Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Sorry for the week off. Really sorry, because the week off involved no frolicking, no debauchery -- none of the holiday spirit we know and love so well.

Besides, we missed a lot of stuff. So it's off to the bullets, Batman:

•Santa Claus was captured in Los Angeles over the weekend, pulled over for driving drunk. Some sort of Claus, at least. As the Los Angeles Times notes:
The driver -- 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds -- was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, in this case a misdemeanor, police said. In addition to a red Santa hat, he wore a blond wig, red lace camisole, purple G-string, black leg warmers and black shoes.

"We are pretty sure this is not the Santa Claus," Deputy Chief Ken Garner said.
But only pretty sure, because this is L.A. and all things are possible at Christmas.

•Jamie Lynn Spears turns up pregnant and says her boyfriend is the father. But he (18) had apparently kicked Spears (16) to the curb, and now rumors are flying that the boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, isn't good for the deed. The reputed real dad? An older exec on Spears' show, Zoey 101. As Show Biz Spy notes:
“Jamie Lynn has been working on Zoey since she was 13,” one of the sources said. “In Hollywood, little girls grow up fast, and she is no exception.

“With everything that has gone on in her family, she needed someone to look up to.

“But the man she found seems to have completely taken advantage of her.”

Another family source added: “Some of us have doubts as to the legitimacy of the claim that Casey is the father."
All of this makes Britney look almost responsible. Almost.

•Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, knows his world leaders. According to Reuters, Harper took the time to inform journalists that the Dalai Lama is not a hooker:
"I met the Dalai Lama in my office but I meet everyone in my office. I don't know why I would sneak off to a hotel room just to meet the Dalai Lama. You know, he's not a call girl," Harper told OMNI television.
Now that that's cleared up, the world can return to its normal orbit. All better now, Linus.


Tatiana was a 350-pound Siberian tiger. She got out of her enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas. One man is dead; two others are wounded.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Zoo officials are still unsure how the tiger escaped the enclosure. Authorities believe it initially attacked all three victims, killing [17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr.]. Officials believe the cat then followed blood trails to Terrace Cafe, where it cornered the other boys, brothers ages 19 and 23.

Although some zoo officials speculate the threesome may have teased the tiger, San Francisco police Lt. Leroy Lindo said police currently have no reason to believe the three men taunted the animal prior to the attack, which happened shortly after the zoo's 5 p.m. closing time. Dozens of visitors and some employees were still inside the zoo at the time.
Cops shot the tiger to death. Too bad she died while following her nature.


Or so says a 77-year-old man from Iowa, who found himself stuck above his septic tank on Monday night. The Associated Press reports:
The man spent part of Monday wedged in the tank's opening upside down, with his head inside and his feet kicking into the air above. He'd been trying to find a clog, but lost his balance.

He says he hollered for help, but it was an hour before his wife walked by a window and noticed two feet in the air.
The man told cops that he couldn't have lasted much longer. Teach him to root out clogs on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Chopin for tumult, Zeppelin for sanity, Aimee Mann for reflection. And old-school Meat Loaf for laughs.
Wise Up
Aimee Mann


Four Sticks
Led Zeppelin

Run Rudolph Run
Keith Richards

Nocturne In E Flat
Frédéric Chopin

Thrash Unreal
Against Me!

Paradise By The Dashboard Light
Meat Loaf

Do You Love Me Now?
The Breeders

Well Thought Out Twinkles
Silversun Pickups

No Loot, No Booze, No Fun
The Tossers
It's not
What you thought
When you first began it ...


Our ojala wish list from Amazon is at the bottom of the left-side column. Or you can click here to find it and smirk.

We really want a graduated glass beaker. Coolest drinking glass ever.

And speaking of holiday gifts, WCBS reports on the trend of medical gift cards. Brazil, the great film, seems closer with each passing day:
MOTHER: By the way, I saw a wonderful idea for Christmas presents at the chemists. Gift tokens. Medical gift tokens.

MRS TERRAIN: Oh, that sounds marvelous.

MOTHER: Yes, they're good at any doctor's and at many of the major hospitals -- and they're accepted for gynecological complications including Caesarean section.
Merry merry joy joy, Stimpy.


