excuse me? It has nothing to do with compassion. The noise was preventing other people from being able to watch the film."

During this short exchange, the young woman used profanity, at which point we left.

When we got to the lobby, a group of other patrons from the same film were asking for refunds. My brother confirmed to the manager that there was noise in the theater and that one person was using foul language. The manager asked him to point this person out. We did, and the manager then said he would monitor the film and if any more distractions occurred, the group would have to leave.

When we exchanged our tickets, the cashier said that she had exchanged several for this movie. I was never contacted by anyone since the event happened to ask my recollections, even though I was the only witness to the entire event.

Pardon us? Nodler & Nodler left a free movie -- and exchanged their tickets for another show?

Boors or boneheads? We can't decide.


Or so we assume, because there can be no other excuse for the radio talker's latest sick schtick.

On Wednesday, Limbaugh deep-throated a mic and insisted that Cindy Sheehan -- the Gold Star mom protesting outside President Bush's ranch in Texas -- had made up her story of grief. He compared her to the discredited CBS story about Bush's National Guard records.

The quote:
"I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left."

Imagine a left-winger saying this about a conservative parent who lost a son in the war. Imagine a liberal driving over crosses and American flags. Or digging through the conservative parent's background to reveal her divorce. Or calling the mom a "crackpot" and a "traitor."

We used to think the people running this country were just bullies. Now we know they're pricks.


Thursday's lead editorial in the Springfield News-Leader discusses Purple Hearts and the war in Iraq. The person who wrote that editorial deserves a medal, because s/he obviously suffered a head wound in some skirmish and still isn't quite back to snuff.

This single graf illustrates the point:
We don't often think of Purple Heart winners and peace protesters at the same time. One group makes major sacrifices to fight and defend our country during wartime, often with greater concern for the safety of their comrades than for themselves. The other group protests the very concept of war, trumpeting unpopular ideals in an effort to make a difference and save lives.

And never the twain shall meet, eh? Good to know that Purple Heart recipients (or "winners," to use the paper's inelegant word) can't be protesters.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Hunter S. Thompson's ashes have been packed in 34 fireworks casings. Last week his mortal remains -- pardon us, cremains -- were delivered by his widow to a fireworks plant in Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Zambelli Internationale got the nod to custom-design the Gonzoworks, which will be shot out of a 157-foot-tall cannon on Saturday in Aspen. Johnny Depp is reportedly footing the $2 million bill.

Right now, a caravan of friends is with Anita Thompson as she follows the truck with the shells -- a 1,600 mile journey.

If you find a better excerpt than this, buy it:
The launching tower weighs 2 1/2 tons, topped with Thompson's signature gonzo fist emblem -- a double-thumbed fist clenched around a dagger with a peyote button in the middle. A peyote button is the crown of cactus containing the psychedelic drug mescaline.

About 350 friends and family will attend the ceremony. Mosely said Depp is involved because the actor and Thompson became close after Depp portrayed the writer in the "Fear and Loathing" movie.

Zambelli project coordinator Matt Wood, who designed the Thompson tribute, said the show strikes a delicate balance.

"We're working very closely with the family and want to keep some things private," said Wood, who is leaving today for Aspen for three dress rehearsals. "It is a funeral."

One last blast of weirdness from the ultimate pro.


Thom found this most excellent idea and throw it through the transom, breaking the murky pane shrouding the brain but causing no other injuries.

Avant Game, the blog, has launched a Ministry of Reshelving project. All we have to do is go to the bookstore and ... well, best to let them explain the rest:
Go to the bookstore and locate its copies of George Orwell's 1984. Unless the Ministry of Reshelving has already visited this bookstore, it is probably currently incorrectly classified as "Fiction" or "Literature."

Discreetly move all copies of 1984 to a more suitable section, such as "Current Events", "Politics", "History", "True Crime", or "New Non-Fiction."

Note: this project is not a critique of bookstore culture, the state of the shelving industry, or even of pervasive government surveillance. It is merely an observation that 2 + 2 = 5, and 5 is no longer fiction.

Go forth and reshelve. And remember that our only true life is in the future.

We are the dead.


Hey hey to Aleah Marie and her blog, an astringent read that's worth your time. We stumbled across "Tales" and were immediately taken by these grafs:

I've been giving this blog thing some thought lately (for obvious reasons) and do see some merits. The internet (and free blogging services) greatly widen the field of independent publications. For minimum or no cost anyone can rant and rave about whatever floats their little boat to a worldwide audience (depending on the popularity of your blog, of course). I do wonder about the market (so to speak) being flooded. Are we sacrificing quality for quantity? I sure don't know, but I have to admit I wonder.

