Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Roger Holyfield was 17. Walking in Jerseyville, Ill., Holyfield was confronted by police on Saturday. The teen was yelling: "I want Jesus." He was carrying a Bible.

Cops shot him with a Taser. Now he's dead. The Associated Press reports:
In a statement obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, police in Jerseyville, about 40 miles north of St. Louis, said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling, "I want Jesus."

Police tried to calm the teen, but Holyfield became combative, according to the statement. Officers fired the stun gun at him after he ignored their warnings, then fired again when he continued struggling, police said.

Holyfield was flown to St. Louis' Cardinal Glennon Hospital after the confrontation Saturday; he died there Sunday, police said.

An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.

The statement expressed sympathy to Holyfield's family but said city and police officials would not discuss the matter further.

Calls Tuesday to Jerseyville Police Chief Brad Blackorby were not immediately returned. The department has been using stun guns for about five months, according to the statement.
What was the kid doing wrong in the first place?


We happen to support Amendment 2, the stem-cell research issue on the Missouri ballot. If you oppose it, good for you; just don't start with the false talking points about how this is cloning and we're all going to hell.

And whatever you do, don't go stealing signs. In Kansas City, an anti-2 homeowner is fed up with the tomfoolery. KMBC reports:
Whether it was a teenage prank or a political ploy, homeowner Shaun Jones videotaped someone taking campaign signs from his front yard on Northwest 87th Terrace early Monday morning.

"That's the only one they bothered," Jones told KMBC's Natalie Moultrie.

The video showed a group taking all 11 of his "Vote No on Amendment 2" signs.

"What have I done other than say this is what I feel, what I believe and how I'm going to vote?" Jones said.

Jones said it is the second time in a week someone has taken his signs. After the first sign disappeared, Jones set up his surveillance camera.

"It's kind of humorous. Part of me wanted to catch them and say, 'Hey, stop acting childish, vote the way you want to vote,'" Jones said.

But what you can't see on the tape is that whoever took the signs also decorated Jones' front tree with toilet paper and knocked over a flower pot on the front porch, Moultrie reported.

Jones said that other "vote no" signs in his neighborhood disappeared overnight as well.

"It was a calculated effort. They came to canvass the neighborhood and take signs away from people who want to speak out about an issue," Jones said.

Jones has replaced the stolen signs.

"I didn't want them to take my signs. I want to be able to vote and speak out this way. I feel like that's been taken away from me," Jones said.

Jones said he is giving a copy of his surveillance tape to police since taking political signs from someone's front yard is considered stealing personal property.
Dude had 11 No on 2 signs. E-le-ven. That's screaming out on the issue.

It is Halloween. Political yard signs will succumb to tricks. Treat yourself to a few straight pins through the top of your signs and see if that doesn't stop the snatchers.

Monday, October 30, 2006


The newspaper industry continues to wither. Editor & Publisher has the latest circulation figures from the nation's 25-biggest dailies:
USA Today: 2,269509, (1.3%)
The Wall Street Journal: 2,043235, (1.9%)
The New York Times: 1,086,798, (3.5%)
Los Angeles Times: 775,766, (8.0%)
The New York Post: 704,011, 5.3%
Daily News, New York: 693,382, 1.0%
The Washington Post: 656,297, (3.3%)
Chicago Tribune: 576,132, (1.7%)
Houston Chronicle: 508,097, (3.6%)
Newsday: 413,579, (4.9%)
The Arizona Republic, Phoenix: 397,294, (2.5%)
The Boston Globe: 386,415, (6.7%)
The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.: 378,100, (5.5%)
San Francisco Chronicle: 373,805, (5.3%)
The Star Tribune, Minneapolis: 358,887, (4.1%)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 350,157, (3.4%)
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland: 336,939, (0.6%)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: 330,622, (7.5%)
Detroit Free Press: 328,628, (3.6%)
The Oregonian, Portland: 310,803, (6.8%)
The San Diego Union-Tribune: 304,334, (3.1%)
St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: 288,676, (3.2%)
The Orange County (Calif.) Register: 287,204, (3.7%)
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 276,588, 0.6%
The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee: 273,609, (5.4%)
Three gainers, 22 losers.


Not only in the World Series, but in the category of Most Dangerous City in America. The Journal Gazette reports:
Scott Morgan, president of Morgan Quitno Press, a private research and publishing company specializing in state and city reference books, said he was not surprised to see St. Louis top the list, since it has been among the 10 most dangerous cities for years.

Morgan said the study looks at crime only within St. Louis city limits, with a population of about 330,000. It doesn't take into account the suburbs in St. Louis County, which has roughly 980,000 residents.

