January 14, 2010

Sin

Or, adding insult to injury.

In any event, seems as though the media always find a way in any tragedy to compound the misery by making sure to broadcast far and wide anything that will create controversy. Of course, if some people wouldn't find death and destruction such a tempting (if I may use that word) target for their own self-righteous tongue-clucking, maybe it would be slightly harder for the newspapers and teevee reporters to spread it around, but what do I know?

I do know that every time some self-annointed spokesman for God gets on the news to talk about why he wasn't crushed in an earthquake and other people were, invariably no one ever thinks to go to the source for comment.

When people start getting smug about how their goodness has protected them from the bad things that happen to those icky sinners, I remember this particular story from Luke 13:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

The fellow is mistaken who thinks that he's somehow less of a sinner because he is warm and dry and comfortable and wealthy and fully-fed and palavering in a television studio and not lying dead at the bottom of a rubble pile.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:24 AM | Comments (5)

October 27, 2009

FINALLY! Something worth posting about!

From down in the comments below, Chef Tony wanders by with a request:

"Hey y'all, my friend Shane is in the 'Stan. He & his troops are in the middle of nowhere and I'd like to make them a bit more comfy. If you can help by sending & asking others you work & know to help in this it's be great. I know I loved getting ANYTHING from home while I was in Viet Nam (68, 72) and I'm going to pay forward on that. Google has good info on how to pack and ship but I can help there too, 612 703 6573. Thanks much & take care."

Begin forwarded message:

Tony,

After sitting down with some of the boys and discussing "wish lists" I've nailed down a few items that would be in demand around here. Since we have no PX, toiletries are a real pain for us. That being said, the following is a cursory list of things the guys would like:

-soap
-toothpaste
-toothbrushes
-dental floss
-shampoo
-shaving cream
-razors
-foot powder
-deodorant

Some other items the boys would like:

-Christmas decorations (small fake trees, lights, ornaments, etc.)
-Snack foods (cookies are great--but anything would be good)
-books
-magazines
-coffee (the stuff in the chow hall is awful)
-drink mixes (Gatorade, lemonade, etc.)

This is only a very generic list. If there is anything else you can think of I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated. Just don't send items such as alcohol (sadly, we are not allowed to drink) or anything that might be restricted from going on an airplane such as explosives, aerosols, ammo, and other stuff like that.

Again, I thank you for thinking of us and your continued support. It means a great deal to know that the folks back home think about us.

Take care and God bless.

Shane

It just occurred to me that a mailing address might be helpful. ;-)

My address is:
MAJ Shane Gries
201st VTT
Camp Blackhorse
APO AE 09320

Thanks again!

Okay folks--I know I don't have very many visitors anymore, but for those who do drop in on occasion, this sounds like a great way to help out someone who truly is worthy of our gratitude and support. Even if you don't send something to Major Gries, there are hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women around the world who would appreciate something similar. I know in my own church congregation there are at least three of our members--two men on deployment and one young lady who is entering basic training--who look forward to letters and packages from home.

Take just a moment and think of their sacrifice, and please find a way to let Major Gries or someone like him know of your support.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 05:35 PM | Comments (4)

September 15, 2009

Of all the things...

...I decide to break silence for, this would have to rank right down there as the stupidest. With as much as is going on in the world, surely I should be able to come up with something better.

Then again, thats my critique of the new Jay Leno show.

All that hype, all that talent, all that money (although we have been assured repeatedly that its much cheaper than doing a one hour weekly dramaas if I care), all those local television news reporters dragooned into counting down the days until the premier, and thats all there is to it?

Now part of this is that Ive never been a huge Leno fanI like him best when hes talking about cars. And thats about it. I liked him when he was young, but his delivery grates on me, and its not gotten better with age. But I do sorta chuckle when he does Jaywalking, and stuff like that, and so the premise of the new showJay doing the stuff people actually think is funny, and cutting out all the crap at least sounded promising.

Hate to tell em, but theyve got a lot more to cut.

How about the opening monologue? Or, alternately, if youre going to have one, at least make it funny.

Kevin Eubanks? I have felt, and continue to feel, very sorry for him that he has to do this job, although Im sure lots of money makes a good salve for the ego. But hes not Ed McMahon (late or otherwise) or even Andy Richter, and the skit with the Lenolookalike was disturbing and not funny.

