Friday, February 29, 2008


Racial politics at play, revealed by a Missouri congressman.

According to the KC Star's Prime Buzz blog:
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said Thursday that black Democratic superdelegates who support Sen. Hillary Clinton have been “bludgeoned verbally” to prod them to switch to Sen. Barack Obama.

Cleaver, who is African-American and a superdelegate, has backed Clinton since last summer and this week re-emphasized that support. He said that he himself has not been pressured, but that black superdelegates from all over the country have been subjected to harassment, threatened with primary opponents and called “Uncle Tom.”

He said they have been told, “You’re not black if you’re not supporting Barack Obama. ... It is ugly.”
Cleaver thinks he's gotten a pass from the arm twisters because Obama won Missouri narrowly, and only thanks to GOP crossovers and independents.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


One of the great thinkers of the last century. From The New York Times obit:
Buckley, with his winningly capricious personality, his use of ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare to an anteater’s, was the popular host of one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine “National Review.”

He also found time to write more than 50 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to dissertations on harpsichord fingering to celebrations of his own dashing daily life. He edited at least five more.
Bus Plunge gets the point.


Time: 7:30 p.m.

Date: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008

Place: Panera Bread, National & Elm

The Springfield Bloggers meet, greet, eat, fete. Sweet. See you there.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Tavin Rutledge Wilson celebrated his 16th birthday with a snowball fight. And then someone brought a gun.

CBS 3 in Philadelphia reports:
A friend of Tavin's, who was also involved in the playful snowball fight, said the shooting happened after a wayward snowball accidentally struck a nearby neighbor.

Police said the adult male became enraged and left the scene, returning moments later with a gun.

Witnesses say Tavin's effort to apologize to the man went unnoticed and the man pulled out a gun and began firing.

Family and friends celebrating Tavin's birthday heard gunshots and found him bleeding on the front porch.

"We ran outside and saw Tavin laying on the step," said the victim's friend Mercedes Lebron. "When I picked him up, smoke stared coming out of his head … He still was breathing and we told him keep breathing, calm down."

Tavin was rushed to Temple University hospital where he was taken off life-support. At 11:30 a.m. Monday, with his family by his side, Tavin passed away.
The shooter wasn't immediately found.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Meme: Wikipedia defines it as:
any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.
The information doesn't have to be true, especially in politics -- it's even better when the meme is a sharp lie that cuts the enemy a thousand times and leaves him gasping, frustrated and dying from blood loss. Slowly.

The GOP machine operated by Karl Rove and George W. Bush has been astonishingly expert at churning out durable memes. One of the earliest examples involved alleged vandalism of the White House by fleeing Clintonistas. Trough-side reporters gorged themselves silly with tasty tidbits -- phone lines cut! locks glued shut! obscenities scrawled on walls! Months later, the government issued a report saying "the condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy." No vandalism. No obscene graffiti.

No matter. The machine was creating new memes that made reporters forget about the previous lies. Like dogs, the media panted when they saw and heard something new. Fresh scraps of flesh on a new bone is the best way to make watchdogs forget about old, buried bones.

Saddam loves Osama. Mushroom cloud. Weapons of mass destruction. Iraq will be a cakewalk. No domestic spying. Terror alerts. Heckuva job, Brownie. Lies and bilge water, all, but no matter because new memes are deployed to defend and dismiss any fallout. Everyone thought so. It's not illegal. You are in grave danger from terrorists. Even in their waning days, Bush and Rove are masters of the twist. Reality is putty in their practiced hands.

But the meme machine's new operators work for Sen. John McCain, and they are rancid amateurs compared to Team Bush, confident but not clever, with clumsy chunks of ham in place of hands.

They laid their mitts on the flywheel and gave it a mighty spin in response to a New York Times piece on McCain's ties to a lobbyist who happens to be a glam woman much younger than the senator, and whose omnipresence forced McCain's people to chase her into the shadows.