The safest city in 2005 was Brick, N.J., population about 78,000, followed by Amherst, N.Y., and Mission Viejo, Calif. The second most dangerous city was Detroit, followed by Flint, Mich., and Compton, Calif.
To be fair, Detroit's metro remains the most dangerous in the nation.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Figuratively speaking. Literally, it's still a mess. Immediately in front of us, there's a twist-tie, a Code Red bottle cap and a soap dish. Every one of these things is not like the other, and none of them have anything to do with the computer.

Friday marked the debut of fifth episode of DougTV, the 'net-exclusive entertainment arm of the Doug Harpool campaign (we'd call it "edutainment," but that's way too Papa G). The vids are all posted on YouTube. Here's the series, from first to latest:

DougTV 1
"Doug in 100 Seconds"

DougTV 2
"Nip It"

DougTV 3
"Just the Facts, Ma'am"

DougTV 4
"Bully Puppet"

DougTV 5
"She's Against It"

Our compilation blog, Act Your Old Age, has also been updated with the DougTV vids.


The Unusual Suspects, aka the local bloggers, have plans for the night of Nov. 7. Let Andy Cline from Rhetorica explain:
A mass live-blogging event from the Patton Alley Pub. Let's cover the election and local issues as the returns come in.

If you're interested in doing this, please let me know asap, and I'll try to set up a special spot (perhaps the stage area) with the pub owner. Plus, if enough of you will do it, I'll bet we could attract a little media attention. We are a diverse group of smart people. Let's make the most of it!
The original erratic ranter, Fat Jack, has the best response to Cline's idea:
BIG AND TASTY is all over that like a stack of peanut butter pancakes
Mmmm. Pancakes.

It may be the best media coverage you'll eyeball all night.

Speaking of politics and eyeballs, here's the latest episode of DougTV.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The Great Debate comes Thursday -- or so goes the hype from Glendale High School, where Norma Champion and Doug Harpool are scheduled to meet in what's being billed as a "debate" between the candidates for Springfield's seat in the Missouri Senate.

As KY3's Dave Catanese reports in his Political Notebook, Champion says she won't "debate" Harpool, but will appear at forums where he's also been invited.

Champion also admits to Catanese that she knows she's fudging facts in her "positive" television ad:
A current Champion ad notes she helped bring $3.9 million dollars in new money to Springfield Public Schools. But in our interview, Champion said she believed the number was actually $2.9 million.
But we digress. Thursday's event at Glendale will be very scripted. Our sources say Champion asked for, and received, the questions in advance, apparently so she could bone up on any answers and not suffer an embarrassing moment like she did Monday at the League of Women Voters forum, when she whiffed her response to a question about a child kidnapping bill (she was the only senator to vote against the measure in May 2004).

Maybe this explains why Champion agreed to Thursday's "debate." She's walking in with the questions in her pocket.


Dude, not cool. The News-Times from Danbury explains:
A 22-year-old local man was killed and seven others injured early Sunday morning in an explosion that erupted after a partygoer at a pig roast tossed a beer keg into a fire barrel.

Witnesses said the 3:13 a.m. explosion that killed Sean Caselli reverberated as far as a mile or more away from the Aspetuck Ridge Road festivities.

"It was an unbelievable explosion,'' said New Milford High School hockey coach and neighbor Robert Greco, a physician's assistant who rushed to the scene to offer assistance. "It rattled the street.''

Caselli, who lived with his family on North Valley Road about a mile away, died after being struck by a piece of flying metal in the neck, police said.
The empty keg reportedly cooked for a couple hours before exploding.


Two or three bullets to whet your appetite:

•Norma Champion obviously wanted to be anyplace but the Library Center on Tuesday night. The League of Women Voters held a forum; Champion showed up but clearly didn't enjoy the experience of answering questions. See what happened when the senator was asked a question about campaign contribution limits. She says she didn't support lifting the limits, but she certainly voted for the bill that did what she says she doesn't support.

•Morris James, the former news director of KTTS, has Radio Weird up and going. James is an old-school journalist; he actually believes in things like serving the public by providing news and information. Go figure.

•President Bush said this week that Democrats are "genetically disposed" to raise taxes. His view of science, exposed.

•Thursday is haircut day. About a foot of it going to Locks of Love. In theory, enough will remain to keep a ponytail. In theory.