Comfy chairs? They looked uncomfortable to me. Then again, that could have been my reaction to special first guest, Jerry Seinfeld. Gee, a guest about nothing! And I like Jerry Seinfeld. But he nailed itwhy have him on? Hes been off the TV forever, and doesnt have anything new to promote, and his interaction with the weird Head of Oprah was painful to watch, and I dont care about his wifes cookbook, and his hair is thinning in a disturbing manner, and he wasnt funnyand not in a good way.

Kanye? Kan ye just say no? Look, I know hes topical, but again, not in a good way. Hes an insufferable twit, but sure, go ahead and have him on to sing and all that if you really must, but please, dont feel the need to interview him. Or, if youre going to go through with that, dont do it on the comfy chairsput him behind a table in a hard metal chair with a hot spotlight on him and scream at him to confess or something. Thats what theyd do on CSI. And it would at least be entertaining. Sorta.

The singing comic guy was kinda funny, the ads were funny, the musical act wasnt my kind of music, but whatevermusics okay to have. So, youve got about a thirty minute show. And oddly enoughnone of it really relies on Jay. The ads are funny because someone else screwed up, the segment with up and coming comics is funny because they actually have to work at it, and bands are a completely different, non-Jay sort of thing. This means they could save an even BIGGER load of money if theyd just hire someone to emcee the show in a nice, low-key, witty sort of way, and let someone else whos actually good do the entertaining parts.

But what do I knowIm just a viewer. I guess Ill go back to watching the hour of King of Queens reruns that comes on then, or the I Spy reruns on Retro Television Network.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:02 AM | Comments (11)

May 14, 2009

Okay, so I admit I'm biased.

But still.

Middle Girl has been taking an art elective in school this year, and they have put on an end-of-the-year art show, and she was very excited that she had three of her pieces displayed.

Now, I do pretty well for myself when it comes to such things--I can draw and paint in a variety of media and I know some things about 3D-type artwork, and there's that whole architectural thing, and so I tend to be a little difficult to impress.

I've posted some of the kids' artwork before when it was of obvious merit, because I do like to brag on them and such. But I have to say, even after stripping away the nepotism factor and such, when she sent me this cell-phone picture of her collagraph print, I was amazed.

That's very good work, I don't care who you are.

(And no, I've not started blogging again.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:48 PM | Comments (9)

July 21, 2008

Advice for Young Ladies

Some of you might know this, but for those who dont, my employer has switched my schedule to four-10 hour days per week, meaning I now have Fridays off. Which means I now have a day where I can go and do things, such as get my hair cut. Which is exactly what I did first thing Friday morning past, (with Boy in tow, since he needed shearing as well).

We hied ourselves to the foot of Talladega Hill, across the tracks and over the mighty Pinchgut Creek, to the HeadStart over close to Target. Being that it was 10:00 a.m., there was no one but the three staff members awaiting there.

We were ushered back immediately, and I took my place in the chair operated by an attractive young woman of decidedly Rubenesque proportions, and removed my spectacles so she could have unhindered access to my noggin.

Being thus blind, at first I could not be sure of what flashed before my eyes as she drew the drape around my neck, but after several more such preparatory tonsorial flourishes, I could no longer deny that the dewy plumpness of her upper right arm contained quite an extensive bit of tattoo ink.

Now, I am of a certain age, and I still associate such markings with convicts, sailors, and women of the camp. However, I am also quite aware that fashion has overtaken my staid blue-nosed preconceptions, and have come to know that even respectable people such as rap singers and hair care professionals now deem permanent epidermal artwork to be quite desirable. Yet, after my haircut was done and Id retrieved my glasses and had a moment at the cash register to carefully examine her choice of embellishment, I still find myself compelled to offer some unsolicited advice, most especially for the young ladies in the reading audience who wish to delve into this sort of everlasting identification.

First, I know you all want to project the carefree, stylish, devil-may-care attitude of a certain late-1960s Dunaway-Beatty pairing, but lets face itBonnie and Clyde arent choice role-models. So, you know, actually taking the time to etch their names into your upper arm is probably not really a good idea if you have aspirations in life for a job that has stuff like a retirement plan and health insurance.

