Monday, January 31, 2005

In the Beginning there was AT&T ...

. . . and it was good.

I guess. Who knows. There wasn't anything else to compare it with. There weren't any other companies.

Then again, there weren't that many people with telephones, at least, where I grew up.

Having a telephone in your own house was significant. That big, black clunky thing with a rotary dial entered my life long before the road I grew up on was even paved.

I'm remembering Mom showing me how to match up the start of my grandmother's telephone number (MOhawk 9 - 3746; ours was MOhawk 9 - 6378; and City numbers started with PLaza, not that we knew anybody from there. Funny how things stay with you.) with the numbers the first two letters represented, and then letting me dial it. Dear gawd, how hard it seemed to move that dial around with my pudgy finger. And then I'd take my finger out and the dial would slowly clack back into place.

Next number . . .

Then finally, amazingly, the sound of Mam-ah's voice in my ear!

We couldn't use the phone often because it was expensive, but Mom showed me where Mam-ah's telephone number was in case of an emergency. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I was even old enough to know what an emergency was and possibly what the word emergency meant, but I knew how to dial my grandmother in case one happened.

And Mam-ah would call (dial O for) the Operator.

Operators were really smart women (although they talked funny, all in the same exact way) who knew all kinds of amazing things. They knew how to call the fire department, the police, and could tell you the telephone number of everybody in the whole entire world! And they were powerful, too. They'd even let us speak to my other grandmother in Islip.

There was a courtesy involved, though, in just picking up the receiver. You did it gently so that you didn't make a lot of noise and if you heard someone else already talking, you put the receiver back down just as gently so you didn't disturb their conversation any more than you already had. And you watched what you said because Mrs. "T" liked to listen in so she could spread gossip.

If your telephone broke, "The Phone Company" came out and either fixed or replaced it. If something went wrong with the wiring to it, "The Phone Company" came out and took care of that, too. Okay, they might not be out for a couple of days . . . come to think of it. That hasn't changed.

But "the phone company" hasn't been AT&T for two decades. And sometime next year, even the skeleton that's left of what AT&T used to be will be gone forever.

SBC to Buy AT&T for $16 Billion

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Voices of Freedom

Today the people of Iraq have spoken to the world, and the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East.

In great numbers and under great risk, Iraqis have shown their commitment to democracy.
- George W. Bush

Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming. - Alaa

An 80-year-old man being carried to his voting place.

Today I can walk tall, I can say I am Iraqi with a proud not only because I voted but also I fought against terrorist with my voting ballot - Baghdad Dweller

Man assisting his 83-year-old mother as she prepares to vote

I saw a crippled man and my old neighbor and his older wife leaning on their walking sticks going to vote. An old woman cleaning her door step stopped me, "Say son, can I go and vote?" She asked after she saw many people going to vote. "Sure Khala (aunt)! Everyone can". - Ali

Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom. - Mohammed and Omar

And then there's . . .

No one in the United States should try to overhype this election.. . . [W]hat really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation, and it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in. Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq. - John "Eff'n" Kerry

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Remember this face

Ten days ago, John "Eff’n" Kerry ran his mouth about how voters in certain Ohio precincts (who, of course, would have voted for him which is why he ain’t the Prez now) had somehow been disenfranchised because it was too much trouble for them to wait on long lines in order to vote.

When I first read that, I remembered the long lines here when Clinton ran for President, and not a word was said about it by the Lefty-Loons. The wait at my largely-Republican precinct was three hours, and never once was it turned into some sort of conspiracy theory to prevent anyone here from voting.

Now think about the first free elections held in Afghanistan not that long ago. Under the threat of death, people still walked for miles in order to vote. And now we’re watching the Iraqi people voting in their first free election in over 50 years.

Some Iraqis here in the U.S. are driving 17 hours to do so, and similar stories are being reported around the globe. And tomorrow, the people in Iraq, itself, will be casting their votes.

Some will travel long distances. Others will be braving the threat of death.

I want you to look at this face. I want you to remember it the next time and every time Kerry or any of the Lefty-Loons start in with their bogus claims of disenfranchisement.

This is the face of someone who really knows what it’s like not being allowed to vote or being permitted to vote freely. He knows the price of finally being able to do so.

Remember his face.

Via Powerline

After decades of tyranny, Iraqi expatriates have already begun to elect leaders to draft a new constitution. In the photo [above], seventy-year-old exile Mehsin Imgoter weeps after casting his vote at a polling place in Southgate, Michigan. Imgoter explained to a reporter that he was crying because his son, who was killed during the 1990-91 Shiite uprising, was not able to vote with him.

Friday, January 28, 2005

"[S]orry asses."

Neil Cavuto (bio), is the anchor of the Fox News weekday show Your World as well as the station's managing editor of all business news programming.

Cavuto calls the last few minutes of each Your World broadcast "Common Sense" and he makes no bones about it. This segment makes no attempt at being "fair and balanced," it's purely his opinion.