A lighter touch would have done it. Dismiss the Times report as picayune, ancient history. Toss off a few jokes about the NYT being the toilet paper of choice for Vice President Dick Cheney. Exit stage right into the waiting arms of Brit Hume, the man to see when you're a Republican in trouble. The story would have died with a murmur.

But McCain and his mechanics went ape with the machine, grinding gears as they cranked it up to extreme scream meme level. Even Rove was never so foolish or twisted, and that's saying a lot, given his history of using memes to peddle lies for political gain.

McCain issued an unequivocal denial of everything in the Times report:
"It’s not true ... At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust or make a decision which in any way would not be in the public interest or would favor anyone or organization.”
Not true. At no time. Ever. In any way. Big and bold words that made McCain a temporary hero with conservatives who otherwise hate him with a deep purity. But they -- the words and the conservatives -- will bite McCain in the ass before this one's done.

Because now people will start to come forward and contradict McCain -- people like Lowell "Bud" Paxson, a broadcaster who wanted McCain to use his muscle in Paxson's tussle with the FCC.

Paxson had a lobbyist -- Vicki Iseman, the woman linked to McCain in the Times' report. McCain's no-wiggle denial was that "no representative" of Paxson (or his lobbyist's firm) personally asked him to send a letter to the FCC.

Paxson says McCain is wrong; we met, the broadcaster says. He also says Iseman, the lobbyist, was probably at the meeting. A few weeks later, McCain wrote the FCC on Paxson's behalf.

McCain's lawyer, Bob Bennett, has joined McCain in the dark land of insanity and denial:
"We understood that he [McCain] did not speak directly with him [Paxson]. Now it appears he did speak to him. What is the difference?"
To be fair, McCain is not the only one to blame for Bennett's madness; Bennett had Bill Clinton as a client in the squalid Paula Jones case, and having to read about your client's alleged fondness for whipping out Lil Bill would be enough to drive most men to tequila and peyote.

There is great danger ahead for John McCain and he knows it. He cannot spin his way into the sunlight. The media love scandals driven by absolutes. Party labels don't matter -- those crying "liberal media" at the Times report have convenient amnesia when it comes to the newspaper's starring role in trying to inflate Whitewater into Watergate. Ideology doesn't matter when there's blood mist in the nostrils and a politician says he can't smell a thing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


You don't pass off someone else's words as your own. You attribute the source.

Just the way it is.

Original writing is rare and an art. Rewrites are common. Nut grafs almost always outlive the original story.

Just the way it is.

So when Sen. Barack Obama was hit with a charge of plagiarism for using a passage from a 2006 speech by Deval Patrick, the current Massachusetts governor (and longtime pol bud of Obama), we saw it as a dicey call.

What Patrick said in 2006:
"'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' Just words. Just words. 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.' Just words. 'Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.' Just words. 'I have a dream.' Just words."
What Obama said this month:
"'I have a dream.' Just words. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.' Just words. 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.' Just words."
No, Obama didn't plagiarize, because this is a rewrite, a tumble-dry of previous facts already in common use. A sloppy copy, not a firing offense.

Yes, Obama did plagiarize, because all three "famous words" cites are exact copies of the ones Patrick used. Most suspicious is Obama's lift of a misquote from that famous Franklin D. Roosevelt address. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. So sayeth FDR, so say we all. Except for copycats.

No, Obama didn't plagiarize, because his remarks in Wisconsin were off-the-cuff and might be nothing more than a recall of a conversation he'd had with Patrick. Smart politicians often share riffs and slogans, especially when they're friends.

Dicey, but benefit of the doubt to Obama, mostly because he was off the beaten text when he said what he did. Cadence and anaphora rule the land of memorable hooks and ad-libs.

But now Politico reports on another instance where Obama used a Patrick passage -- this one scripted, not ad-libbed. In June 2006, Patrick said:
"I am not asking anybody to take a chance on me. I'm asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."
Obama read the same lines from the text of a speech he gave last November in South Carolina. The Republican National Committee is peddling the new evidence. So much for the line that Obama would bridge the bitter divide. Forget Hillary Clinton. Did anyone sane ever believe the GOP would give up the White House without a nasty fight?