Mark the calendar, alert the media, all that. It'll happen Friday in downtown Springfield. Colin from Stim Magazine has the lowdown:
I heard once that Springfield is one of the few larger cities in the United States that is based around a town square. I can't confirm that, but keep it in mind when you're coming to watch Benefit of a Doubt, Sweetwater Abilene (I misspelled their name on the flier...and then proceeded to copy that info to the posters...sorry guys!), Attie Beck and the Real Rhymers Camp. We've also got some speakers coming; the exact speakers won't likely be announced until the day of the event, as we're still talking to various candidates and experts on different issues that are on the upcoming ballot. Did I mention this is all free? Yeah.
The festivities kick in at 5 p.m. Politicians will be there, or so we hear. Be like a Bob Barker contestant and come on down.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Two weeks until Election Day. Dave Catanese at KY3 is filling his Political Notebook with goodies aplenty, including coverage of the Doug Harpool-Norma Champion race.

Meanwhile, the two candidates meet Tuesday evening at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters (beleagured, we sometimes refer to the group, because the work it does is underappreciated).

Champion and Harpool also meet this week in what's being billed as a debate. From the Springfield Public Schools:
Glendale High School's political discussion club, Sons and Daughters of Liberty, will host a debate and panel discussion between state Senator Norma Champion and challenger Doug Harpool.

The event takes place from 3:15 - 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, in the Glendale library. Five club members will serve as panelists; one of them will moderate the debate.

Son's and Daughters of Liberty is a student political debate club created in 2005.

The event "is educational but also seriously political," said Mike Snodgrass, who teaches advanced placement government and liberty and law honors classes at Glendale. "It's an important event for the candidates and students alike."
Champion is too good to appear at a KY3 debate, but Glendale High School is fine. Wonder if KY3 will carry it live? That would be cool.

Back soon with the usual madness. The League forum beckons.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Just a couple days ago we were marveling at the News-Leader's damning-by-faint-praise endorsement of Charlie Denison.

Just a couple minutes ago -- it's 4:30 a.m., by the way -- we hopped on to read the morning paper and discovered an editorial endorsement of Missouri Senate candidate Doug Harpool that is anything but faint.

The paper's endorsement of Harpool is coupled with a deconstruction of why Norma Champion is all wrong for the job. This about sums it up:
Champion has not become a leader in the Senate, not in the way we believe Harpool would. She doesn't have a handle on the issues like Harpool does. We were disappointed she refused to debate her opponent. "I didn't see any advantage to a debate for me," she told the News-Leader editorial board. The advantage should have been for voters to see and hear the candidates side by side.

If they had, we're sure that most would agree with us that while Champion is a wonderful person who has served her district well, Harpool is more qualified to represent the district in the Senate.
Proud, you betcha.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The News-Leader is endorsing candidates for the general election. Good. Local newspapers should use their editorial soapbox to pick the candidates the paper feels will best represent the public.

On Tuesday the News-Leader endorsed Rep. Roy Blunt for reelection -- no stunner, that, given the lack of a serious Democratic candidate for congressman of the 7th District.

But it's an editorial endorsement from last week that still has us nodding in admiration at the way Tony Messenger and Brian Lewis wield the knife.

The paper doubled-up on Friday, endorsing B.J. Marsh and Charlie Denison for reelection to the Missouri General Assembly in the 136th and 135th districts, respectively.

The paper gave a few kind words to Jim Owen, the Democratic challenger to Marsh:
Owen, in particular, is a breath of fresh air. He knows the issues backward and forward. He has a conservative approach on many issues that fits his district well. We have no doubt he'd work hard for his constituents if elected.
The editorial had no words, kind or unkind, for Denison's opponent, Nancy Hagan. Then again, the paper had no kind words for Denison, either:
[W]e believe that Marsh in particular, and Denison to a lesser extent, have earned the right to return to Jefferson City and represent their districts. In Marsh's case, it's his undying support of the Missouri State University name change and his ability to reach across party lines that earns him the nod. More than any other local elected official, Marsh deserves credit for pushing the name change even when it appeared to be a dead issue. He wasn't afraid to work with Democrats on the issue, and in today's Jefferson City climate, that's rare.
Charlie Denison will no doubt use the News-Leader endorsement in his direct mail pieces. But he won't have a quote to pull, and that's fitting.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Conclusion: McCaskill came off as more self-assured. Talent seemed almost too energetic in slamming his opponent.

No one scored a knockout, but only the foolish would have expected one. Both candidates know what they're doing.

McCaskill wins, narrowly, by coming across as rational. Talent loses by not knowing when to shut off his attack mode. First thing he needs to do in the post-debate bliss: Hunt down the person who applied his makeup. Tony Messenger looked more hale and hearty than Talent, and even Tony would acknowledge that's saying something.