Opinion on what? It varies depending on (business related or not) what's in the news, and the big story getting the most coverage today is, of course, the upcoming elections in Iraq.

I was busy doing something so I didn't hear today's broadcast. Hubby, however, did and when it was over asked me, "Did you hear what Cavuto said?" When I said I hadn't, Hubby continued. "He called the U.N. 'bastards'."

Neither Hubby nor I care much for the U.N., and that's putting it very politely, but Cavuto is not usually prone to strong language and to be honest, Hubby is not the most reliable of reporters.

The crap Hubby said Cavuto had described sounded to me just like something the U.N. would do, but Cavuto saying "bastards"? I said I'd see if a transcript was online yet and . . .

So the United Nations is all hot and bothered over leaflets. That's right — leaflets. Not the insurgents' leaflets — the ones that talk of murdering anyone who dare goes out and votes. Not a word about them.

No, they are upset at "our" leaflets. The ones that simply remind Iraqis they have the chance to vote. They've plenty of words about them. The U.N. claims that we're taking sides.
Cavuto was showing great restraint when he only said "bastards."

The rest is here.

"The mark of freedom" . . .

. . . is what one Iraqi ex-pat living in Austrailia called his ink-stained finger after voting in the first free election his homeland has had in 50 years.

Foxnews just ran a tape of Iraqis at one of the polling locations here in the U.S., applauding as each vote is cast.

And Florida Cracker has a selection of photographs from around the world.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I hate these things

I am the number
I am friendly


what number are you?

this quiz by orsa

Via Jenna.

For the record, I think this quiz has unresolved issues with self-esteem. I clicked "Bite me," and it says I'm friendly?


I'm a "Flippery Fish"!

Bouncing around the blogosphere, I've noticed several blogs with a proclamation in their sidebar that they're classified as some sort of strangedly-named life form. Some were kinda cute, too, like "Marauding Marsupials" but I didn't think too much about it. I was having too much trouble just trying to keep up with what little I understood about HTML. (Which is a lot more than I used to, thanks to Jenna, my Blogmama.) because I kept (and keep) blowing stuff up.

It wasn't until Sissy (I really do need to remember to add a link. Her photography is stunning.) mentioned that her Ecosystem numbers weren't being compiled correctly, that I began to suspect it was some sort of a ranking system. I looked and found out that's exactly what it is.

I ended up with a headache trying to comprehend the section on what is counted in determining each blog's rank, and said the heck with it. And once again, I'd also screwed up the sidebar.

Anyway, I decided to look at Ecosystem again yesterday (Obviously, I'm a masochist) and got a little carried away. I know this because the next thing I knew, I'd generated the script to add to my template.

Cut & paste. How hard could that be, right? You forgot, I'm me.

Half of the text ended up where it was supposed to be; the rest appeared superimposed over the title of what I'd last blogged about. The only way to get rid of that was to delete the script I'd added. So I added it and deleted it several times. Same thing. I finally said the heck with it. I didn't really care about any dumb rankings, anyway.

About 2 ayem I woke up and thought, paragraphs? Jenna had explained that coding a long time ago, and I wondered . . .

Well glory be! Slipped it in earlier today and thar ya go! And gosh, it even turns out I'm a "Flippery Fish"!

I'm proud!

(And a different set of stats, too, 'cause when I clicked my "life form" classification, what to my wondering eyes did appear.)

Picture this?


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Writing stuff

Let me get this out of the way. I hate the New York Times. No, it's not the same type of hatred that I feel towards, say . . . fire ants. Those I can destroy or at least try to, like I've been doing for over 20 years. But that's another story.

No, my hatred of the New York Times is closer to my feelings about poison ivy. I know it's there and simply do my best to avoid it. Unfortunately, seldom though they may be, there are occasions when I've risked exposure to something I know will leave me screaming in irritation if, by accident, I'm not careful where I've stepped.

For years I've traipsed through the poison-weed known as the New York Times for one thing only: William Safire. And now, he's retiring.

His last columns appeared a few days ago, but one I thought especially relevent: How to Read a Column.

In twelve easy steps, a parting gift to his readers, Safire eviscerates the writing technique used by the liberal op-ed columnists he's leaving behind at the New York Times.

It's also valuable guidance to those of us who write, even if only occasionally, on things political.

Monday, January 24, 2005

It's gone . . .

. . . and I hardly knew it. This one, anyway.

It's funny how you get attached to certain appliances. For me, it was a microwave oven.

Hubby brought the first one in eons ago only a few weeks after Da Kid was born. One of those rent-to-own "deals" that went BACK as soon as I was in good enough shape to read the contract and understand the darned thing. When I showed Hubby my calculations that by the time it was paid for, it would have cost us over $4,000 -- and once he stopped cussing -- it was out of the house within minutes.