Spring, soon. All sorts of buried muck will rise with the tulips.


Another teacher allegedly having sex with a student, this time in Benton County, Ark. The Benton County Daily Record reports:
Melissa G. Monroe, 32 of Bella Vista, was arrested Tuesday for sexual assault in the second degree and knowingly furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Bentonville police began investigating after receiving information that Monroe had been involved in a sexual relationship with a male student, a police news release states.
Monroe teaches math at Bentonville High School. Here's her school profile. You make the call.


The little voice inside your head? Maybe it's not all your imagination, or a Don Henley riff. The Pentagon has spent at least the last decade sussing out ways to put voices inside your noggin.

A report recently released by the Pentagon under a Freedom Of Information Act request shows us the way. PhysOrg reports:
"The phenomenon is tunable in that the characteristic sounds and intensities of those sounds depend on the characteristics of the RF energy as delivered," the report explains. "Because the frequency of the sound heard is dependent on the pulse characteristics of the RF energy, it seems possible that this technology could be developed to the point where words could be transmitted to be heard like the spoken word, except that it could only be heard within a person´s head. In one experiment, communication of the words from one to ten using ´speech modulated´ microwave energy was successfully demonstrated. Microphones next to the person experiencing the voice could not pick up these sounds. Additional development of this would open up a wide range of possibilities."

The report predicts that communicating at longer distances would be possible with larger equipment, while shorter range signals could be generated with portable equipment. Putting voices in people´s heads could cause what the report calls "psychologically devastating" effects.
Here's a link to the report, via Wired. Enjoy. Don't listen.

Monday, February 18, 2008


So claims a report on CNN's blog:
The U.S. Navy will likely attempt to shoot down a faulty spy satellite on Thursday, the day after the space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to land, two officials familiar with the planning told CNN Monday.

The officials — who spoke on condition of anonymity because much of the planning remains classified — said the idea is to leave as much time as possible so that a second attempt could be made in the event of a failure.
Does anyone believe the government's cover story that this whole shootdown is because of worries over rocket fuel, and its risk to humans on the ground?


The word comes to us from Fat Jack and goes a little something like this:
We are having a meeting of the Springfield Blogger's Association. That's right kids, it is back on!
The Blogaronis -- Springfield's answer to the Academy Awards, only with more beautiful people -- will be part of the festivities.

So mark the calendar -- 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 -- and plan to be at Panera Bread at National & Elm. Special guest appearance by famous celebrities are possible.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Adopted by the DVD Forum in 2003 to compete against the Blu-ray Disc. With Microsoft behind it, HD DVD seemed a cinch.

But that's all dust. According to the Hollywood Reporter:
Toshiba is widely expected to pull the plug on its HD DVD format sometime in the coming weeks, reliable industry sources say, after a rash of retail defections that followed Warner Home Video's announcement in early January that it would support only the rival Blu-ray Disc format after May. ...

Immediately after the Warner announcement, the HD DVD North American Promotional Group canceled its Consumer Electronics Show presentation. The following week, data collected by the NPD Group revealed Blu-ray took in 93% of all hardware sales for that week.

Toshiba subsequently fired back, drastically cutting its HD DVD player prices by as much as half, effective Jan. 15. But a hoped-for consumer sales surge never materialized; retail point-of-sale data collected by the NPD Group for the week ending Jan. 26 still showed Blu-ray Disc players ahead by a wide margin, 65% to 28%.
Best Buy and Netflix announced this week that they would go exclusively with Blu-ray. The format war is over.

Monday, February 11, 2008


The ice storm of 2007 left many Ozarkers with deep anxiety -- what happens if the power goes out? where to stay? what to do?

This week, another round of ice slid into southwest Missouri. Not as bad as last year's edition, but still enough to shut down schools -- and to plunge thousands of people into the dark.

The calls to work today came from people who sounded more worried than usual. They all brought up the 2007 ice storm and wondered aloud: Will this one be as bad? Those who called with power failures were tense and angry.