Am I parentheses happy, you ask? Why yes, yes I am.

Ranting and raving and tight with the parens. Check it out.

Monday, August 15, 2005


"Brazil" is one of the best movies ever made. Ever. Twenty years after its release, the film holds lessons for today's weird world.

Terry Gilliam, the director of "Brazil," hasn't had a new movie for seven years, since "Fear and Loathing" queased the movie-going public. The drought ends with two Gilliam films -- the mainstream "The Brothers Grimm," starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, and "Tideland," a smaller effort that sounds tremendously warped. As The New York Times puts it:

"Tideland" combines elements of "Psycho," "Lolita," "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and Faulkner's "Rose for Emily" to tell the story of a little girl who takes refuge from her dope-addict father in a world of imaginary companions, and who has a sexual relationship of sorts with an older retarded man.

In other words, a comedy.

The NYT Sunday piece on Gilliam delves into his fights with studio bosses. Gilliam despises Hollywood, and he isn't afraid to say so:

"It's an abominable place," he said over lunch recently in London, where he lives with his wife and three children. "If there was an Old Testamental God, he would do his job and wipe the place out. The only bad thing is that some really good restaurants would go up as well."

Chortling and warming to the theme, he added: "Hollywood dominates the world so much it's scary. And it's just a village with a few people. It's very small and very provincial." He threw in some obscene imagery for good measure. "And there's always this accepted knowledge: 'Oh, we can't make a movie with him, because his last movie tanked.' There's no long-term plan or view - nothing." He sighed, then added: "But I need their money."

Just call Gilliam a compulsive heating engineer, a maverick ex-Central Service repair man with a grudge against society.


Dennis Rader, the serial killer more infamously known as BTK, has already pleaded guilty to murdering several people in Kansas. But the sorriest details of his crimes have yet to emerge fully.

Former News-Leader writer Ron Sylvester -- now plying his trade in Wichita -- has a compelling read on some of those once-secret details. The story even comes with a "reader discretion" warning. Bonus.

From Sylvester's piece, this passage about victim Nancy Fox, and how Rader described her killing in a letter to cops:

"I spotted Nancy one day while cruising the area," the letter read. "Found out her name by checking her mail box and tracked her to work."

Fox worked at a jewelry store. After killing Fox, Rader wrote that he stole jewelry that "I gave to another girl friend."

As Rader did with other victims, he stalked Fox and broke into her house when she wasn't there. On Dec. 8, 1977, he waited for her to come home.

Rader didn't charm women or manhandle them. He packed two pistols, a knife, a homemade brass knuckle. He cut the phone lines.

When confronted, Rader wrote that Fox acted like she expected to be raped. But Rader didn't rape. He aroused himself by the sight of them helplessly fighting for their lives. He would describe in other letters how he gained gratification as Josephine Otero tried to fight off the fate of the rope around her neck, leaving behind DNA which years later would identify him.

Three years after the Otero murders, Rader handcuffed Fox to her bed and began removing her clothes. Then "she asks me not too," Rader wrote in his typically poor English.

"I was becoming sexual aroused when tying her ankle, and approached her rear I pulled down her panties, quickly slip my belt over her head and on to the neck and pulled tight but not the final strangle hold,"
the letter read.

Rader would strangle people until they reached the point of passing out, then he would loosen his grip and let them regain consciousness. He would repeat the strangling, as if they were dying repeated deaths, only to recover and relive the horror.

"I spoke softly into her left ear," the letter continued. "I was wanted for the Oteros and others murders and she was next. She began to really struggle then, and I did the final hold, this my torture mental and restrangle."

The arousal would reach its peak with the last gasp of life, and Rader would find his sexual release over the corpse.

We're 100-percent against the death penalty, even when guys like Rader appear to make it tough. Given Rader's huge ego, it's best to lock him up for life and forget about him. Dennis Rader craves publicity. Being forgotten will be his worst punishment on this plane.


Big Sandy is mighty slippery this week, according to The Associated Press, as "thousands of quarter-sized toads have invaded this north-central Montana farming community."

Thousands of toads, so many that the grass looks like it's moving. Roads are slick with squished frog bodies.

Two years ago, tumbleweeds blocked the town's main streets. Not quite water turning into blood, but creepy enough to be close.

Next up, according to The Bible: gnats and flies, followed by livestock deaths, boils and hail. And then things really get nasty.