Except I'd become accustomed to the ease of heating baby formula within seconds, especially since I'd given birth to a bottomless pit that required feeding every two hours. (Twenty-five years later not much has changed. The "Eating Machine" still enhales food every two hours, but at least he sleeps through the night now.)

When Hubby said we really didn't need a microwave after all, I responded quite logically by pitching one heck of a royal hissy fit. Okay, forget logic but I'd obviously made my point. Hubby came home with another microwave the next day.

Huge and heavy, it had all kinds of buttons and other fancy stuff. And unlike the rent-to-own "deal" it had a manual that explained how to use the buttons and other fancy stuff it had.

That microwave oven was with me for close to 20 years: through formula, baby food, junior food, instant oatmeal, hot dogs, left-over pizza (not that there was ever much of that with Da Kid's appetite), chicken cacciatore, tons of roasts . . . and then, finally, it blew up. I mean, it blew up.

By then, Hubby agreed with me. We had to have a microwave oven. If we didn't, he couldn't reheat his coffee.

After a measly four years, that one died last night not with a noble bang of defiance, but with a simple fizzle. No sparks, explosions, or flames. This one was just . . . gone.

Hubby brought a new one in tonight. While what had served us for four years sat by the road -- alone in the dark like a piece of trash waiting for pick-up -- I went through the new one's manual looking only for what's now become important to me: the popcorn setting.

How callous I've become.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

I hate these things

Your Famous Blogger Twin is InstaPundit

Smart, well-informed, a true polymath
Don't be surprised if your blogging brings you fame as well!

Via Curmudgeonly & Skeptical


Playful? I hope so.

Florida Times-Union sportswriter Vito Stellino's recent column, Pennsylvania governor sounds playful warning to Jacksonville caught my eye. When I finished reading it, I was left with a strong sense of unease.

"I'm not sure I'd want to be the mayor of Jacksonville when the Eagles and Steelers fans arrive for a week.
It's not as if Steelers fans haven't been here before. They have and several times over the last ten years. They know their football and since Jacksonville has a long history as a football-loving town, while there's the rivalry between both teams and their fans, it's always been of the good kind. Eagles fans, I imagine, wouldn't be much different.

But regular fans don't get to go to Super Bowls. No, the seats are filled with impawtant folk from both the NFL and people with business and political ties in the cities of the two teams playing. If both the Steelers and the Eagles make it to this year's Super Bowl . . .

Wayne at No Shades of Gray, who lives in Philadelphia has blogged about Rendell several times, and is quite familiar with (former mayor and now governor) Ed Rendell and the air of corruption that surrounds him.
Philadelphia produced the current Democratic Pennsylvania (and probable winner) gubernatorial candidate, former mayor Ed Rendell, a union thugs's thug himself, and master of the art of physical intimidation and educational beatings. (See the Deposition of Ed Rendell by Judicial Watch in connection with the beating of Clinton Protester Don Adams, and the Judicial Watch lawsuit against Ed Rendell on his behalf.) -- Election Time! Watch Them Wiley Democwats!, The Tocquevillian, October 30, 2002
Five of the Teamsters involved in the beating received jail sentences. Not long after, Clinton named Rendell's wife to a seat on the circuit court.

John Paul, The Hilderbeast's financial guru in her Senate run, has just received a jail sentence for breaking campaign finance rules. Rendell, also named in the investigation, at the time was the DNC chair.

This last election kept Rendell busy, too, with allegations that he was behind the distribution and collection of absentee ballots to currently incarcerated felons. At the same time, Rendell tried to disenfranchise military voters with an aborted attempt to refuse extention of the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots, even though they'd been mailed out late.

Doyle, you're worrying about nothing, I'm sure you're saying. You're letting your imagination run away with you.

Probably. I certainly hope so. Then again, there's still Stellino's closing paragraphs:

[Rendell]added that "Jacksonville will be getting a plus from the tourism dollars of all those Steelers and Eagles fans,'' but also added that "Jacksonville might have some infrastructure problems.''

Rendell didn't specify what infrastructure problems he was referring to.

Friday, January 21, 2005

USS Abraham Lincoln now a "floating hotel"

The Diplomad (If it's not already on your list of daily reads, it should be.) points to a guest column written by Ed Stanton, the pen name used by a career U.S. Navy officer currently serving with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group. After providing tsunamis relief for three weeks, Stanton writes:

I'd like to say that this has been a rewarding experience for us, but it has not: Instead, it has been a frustrating and needlessly dangerous exercise made even more difficult by the Indonesian government and a traveling circus of so-called aid workers who have invaded our spaces. . . .

As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of "Nice china, really makes me feel special," in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives.
Read it all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Boxer reacts

"And after Secretary of State when I'm President, Babs, I'm going to need an ambassador to . . . how does Antarctica hit you?"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


"Today, Social Security is strong. But by 2013, payroll taxes will no longer be sufficient to cover monthly payments. And by 2032, the trust fund will be exhausted, and Social Security will be unable to pay out the full benefits older Americans have been promised." William J. Clinton, January 19, 1999.