Second, if youre dead set on the glamorization of the lifestyle of those who wind up lead-perforated, at least try to find yourself a really, really good tattooist. Nothing ruins a perfectly good countercultural jab at The Man than to get a tat that looks as if it was done by a fourth-grader who forgot to take his Ritalin. Although I realize no one teaches good penmanship and handwriting in school anymore, it would really be a good idea to find someone who has had some classes in such things before letting him practice on you.

This admonition to seek a professional also goes for Piece of Advice #3, namely, if you believe your Bonnie and Clyde calligraphy must contain an emblem of crossed submachine guns, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE get someone who actually knows what one looks like. The use of a crudely drawn something-or-other that looks like it was traced from a Beetle Bailey comic strip simply ruins the entire effect youre going for.

Remember, young ladies, not all of your fellow citizens will squeal with delight in your choice of body decoration and may, in fact, look askance at it. But if you simply cannot resist the lure, never ever scrimp on quality. Either that, or practice with Sharpies first.

And by the way, the haircut looks just fine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:15 AM | Comments (20)

December 07, 2007

I hate school.

Not really.

Its good to learn things, even if its just for the sake of knowing something you didnt know before.

I suppose what I object to is that schools nowadays take great pride in assigning gigantic enriching multiculturally-engaging, multimedia-focused research assignments to kids who probably dont get all that much out of it other than a sort of glossy simulacrum of a facsimile of understanding about the topic at hand.

Seeing as how such assignments invariably wind up requiring a huge wad of parental involvement and supervision and assistance.

Because its important for parents to be involved.

Despite the fact that my parents never assisted me in doing silly crapwork school projects.

And despite the fact that I have not the socially-desirable overly-stimulated and pampered single child to dote upon, but the near-to-being-white-trash FOUR children, ALL of whom are also given similar gigantic enriching multiculturally-engaging multimedia-focused research assignments.

What brings on this sudden fit of pique?

Boy, and his assignment this nine weeks. Seems theyre studying Asia in social studies. Or possibly language. Or maybe math. You know how schools are nowadays with all this cross-training stuff. Anyway, I think its social studies. So, their teacher gives them this big laundry list of activities to choose from in categories such as Culture, Geography, Art, Inscrutability, &c., &c., with each activity worth a varying amount of points, the idea being to allow each student the freedom to pick and choose enough activities from each category to add up to a theoretical maximum total of 200 points.

Im not sure how much time they were given, although I figure its probably been over a month. And you know how good 8th graders are at time management.

So it comes closer to time to start fixing and doing, and Boy had actually begun working on some of his stuff as long as a couple of weeks ago. Me, not knowing exactly how much was involved in the overall scheme of things, was kinda gratified that he hadnt waited around until the last minute to do his colored picture of the Silk Road, and a clever origami scorpion, and a picture of a samurai.

Little did I know that this wasnt all there was to it. And that it was all supposed to be turned in today.

It began to dawn on me last weekend, though.

Im gonna make paper!

Great, yeah, whatever, Son.

And so I need to save the Sunday paper, because Im going to take that, and put it in the blender, and put water in it, and some glue

WHOA UP, THERE, BOY!

No. Jonathan, were NOT going to put paper and glue in the blender.

Hurt little puppy dog eyes. Butbut I have to make paper for my class assignment.

WHAT class, Son?

That stuff Im working on for my Asia projectyou know, like that map I was doing.

Oh. Well, no blender. Ill help you out on that.

Because, I am a moron.

SO, thus began an ever deepening hole of paternal, and ultimately, maternal interference.

Because not only did I get to make paper, in the last four days I also wound up making an Ivory soap carving of a fu dog, a large model of a segment of the Great Wall of China, a printed itinerary for a imaginary 14 day tour of Japan (including travel distances and times for each leg of the trip), and a box lunch of three separate dishes, along with the recipe for each item. Mom got involved last night, doing a poster collage of a variety of images of China and Japan gleaned from a stack of National Geographics.

Boy was ever helpfulcutting and pasting and fixing and doing and mixing and assembling and such like, but frankly, there would be no way for any kid really to do all this junk without a big hand from their parents, mainly in the all-important task of project management. Given infinite time and resources, I know the young feller could have figured it all out himself, but something of this magnitude requires a ready-to-go set of skills in production means and methods that is beyond your garden-variety middle schooler.