Take that, all you young-Earth types. From CNN:

Two teams of researchers, working separately thousands of miles from each other but both defeating incredible odds, have made stunning finds in frozen Antarctica -- so stunning that the National Science Foundation calls their discoveries evidence of a lost world.

The researchers found what they believe to be the fossilized remains of two species of dinosaurs previously unknown to science. One is a 70-million-year old quick-moving meat-eater found on the bottom of an Antarctic sea, while and the other is a 200-million-year-old giant plant-eater that was found on the top of a mountain, reports Reuters.

The lost world in which these two dinosaurs lived was very different from the Antarctica we know now. Their Antarctica was not frigid and frozen. Their Antarctica was warm and wet.

The 70-million-year-old carnivore was small for a dinosaur at just 6 to 8 feet tall. Scientists believe it is an entirely new species of carnivorous dinosaur that is related to the enormous meat-eating tyrannosaurs and the equally voracious, but smaller and swifter, velociraptors. Think "Jurassic Park." Now scream in terror! Found on James Ross Island off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula by a team led by Judd Case from St. Mary's College of California, it likely floated out to sea after it died and then sank to the bottom of the Weddell Sea. Reuters explains that its bones and teeth show that it was a two-legged animal that survived in the Antarctic long after other predators took over elsewhere on the globe. "One of the surprising things is that animals with these more primitive characteristics generally haven't survived as long elsewhere as they have in Antarctica," Case told Reuters.

The 200-million-year-old herbivore, a primitive sauropod that had a long neck and four legs, was found by a team led by William Hummer from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois on the 13,000-foot high Mt. Kirkpatrick near the Beardmore Glacier. When this dino lived, the area was a soft riverbed. The team found dinosaur bones, specifically part of a huge pelvis and ilium. "This site is so far removed geographically from any site near its age, it's clearly a new dinosaur to Antarctica," Hammer told Reuters. This dinosaur was probably about 30 feet long, but was part of a lineage that went on to produce animals as large as 100 feet long.

Silly scientists with their "200-million-year-old" this and their "70-million-year-old" that. Everyone knows the Earth isn't a day over 10,000 years old. The Bible tells us so.


Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Springfield later this week. He's slated to speak before a Purple Heart convention at University Plaza; that's scheduled for midday Thursday. More details as they float over the transom.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Truly an honor, especially coming from the Snarling Marmot. Words may fail Amy -- so she claims -- but when a politician shows his hindquarters, the Marmot is not mute.

The recent exploits of state Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), as covered in this space and in The Turner Report, were too much for La Marmot, who snarled:

What a prince of a guy, huh? He's also demanding an apology from the caretaker of the developmentally disabled group for calling him on his assholitry. As if that weren't enough, Nodler went so far as to take a lie detector test, at his own expense, to prove the veracity of his side of the story. Mind you he tried to get both the Missouri State Police and the Joplin Globe to pay for said test. Methinks the distinguished gentleman doth protest too much.

Damn. How do you not admire someone who created the word "assholitry"?

And so Gary Nodler wins the Snarling Marmot's Asshat of the Day award -- and he's in the running for Asshat of the Month honors. Sweet.


Like an especially nasty case of the clap, the Gary Nodler story refuses to die. Thanks to Nodler.

As regular readers know, the state senator from Joplin got upset when a group of developmentally disabled adults made too much noise for his satisfaction at a movie theater.

Late Thursday, CHATTER broke the news that Nodler didn't even pay for the movie; he uses a free pass not available to most mere mortals.

Today, the Joplin Globe has a story about the freebie -- and in it, Nodler continues to show his ass.

Of the pass, Nodler told The Associated Press: "I've used it frequently. I enjoy it ...I don't know anything about the organization that provides the passes."

Knows nothing, but loves to bitch about disabled people.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


State Sen. Gary Nodler of Joplin is causing an uproar because he says a group of developmentally disabled adults ruined his movie-going experience. He said a caregiver for the disabled adults was rude, and he's demanding an apology.

Turns out Nodler got all pissy over a comped flick. A freebie. A perk.

That's right: Nodler didn't even have to pay to get in to see "Fantastic Four" -- yet he still flew into a fury when the disabled adults got too loud for his liking.

Richard Sechrist, manager of the Northstar 14, told CHATTER that Nodler's name is on the free-pass list for July 22, the day of his outburst.

"He did (use it), yeah," Sechrist said late Thursday. The manager added that Nodler has been going to Northstar 14 for several years, "and he always uses his pass. I know, because I check the logs."