Funny how the lefty-loons ignore that, and now pretend that Social Security is just fine and dandy. Dubya's making it all up, they claim.

(Also see: “Save Social Security First”? ).

Clinton also said, "The best way to keep Social Security a rock-solid guarantee is not to make drastic cuts in benefits; not to raise payroll tax rates; and not to drain resources from Social Security in the name of saving it."

This wasn't the first time Clinton had addressed the problems that were looming with Social Security. (It was just the easiest citation for me to find.) I suspect that last part, about not draining resources from Social Security, was in answer to proposals made even back then, which would have allowed workers to divert a portion of what was being confiscated from them under FICA, into personal investment accounts. Even then, that was anathema.

Clinton's proposal was to take part of what had been a projected surplus, and invest in in the stock market and other equities, to help offset the shortfalls. A year later, of course, in 2000 the bubble began to rupture, so did Clinton's mythical surplus.


Correct me if I'm wrong with this. I don't mind it because I admit, I could be.

I've been looking for citations and coming up blank, but it's like snippets of an old song that keeps echoing faintly in the back of your mind and as soon as you try to grab it POOF!, it dances just out of reach . . . until it begins taunting you again at some ungawdly hour like 2 ayem. And then you can't go back to sleep no matter how hard you try.

I think Clinton was the first president to include in his surplus/deficit projections, the value of the bonds in the Social Security Trust Fund. And since they have no real value outside of redemption by the Treasury Department, it was really only robbing Peter to pay Paul. Which, to me, would make it a mythical surplus.

Confused? Don't feel badly. You should see if from this side of the screen. Be grateful for this, though. At least I kept what I was writing about the "imaginary rectangle" in DRAFT.


Surfin' F.L.A.

When I started surfin' Florida blogs with the idea of adding more links, I didn't realize how many there were.

(Dumb, huh?)

There are history buffs out there and folks pointing toward genealogy research, lots of normal (waggles hand) people out there like you and I, and loons who scream loudly in their template that they are first and foremost, "reality based."

I don't mind a differing opinion, but I have little tolerance for loons. After hitting about five of them back-to-back today, I'd had enough and closed out all of the windows I'd opened (without checking any of those blogs) and said, "Enough!"

For today, anyway.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Defining AARP

Writing for The American Spectator, David Hogberg says one word defines AARP's stance on overhauling Social Security: hyprocracy.

Here's why.


"Chicken scratch!"

"No, Dad. It's shorthand."

Mom took Pitman; I learned Gregg. Dad didn't care about the differences. As far as he was concerned they were both, "Chicken scratch!"

By the time I in my junior year of high school, I was using shorthand to take notes in all of my other classes. Since by then I'd also had several years of typing, I typed all of my reports, too. The teachers didn't care how class notes were taken, but I'm sure getting the reports they assigned turned in typed instead of scrawled earned me an occasional extra point or two. Except for my Senior year with Mrs. Robinson in World Lit. She took a point off because of a typo and I only got a 99 on that report I did comparing five different forms of short poetry. Now you tell me, was that fair? I didn't think so and still don't. I'd worked hard on that report and . . .


When Da Kid was getting ready to select his high school classes, I insisted on two no matter what else he took: shorthand and typing. Unfortunately, by then no one had taught shorthand in years. It was gone from schools completely.

Now, however, it might be making a comeback:

"I started thinking recently how nice it is to have a skill like that, how helpful it is in meetings and with note-taking in college," [said former computer programer Kim Skimmons].
Skimmons is one of 12 who'd just graduated from a 12-week adult education class in shorthand. Others in her class included "a housewife who plans to teach the method to her young children, an administrative assistant in a local elementary school, a college student born in Indonesia, and a man who works in the intelligence field."

Hopefully it will continue as shorthand is rediscovered.

Still Missing

Fourteen years ago, on the first night of Desert Storm, Michael Scott Speicher took off from the deck of the Saratoga. His plane disappeared over Iraq.

"Scott" Speicher

First listed as KIA, the first in that war, Speicher's status has since changed several times: to MIA and then back to KIA to MIA again, and finally, Missing/Believed Captured.

His fate still unknown, Scott Speicher has not been forgotten. Nor has this blogger forgotten driving home from work the next afternoon and seeing the other cars on the highways and streets, all with their headlights on, in a show support for his family and friends.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Something that drives me nuts is clicking on a link at someone's blog, only to discover that the site is 404 or if it's another blog that they're point to, that it hasn't been updated in ages.

I don't have many links (lots more than I started out with) but I do try to make sure that they're good ones. No promises, of course, but I'll try to keep it that way.

