Sunday, December 31, 2006


In 2007, we resolve to:

•Be a better friend to those we love.

•Reconnect with those we have wronged, and ask for their forgiveness.

•Stop smoking cigarettes, because lung cancer is a crappy way to check out.

•Make the changes we need to make to kill old, corrosive ways of life.

•Lose a few pounds. Five, no more.

•Gain the upper hand in the Great Game of Mortality. First step: Learn MIT's secret.

•Attend at least one bloggers meeting a month.

•Post every day.

•Kill the wabbit.

•Learn to play "Surf Wax America" on guitar.

•Not be so stupid sometimes.

•Create, invent, innovate.

Hope is in our heart, sugarbear. We have that, at least. Happy New Year.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Some hopes, wishes, fears and dreams for the new year:

•Kit Bond retires from the U.S. Senate.

•Matt Blunt decides against a second term as Missouri governor.

•Springfield Police Chief Lynn Rowe retires.

•The College Station project (the "Car Park and urban entertainment complex") is delayed.

•The Moxie keeps proving that "art" films have a place in Springfield.

•Downtown Springfield loses at least one significant retail outlet, but gains several others, including one national chain store.

•Branson seeks more convention business. So does Springfield. Hardball competition ensues. Some will reconsider the wisdom of the Springfield-Branson designation at the airport.

•Questions are raised about the source of defense funding for the Jordan Valley Innovation Center.

•The News-Leader starts publishing a Christian County edition, but also contemplates newsroom layoffs.

•Local talk-radio changes a host.

•A Springfield radio station finally figures it out and launches a jazz format.

•Talk radio for women? It'll happen in 2007 in Springfield.

•We haven't heard the last from Jerry Jacob.

Your turn.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Shiver yer timbers, fine fellows, as you read this cautionary from North Carolina involving alcohol, an argument and castration. The Dunn Daily Record reports:
Rebecca Ann Dawson, 34, of 700 Stockyard Road who is listed in Harnett County Jail records as Rebecca Arnold, was arrested by Lillington Police Officer R.D. Bass after she allegedly attacked Kevin Russ during an argument.

Lillington Police Chief Frank Powers would not release details about how the incident happened, he said, until the case is investigated further.

"Some of the witnesses were intoxicated, so we have to do more investigating," he said.

"It was a domestic situation and she attacked him with her hands," Chief Powers said. "There were no weapons involved."

Chief Powers said Officer Bass also charged Ms. Dawson with resisting arrest.

"She resisted a little," he said.

Chief Powers said Ms. Dawson spit on the officer while being arrested.

Ms. Dawson was arrested on four charges. She faces felony counts of assault causing serious bodily injury, malicious conduct by a prisoner, injury to personal property and malicious castration.
As opposed to charitable castration, of course. Dawson is free on $50,000 bond. She's scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 17, 2007.


President Bush is both in the eyes of the public, but he's much more likely to be viewed as a villain. An Associated Press/Ipsos poll shows one in four adults consider the president a bad guy. About half that number -- 13 percent -- see Bush as a hero. According to the report:
Bush was the choice of 43 percent of Democrats for villain of the year, higher than the 27 percent of Republicans who chose Bush as their hero. Bush was far ahead of any other figure in the race for villain of the year. The runners-up were Osama bin Laden, who earned just 8 percent of mentions, Saddam Hussein, at 6 percent, and the president of Iran with 5 percent of mentions. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il rounded out the top five with just 2 percent of all mentions.

In the race for hero of the year, Bush won by a smaller margin, with the troops in Iraq coming in second place with 6 percent of mentions. Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and Jesus Christ rounded out the top five with 3 percent of mentions each. Older adults were more likely to name Bush as hero than younger adults. Those 35 and older, 16 percent, were twice as likely as those under 35, 7 percent, to name Bush as hero. Fully a quarter of white evangelical Christians named Bush as hero, more than all Protestants, 18 percent, and Catholics, 12 percent.
We can already hear the grumblers on both fringes claiming the poll was rigged (libs: "No one thinks he's a hero." cons: Oprah and Obama tied with Jesus?). A pox on both extremes.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Gerald Ford thought the war in Iraq was a mistake. He also had harsh words for two of his former employees -- Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. The Washington Post reports:
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush had launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veteran's of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
When you hear Republicans cloaking themselves in the memory of Gerald Ford, remember this: He wasn't on their side.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The former president died Tuesday night. Read all about him here.