I dont knowmaybe its all this blizzard of information we live in, where theres so much access to so much stuff, that we seem to have come to think the past got there by a combination of magic and CGI. The fact you can pull up a billion images of every square inch of the Great Wall with nothing but a click of the mouse makes it seem less of a feat of engineering. Building a cardboard model of it (or helping Dad build one) is fun, but I dare say he still has little appreciation for just how massive such an undertaking was.

Me?

I think hed have been better served to do fewer things, but actually do them himself, and not just the simple thing like origami. How about the teacher getting some stones, and some mortar, and a corner of the schoolyard, and letting the kids work and see just how stinkin hard it is to lay a straight wall on crooked ground, and then maybe get an appreciation for how long and hard it would be to do the same thing all across 4,000 miles of mountaintop.

Yeah, I know. Lawyers would love that.

Anyway, I am happy to say it all got done and transported to school without incident this morning, so who am I to grouse?

I just hope I get an A.

Colophon

Papermaking: Ive seen this done on Beakmans World, and got a refresher from several websites. Just look up beakman and paper, and youll find enough info. We took a section of newspaper (black and whiteno slicks), tore it into thin strips, and then chipped those into very small bits with scissors. This part really would work better with a blender, but I knew a certain wife of mine would never go for it. If you want to make a lot of this junk, go get a blender from the thrift store. Anyway, get the paper all chopped up as fine as possible. I also got a wad of lint out of the clothes dryer screen to give it a bit more body. One thing I didnt count on was the huge amount of girl hair in the dryer lint. This is gross, but not really noticeable until you get it all soupy and wet. Ick.

Next step was to get a plastic ice cream bucket and put the paper and lint in, and cover it with scalding hot water. Cover, and let it set for a couple of days to get good and mushy. This stuff was then mushed between my fingers until it was even mushier, then allowed to settle back out, and the water carefully drained off. The mush was collected, squeezed out, and then new hot water was put in the plastic tub, along with a big puddle of white glue. After this was dissolved, the mush ball was put back in and squeezed some more until well mixed.

To make the paper reconstitute itself into a thin dry sheet, take an old pair of panty hose and stretch it tightly over a wire coat hanger that youve bent around into a square shape. The next part I wasnt really clear on, but what I did was place the hangernhose into a shallow baking pan, and pour the whole mess of soupy paper mix over the top. I then patted out the mixture evenly and thinly over the whole screen and lifted it out, but thats probably not the best way to do it.

The screen and mixture still has a lot of water in it, and if you have several days, you set it outside to dry in the sun. The heck with that. I laid it on some paper towels, and then carefully blotted the top to get out as much water as possible, then stuck the whole shebang into the dryer on top of the sweater rack, and let it run for an hour or so.

The end result made a nice 9 inch square of light blue paper, smooth on one side and pleasantly rough on the other, and my recycled paper only required a couple of gallons of natural gas-heated water, a half a roll of new paper towels, and an hour of electricity in the clothes dryer (set on high) to produce! Somehow, I think this is not the way recycling is supposed to work.

Eh, whatever.

Jonathan then decorated the paper with a rubber stamp we had of Chinese characters, and some brushed-on black paint in which he did a free-form sort of rendition of Chinese calligraphy.

Soap carving: Ive never done this before, but Ive read that all the great masters of sculpture merely carve away whatever doesnt look like a horse or busty maiden, so I figured Id do the same with the soap. Ivory brand soap seems to work best, since its soft enough to work with, yet strong enough not to snap in half. Boy found a picture of a pair of jade dragon/dogs, and I looked at it briefly and started whittling away stuff that didnt look like a fu dog.

I blocked out the basic outline with a serrated paring knife, and then finished out the rest with my trusty reliable #11 X-Acto blade. It was very soothing, and I managed to do a really good version for a first effort, although the head looked less like a fierce dragon and more like a hungry pig.

Great Wall model: This one required some doing. Boy found a picture of a section with two guard towers on a rocky section of land. I figured corrugated cardboard would work bestits brown, and available in large quantities in our garage. The ground was another story. Needed realistic earth look, but no weight. And the whole thing needed a base to sit on.