This week I'm adding Paxety Pages to Florida Bloggers. (Thanks for the link, Juan. Go Jags! Okay, okay. Next year.)

And a thanks to Mark at auterrific, too, now listed under "MORE RECOMMENDED BLOGS."

Also under "MORE RECOMMENDED BLOGS" I've added The Counterterrorism Blog, which bills itself as:

The first multi-expert blog dedicated solely to counterterrorism issues, serving as a gateway to the community for policymakers and serious researchers. Designed to provide realtime information about cases and policy developments.

Another one added under "MORE RECOMMENDED BLOGS" and coming from across "The Pond," is EU Referendum.

Just One Minute, another addition to "MORE RECOMMENDED BLOGS" has been looking at the issues behind overhauling Social Security, and fact checking.

(Oh, and my sitemeter icon went wild a few days ago and suddenly showed up where it shouldn't have been. I have no idea why. Then again, I really don't know what I'm doing but I did finally manage to get it back where it belongs.)

UPDATE: It all started this morning while I was moving bags of feed and while turning, sneezed. I know back troubles and this ain't it, but I'm definitely "ouchy." As a result, I've spent a good part of today surfing Florida blogs and added a whole bunch more links. No, I did not add every Florida blog I looked at. Why? Because it's MY blog and I'll link if I want to!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Galveston, oh Galveston!

Relax everyone. No need to run in terror. I'm not singing or going to.

The negative talk about overhauling Social Security is coming in hot and heavy from the usual sources. Funny thing about their squawking is that they admit it's going bankrupt, but claim everthing's still just fine and dandy until . . . well, they're not sure when but it's not now so, why worry about it. It's decades away.

Writing for National Review Online, Donald Luskin says the Social Security crisis begins in just 5 years.

These aren't loose words as Luskin shows. He also shows with links to reports from the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds and the GAO, it gets worse. No games, those are the numbers.

What exactly will overhauling Social Security to allow private investment do for future retirees? That's where Galveston comes in.

With all due respect to the "New Deal," I believe it is time for "A Better Deal." Thus, what I ask the President and the distinguished members of his Commission to consider is not a Chilean model, or a British model, or an Australian model or a Swedish model of Social Security reform, though I’m sure those are all fine as far as they go.

What I ask the President and his Commission to consider is an American Model, a real life American success story found deep in the heart of Texas.
-- Statement By Galveston County Judge Ray Holbrook (ret.) for the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security
More here. (Note: 5-page .pdf, but well worth the bother.)


Picture this?

Country Store


Thursday, January 13, 2005

"It's an awesome snake."

I'll take his word for it, because I don't want to see one. Through the glass at a zoo is bad enough, but I sure don't want to see one up close and personal. As a matter of fact, I don't really want to see any snakes because I just don't like them. After decades of living here I have grown to understand their place in Mother Nature's scheme, and futilily continue to hope that one day she'll appreciate that understanding by keeping the damned things away from me.

Unlike me, Lori Oberhofer, a park wildlife technician, goes out looking for snakes -- specifically pythons -- in the Everglades with her pal, Python Pete.

The pup -- park biologist Skip Snow calls him a "detector dog" -- is part of a stepped-up effort to rid the park of pythons, constrictors that coil around Everglades prey as large as small mammals and wading birds and grow to 18 to 20 feet in their native Southeast Asia.
Oh goodie!
"He shows promise," said Oberhofer, who trains the pooch, descended from a line of bird-hunting dogs, with a rag reeking of python musk at her park research center office. The beagle does that work from the end of a red leash. His master is not too worried about a beefy python getting the pooch first, but she said she would deploy him carefully.

"I've got to have an eye on him because of the alligators out here," she said.
Oh goodie!

Already, park-goers have witnessed two headline-making battles between alligators and pythons. The first came in January 2003 when two reptiles engaged in an epic 24-hour battle. The snake finally managed to escape.

Nearly a year later, in February 2004, another snake wasn't as lucky. Park visitors saw an alligator catch one of the large snakes in its mouth and swim away victoriously.
See here and here, and if ya'll excuse me, I have to change my . . . erm, I have to . . . erm, powder my nose.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Don't worry about the fine print!

A train derails in South Carolina. One of its cars is leaking chlorine gas. People are dead and many more are evacuated from their homes.

Jenna, my Blogmama, who lives just outside of the area directly affected but has friends and family who were not, reports:

Some of the people receiving aid checks from Norfolk Southern are concerned about the fine print on the back. I don't blame them. Norfolk's giving them a small check now, to help reimburse them for food and lodging while they're kept away from their homes. The small print on the back says, "Endorsement of this check constitutes a full final and complete release of all claiming going out of the accident incurring at Graniteville on 1-6-2005."
More here.

Writing stuff

Whether I liked it or not, before I retired (It was an early-out window, dammit!) I occasionally had to deal with reporters.