Smitty gets the point with a 10:45 p.m. phoner.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Another point for MIT, who didn't let Christmas spoil the mortality-game hijinks.

The Godfather of Soul is dead. His agent, Frank Copsidas, founded 417 Magazine and used to own a couple radio stations in Springfield.

MIT came up with the best hed: Papa's Got a Brand New Body Bag. All praise and glory to him. And to James Brown for being such a bad-ass.


The Miss USA pageant will decide soon whether Katie Rees, 22, should be reinstated as Miss Nevada USA 2007. Rees was dethroned after pictures of her vamping with other women (and on her knees in front of a guy) surfaced.

Rees has apologized and asked for a second chance. For your careful study, here are the pics of Rees.

"So many of us don't realize how our actions, even one night of poor judgment, can affect the rest of our lives," Rees said. The pics show plenty of action and almost no judgment.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies.

So begins the best Christmas story -- ever. Written by William Sydney Porter, a guy who used the pen name O. Henry, "Gift of the Magi" explains the great power of unselfish love. Who could want for more, sugarbear?

You can read it here. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


What a holiday treat for assorted crooks. President Bush on Thursday issued the pardons -- and a commutation of sentence -- for crimes involving drugs, bank fraud, kickbacks and conspiracy. According to The Associated Press:
Seven of the 16 received no prison or jail time, instead getting probation or a reduction in their military pensions.

The longest sentence was nine years, for aiding cocaine distribution, followed by a six-year term for conspiracy to possess marijuana.

With this batch, Bush has issued 113 pardons and commuted three sentences in his nearly six years in the White House, according to spokesman Tony Fratto.
Who got lucky? The AP reports:
•Charles James Allen of Winchester, Virginia, conspiracy to defraud the United States. A former federal employee, Allen was convicted in 1979 for approving payments to James Hilles Associates Inc., a Virginia firm, for office supplies that were never delivered. In return, Allen received car parts, a radio, a freezer and other gifts from the firm. He was sentenced to a year of custody to be served by 30 days in jail, 90 days in a work-release program, and the remaining period on parole.

•William Sidney Baldwin Sr. of Green Pond, South Carolina, conspiracy to possess marijuana. Sentenced October 27, 1981, to six years' imprisonment.

•Timothy Evans Barfield of Cary, North Carolina, aiding and abetting false statements on a Small Business Administration loan application. Sentenced July 17, 1989, to three years' probation, including 96 hours of community service.

•Clyde Philip Boudreaux of Thibodaux, Louisiana, borrowing money from enlisted men, accepting a non-interest-bearing loan from a government contractor and signing and swearing to a false affidavit. Sentenced December 2, 1975, to a Navy reprimand, loss of numbers on the promotion list and a $1,000 fine.

•Marie Georgette Ginette Briere of Gatineau, Quebec, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Sentenced July 9, 1982, to three years' imprisonment and three years' special parole.

•Dale C. Critz Jr., Savannah, Georgia, making a false statement. Sentenced July 13, 1989, to three years' probation.

•Mark Alan Eberwine of San Antonio, Texas, conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing and obstructing the assessment of taxes by the Internal Revenue Service and making false declarations to the grand jury. Sentenced February 1, 1985, as amended April 23, 1986, to two years' imprisonment.

•Colin Earl Francis of Naugatuck, Connecticut, accepting a kickback. Sentenced May 7, 1993, to two years' probation and a $2,500 fine.

•George Thomas Harley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine. Sentenced November 30, 1984, to nine years' imprisonment and five years' special parole.

•Patricia Ann Hultman, of Kane, Pennsylvania, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances. Sentenced October 28, 1985, to one year of imprisonment.

•Eric William Olson of Ojai, California, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, possession, and use of hashish. Sentenced February 21, 1984, by an Army general court-martial to confinement at hard labor for one year, reduction in pay grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad conduct discharge.

•Thomas R. Reece of Cumming, Georgia, violating the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to alcohol. Sentenced May 2, 1969, to one year of imprisonment.

•Larry Gene Ross of Indio, California, making false statements in a bank loan application. Sentenced August 15, 1989, to four years' probation and $7,654.20 in restitution.

•Jearld David Swanner of Lexington, Oklahoma, making false statements in a bank loan application. Sentenced December 6, 1991, to three years' probation.

•James Walter Taylor of McCrory, Arkansas, bank fraud. Sentenced October 18, 1991, to 90 days in jail, followed by two years and nine months' probation.