Right after the debate -- a Talent ad attacking McCaskill! And after a couple of PSAs, a McCaskill ad attacking Talent! What a surprise!

Another perspective comes from Strannix, who also notes Talent's ghostly complexion.

Also check KY3's Political Notebook for more reaction from viewers.

8:52 p.m.
Closing statements. Talent says he's the change agent. McCaskill says she is. These are basically canned speeches -- long-form audio commercials with the talking points the pollsters says will work to peel away undecideds.

8:50 p.m.
Shelton to McCaskill: Social Security.

McCaskill: Best plan is to stop bad plan, runaway spending. No discipline to balance budget, she says. Need to stop runaway spending, privatization. "Wall Street has enough power."

Talent: SS is vital, great program, gotta protect it. Opposed to privatization. Raises broader issue about keeping faith to seniors. He veers into nursing-home abuse.

8:45 p.m.
Messengers asks about cable competition. Local versus more choice, where do you stand? Odd question, but probably will get fresh answers.

Talent: Locals need to be able to maintain revenue flow from cable companies. Doesn't mean munis should be cut out from fees.

McCaskill: Comes down on side of competition for consumer. "I believe in open markets." But big corporations in D.C. are consolidating, growing in power and influence. Have to fight for competition and to open markets.

Talent ridicules McCaskill for "conspiracy" thinking about corporations.

8:42 p.m.
Messenger asks McCaskill about Mexico. She says: "Not sure" if it's U.S. responsibility. Says Mexico not doing too bad because we're borrowing money from Mexico to subsidize "this mess" in Iraq. Tries not to look soft on immigration. First responsibility is to secure the border. Says she doesn't support amnesty for illegals.

Talent: "We need to deal fairly" with Mexico. Agrees with McCaskill -- the heaven failed to open to herald this moment. Strongly supports border fence. Says McCaskill opposed fence. Opposed to amnesty, "just gonna make the problem worse." Insists she did oppose amnesty, border fence.

McCaskill rebuttal: "I said a fence wasn't going to solve the problem, and it won't." Says Talent just keeps repeating "smears against me and my family ... because they don't have issues to talk about."

8:38 p.m.
Shelton asks Talent about environment -- global warming. Goody.

Talent: Yeah, I think global warming is a problem. Don't know how fast, don't know if humans are to blame, don't know what to do about it. Says burning ethanol, biodiesel will help. About to rip McCaskill for being against it, just watch. "My opponent opposed it." Yep, there it is. She took the "northeast line, the East Coast line." So that's where McCaskill gets her accent.

McCaskill: Global warming definitely a problem. Says Talent said "no one is sure if the Earth getting warmer is necessarily a bad thing." In 2005. Can't wait to hear his response. She says she was for ethanol in 1988, back before it was cool. Brings up subsidies for oil and Talent's ties to those companies.

8:35 p.m.
God bless Jerry Jacob. For the third time he's gently reminded both candidates to try to stick with the question given them. Next time he should pull a Hunter. We'd cheer.

Catanese asks about No Child Left Behind; McCaskill says she and Talent agree with the basic tenets, but then she says Talent is against Head Start, other popular programs for kids.

Talent: Education very important, obviously. Supported $2.2 billion in fed support for local schools. Says feds should enpower local districts. Always supported education increases, he says. Disturbed by NCLB red tape.

McCaskill: Look at Talent's record; he said private schools should be funded with public money.

8:29 p.m.
Catanese asks about wasteful government spending, big budget deficits. Can Talent name an earmark he'd kill for Missouri?

Talent: Doesn't answer. Pivots to cutting taxes, says revenue is way up and that the budget deficit isn't that big a deal. "We do need to eliminate wasteful spending," he says, but doesn't bring up any single program he thinks is wasteful.

McCaskill: Points out that Talent didn't answer the question. Says voters should go on auditor's website and see over 800 audits that expose wasteful spending in Missouri. Specifics, she says. For second time, brings up Talent "going to Washington 14 years ago."

In rebuttal, Talent brings up McCaskill and taxes, personal issues. Yikes.

8:25 p.m.
Shelton asks about McCaskill as a Catholic, her support for the stem-cell initiative (the Catholic Church is against it). Says she's prayed about it. But she seems to be missing a chance to talk stronger on her ability to disagree with her faith while still being faithful.

Talent: On the ballot issue, would create constitutional right to clone. "I'm not for that," he says, while maintaining he's for stem-cell research. Now calls her no friend of life, brings up her pro-choice stance.

McCaskill: Personally opposed to abortion. No support for partial-birth abortion. We need to come together and prevent abortions.