Most of the time it was only in passing, because they were really only waiting to speak to somone impawtant, and the reporter thought the act of sticking a microphone in somebody's face (mine) would be so overwhelming, it would result in that someone (me) saying something so stupid, they could make something (hopefully higher ratings) of it later.

A few times, though, Da Boss (or his boss, or that boss's boss) pointed the reporter to me for background information (primarily numbers) on whatever story they were covering . . .

(Except for that one time when the oatmeal hit the proverbial fan and I became the official "Media Decoy." Without detail: rather than have the media land without warning to catch the raw emotion of people who'd been affected, the reporters were aimed at me while our social workers tried to track down family members and let them know, in privacy, what had occurred. My assignment was to stall for time by being very helpful while at the same time, not providing one bit of concrete or quotable information. For three days . . . but, I digress.)

There were and are three types of reporters:

  1. "Joe Friday": Just the facts, ma'am.
  2. Bimbo: Facts? That's the little thingie that beeps and then paper comes out, right?
  3. Crusader Rabbit: Facts? Who needs 'em. I'm here to change the world!

I always preferred the Joe Fridays and still do. I always will. But facts aren't only cold numbers and dates, and the best remember that there are real people involved in the articles they're writing.

For some reason today, I don't know why, I thought of a reporter I'd dealt with years ago. I didn't even know if he was still alive, but what the heck. I hit Google.

I'd liked his "Joe Friday." He'd go the extra mile time and again to portray a full and accurate picture. I also liked the way he dealt with people, particularly those he interviewed on his butt-ugly beat. He treated them like people: with respect, honesty and honest compassion. He quoted accurately and fairly, and if something was said off the record, it stayed there.

Turns out he's still kicking. In fact, in addition to still reporting regularly for his paper he's now, YEARS later, one of the directors at DART, an international resource for journalists covering all forms of violence. That includes the tsunamis.

Check it out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Many have been offering their opinions on the Rathergate Report CBS released yesterday. Many have been referring to the results of the Thomburgh-Boccardi investigation as a whitewash for several reasons, the primarily one being, "The panel does not find a basis to accuse those who investigated, produced, vetted or aired the Segment of having political bias."

How can that be? I see it and so do you. Because it's so obvious, why don't they just admit it? Why won't they?

Perhaps they can't. Consider this:

The media elites can float through their personal lives and rarely run into someone with an opposing view. This is very unhealthy and sometimes downright ridiculous, as when Pauline Kael, for years the brilliant film critic at the New Yorker, was completely baffled about how Richard Nixon could have beaten George McGovern in 1972: "Nobody I know voted for Nixon." Never mind that Nixon carried forty-nine states. She wasn't kidding. — Bernard Goldberg, On Media Bias, Network Stars are Rather Clueless, Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2001.
The independent counsel reported it could "not find a basis" for an accusation of bias. In their own insular world in which everyone around them thinks the same way they do, the MSM simply thought their views reflected mainstream America's?

Goldberg put it another way in his #1 New York Times Bestseller, BIAS: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News:

No conspiracies. No deliberate attempts to slant the news. It just happens. . . [b]ecause [of] the way reporters and editors see the world.
What about the "independent" counsel, then? (And yes, those are sneer quotes.) How does that affect them?

Tell me, pa-leeze, how it would be possible for an investigative body to even recognize bias, when it's comprised of people who travel only in their own elite circle, the same one as those they are charged with investigating.

I have to disagree with the much (HUGELY) larger blogs that were directly involved in Rathergate or have been reporting on it from the start, that the "independent" counsel's report is nothing more than a whitewash.

Whitewash doesn't exist in the world of the blind.
Goldberg was pulled off the air in 1996 by "The Dan" after writing an editorial for the WSJ on biased reporting by the major networks. After BIAS, Goldberg's next NYT bestseller, again on media bias, was titled Arrogance.


Monday, January 10, 2005


Buried somewhere is the draft of something I started writing last week but never finished. I may finish and post it, or I may not and eventually just hit DELETE. It was one of those rambling, babbling things I do when my mind is going in 4,870,365 different directions all at once, and I try to give it (my thoughts) direction by pounding keys.

What was I doing that got me that way? I was helping Herself, Da Kid's fiancé, set up her first ever, brand new PC. She's never had a new one before or one at home that connects to the Internet.

Her old tried and true one that she inherited years ago from an older sister, who had inherited it from someone else years before that, no longer fit her needs. It couldn't handle the volumes of information that a nursing student is apparently expected to access via the CDs the teachers distribute. And, the teachers and the school email stuff to the students on a routine basis, which she could only get by going to student lab at school to use one of the PCs there.

Da Kid set it all up. My job was to explain stuff because, "Mom, you know all about 'that stuff'."

No I don't, as many of you know. I do know more than Herself does, because she knew nothing. Zip. Nada. Which, of course, makes me look like I do know a lot.