Catherine had a big box her pair of boots came in, so I went and got that to use as the base, and fortuitously, it had several big wads of wrapping tissue inside. Hmm. I wadded up several sheets and put them on the boot-box lid, then laid several flat sheets over the top of that. Looks like rolling hills to me!

I glued down the edge of the large sheet to the lid of the box with white glue, then made a thin solution of white glue in hot water and sprayed the whole thing to give it a bit of body and stiffen it. This was then laid aside to dry for a couple of days.

In the interim, we built the guard towers by laying out a rectangle, scoring one side of the cardboard at three equal increments, and folding up the side and joining them with a piece of masking tape on the inside. Crenellations were cut afterward with the X-Actotwo slices down and one across (which would have been easier with a new blade), as well as doorways and tiny windows. I did one to show Boy how, and he did the other.

Needless to say, there was a difference in their appearance once complete. These were also laid aside for a day while I tried to think of how to finish the rest of the thing.

I finally figured I would slice through the tissue and insert the towers and glue them to the box lid underneath, and then connect the towers with sections of cardboard walls. Since the land surface rose and fell, one tower would need to be shorter to give the illusion of elevation change, so about an inch was sliced off the bottom of one, and the towers positioned on the now-dry base to eyeball in the correct alignment. Once that was settled, an x shape was cut where each tower would go, and the tissue paper flaps turned under.

Now, time to finish the ground.

First step was to try to get something approaching the look of dirt. I thought at first of spray painting it flat light brown, but remembered that stuff in the rattle can that is supposed to look like faux stone. Picked up a can of that at Wally World in the Antique Ruins color, as well as some model railroad grass from the hobby shop. (Didnt need a lot, since the vegetation is supposed to be sparse.)

Sprayed the whole base, with special attention given to covering up the writing on the side of the box, and while it was still wet, sprinkled on the model railroad grass and patted it down gently so it would stick.

HEY! Looks like China!

As that dried, I cooked up the foods, but that has a separate entry below. Just imagine Ive started back again after the base has dried, and that its nearly midnight, Im punchy, and the X-Acto is now no sharper than the side of my hand.

The towers were glued in place, and the layout of the sidewalls contemplated. Since they had to sort of snake along, it was actually not as hard as if they had to be in a precise location. More cardboard cutting, with some additional trimming needed here and there to make sure they lined up with the towers, and the aforementioned crenellations added before each sidewall was glued down.

I started with the short segments that ran from the towers to the edges of the box first, mainly as a way to practice what I thought would work. Got those done pretty quickly, put in a walkway surface on each, and then moved to the center connection. Due to the way the base ground was made, this took a bit longer to fix and do, but its nothing more than holding up the cardboard and chewing away the parts that interfered, and bending it slightly side-to-side to fix alignment errors. Got the center part done, including the multi-planar walkway surface (more cardboard, of course), sealed off the underside of each end of the wall so you cant see inside, did some touch up fixing with strips of the brown paper that was peeled from the corrugated core, and pronounced myself done. It turned out looking pretty doggone nice.

Tour itinerary: Google is your friend, even if they deliberately decided to be evil if it means getting to play in the Chi-Comm internet market. Ahem. Sorry for the impromptu commentary.

Not really.

ANYway, I reread the requirements for the activity14 days, no more than two days per location, include activities, and travel distances for each stop. Oh, and in 16 point Times New Roman font. Silly teacher.

Got on the Web and Googled 14 day japan tour and got several different travel service suggestions for trips, and settled on one that ran 15 days, and edited it down to make it fit. The suggested tour stops at each location were all written in traveloguese (Breathtaking! Thrilling! Unimaginable Luxury! Red Hot Vixens! Oh, waitwrong one), so this stuff got edited out so that we got a list of cities, and a list of sights.

Next, the travel between each usually called for a train, and luckily there are enough online train schedules for Japan to make it a snap to figure out.

If all you want to know is travel time.

Oddly, its harder when you want to find actual distances. And another thing, the mysterious Japanese use some sort of odd measuring system that uses something called the ki-lo-meter.