Observation: Talent had no problem answering how he'll vote on Missouri's stem-cell initiative. Why the problem with talking about the minimum wage proposal?

8:22 p.m.
Messenger: Do you believe Auditor McCaskill is a liar and a cheat, as a veteran claims in a Talent radio ad?

Talent: "No, I wouldn't have used those words." Talks about his record on veterans, says believes in "obligations of honor." Cites awards from veterans, says McCaskill has done nothing to vets worth recognizing.

McCaskill: He approved an ad that said that. How to clean things up if "we, as candidates, don't stop it?"

Our comment: There's a thread here that seems to work -- people are genuinely fed up with the amount of money being sunk into political campaigns. Between McCaskill and Talent, they've raised $16 million, and that doesn't include money from the national Dems and GOP pockets. Call it $30 million, all told. For what?

8:18 p.m.
McCaskill asks Talent (nice format touch, that): "As someone whose salary is paid by the taxpayers ... yes or no, how will you vote on the minimum wage proposal that you will be voting on in three weeks? Yes or no?"

Talent: An issue for the state's voters to decide. He doesn't take the bait. He should have. Pushes PLAY on the minimum-wage-will-hurt-small-business recording.

Talent asks McCaskill: We know your family owns 150 limited partnerships ... you own an off-shore tax shelter in Bermuda ... will you release your family's tax returns?"

McCaskill: This campaign is going to new lows. "Washington has changed Jim Talent more than he has changed Washington." Says family has released book of information on holdings. No tax sheltering that isn't part of the tax code. This is just about smear, she says. "We're better than that in Missouri ... I will not attack Senator Talent's family."

8:08 p.m.
Missy Shelton asks Talent about Iraq. Why aren't you advocating sending troops to Iran and North Korea?

Talent: Entire mission was to replace Saddam Hussein. Now replaced with democracy. S'all good. Criticizes McCaskill for being weak on national security. Didn't answer the question.

McCaskill: Man running government in Iraq leads a failed policy. Says U.S. has "tunnel vision" in Iraq and hasn't paid attention to Iran, North Korea. Uh-oh, now she's done it -- she says no nukes under Clinton Administration.

Talent: "Iraq is helping us," he insists. "Not sponsoring terrorism in region, not invading their neighbor." Once Iraq government can defend itself, all will be well.

Tony Messenger: Health care question. Talent supports legislation to pool small-biz money for better savings on health insurance.

McCaskill: Supports it, "a good idea." Says Talent hasn't gotten it passed in a GOP-controlled Congress. Reason, she says: Mandates for consumer rights that Republicans don't like. Can create insurance pool for small businesses while still protecting consumers (she mentions women trying to get mammograms). She proposes participating in federal program.

Talent: "She doesn't support" the bill. Equates it to farm coop. Savings of "10, 15, 20, 25 percent ... and it wouldn't cost consumers a dime." Wouldn't "cost anybody anything," he says in a special bit of hyperbole.

McCaskill rebuts: "I certainly support small businesses." Cites auditor job as proof she's independent. Whips out the "Talent voted for taxes" line. Yawner.

8:04 p.m.
Dave Catanese asks about Iraq. "Can you both agree that what you're saying, you'd like to see U.S. troops out of Iraq?" McCaskill answers first, criticizes Bush and his "preoccupation" with Iraq. "We need to change course," she says. She's got the majority of people on her side. Launches the two-year time limit for redeployment.

Talent: "We're not gonna win victories if we leave," he says. That's what McCaskill wants to do, her adds. "We need to finish the job ... and then come home with a victory in our pocket." He links McCaskill to "Howard Dean's disengagement plan." Clumsy line, old hat. Is Howard Dean (or Ken Mehlman) that important to the average voter?

McCaskill rebuttal: Evokes John Warner to say she's right and Talent is wrong. Nails Talent for not showing up for two-thirds of armed services committee meetings.

8 p.m.
Talent looks pasty under the lights. McCaskill looks fine. Someone get that pale boy a makeup artist!

Talent gets the chance to speak first. We don't mean to be shallow, but his complexion is uncomfortable. Richard Nixon looked shadowy in his first TV debate with John Kennedy, and that didn't turn out too well for Tricky Dick.

Talent is talking a bit fast. Reeled off his conservaive bona fides -- Alito yes, stem-cell no. Now he's ripping into McCaskill. "This election's about who's gonna change the system," Talent says.

McCaskill: Takes him on for attacking the opponent. Turns to the tack of wanting to change Washington. "It's a mess out there," she declares. Uses the "I" word -- independent -- to evoke Harry Truman. Then does what Talent does, and rips into her opponent.