Who wants to buy TV stations? Newspapers, for one. And now that's going to happen in the nation's largest media markets. The New York Times has it this way:
In one 3-to-2 vote, [FCC chairman Kevin Martin] sided with the agency’s two other Republicans to relax the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules in the 20 largest markets. As part of that order, the commission also granted dozens of permanent waivers of newspaper-broadcast combinations in large and small markets that had been given temporary waivers as they awaited the outcome of the rulemaking.
Translation: Television-station owners in Top 20 markets can buy newspapers -- or, more likely, newspapers can buy TV stations in those markets. It's all one big happy media family.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Biden on the stump: Friday's New York Times piece on Joe Biden's campaign is a keeper, if only for the back story of Biden's life. Check this graf:
“Let me tell you a little story,” Mr. Biden told the crowd at the University of Iowa. “I got elected (in 1972) when I was 29, and I got elected November the 7th. And on Dec. 18 of that year, my wife and three kids were Christmas shopping for a Christmas tree. A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly — and I never pursued it — drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly, and killed my daughter instantly, and hospitalized my two sons, with what were thought to be at the time permanent, fundamental injuries.”
He won't win the Democratic nomination, but he knows his foreign policy. And he's one of the few candidates who actually seems human.

Babies know best: Check out this Christian Science Monitor story about a Yale study on infant development. Fascinating grafs:
The study released last month presented babies with a diorama-like display of an anthropomorphic circle struggling to make it up a hill. Just when it appeared that all hope was lost, a heroic triangle appeared, and pushed the circle to the top. The round climber bounces, clearly elated to have reached the summit. The same scenario is played out again, only this time a square appears at the top of the hill and pushes the circle to the bottom.

The babies were then asked to pick a toy – the helper or the hinderer, as scientists called them. One hundred percent of 6-month-olds and 87.5 percent of 10-month-olds chose the helper. The results were consistent even when the triangle and the square swapped places as good guy and bad guy. In several other iterations of the experiment, the helper, regardless of shape or color, won out.
Our take #1: It's all downhill after six months. Take #2: It's true that good guys always win. To identify good guys, wait until someone wins.

Failure is not an option: Students at Central Park East High School in East Harlem, N.Y. are not doing well. Many are failing. The solution? Dumb it down. As WCBS reports:
Last month, Principal Bennett Lieberman sent off a stern memo to teachers.

"If you are not passing more than 65 percent of your students in a class, then you are not designing your expectations to meet their abilities, and you are setting your students up for failure, which, in turn, limits your success as a professional."
Numbing dumbing never solved anything.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


See them for yourself. AFP reports:
South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.

In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.

A team of scientists led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, produced three cats possessing altered fluorescence protein (RFP) genes, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.

"It marked the first time in the world that cats with RFP genes have been cloned," the ministry said in a statement.

"The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model (cloned) animals suffering from the same diseases as humans," it added.
And it looks really cool.


A big deal in St. Louis before he became a big deal as a brutal Svengali to wife Tina. Knew enough not to get in Phil Spector's way during the making of River Deep - Mountain High" in 1966.

The Associated Press reports:
There was no immediate word on the cause of death, which was first reported by celebrity Web site

Turner managed to rehabilitate his image somewhat in his later years, touring around the globe with his band the Kings of Rhythm and drawing critical acclaim for his work. He won a Grammy in 2007 in the traditional blues album category for "Risin' With the Blues."
His middle name was Wister.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Russell Clark was a federal judge when he called us in for a chat, more than a decade ago. He wanted to talk about drugs. Crack cocaine, to be specific.

Clark had to sentence several young gang members to federal prison for selling crack in Springfield. He had no say, no input in the sentences; federal sentencing guidelines called for specific punishments. If Clark pulled a downward deviation -- going below the guidelines -- the U.S. attorney would immediately appeal and a new judge would impose what the prosecutor wanted.

Clark was especially anguished because crack sentences were much harsher than those handed out for powder cocaine sales. It's still that way. Crack is a 100-to-one drug. Sell one ounce of crack, get the same sentence you would for selling 100 ounces of powder.

The judge thought the guidelines and crack sentences were wrong. He thought that what he was doing was madness. "But I have no choice," Clark said.

The world became a little less insane on Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges can use their discretion when issuing sentences. And the high court made it clear that harsher sentences for crack are wack.

Linda Greenhouse's piece in The New York Times is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the issue. The essence:
It is now clear that while judges should consult the guidelines, they are just one factor among others and do not carry any special weight. It is also clear that an appeals court must have a very good reason of its own to displace the trial judge’s judgment.
Russell Clark died in 2003. He would have enjoyed Monday's decisions.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


We had the chance this week to dine with PIOs -- public information officers serving the city, county, school district, the zoo, Ozarks Greenways and the convention and visitors bureau (if we left out anyone, mea culpa).

Purpose of the lunch: Get to know us! "Us" being three local bloggers, including the chief typist of this joint, the guy from Life of Jason and the fella who runs Branson Edge.