So, yet another website, or three, to figure distances, and then some judicious use of yet another website to translate these enigmatic distances into American. All said and done, it worked out pretty well, as long as the teacher doesnt get too weirded out by instances of slightly more than two days when you figure in arrivals and departures.

Food: Okay, yet another potential for disaster averted. Boy had to fix three separate food dishes, and had it in his mind to fix something grand and involved, aided and abetted by a certain wife of mine and her collection of cookbooks. I intervened yesterday and went to the store to pick out a few ingredients that would be quick, simple, and more or less Asian. What I settled on was a little make-your-own-sushi kit, some rice thread noodles, some wonton wrappers, and an assortment of vegetable stuff and a little meat.

Sushi kit came with rice and some seaweed wrappers, and thats about it. I figured some carrot ribbons, a couple of pieces of bamboo shoot, and a bit of fake crabmeat would work fine. It looked pretty cool once I got it rolled up, but the little wrappers are tiny and it was hard to roll up. I had to eat one by accident, and it was good. Dish one.

Next, some quick fried wonton noodles. Cut the wrappers into strips and dropped them into hot oil, and they were done in about five seconds. Same thing with the rice threads, although I let the oil get too hot and burnt one batch and it stank the place up pretty well. Okay, thats the second dish.

Final one, I took some chicken breasts and sliced them up thin, dropped them in the oil, cooked them quickly and set them aside. Poured out the oil and left only enough to coat the pan, and dumped in a pack of extra firm tofu cubes, let them cook, then dumped in some straw mushrooms. Cooked a bit more, poured in some soy sauce and the cooked chicken, some white pepper, some sesame seeds, let it all mix together and get hot, and I was done. The food was put in a little oblong plastic box with a lid, and Jonathan said it looked like the bento box his friend (friends dad is an expat who works for a Honda supplier) brings to school all the time.

Banzai!

Oh, and I had to also type out the recipes. 16 point Times New Roman, natch.

Anyway, so there you go.

And yes, I know youd have preferred some pictures, but I cant do everything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:35 PM | Comments (9)

November 19, 2007

In the Mail...

Was minding my own bidness last week when I got a nice e-mail from a young lady named Rachel Patton with Turner Publishing asking if I'd like a complimentary copy of the book Historic Photos of Birmingham, by James Baggett, the head of the Archives Department at the Birmingham Public Library.

Apparently Ms. Patton hasn't heard that I shut this place down many years ago, since she wrote that she was sending the book for possible review consideration hereon. But hey, I'm a sucker for free stuff, especially picture books. So, I got Chet to come in from rewiring the transformer and let her know I'd be happy to receive the book and to offer my opinion.

A couple of days later, a big package was sitting at my place at the kitchen table, although I do wish I'd been looking for the shipment, because it apparently arrived a day earlier and sat on the front porch and got wet in the recent rains we had. Luckily, the book wasn't ruined, although it was a bit wavy around the edges.

The promotional blurb sent by Ms. Patton said, "This 10 x 10 book tell [sic] the pictorial narrative of Birmingham through culled-from-the-archives photography and informative text and captions."

Now most of you know I have a great affection for history and Birmingham and photos and historical photos of Birmingham, so I've got to tell you I'm already predisposed to give this thing a good review.

However.

I have to say that unless you are already well-steeped in Birmingham lore, you will probably be less than satisfied, unless you just like looking at old pictures for the sake of looking at old pictures. The captions are very short, and assume that the reader appreciates the history associated with place names such as East Lake, Avondale, Woodlawn, Ensley, or Lakeview, or Highland Avenue, or 1st Avenue and 20th Street, or with the names of the people such as Tutwiler and Jemison.

Each chapter is devoted to a different time period beginning from the City's founding in 1871 (although the earliest known photo is from 1873), and begins with a short introduction by Mr. Baggett. Now, again, these names and places are already familiar to me, and I dearly loved looking at the wealth of detail in these photos. But even if a picture IS worth a thousand words, photos this old, of people or places you might not know, means that a great deal of those words could just as well be in a foreign language.

I found myself longing for more exposition, even though I realize this isn't the point of the book. But in not providing a greater amount of textual clarification, it means that this book (or one of the 60 other similar titles offered by Turner) is destined to be limited in its appeal to the hometown crowd.