•Janet Theone Upton of Salinas, California, mail fraud. Sentenced May 23, 1975, to two years' unsupervised probation.

Bush also commuted the sentence of Phillip Anthony Emmert of Washington, Iowa, whose case involved conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Emmert was sentenced December 23, 1992, to 262 months' imprisonment (reduced on February 21, 1996) and five years' supervised release.
Presidential prerogative.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Social conservatives have tried for years to eradicate frank sex education in public schools by pushing abstinence-only programs, despite evidence that such programs don't work.

"Just say no" isn't for kids anymore. The Bush Administration wants to extend the effort to include unmarried adults up to age 29.

Even someone with no sense should know it's a waste of time and money. Premarital sex happens. As the Associated Press reports:
More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.

"This is reality-check research," said the study's author, Lawrence Finer. "Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades."
The Guttmacher Institute study involved interviews with 38,000 people, including 33,000 women. The interviews span two decadess, from 1982-2002. From AP:
According to Finer's analysis, 99 percent of the respondents had had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had done so before marriage.

Even among a subgroup of those who abstained from sex until at least age 20, four-fifths had had premarital sex by age 44, the study found.

Finer said the likelihood of Americans having sex before marriage has remained stable since the 1950s, though people now wait longer to get married and thus are sexually active as singles for extensive periods.

The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.
Making a cameo appearance as a caricature in the AP story is Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, a clan of tight-lipped social conservatives. Crouse isn't sure the study is valid: "Any time I see numbers that high, I'm a little suspicious. The numbers are too pat."


We stumbled onto Tech Trends while fumbling through the Internet for local content to add to the blogroll. Billed as "New Media Renaissance from a Southern Missouri Perspective," the site's operator has a lofty mindset:
We’re living in historic times. Creativity and empowerment is at an all time high. As a culture we’ve become acutely aware of our proximity to the dangers of our time. Though fear and the threat of those that wish to do the world harm are at the forefront of our societies awareness so should be our awareness that the worldwide access to information, shared resources and tools to express creativity is also peaking.

The purpose of this site is to acknowledge, share and encourage technological development in the region we work in. Those selected to participate in the creation of this site are regional superstars, soldiers in technological development. Those invited to participate have shown excellence in their professional undertakings, passion for technology and the pursuit of excellence in Interactive development.

This site is being created for the purpose of sharing our goals, ideas and documenting our regional participation in a global phenomenon, the new Renaissance.
Amen and amen. Though the stuff about us being "the last great court reporter" is a bit premature.


Louis Armstrong's "Christmas in New Orleans," perhaps? Johnny Cash and Neil Young doing "The Little Drummer Boy"? Or maybe "Christmas In Hollis" by Run-DMC?

All three are on the CHATTER ho-ho compilation, a CD mercifully void of that "Wonderful Christmastime" dreck by the disappointing Beatle -- though it does include a pre-freak Michael Jackson yipping about his mother kissing Santa Claus. For every yin, a yang.

Other blog faves:

•"Yule Shoot Your Eye Out" by Fallout Boy.
•"Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)" by The Darkness.
•"Peace Anyway" from The Black Crowes.

OK, maybe the Crowes isn't about the holidays, but the sentiments still apply.


Mick Denniston, director of development for Springfield Catholic Schools and former executive director of Springfield Little Theatre, was seriously injured in a one-vehicle wreck in New Mexico on Thursday.

Television station KRQE reports the crash happened west of Albuquerque on Interstate 40. Denniston was eastbound when his vehicle went off the road, apparently over-corrected, then overturned at least twice.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Bill Hanna died in 2001 at the age of 90. His partner in cartoon crime died Monday. Together, they created Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo and the Flintstones. The Associated Press reports:
Barbera died of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side, Warner Bros. spokesman Gary Miereanu said.

With Hanna, Barbera first found success creating the highly successful Tom and Jerry cartoons.

The antics of the battling cat and mouse went on to win seven Academy Awards, more than any other series with the same characters.

The partners, who had first teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, then went on to a whole new realm of success in the 1950s and '60s with a witty series of animated TV comedies, including "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," "Yogi Bear," "Scooby-Doo" and "Huckleberry Hound and Friends."
Hanna-Barbera won eight Emmys and entertained millions of us, as kids and adults. A pretty great legacy.


Hayward helped create Dudley Do-Right for the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. The Associated Press reports:
Hayward died of cancer Nov. 20 at his Beverly Hills home, his wife, Linda, told the Los Angeles Times in Sunday editions.