Seems official types want to do more outreach to bloggers, part of the continuing shift away from mainstream media-only access. It's a solid idea; expect to see more original reporting from local bloggers, as they slowly gain parity with their professional typing peers.

Thanks to Jason and the Edgeman for their input, and to the PIOs who suffered us without much grumbling.


The results of a state audit on the City of Springfield are now public. It's not great news for the city.

State Auditor Susan Montee says the city was sloppy in keeping records, and should have planned more for the future.

It's a definite black eye for former City Manager Tom Finnie, who led Springfield during the time in question. His legacy is tarnished. Then again, Springfield once fired a city manager, Don Busch, and then named a building after him.

Downsides for the city:
•The police department couldn't account for more than $12,000 in seized money. The PD also let a major take an automatic weapon from seized property.

•The city's lobbyist was nicked for not providing proper documentation of the work he did -- work for which he billed the city more than $400,000 over two years.

•The city spent $300,000 for furniture for a police and fire training building -- but at present, they don't have a place to unpack the furniture; it's still sitting in its original packing boxes.

•Mayor Tom Carlson was a no-show for the audit release. Regardless of the reason, his absence looks bad.
The audit does not show any rampant corruption -- a disappointment to the windbags who claim the city is evil. Then again, those are the same people who believe dark spirits inhabit secret tunnels under Springfield.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

PIMP C, 33

Belonged to the rap duo UGK, straight outta Houston. Found dead Tuesday in what The Associated Press calls an "upscale hotel" in West Hollywood.

Given name: Chad Butler.

From the AP story:
Butler and his partner, Bernard "Bun B" Freeman, were pioneers of Southern rap, and hit the mainstream with their cameo on Jay-Z's smash "Big Pimpin'." Though they never enjoyed the pop-chart success of some other rappers, their 1996 CD "Ridin' Dirty" is considered a rap classic, and their laid-back sound, complete with gangsta tales of creeping through humid streets gripping wood-grain steering wheels, was influential in shaping the Southern rap movement.
The Houston Chronicle reports that detectives from the homicide division are investigating. But cops found no signs of foul play at the scene.


So it seems, according to this Boston Globe story. Here's the lede:
Standing on stage at a Republican debate on the Gulf Coast of Florida last week, Mitt Romney repeatedly lashed out at rival Rudy Giuliani for providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants in New York City.

Yet, the very next morning, on Thursday, at least two illegal immigrants stepped out of a hulking maroon pickup truck in the driveway of Romney's Belmont house, then proceeded to spend several hours raking leaves, clearing debris from Romney's tennis court, and loading the refuse back on to the truck.

In fact, their work was part of a regular pattern. Despite a Globe story in Dec. 2006 that highlighted Romney's use of illegal immigrants to tend to his lawn, Romney continued to employ the same landscaping company – until today. The landscaping company, in turn, continued to employ illegal immigrants.

Two of the workers confirmed in separate interviews with Globe reporters last week that they were in the country without documents. One said he had paid $7,000 to a smuggler to escort him across the desert into Arizona; the other said he had come to the country with a student visa that was now expired. Both were seen on the lawn by either Globe reporters or photographers over the last two months.
Just doing the jobs that Americans won't do.


November sweeps are over. The national numbers for network news are out. Broadcasting & Cable has the new stats:
•NBC Nightly News: 9.21 million total viewers, 2.3 rating/9 share, 2.79 million viewers in the key demo.

•ABC World News: 9.11 million total viewers, 2.2 rating/9 share, 2.77 million viewers in the key demo.

•CBS Evening News with Katie Couric: 6.74 million total viewers, 1.7 rating/6 share, 2.08 million viewers in the key demo.
The "key demo" being 25-54, of course. For all the talk of the rise of cable talkers, consider this: Couric's last-place showing means she still has triple the number of viewers that Bill O'Reilly boasts on a good night.


Art Morris asks the question on his Missouri Radio Message Board. You should help provide the answers.

The chief typist -- an old radio hand hisself -- thinks commercial radio started to die when it began accepting ads for satellite radio.

Can commercial radio survive this century? Or is it as dead as print?

Monday, December 03, 2007


The kind with round bullets:

•Back in those goofy '80s, Joan Van Ark was a cougar. Now she's something altogether different. Check out Van Ark's current look.

•We wish happy birthday to the woman who created CHATTER. Jo Ann Davis turned 80 on Dec. 3 -- sharing a birthday, we note, with Andy Williams (also 80) and Ozzy Osbourne, who turned 59. Now we know that Mom rocks.

•And happy 19th anniversary to actor Gary Busey, who smacked his skull in a motorcycle accident on Dec. 4, 1988.