Second, although I appreciated the chapter breakdown by time period, within each chapter it seems as though more thought could have been directed at obvious groups of subjects. There are several photos of old motorcycles, for instance, that really begged to be more closely associated with each other. In another example, there are more than a few photos of the old St. Vincent's hospital and its staff. It seems a shame they weren't less randomly distributed--again, reading this as if I were a complete stranger to Birmingham, I might not have immediately understood they were related.

Another possible way of breaking down the subject was geographically. What was known in the old days as "The Birmingham District" was, and still is, a big, BIG area, and the randomness of the display of the pictures makes it difficult to grasp just how large of expanse of land is covered. I know it and appreciate it, but only because I'm already very familiar with where the locations are.

Having said all that, I still thoroughly enjoyed perusing the book. It really is amazing to see how quickly this old place sprung up from farmland to a real city. Another thing that's odd to me is just how big it looked. I don't know if it was the type of equipment used or what, but it's odd to look at photos from then and companion contemporary photos. The old grainy black and whites always look like they were taken in a huge metropolis, and the modern photos always make the place seem much smaller. And again, I just love looking at the details--the way a man wears his watch fob, the signs in the background, the piles of manure in the streets, the barely visible lettering on the fourth floor window, the old Studebakers and Nashes. Good stuff.

Another caveat, though. If you like old photos of Birmingham, it's really hard to go wrong by spending an afternoon browsing through the online digital collection of the BPL Archives. Many of the photos from the book are from this resource, and they are grouped and arranged and categorized in a way that makes gleaning the history and context of the photos much easier and more rewarding. The late (and perpetually mourned) Terminal Station gets its own section, even though I only recall seeing a glimpse of it once in the book. The book does present a short peek at Birmingham's once extensive network of public streetcar lines, but the website does it much more justice. And the Archives also maintains a blog site where they post recent updates to the collection.

All that's missing is that wonderful smell and portability of a book. Although it's worth remembering that these photos also exist in actual, real, holdable form. As someone who's made several treks across the park, I can attest that the Archives are a super place to spend time. The staff is helpful and friendly, and you can look through the old photos and clippings till your heart's content, and you can even order reproductions of just about anything for a nominal fee. One of my favorites is a reprint of O.V. Hunt's "Heaviest Corner on Earth" that I keep over in my history bookcase in the bedroom.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Historic Photos of Birmingham would be a good gift for anyone with a soft spot for Birmingham's photographic past, or anyone on your list who enjoys historic architecture. Just be aware that it's far from the whole story of this place, and that there are some companion resources that make reading it much more informative.

Photos of Birmingham.jpg

ISBN: 1596522542 / Publisher: Turner Publishing Company (KY) / Date: June 2006 / Page Count: 197

So there you go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:52 AM | Comments (9)

November 06, 2007

Chet's In Heaven!

No, not like that.

I mean he's just really happy because we got an actual e-mail today, and that meant that Chet the E-Mail Boy got to swing into a flurry of activity (as flurrisome as he gets, at least) as he got busy transcribing it from Morse code to Linotype to a printed sheet for me to edit then back to the Linotype and then back to me with the final copy.

Gosh, this better be good:

from: Marc Velazquez
10:33 am (3 hours ago)
to: Terry Oglesby
date: Nov 6, 2007 10:33 AM
subject: Sonic Snack

Hey Terry!

Hey Marc!

I hope you'll forgive my "nudgings" to get you back into some kind of posting habit. I do miss the daily fun we had.

Sorry, Marc. But I just can't anymore. In the immortal words of Chief Joseph, "I will blog no more forever." Or something like that. So you'll never ever have a need to ever come back by here, because there won't be any more new material.

Then again, most of it was leftovers anyway...

With that said, please feel free to use the following for posting material: Have you seen and tried the new snack, Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites, from Sonic?

I've seen the commercials, but have not observed them in their natural habitat.

When I first saw the commercial I thought, "How did they get that from Terry?" You mentioned last week about the boys in the R&D Kitchen Lab were hard at work, thus my curiosity. The article I gave the link for mentions that Sonic is not the first to come up with this snack.

The closest Sonic to me is over 20 miles away, ergo no FMCB's for me yet.

Please shed some light on this snack scenario, oh Grand Poobah of AoW and Cornaguin creator!