These opening statements are mostly forgotten by debate's end, unless someone drools. Questions incoming from the Gang of Three.

7:57 p.m.
Just an aside, but this "Deal or No Deal" show is incredibly annoying. Almost as bad as the NBC promos for that new John Lithgow show.

7:54 p.m.
Monday night, Springfield, and Missouri's major-party candidates for U.S. Senate are holding a debate. Sponsored by KYTV, KSMU and the News-Leader, this rules-driven gabfest is especially important for both camps. Claire McCaskill needs a respectable showing in southwest Missouri; Talent has to keep his base from staying home on Election Day.

What the hell. We're going to live-blog this pup. Jerry Jacob is the moderator. Missy Shelton of KSMU, David Catanese of KYTV and Tony Messenger from Ye Olde News-Leader are armed with questions. Join in with your comments.


Where in hell are we, anyway? Last we glanced up it was Thursday and Freddy Fender was still alive but we really thought he'd already died, so news of his passing, while sad, was not unexpected.

We've been past our eyeballs in hockey and politics, not necessarily in that order. Sorry for the slim pickings of the past few days. Soon we will catch up on postings. And sleep. At least the former.

For now we leave you with this: As Halloween approaches and the inner egg-thrower in you yearns to be free of the yoke, keep this image in mind.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


The Virginia governor became a darling to some local Democrats last April, when he headlined Jackson Days in Springfield. Much speculation then that he was running for president, given his "Forward Together" PAC and his trip to Missouri.

Much speculation now that Warner will not run for president in 2008. The Associated Press reports that two Democratic sources say Warner has decided to take a pass and will announce as much in a news conference. Reason? "Not immediately known," AP reports. Therein lies the real story.


The Daily Mail makes Thursday ever so much gloomier with this little ray of sunshine. Doomsayers, rejoice:
Scientists have found that on average mammal species enjoy only 2.5 million years of life before being wiped out because of the Earth's "wobble."

They say when the tilt and orbit reach key points it can spark dramatic global cooling - and the last time this happened was 2.6 million years ago.

This suggests we are overdue a wave of extinction.

However, before you panic, scientists say our planet has changed beyond all recognition in the last 3 million years.

The new research published in the journal Nature (must keep) however sheds new light on just why individual mammal species seem to come and go with mysterious regularity.

The study, conducted by researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, involved looking at 22 million years of data on rodent species to see which ones appeared and died out at key points.

They then studied the pattern of the Earth's wobble, which is caused by two factors, our orbit around the sun and the tilt of the planet.

Both of these can be slightly altered by the gravitational pull of other planets, in the case of the tilt it can adjust by as much as two degrees, and the orbit can vary from a circle to an ellipse.

Lead researcher Dr Jan van Dam said when the tilt reaches a certain point and the orbit is almost a perfect circle it can trigger ice sheet expansion.

This could then lead to colder summers, changes in humidity and significant climate cooling.

He found a clear pattern between the Earth's wobble and mammal species dying out.

There were two distinct cycles of species turnover, one with peaks every 2. 5 million years and the other every million years.

Dr van Dam said the last peak was 2. 6 million years ago.
Van Dam him.

Monday, October 09, 2006


This whole idea of Missouri being in the Midwest? Apparently bogus. Monday's Washington Post includes a curious political story about Springfield. The hed -- A Balancing Act in the Upper South -- is topped only by this yawner of a lede:
They call this city the buckle of the Bible Belt.

Tucked in southwest Missouri, near Arkansas and Oklahoma, Springfield is home to 200 churches and five Christian colleges, including Jerry Falwell's alma mater, Baptist Bible. The Assemblies of God, a fast-growing force in the Pentecostal movement, is headquartered here. Local businesses include Divinely Inspired Cleaning, Integrity Imports and Grace Health Services.
So many buckles on that Bible belt.


She is definitely out of the running for Mom of the Year award. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
A woman used her 4-week-old baby as a weapon during a domestic dispute, swinging the infant through the air and striking her boyfriend with the child, authorities said.

Chytoria Graham, 27, of Erie, remained in the Erie County Jail today, unable to post $75,000 bond on charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and simple assault.

"The baby was swung at the individual that she was arguing with," Erie District Judge Thomas Robie told the Erie Times-News for today's editions.

District Attorney Bradley Foulk said the child was critically injured in the incident about 3:30 a.m. yesterday. The infant, whose gender was not released, was flown by helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital.

"Never, never, never -- I can never remember anything like this," Mr. Foulk said.