Anyway, I was reading something Attaboy blogged, and realized I'd forgotten to warn Herself about spams that say, "Click here to be removed from our mailing list."


Talk about rambling and babbling, where was I going with this . . . oh, yeah.

. . . it appears that mail spammers are using a new trick to not only get responses to the crap they send out, but to keep themselves hidden from the law as well. According to this story, spammers will send tons of e-mail out from a domain that doesn’t exist. A few hours after sending the mail out, they will register the domain and set up a server to accept return responses to the mail they sent out the night or day before. Once they’ve received responses, they shut the domains down so anti-spam investigators can’t find them, thereby avoiding many of the new laws created to prosecute them.

Read more here.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I hate these things.

You are a Square. What a weirdo.

Via Paula.


Saturday, January 08, 2005


Tony Snow, blogging on the sly, only had a few entries before the secret was out. Since he's one of my favorities (My blood pressure does funny things when he's on FOXnews on the weekends.) I added the link. Since he hasn't done any blogging in a month, I'm removing it.

Alaa at The Mesopotamian has figured out whatever the problem was with the coding and, as time permits, will resume blogging.

I'm also adding a link to The Belmont Club, a blog I've seen referred to on a regular basis for a long time, but I never got around to reading before.

Don't ask me how I missed it, but I didn't have a link to Bill Quick's Daily Pundit. Now I do.

Picture this?

"Today's Cute" from Curmudgeonly & Skeptical


Friday, January 07, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been on every best-seller list . . . forever, having developed what seems like almost a cult following. It's soon to be a movie and there's been talk of a sequel.

Meanwhile, yours truly only got around to reading it a few weeks ago after someone, recommending it highly, lent me her copy.

Within a few pages I was completely engrossed. A real page turner! Then, I ran into an obstacle that repeated itself so often, it became the book's fatal flaw long before I was done reading it.

The fatal flaw? Dan Brown's pretensions.

Early on Brown describes the female character (who is obviously going to picture largely in the rest of the book) as having burgundy hair.

Burgundy hair . . . burgundy?

That's a STOP! A brakes-jammed one for me. The story forgotten, I'm now focused on an imaginary game of Password with Brown, trying to figure out what the heck color he's trying to describe:

Burgundy . . . wine? The color on some football uniforms? The sweater in my closet? Dang. You don't mean she has purple hair, right? Dark red, maybe?

And "burgundy" kept popping back into my mind throughout the remainder of the book. Why?

Because Brown littered The Da Vinci Code with another STOP! sign.

Once would have worked, twice if Brown had to, but . . .

Michael Langton (I think that's his name. I thought of him as Whazisface.) the main character — the handsome super-duper world-renowned author and art history teacher (at Harvard, no less) — is an absolute freak about completely forgetting about some ancient and arcane symbolism that only he knows, until (always at a critical moment) he suddenly remembers whatever it was he didn't remember, and then he slaps himself upside his head for pages because he didn't.

Then Whazisface does an immediate, multi-page mini-lecture explaining (There are some writers out there, I know. Show v. tell?) the complete and total history of what it is he just remembered, and how it solves this part of the puzzle.

Everyone is amazed and goes, "Ahhhhhh, of course!"


The story's flow doesn't just take a back seat. It completely disappears.

And when Whazisface wasn't doing it, Brown has somebody ELSE suddenly remember something only they could possibly know, and then THAT character slaps himself (or herself) upside the head because they should have remembered, and then THAT character explains the complete and total history behind whatever the HECK it is they just recalled.

Everyone is amazed and goes, "Ahhhhhh, of course!"

A reader — this one, anyway — can only take so many "Gotcha!" stunts in a book. Before long, I was only reading to see when Brown would stick in the next one. And right through the concluding chapter, in this, he did not disappoint.

To make it even worse, after countless rock ‘em-sock 'em situations complete with numerous close escapes (including multiple car chases and a clandestine international flight); several shootings, knifings, with one or two ritualistic killings thrown in; and endless lectures all preceded by someone slapping themselves upside the head because they'd forgotten something, about two-thirds of the way through Brown has Whazisface become astonished when he realizes, that the whole thing only started "last night."


The idea behind The Da Vinci Code is intriguing. Brown's overwriting and technique make that the only good thing I can say about this book.

If you haven't read it and feel you must, get it from your local public library.



Fleeing a gas station robbery, a 22-year-old Vancouver, Washington resident eventually lost the pursuinng police during a high-speed chase. Now lost himself, he stopped to ask for directions.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Jacksonville Football History

So I'm running around before Christmas like a madwoman trying to get the last of my shopping done. My last stop, the very last one I had to make before everything on my list is bought, is Barnes and Noble.

As usual, I don't know where anything is so, as usual, I asked. When I checked out, I had each of the books I'd gone in for except one. No, it wasn't out of stock. Barnes and Noble didn't carry it and I was advised, neither does any of the regular bookstores.