Hayward contributed satire, wordplay and puns for "Rocky and His Friends," a witty cartoon that built a large adult following. The show debuted on ABC in 1959 and was renamed "The Bullwinkle Show" when it moved to NBC in 1961.

Besides its titular flying squirrel and moose, the hit show featured segments including Mr. Peabody, a time-traveling dog with a boy companion, and Dudley, a klutzy hero always in pursuit of his nemesis Snidely Whiplash.
Poor Nell Fenwick.


Dutch breasts are getting bigger. Nearly one in three women sports at least a D-cup bra. Only one in five could make the same claim in 2000. Expatica reports:
In Europe, Dutch women are ranked third behind British and Danish women in terms of bra size, research commissioned by Bodyfashion Promotion indicated on Wednesday.

Some 42 percent of women aged 30-39 have D-cup breasts and feel in general okay about that. Women with a large bra size are now the largest group in the Netherlands.

But the shape and size of breasts start to change once women reach the age of 40 and women then opt for a smaller bra size.

Some 44 percent of surveyed girls aged 12-19 think that eating fatty foods helps increase the size of their breasts.

All survey respondents said poor nutrition habits are the cause of increased breast size. Hormones in food and the general increasing size of the population are also leading to bigger breasts.
Fatty foods grow bigger boobs? Ha.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


TIME magazine announced its person of the year. It's you:
[F]or seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
The mag cover has a mylar window, so you see your reflection. How obsequious can TIME be?

Friday, December 15, 2006


Sen. Harry Reid, the soon-to-be majority leader, says he will end a scummy practice known as "dead-of-night legislating." That's where lawmakers slip perks into bills in the pipeline, usually when the watchdogs are sleeping.

So what did Reid do in the last hours of this Congress? Betcha. As Bloomberg News reports:

Reid slipped two home state projects into the last major bill Congress passed last week: a transfer of federal land in Nevada to state and private control that's almost two-thirds the size of Rhode Island; and a $4 million grant for a hospice. Neither had been approved by any congressional committee. ...

"Doing anything last minute shoved into an irrelevant measure -- that's exactly what Harry Reid said he was going to stop," said Steve Ellis, vice president of programs at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based nonprofit that monitors government spending. "It goes against the grain of transparency and openness."

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Reid's actions didn't constitute "dead-of-night" legislating because his request was the subject of extensive negotiations earlier in the week among congressional leaders over what to include in the measure.

Reid called House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas on Dec. 7 to remind him of an earlier agreement to include the land legislation when a draft released that day didn't include it, Manley said. The House Rules Committee added Reid's measure at about 10:30 p.m. at Thomas's request. Thomas, who is retiring, is a California Republican.
Just because it happened in the dead of night doesn't make it "dead-of-night" legislating. There may be lamer excuses, but none immediately come to mind.


The University of Missouri system -- "UM" in Washington State shorthand -- lost Elson Floyd to Washington State University. But who can blame Floyd for bolting, when the green is so much richer out west? The Seattle Times reports:
Floyd receives total annual compensation of $436,000 at UM, according to a 2006 study by The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Former WSU President Lane) Rawlins' total package at WSU is $536,000.

Officials said today that Floyd would receive $600,000 his first year.

WSU is this state's second-largest university, with more than 22,000 students enrolled at four campuses. The University of Washington has 43,500 students at three campuses.

The UM system is one of the largest higher-education institutions in the country, with more than 63,000 students at four campuses. With a main campus in Columbia, Mo., it has a large engineering program and schools of law and medicine.
Sure, sure, it costs more to live on the West Coast, and the WSU gig seems a lateral, at best. As president of Washington State University, he'll be making $200,000 more than the president of the United States. Nice work if you can get it.


We're not offended, but the social conservatives won't be happy with their darling governor.

An earlier post showed that Blunt, the governor of Missouri, sent a memo to department heads, letting them know that even though the unnamed, evil "they" wanted to ban all utterances of Christmas, the governor stood firm in his belief that no one should be punished for saying "Merry Christmas."

Friday, we happen to receive a Christmas card from the governor (clearly a case of the wrong address). The cover photo is the First Couple, with their son standing in a sleigh. No Christmas tree.

The sentiment inside:
Psalm 8:1
O Lord, Our Lord,
How Majestic is Your Name in all the Earth!
Best wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season.
The Blunts
Matt, Melanie and William Branch
A joyous holiday season? Sounds like "they" have gotten to Matt Blunt.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman is an inmate at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo. Now he is reportedly dying, and the feds are worried. Fox News reports:
The FBI has sent a bulletin to state and local law enforcement warning of possible terrorist reprisals as the health of an incarcerated terror mastermind fails, FOX News has learned.