State lawmakers have been getting free-movie passes for more than a decade in Missouri, according to the United Motion Picture Association.

Gary Nodler complained about something that he was getting for free.


Rep. Roy Blunt, the Republican congressman from southwest Missouri, is also the House Majority Whip.

He's also got a new title: Friend of Jack.

As in Abramoff, a bigshot lobbyist in Washington, D.C., who was indicted Thursday in Florida on fraud charges stemming from a casino-boat deal.

Abramoff has been tied to Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the House Majority Leader (and Blunt's political bossman). But scant attention has been paid locally to the fact that Blunt is also an Abramoff friend -- apparently a pretty close one.

The New York Times reported last month that Blunt was listed as a "FOO" at Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures. That curious acronym stands for "Friend Of Owner," and with it, Blunt was able to comp meals at an eatery where a steak costs $74 and a "tasting menu" will set you back $140.

You certainly won't find anything like that in Springfield. Then again, Blunt doesn't spend a lot of time back home anymore, not since he divorced his wife and married his girlfriend, a tobacco lobbyist.

Roy knows Jack. That's not a good thing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


A dozen dudes are in a van. Several of them are rappers and members of G-Unit, run by 50 Cent.

Cops stop the van, according to WNBC, after it ran a red light.

What did the po-po find?

Two handguns. One gun for every half-dozen dudes.

Cops found one of the guns on the floor, so they arrested all 12 guys inside, including Chris Lloyde -- aka Lloyd Banks -- and David Brown -- aka Young Buck.

Everyone was eventually released without having to post bond.


Political correctness goes way overboard in San Francisco. From the Chronicle:

Beleaguered talk-show host Larry Krueger has lost his job at KNBR -- and two other station employees also were fired late Tuesday night.

Longtime program director Bob Agnew and Tony Rhein, the producer of KNBR's morning show, were let go by the station. The announcement was made around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday in a statement issued by senior vice president Tony Salvadore on KNBR's Web site.

On "Sportsphone 680" last Wednesday night, Krueger made reference to the Giants' "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly." That led to Krueger getting a suspension that was due to end this Monday.

Giants manager Felipe Alou refused to accept an apology from Krueger. Alou appeared on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program Monday night and called Krueger "this messenger of Satan, as I call this guy now. ... And I believe there is no forgiveness for Satan."

On Tuesday morning, KNBR aired Alou's sound bite from "Outside the Lines" and then parodied it with Satan references from the Comedy Central show "South Park."

That apparently was the impetus for Rhein's dismissal -- and might have had something to do with the termination of Agnew, who had been with KNBR since 1989.

So you can't say "Caribbean" anymore? There is no forgiveness for Felipe Alou.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


This month marks the anniversary of the end of World War II, and of the bombs that rattled the world. Without Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans would have been forced to invade and occupy the mainland of Japan. Or so goes the current thinking, reinforced by 60 years of hindsight.

But it's been partial hindsight, at best, and new evidence suggests the atomic bombs played less of a role in ending the war than previously thought.

Make no mistake: The whammy of two atomic bombs within a week certainly helped along Japan's surrender. But Soviet archives -- once sealed tight, now open to Russian historians -- show the Japanese were also afraid the Soviets were going to invade Manchuria and occupy parts of Japan.

From Scripps-Howard:
"I think the Soviet presence was crucial," said Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a professor of history at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and author of "Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman and the Surrender of Japan."

Hasegawa, whose specialty is Russian history, said histories for the last half-century have treated the Soviet entry into the war against Japan on Aug. 8 as a sideshow. U.S. textbooks today emphasize the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and the bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9 as the decisive action forcing the Japanese to surrender by Aug. 14.

But Hasegawa said the bombing of Hiroshima didn't deliver a knockout punch, and the bombing of Nagasaki got surprisingly little notice at the highest levels of the Japanese government, which already was trying to find a way to end the war.

"Of course it had an impact, but it was not that decisive," said Hasegawa, who studied imperial Japanese war records in Tokyo as well as Soviet archives. "What it did was to inject urgency into Japanese diplomatic efforts to end the war."

Hasegawa says the Soviets wanted to invade Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan.

In 1945, a woman we know, Akiko Hirata, was 18 and living with her family in Hokkaido. She knew the war was going badly for Japan; even though the radio proclaimed great victories at sea, she noticed that the young men in her town went away to fight and never returned.