Authorities removed four other children from Graham's home and they were in the custody of the Erie County Office of Children and Youth.
Cops said they didn't know the baby's gender, or whether the man with whom Graham was arguing is the baby's father.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Breaking Sunday night. South Korean leaders say via the Yonhap news agency that the test is reality; North Korea has just confirmed. Big news.

Updated 1:46 a.m. Monday: The USGS earthquake center reports a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, located:
70 km (45 miles) N of Kimchaek, North Korea
90 km (55 miles) SW of Chongjin, North Korea
180 km (110 miles) S of Yanji, Jilin, China
385 km (240 miles) NE of PYONGYANG, North Korea
Preliminary reports say the blast was equivalent to 550 tons of TNT -- not a big nuke bang, but that's a relative term.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


DougTV is back with another Internet-exclusive message from Missouri Senate candidate Doug Harpool. KY3 political reporter David Catanese offers his review. Watch it yourself:

Friday, October 06, 2006


The headline of the Sun-Sentinel story: Kin of man who killed deputy want probe into why he was shot 68 times

The deputy was from Polk County, Fla. The family of the dead cop killer wants the governor, Jeb Bush, to rustle up an independent investigation into the shooting of their loved one. The Sun-Sentinel reports:
Nine SWAT officers fired a total of 110 bullets at 27-year-old Angilo Freeland last week after he fatally shot a Polk County deputy and his dog and wounded another fleeing from a traffic stop. "This is not about a lawsuit. Nobody is suing anybody," the family's attorney, Grady Irvin, said at a Thursday afternoon new conference. "What this is all about is this death is uncommon in the means and manner by which Mr. Freeland died -- 68 bullet holes. His family just wants to put this issue to rest and they want a search for the truth, that's all." An Orlando-based civil rights group also on Thursday called on U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales to look into the circumstances surrounding Freeland's death.
An uncommon death caps an uncommon life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Fat Jack has the right idea when it comes to politics. Got a question? Ask the politician. In Jack's case it was Nancy Hagan, candidate for a state representative's seat in south Springfield. He wanted to know where she stands on The Issues -- you know, those pesky things that some citizens actually care about.

Many people think we wouldn't cross the street to spit on a Republican in flames (and please, no bad Mark Foley jokes). Many people would be wrong. We've voted for Democrats and Republicans. We've donated to candidates from both parties. It may sound mighty queer, but we're old-fashioned enough to believe that it's all about voting for the best candidate.

But how do you find out if someone is a good candidate for public office -- for public service? Some pull a Fat Jack and ask the candidate. Many others -- most others -- rely on the media to inform them, and by that we don't mean campaign commercials.

Sometimes, however, a politician decides that he or she is too good to answer your questions. The latest case in point is Norma Champion, the state senator running for reelection.

She refuses to talk with reporters about where she stands on the issues. Her excuse? The KY3 political reporter, Dave Catanese, has a Doug Harpool bumper sticker on his desk. Harpool is challenging Champion for Springfield's seat in the Missouri Senate.

Catanese explains the insanity:
I approached Champion's campaign aide Mike Barnett about setting up an interview with the Senator about her re-election race. We've been trying to set an interview up for some time. Barnett said Champion's schedule had been jam-packed and that he was meaning to get back to me. But as we got further into the conversation, he told me the flat out truth.

"A lot of people are telling us not to talk to you because of the Harpool sticker you have on your desk that's on TV about the blog, and about some of the comments that have been made on your blog," Barnett said. "Quite a bit of Republicans are telling us that."

At least now I know.

They do have a point. I did have a Harpool sticker on my desk that was in the background of a shot used to promote the KY3 political blog. Never thought anything of it. On the other side of my desk, I had stickers for Jim Talent, Claire McCaskill, Jo Ann Emerson and Jay Nixon (but they weren't in the shot). I've said before it is the way I decorate my desk. I'm open to taking stickers from any candidate of any party. But I understand how seeing one sticker could cause a perception problem. Lesson learned.

I can't do much more than say I'm a political junkie who loves politics and the buttons, stickers, signs and flags that come with it. And yes, I love covering these legislative races. But they become pretty tough to cover fairly and objectively when one side won't talk to you.

I explained to Barnett that I was just trying to do my job and he pledged to work with me in setting up an interview with Sen. Champion over the next few weeks. I hope we can work it out.

Barnett also informed me that the Champion campaign would not be accepting our invitation to hold a District 30 Senate debate at KY3. "She's going around talking to lots of forums. We feel like the people know her and know what she has done. We think a debate would just be a chance for the other side to be negative," Barnett said.
We've decided to help with Harpool's campaign for Missouri Senate. We knew him when he was a state representative in the 1980s and 1990s, and we believe he is the better candidate for office. Much of this is based on the fact that Harpool talks about The Issues. He's not afraid to meet people who disagree with him. He listens.