Although the FBI said there is no credible indication that a plan for retribution is in place, the agency sent the warning as Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman was treated in Missouri for bleeding.

The blind sheik, who was the alleged architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has called for revenge should he die in U.S. custody.

Last week, Abdel-Rahman was given blood transfusions at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, Mo., after spitting up blood in his prison cell. A tumor was reportedly found on his liver.
Abdel-Rahman was convicted of plotting to blow up the United Nations.


Thousands of mallard ducks, dead. Authorities don't think it's bird flu -- they're leaning to a bacterial infection -- but according to Reuters, the Department of Homeland Security has been brought in to investigate:
"We think the possibility of avian flu is very remote but we're not ruling anything out at this point in time," said Dave Parish, regional supervisor for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "We want to make sure all the bases are covered."

Wildlife officials are calling the massive die-off alarming, with the number of dead mallards rising from 1,000 on Tuesday to more than 2,000 by Wednesday afternoon. "We've never seen anything like this -- ever," Parrish said.

A hunter alerted state conservation officials after finding a handful of dead ducks along a creek near Burley, about 150 miles southeast of Boise, on Friday.

By Wednesday, dead and dying birds clogged sections of the stream and littered its banks. Officials have posted signs warning hunters and others not to touch or eat the birds until a cause of death has been identified.
Duck for dinner? Thanks, but no.


Another point for MIT. The owner of the Kansas City Chiefs died Wednesday night of prostate cancer, according to The Associated Press.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


The Military Religious Freedom Foundation charged this week that military officers working at the Pentagon are risking national security by being heavy-handed with their professions of Christian faith.

The officers include four generals and three colonels, according to the foundation. Public displays of faith by those officers might give the impression that the United States is a Christian nation fighting a new Crusades, says Mikey Weinstein, president of the foundation. He called it an "internal national security issue every bit as great as the one we're fighting outwardly."

Cybercast News Service reports:
Weinstein called on incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates to investigate a promotional video for the Christian Embassy, an organization that ministers to members of Congress, ambassadors, presidential appointees and Pentagon officials.

Christian Embassy, established in 1975, works with government leaders "not only because of their personal needs, but also because of their position as decision-makers to influence our families and freedoms," according to its website. At the Pentagon, the group holds weekly prayer meetings and Bible studies every weekday.

In the promotional video cited by Weinstein, four generals and three colonels appear wearing their uniforms. Among them is Lt. Col. Lucious Morton, who says that Christian Embassy-led Bible studies benefit the military as a whole because they create "Godly men" who will lead others into battle.

Maj. Gen. Jack Catton also appears in the video and says he shares his faith with people he meets in his office: "I start with the fact that I'm an old-fashioned American, and my first priority is my faith in God, then my family, and then my country."

Weinstein said the video raises questions about whether the officers followed military regulations that restrict appearances in uniform for non-military purposes.
We're not sure about the validity of the claim that this is a national security risk. We're more queased by the fact that the seven colonels and generals are wearing their uniforms while evangelizing for Jesus. Talk about coercion.


She was the world's oldest human until she died on Monday. She was 116 years, 118 days, born Aug. 15, 1890. When she was three months old, 200 Sioux were killed by soldiers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

New holder of the title of oldest person on the planet is this guy, Emiliano Mercado del Toro. He's 115.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Who: Stoner.

What: Called 911, said he'd been trying to sell a pound of pot for $1,100, but a dude with a shotgun stole it.

When: Dec. 6, 2006.

Where: Wichita.

Why: Lack of intelligence.

How: Let the Wichita Eagle tell you:
[T]he buyer pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and stole the marijuana, the victim told authorities after calling 911. Police officers arrived at the house with a drug-sniffing dog and were able to locate additional marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The man with the gun was still "in the wind" as of Friday afternoon, police spokesman Gordon Bassham said.

The victim was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on several charges, including possession with the intent to sell drugs.
Dave's not here, man.


Only last June, the National Basketball Association proudly announced a new Official Game Ball. Made by Spaulding and promising a "better grip, feel, and consistency than the current leather ball," the new microfiber composite ball was supposed to be the Next Great Thing:
"The advancements that Spalding has made to the new game ball ensure that the best basketball players in the world will be playing with the best basketball in the world," said [NBA Commissioner David] Stern.