We think they're suffering from Post Ice Storm Stress Disorder. The acronym certainly fits.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Died Sunday in Little Rock, Ark. He had multiple myeloma.

From The New York Times obit:
Mr. Scheider’s rangy figure, gaunt face and emotional openness made him particularly appealing in everyman roles, most famously as the agonized police chief of “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s 1975 breakthrough hit, about a New England resort town haunted by the knowledge that a killer shark is preying on the local beaches.

Mr. Scheider conveyed an accelerated metabolism in movies like “Klute” (1971), his first major film role, in which he played a threatening pimp to Jane Fonda’s New York call girl; and in William Friedkin’s “French Connection” (also 1971), as Buddy Russo, the slightly more restrained partner to Gene Hackman’s marauding police detective, Popeye Doyle. That role earned Mr. Scheider the first of two Oscar nominations.
He was a history major and an Air Force veteran. And kick ass in "French Connection."


A police officer in New York was cleaning his gun in dim light. No electricity; he couldn't pay the bill.

And then something happened, and a toddler was shot. The Associated Press reports:
Officer Patrick Venetek, who had less than two years experience on the force, was stripped of his gun and placed on modified duty while the department investigates the Feb. 7 incident, authorities said.

His brother told reporters Friday that the officer had set his gun down on a table, and then accidentally knocked it to the floor when he returned to the room.

The gun discharged, firing a bullet that passed into the apartment below and hit 1-year-old Jonathan Porcellini in the arm.

"Just a few more inches and I could have lost my son," said his father, Justin Porcellini. "This is a city employee, a cop. They are supposed to be safe. I want people to know that what happened was wrong."
Who cleans a gun without making sure it's unloaded?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


It may be cold where you live, but unless you reside in the Alaskan Interior, you have little room to complain.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported a temperature of 70 degrees below zero at Tok, Alaska. Not a wind-chill reading. Actual air temp.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports:
The last time an official temperature of 70 below or colder was recorded in Alaska came on Jan. 1, 2000, when a reading of 72 below zero was recorded at Chicken, the tiny community on the Taylor Highway in the Fortymile country east of Fairbanks and toward the Canadian border.

The coldest official temperature recorded in the state this morning was 67 below at O’Brien Creek, another spot on the Taylor Highway.

Readings of 50 to 60 below zero were common throughout the Interior overnight.
At noon Wednesday, it was 45 below zero at Fairbanks International Airport.


Who cut the 'net? A storm, a quake, a sub? Al Bawaba reports:
Internet connectivity still remains slow in several Middle East countries due to the cable damage near Egypt, Iran and Dubai. An improvement is not expected soon as operators claim there are many complexities involved in fixing the problem. In addition, all voice calls, corporate data and video traffic were also affected.

The first two cables, off Alexandria in Egypt, were cut on January 23. ...

A total of five cables being operated by two submarine cable operators have been damaged with a fault in each. These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia, the FLAG Europe-Asia near Alexandria, FLAG near the Dubai coast, FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran and SeaMeWe-4, also near Alexandria.
Something interesting is about to happen in the Middle East.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


In name and deed, indeed. NBC San Diego reports:
According to police, Sevan Kevorkian's girlfriend found him hanging from a closet rod in his apartment ... last Saturday. Investigators said that after she cut him down and revived him, Kevorkian, 36, started pulling her around the room by her hair.

Police said the altercation was noticed by a man and woman who were pulling up in a vehicle in the neighborhood. The man climbed through a window to stop the assault and put Kevorkian in a carotid restraint, which is sometimes called a sleeper hold.

Kevorkian lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. Officials said he died a little before midnight on Thursday.
Definitely deserves a Darwin.

Friday, February 01, 2008


It's The Graphic Classroom, a site created by Ozarks writer Chris Wilson. Let him explain:
The Graphic Classroom is a resource for teachers and librarians to help them stock high quality, educational-worthy, graphic novels and comics in their classroom or school library. I read and review every graphic novel or comic on this blog and give it a rating as to appropriateness for the classroom.
We're all students and learners. It's always good to have guides.