"Publix has it."

Publix? A grocery store?

So, the next day I drove a few miles down the road and feeling like a complete idiot, explained to the woman behind the customer service desk that I was at Barnes and Noble looking for a book and . . .

. . . and smiling, she handed it to me saying, "This one?"

Jacksonville Football History

Before there were Jacksonville Jaguars, there might have been Jacksonville Colts. Or Jacksonville Saints. Or Jacksonville Oilers. Or Jacksonville Cardinals and there were Jacksonville Sharks and Jacksonville Bulls.

The pro football history of Jacksonville is far richer, deeper and more remarkable than most fans realize.
Described as a coffee table book, it's filled with photographs. But, there's plenty of reading on each page, too, and it's not one of those massive deals that takes up every inch of space on a coffee table's top. It's not really a coffee table book at all, but a slim, pigskin-covered book that's an enjoyable, easy read.

It's also quite an eye-opener when it comes to the behind-the-scene shenigans and scams pulled the USFL, and the ways in which many owners of the existing NFL teams used and abused Jacksonville and its love of football to get what they wanted from the cities in which their teams were already located.

And quite timely, the story behind the presentation that won the NFL's vote on J'ville hosting the Superbowl this year.

Jacksonville Football History can be ordered online here. A bit pricey, you can save yourself $10 by buying it at one of the locations listed, or stop by Publix.

Labels: ,

Picture this?

050102-N-5837R-008 Indian Ocean (Jan. 2, 2005) - Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Savoy prepares bread in the bakery aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) for the victims of the Tsunami-stricken areas of Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike

Group is currently operating in the Indian Ocean off the waters of Indonesia and Thailand. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Apprentice Timothy C. Roache Jr. (RELEASED)

And there's (I'm not kidding) 19,000 more photographs at the Navy's Eye on the Fleet Photo Gallery.

UPDATE: Check out these from Florida Cracker, too.


Sunday, January 02, 2005


A .500 season is all I wanted from the Jaguars and I got that, guaranteed, two weeks ago. As I said from the start, anything more was gravy.

Today's win for a 9 - 7 season gave me that, too.

Next year, the playoffs?

I think so.

The best bang for the Buck

If you're like me and I'm sure you are, you want the most out of each of your hard-earned dollars. That's especially true right now, or it should be, with so many requests being made for donations toward disaster relief.

You want to make sure when you donate money, that it is spent on the need you're hoping to help with, and not on a new limo for some fancy-pants executive who's primary concern seems to be is whether or not (s)he is having a bad-hair day, right?

So, how do you know?

In many cases, you don't.

How do you find out?


Yes, that well-known magazine of all matters financial and its November, 2004 evaluation of America's Most (And Least) Efficient Charities.

Housekeeping (Blogkeeping?)

About a month ago, Alaa at The Mesopotaminan wrote:

This site has gone completely crazy. The template was corrupted and I lost the comments, and nothing seems to work right. I still have important things to tell you. Therefore if I cannot repair the site I shall have to find a new one.
Nothing since, so I'm removing his link. I'll restore it if/when he begins blogging again or if he already is, find out from where.

As I reported earlier, Florida Cracker changed her blog host. Since she has also managed to reclaim its old domain name, she proudly proclaims that "all roads now lead" to her site. (And she's also blogrolled little ol' me!)

I've also adding another Florida blogger, Attaboy . . .

. . . which means I think I'll add a completely new header, FLORIDA BLOGGERS

Saturday, January 01, 2005

U.S. bad, U.N. gooooood!

Do you remember the noises from the MSM a few days ago about how rotten, horrible and insensitive Dubya is because after the tsunamis, he didn't cut his trip to the Crawford ranch short?

Strangely enough (not really), the MSM has been completely silent about someone else who didn't go running back to the office: Kofi Annan.

It would have been rather difficult for them to, I'll admit. If they had, I imagine they might have felt compelled to include Kofi's explanation for not doing so:

Q: Mr. Secretary, picking up on Richard's question, I think a lot of people are asking exactly why you waited three days on vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, before you decided to fly back to New York in the face of this extraordinary crisis. Could you give us a full explanation of your thinking on that? Secondly, what kind of signal does that 72-hour delay send to the nations to which you are now appealing for greater help?

SG: First of all, there was action. It wasn't inaction. We live in a world where you can operate from wherever you are. You know the world we live in now. You don't have to be physically here to be dealing with the leaders and the Governments I have been dealing with. You don't have to be physically here to be discussing with some of the agencies that we have done.
Well, dang! If Kofi has access to technology that enables him to stay in contact with his office, ya' think just maybe Dubya does, too? Durn, will wonders never cease!

Diplomad, via one of its contributors stationed in the middle of the death and destruction, says the claiming of credit by the U.N. for specific relief efforts in the same news conference is . . . well, "Bull!"