The NBA and Spalding subjected the ball to a rigorous evaluation process that included laboratory and on-court testing. Every NBA team received the new ball and had the opportunity to use it in practice. The ball also was tested in the NBA Development League and was used in activities during NBA All-Star 2006 in Houston. NBA retired players Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson participated in testing the new ball as well.

"Spalding’s continual efforts to advance basketball technology have yielded the optimal ball, one that is worthy of the new Official NBA Game Ball designation," said Spalding Group President and CEO Scott Creelman. "We are honored that the NBA collaborated with us to make this change."
Monday, the NBA sheepishly announced that it was ditching the new ball and going back to leather. The Associated Press reports:

Players have complained about the new ball since training camp, saying that it bounced differently than the old one -- off the floor and the rim. They also said the synthetic material cut their hands.

NBA commissioner David Stern told the New York Times last week the league should have sought more input from players before introducing the new ball.
Apparently there's plenty of good leather to go around.


Alexander Litvinenko has been dead since Nov. 23, but clues to his death by radiation continue to blossom.

The Litvinenko case took another bizarre turn on Monday, when German authorities hospitalized four more people with suspected polonium-210 poisoning. The sickened include the ex-wife of a former Russian security agent-turned-businessman, her boyfriend and her two children. RIA Novosti reports:
[T]he head of the investigation team in Hamburg said a medical examination will show if their organisms contain a dangerous concentration of the radioactive element. Authorities did not identify them by name.

Businessman Dmitry Kovtun met with defector Alexander Litvinenko around the time of his poisoning at the beginning of November. Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin's administration and a close associate of fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, died in a London hospital after four days in a critical condition.
Dmitry Kovtun is also hospitalized with suspected polonium-210 poisoning. Kovtun met with Litvinenko at a London hotel on Nov. 1, the day Litvinenko was reportedly poisoned.

The Associated Press reports that Kovtun had a colleague at the meeting with Litvinenko. That third wheel, Andrei Lugovoi, was questioned on Monday by British investigators. The interview took place at a hospital in Moscow. Lugovoi is sick, too.


Like Brenda Ann Spencer, we don't like Mondays.

Today's top gripe comes from California, where a high-school senior decided to stage "Cabaret." Not at the high school, mind you, but that doesn't matter to the prudes who see filth in everything they don't like.

The production, staged at Antelope Valley College, was scheduled to open on Friday night. But the social cons were trying hard to stop the alleged madness. The Antelope Valley Press report on the controversy includes a hoot of a quote from Donita Winn, a trustee at the high school:
"I'm really going to suggest - not knowing anything about the play - that the girls wear a little more clothing," Winn said. "Also, the poses are a concern."
But the Nazi angle? No problem.

One Monday bullet:

•Happy birthday, Smitty!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


The former leader of Chile was a bloody madman. He took over Chile during a coup and ruled for 17 years. Now he's dead, and Bus Plunge gets the point.

The Associated Press reports:
Supporters saw Pinochet as a Cold War hero for overthrowing democratically elected President Salvador Allende at a time when the U.S. was working to destabilize his Marxist government and keep Chile from exporting communism in Latin America.

But the world soon reacted in horror as Santiago's main soccer stadium filled with political prisoners to be tortured, shot, disappeared or forced into exile.

Pinochet's dictatorship laid the groundwork for South America's most stable economy, but his crackdown on dissent left a lasting legacy: His name has become a byword for the state terror, in many cases secretly supported by the United States, that retarded democratic change across the hemisphere.

Pinochet died with his family at his side at the Santiago Military Hospital on Sunday, a week after suffering a heart attack.
No lingering physical pain before he died, apparently. Too bad.

Friday, December 08, 2006


The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was a Stephens College alum (we'll refrain from calling her a Susie). Amy from Gentle Whisper proves she's a playa in the Game of Mortality by nailing this one first.

Kirkpatrick used to be a Democrat before she fell in with the Reaganites. During her time at Stephens she was a Socialist. People change.


The congressman from southwest Missouri, recently elected whip of his now-minority party, was part of the culture of kicking-back in D.C. This year, when Republicans ruled Congress and Blunt was majority whip, the workweek started Tuesday afternoon and ended Thursday afternoon.

No more, says incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.); he pledges a workweek that will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday and end about 2 p.m. Friday.