Akiko Hirata later married an American, moved to the United States, became a citizen and had three children, among them the chief typist for CHATTER. For purely selfish reasons, we're glad the Soviets never got the chance to invade Hokkaido.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Definition of must-read: The Turner Report, a blog run by Randy Turner. He teaches for a living but he's still a reporter, digging up stuff that you need to know.

The latest example is Turner's examination of an incident involving Gary Nodler, a state senator from Joplin.

Nodler, 54, is a regional biggie in GOP circles. On July 22, however, Nodler was nothing but a brat.

The skinny: Nodler and his brother went to a Joplin cinema to catch an afternoon showing of "Fantastic Four." Also in attendance: several developmentally disabled adults and their caregivers. Nodler got steamed because the disabled people were making noise. He exchanged words with one of the caregivers. Now he wants an apology from the 20-year-old woman, Amanda Richardson. He also wants her reprimanded.

None of this is in dispute.

Richardson told the Joplin Globe that the senator said "people like that shouldn't be allowed in places" like the theater. Nodler denies the specific statement -- but what he told the newspaper is no better:

"If you have clients who cannot behave without disturbing other patrons," Nodler said, "they shouldn't be there. The fact that someone is disabled is not a license to act inappropriately."

Nodler asked the Missouri Highway Patrol to give him a lie-detector test so he could prove he was telling the truth. The state boys declined to get involved. Nodler then asked the Globe to pay for a polygraph; wise heads at the newspaper declined the senator's invitation to fork over some cash.

Of course Nodler hired a polygraph examiner. Of course the test he paid for showed he was telling the truth.

Nodler told the Globe that the whole thing was "politically motivated" because he voted to cut Medicaid for some 90,000 poor Missourians, including the disabled.

Damn those developmentally disabled people and their planned vendetta against Gary Nodler! What's next on their evil agenda -- terrorizing Aunt Norma Champion with their Skinny & Rusty impressions?

Randy Turner offers a succinct observation to Nodler's madness with the polygraph: It sure seems as though he is attempting to swat a fly with a sledge hammer. Amen, brother.


Apparently it's somewhat common, but seldom do we hear about such cases. Thank you, state-run media!

This report from New Kerala kicks:
A 42-year-old farmer with terminal lung cancer set off a homemade bomb aboard a bus in southeastern China today in a suicide attack that wounded 31, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Xinhua did not give a motive for the attack in central Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, but it followed criticisms by senior health officials of health care costs that have risen beyond the means of many in rural areas.

The bomb was strong enough to blow out the windows of nearby stores, Xinhua said.

Pictures seen by Reuters showed rescue workers carrying victims on stretchers. One woman had deep cuts on her face, legs and abdomen, with part of her intestines spilling out. An unconscious man had black burns on his bloodied legs.

Xinhua did not identify the farmer.

Police declined to comment, but a local resident reached by telephone told Reuters that a woman who got off shortly before the explosion said she saw a man board the bus carrying a plastic container emitting smoke.

Bombings by social malcontents are common in China,
where explosives are relatively easy to obtain, but most go unreported in the tightly-controlled state media.

When someone boards your bus carrying a smoking plastic container, you can bet he or she is a social malcontent. Good thing this dude blew up before the Chinese government grabbed hold of him.


The local radio ratings were released on Monday. That sound you heard was the din of exploding heads in programming offices across Springfield, as bigshots try to figure out what it all means, Stimpy.

The local signals are rated twice a year in Springfield, so it's never a surprise when the numbers do big shifts. But definite trends are easy to spot, and they don't bode well for some longtime big-shot signals.


•KTTS-FM, owned by Journal, slipped from a 15.5 in last fall's book to an 11.7. Still good enough for No. 1, but still a significant drop.

•KSPW -- another Journal station -- pushed its Power to a 9.7, good enough for second place. Power had boasted a 5.1 last fall.

•KGBX, the sleepy adult-contemporary station owned by Clear Channel, snoozed its way into third place with a 7.1 -- down from an 8.8 last fall.

Rounding out the Top 5: KOSP, the station also known as Oldies 105.1 (6.9, up a point from last fall); and KOMG (5.5).

The KOMG story is this book's talker. The station flipped formats from hits to '80s country; listeners did a lot of sampling, driving the station to a 5.5 from a 1.3 last fall.

KXUS -- home of Spankmeister -- increased audience to come in sixth place with a 5.3 (up from a 4.0). Then come the talker stations: KSGF increased to a 5.1, beating KWTO-AM (4.8).

It's all downhill from there. Congrats to the winners.