And unlike Norma Champion, he doesn't duck debates.

The biggest yuck of all? Champion uses the nickname "Aunt Norma" in her political campaigns. It's even the way she's listed on the ballot. Where did she get it? From her time on KY3. She'll take their fluffy nickname. She won't take their tough questions.

R.W. APPLE, 71

Johnny Apple is dead, and in fitting fashion, The New York Times has a great obit:
With his Dickensian byline, Churchillian brio and Falstaffian appetites, Mr. Apple, who was known as Johnny, was a singular presence at The Times almost from the moment he joined the metropolitan staff in 1963. He remained a colorful figure as new generations of journalists around him grew more pallid, and his encyclopedic knowledge, grace of expression — and above all his expense account — were the envy of his competitors, imitators and peers.

Mr. Apple enjoyed a career like no other in the modern era of The Times. He was the paper’s bureau chief in Albany, Lagos, Nairobi, Saigon, Moscow, London and Washington. He covered 10 presidential elections and more than 20 national nominating conventions. He led The Times’s coverage of the Vietnam war for two and a half years in the 1960’s and of the Persian Gulf war a generation later and he chronicled the Iranian revolution in between.
We should all be so lucky to be remembered so vividly. RIP, Johnny Apple.


Only a handful of weeks until the general election, and that, of course, means the streets of Springfield are teeming with hoodlums. Who knew that gangs were so attuned to the rhythms of politics?

The Springfield Public Schools' board of education got an earful of gang news on Tuesday; to hear some tell it, the halls of Central High School are full of danger, masquerading in long T-shirts.

Long shirt? You must be in a gang.

That sort of constipated mindset is often on local display, especially when alleged gangs are involved and their kids might be in danger. Otherwise-smart people become fearmongers. They believe everything The Man tells them, and never think to question authority: The police chief and prosecutor said gangs are a problem? OK. Nevermind that the prosecutor is up for reelection.

Sometimes, even reporters believe the hype. Today's News-Leader account of the school board meeting includes this telling slip:
Local law enforcement officials have been making efforts to stop gang activity in Springfield. Since August, Springfield police have made more than 80 felony arrests related to gang activity; a grand jury has indicted at least 26 gang members or associates.
Absolutely no question about it -- cops are "making efforts to stop gang activity." Every one of those 80 felony arrests involves "gang activity." The 26 who've been indicted? Every single person is a "gang member or associate."

These are facts? How does the newspaper know?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The Guardian offers up a curious story of a racer who happens to be a woman from Iran. Easy to sense trouble ahead from the set-up:
She was the speed queen of the racetrack who became a feminist icon after triumphing over an all-male field to become Iran's national car rally champion. But now the high-octane driving career of Laleh Seddigh has juddered to a halt, with a ban from participating at a race by the country's motor racing authorities. Seddigh, 29, was walking towards her 1600cc Peugeot 206 at Tehran's Azadi stadium when stewards blocked her way, citing "security problems".

The snub followed days of wrangling with Iran's racing federation over her right to take part in an event she won two years ago on her way to becoming national champion. In the lead-up to the race, she was told her participation was not guaranteed but was advised to register her name. Her registration was passed after technicians gave her car the all-clear. "I thought I had been given the go-ahead," she said. "I was walking towards the grid thinking, thank God this has been resolved, when they shut the door on me. They said they didn't know why, but the head of the federation said I wasn't allowed to participate."

It was the first time Seddigh, whose exploits earned her the soubriquet "the little Schumacher", had been excluded from a contest. Senior federation officials said they had been unable to obtain permission for her participation.
Repugnant. Not a reason to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran, but still so backwards that it boggles the brain.


So drunk she decided to show up drunk in court for an appearance on a drunken-driving charge. The Associated Press reports:
A Little Rock woman facing her fifth drunken-driving charge in the span of a year -- and third in less than a month -- showed up to a court appearance drunk Tuesday morning, a court official said.

Susan Marshall, 55, was arrested for contempt of court after a brief appearance in Little Rock District Court, said chief probation officer Sheila Farley. Marshall later had a blood-alcohol level of 0.147 percent, Farley said. The legal limit for adult drivers in Arkansas is 0.08 percent.

Marshall said she did not drive to her court appearance and had no keys when arrested, Farley said.

Marshall, who had three drunken-driving arrests in September, was taken to Pulaski County Jail. She was scheduled for another court appearance Wednesday, Farley said.
Well, thank God she didn't drive to court.