As this Washington Post story makes clear, Blunt views the increased work schedule as something that can by played to partisan advantage:
"They've got a lot more freshmen then we do," he said of the Democrats. "That schedule will make it incredibly difficult for those freshmen to establish themselves in their districts. So we're all for it."
Blunt helped create the shorter workweek because it allowed Republican lawmakers to shirk their duties and spend more time at home, campaigning and raising money. Now he wants freshmen Democrats to work longer hours because it'll keep them far from home and give the GOP the chance to exploit their absence. In both cases, Blunt shows how much he's forgotten and how much he's changed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Robert Tomlin, 22, was convicted last month of killing a kitten by tossing it into an outdoor fire pit. The crime happened last July outside the home he shared with his girlfriend, Kelli Green.

At the time she told cops that she and Tomlin argued; she fled, and when she returned she found Tomlin had thrown her four newborn kittens in the fire pit. Green later recanted, but she said she'd called it quits with Mr. BBQ Kitty.

Apparently she changed her mind about that one, too. The Associated Press reports Tomlin is back in jail, accused of violating probation by moving back in with Green -- and her five cats:
Tomlin could be jailed for up to 18 months, the suspended portion of a Nov. 13 sentence that included three years of supervised probation. The terms of Tomlin's probation included a provision that he have no contact with animals or pets.

No hearing date on the probation-violation charge has been set.

Tomlin pleaded guilty Nov. 13 to one count of aggravated animal cruelty stemming from a sheriff's deputy's report that the remains of a kitten were found in a smoldering outdoor fire pit at the house Tomlin shared with Green on July 2. As part of a plea bargain, the state dropped a second-degree assault charge alleging that Tomlin had hit Green.
At his sentencing Tomlin told the judge: "I committed a horrible crime, sir ... You will never see me in this court again." He was right about the first part.


The U.S. senator from Pennsylvania lost his reelection bid last month, in part because of his infamous bursts of verbal insanity about man-on-dog sex.

The radical right still loves Rick Santorum, however. He did not disappoint them on Wednesday when he voted against the nomination of Robert Gates to be the nation's defense secretary.

According to this Washington Post story:
Two Bush allies, Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky., voted against Gates, citing his criticism of the war and his view that the U.S. should engage Iran as part of a solution.

"Mr. Gates has repeatedly criticized our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan without providing any viable solutions to the problems our troops currently face," Bunning said. "We need a secretary of defense to think forward with solutions and not backward on history we cannot change."

Santorum mocked the idea of engaging dictators and talked at length of the evils of "radical Islamic fascism." When it comes to reaching out to Iran to discuss the security of Iraq, Santorum said of Gates, "I think he is in error."
Santorum still hopes to rise from the ashes of his political career and become the leader of the theocons. Beware.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


In the wake of Jerry Jacob's announced departure from KY3, there is far less uproar about another departure from the local NBC affiliate. Michelle Sherwood notes the resignation of Tim Tialdo, the weekend anchor. Reports Sherwood:
He will leave at the end of December to pursue other interests in the market.
He will be the new face of the Ozarks CW!
So he'll still be around, just not like he is now...
Oldsters may recall a March 2004 post (in an earlier version of CHATTER) that noted the remarkable resemblance between Tialdo and Ike, the little brother on "South Park." Others thought he was more like Miller Redfield from "Murphy Brown." Such kidders.


And she has a great piece of history. It could be yours, if you cough up around $100,000.

Louise Harrison is selling her own copy of "Meet The Beatles." The signed U.S. copy of the LP is one of only nine known to exist.

The Sunday Mirror offers:
Louise got it signed on a train to Washington DC on the band's first concert tour of America in 1964.

"I got all of them to sign it for me," said Louise, 75.

For a while, the record - one of only nine signed US albums - was housed in President Clinton's library in Little Rock, Arkansas, as part of a rock'n'roll display.

But when Louise, who lives in a trailer in Branson, Missouri, realised how much was worth she decided to sell it. She said: "I thought the best thing would be to use it to help my family."

Louise plans to split the cash between her family, environmental charities and the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute band she manages.
That tribute band just finished its Branson gig at the Caravelle Theater and is off to Puerto Rico for a couple dates. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


After getting the tip on Tuesday afternoon we rang a couple friends who also know Jacob and dropped the bombshell. The reaction was expected -- complete and utter disbelief, followed by a recognition of the man's fine mettle.

KY3 has the story, of course. Jacob reports for basic training in mid-January.

Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism. Hunter Thompson said it. Jerry Jacob has lived it.


Matt Blunt, governor of Missouri, issued a memo to department heads this week. In it he oozed reassurance, letting state workers know they will not be reprimanded for saying "Merry Christmas."

A copy of the memo turned up at PowerLine. Here 'tis:
From: Governor Matt Blunt
To: Department Directors
Date: December 4, 2006
Re: "Merry Christmas"

Last year there was a great deal of public discussion regarding the Christmas season. Specifically, we heard from those who believe that the Christmas break should be called by a non-religious name such as "Winter Holiday." They also argued that traditional Christmas greetings such as "Merry Christmas" should not be used.

Missouri state government employees should not have to worry about this matter. To ensure that there is no confusion regarding our state policy I am directing that each of you inform all members of your department that they should feel at ease using traditional holiday phrases, including "Merry Christmas" and they should have no fear of official reprisal. I also ask that you inform your staff that the objections of those who are offended by these phrases be given due consideration, but that no state employee will be reprimanded or in any way disciplined for saying "Merry Christmas."

This holiday season should not give state employees reason to feel as though they must check their religious views at the door of a government building. Instead, it is my hope that each state employee enjoys the holiday season with full confidence that their government exists to preserve their liberty rather than constrict it.
Good to know the governor is on top of such a profound, pressing problem.


The shooting happened over the weekend, in a home without electricity. The Associated Press reports:
A St. Louis man was shot to death by his wife after giving her a can of warm beer, police said. The shooting happened Sunday. Names have not been released. The woman was taken into custody. The wife allegedly admitted shooting her husband, who was about 70 years old, in the kitchen of their home. The man was shot four or five times in the chest after giving his wife a can of warm Stag beer. The house was among thousands in the St. Louis area that lost power after a winter storm hit the region Thursday.
Putting the beer in the snow would have solved the warm problem. But it's still Stag, owned by Pabst, the company that also makes Schlitz, Colt 45 and Olympia.


WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn., reports this stinker of s story:
Flatulence brought 99 passengers on an American Airlines flight to an unscheduled visit to Nashville early Monday morning. American Flight 1053, from Washington Reagan National Airport and bound for Dallas/Fort Worth, made an emergency landing here after passengers reported smelling struck matches, said Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority.

The plane landed safely. The FBI, Transportation Safety Administration and airport authority responded to the emergency, Lowrance said.

The passengers and five crew members were brought off the plane, together with all the luggage, to go through security checks again. Bomb-sniffing dogs found spent matches.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal body odor, Lowrance said. The woman lives near Dallas and has a medical condition.

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane. "American has banned her for a long time," Lowrance said.

She was not charged but could have been. While it is legal to bring as many as four books of paper safety matches onto an aircraft, it is illegal to strike a match in an airplane, Lowrance said.
Lit matches and methane gas: Not the best combination, unless you're a 13-year-old boy.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The national commander of the American Legion says he's a Vietnam veteran, and most people think they know what that means -- that Paul Morin served in Vietnam during the war.

But Morin disagrees with that definition. He says he's a Vietnam veteran. He was in the Army from 1972-74. He served at Fort Dix, N.J.

The Boston Globe broke the story over the weekend, the Associated Press reports:
Neither the federal government nor the 2.7 million-member American Legion makes a formal distinction between veterans who served in Vietnam and those known as "Vietnam-era" veterans.

"I am a Vietnam veteran," Morin, of Chicopee in western Massachusetts, told the newspaper. His biography on the Legion's Web site also describes Morin as a "Vietnam veteran of the US Army."

The Legion's top spokesman, Joe March, backed Morin's position. He said any current service member stationed in the United States at present could claim to be an Iraq war veteran.
New Jersey's a long way from Saigon.


Shocked, we tell you. We're shocked. Spencer's, the mildly risque gift shop, is selling sexy holiday ornaments. WKMG reports:
Six controversial ornaments, which can be purchased for $9 at Spencer's stores in Jacksonville and other parts of Florida, include an X-rated snowman and reindeer.

A television station reported that the pornaments can be found on store shelves at the Regency Square Mall in Jacksonville in plain view of children and to anyone who walks into the Spencer's stores.

Store workers said that there were no restrictions on who can purchase the pornaments in the store.

"It is just sad they have to stoop to this kind of thing to defame Christmas," Hillcrest Baptist Church Rev. Jim Patterson said. "It says we are nothing more than sexual acts or physical being and we are much more than that. We are spiritual beings and this is a spiritual holiday. And, why bring it to that level. It makes no sense to me."
Dong. Dong. Dong.