Actually, this idea is one of Possumblog Kitchen's rejects.

As you know, we believe it's important to have a sharpened stick inserted into our foods, and we believe in large quantities. Ever tried to stick a wooden stick into a big bowl of mac and cheese and pick it up? Doesn't work very well. We wound up using that wagonwheel pasta stuff that has an axle hole in the middle, which worked pretty well, but then someone pointed out that there was no meat.

We tried working on a chili mac version, and that didn't work, either. Then we went back to the drawing board and decided to take some of our tender, farm-raised manatees and feed them a strict diet of macaroni and cheese, and as a result, we now have a new product--Mac'n'Cheesatees! All the rich, blubbery goodness of genuine Florida manatee, sprinkled thru'n'thru with tasty bits of pasta and wholesome American cheese, all wrapped up in a warm, crunchy cornbread-batter coating, and then deep fried in TRANS-FAT FREE OIL, and of course, served on a genuine hardwood dowel, precisely sharpened for your eating enjoyment!

So, you know, if Sonic wants to stick (so to speak) with their puny little puffs of macaroni and cheese, eh, whatever. I'd rather that they'd invest in more fresh-faced, tightly-packed leggy blonde corn-fed carhops, and find some way to do away with all the slack-jawed pimply doofus dudes. But that could just be me.

Or not.

[PS With the writers strike in Hollywood, this could be a golden opportunity for someone like you who has a talent for comedic writing. Not to mention your vast knowledge of fine Southern living!]

Since when did it take talent to write for Hollywood?

These people are supposed to be the cream of the creative crop, yet all I hear on the news are these goomers walking around and chanting the EXACT SAME "Two-four-six-eight-insert your insufferably twee demand here and attempt to make it rhyme with 'eight'" commie protester chant that's been around FOREVER! Buncha crappy hacks can't come up with something better than THAT!? And they want more money for it!? Please. I say it's time for studios to start outsourcing some of that work to Mumbai or Jakarta or Singapore. If you're gonna get rusty retreaded crap anyway, why not economize a bit?

Good thing I don't blog anymore or I'd have to say something about it.

Hope things are going well for you and the rest of the Oglesby clan. I'm already starting to get sick of seeing Christmas commercials, considering I'm still eating stolen "Halloween" candy.

Speaking of Oglesby clan. Odd how Marc segues right from asking about us to talking about eating stolen candy.

HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY PATRIOTISM!! I blame global warming!

There now.

But yes, we're all doing just fine, thank you for asking. And NONE of us are in jail!

Anymore.

As for Hallothanksgivchristmannukwanzyear'sday, I'm not tired of it yet. Marc, however...

I use the quote marks since the candy came from the Harvest celebration at church, or whatever euphemism they happened to label it with. I did get my own bag of candy, though, at the end of the night after manning the dinosaur bean-bag toss and picking up those *$#% stupid bags for 90 minutes. Ah well, at least the kids had fun (I hope).

I know how irritating it can be, but REALLY, Marc--you mustn't insist on calling the little old church ladies "*$#% stupid bags." At least not to their faces.

I saw Auburn is creeping up the rankings, though it would take a Bear Bryant-sized miracle for them to crack the top 8 and get into the BCS.

Not gonna happen, what with only two games left in the season. And Bama is probably pretty desperate for Tommy Tuberville not to start on another hand's worth of fingers. One prediction? Should Alabama win the Iron Bowl, I guarantee you someone will have tee-shirts on sale five minutes afterward with a cartoon Big Al holding up his middle finger (toe? What do elephants have?) and saying "I got your finger right here, Auburn!"

It's called "class," you know.

Anyway, Auburn won't get any sort of BCS recognition this year.

I watched some of the LSU-Alabama game and noticed some lovely ladies wearing houndstooth hats with yellow/purple coloring. It was pretty funny, unless you're a Crimson Tide fan.

The LSUsers do seem to take his departure from Miami awfully hard. It would probably not be quite so bad except they wound up with Les "I am Certifiably Insane" Miles. I congratulate them for winning all these so far, but he's not coaching Notre Dame and shouldn't rely on sheer blind luck to continue to win games for him. Fourth and half a foot and some of the toughest linemen and backs around, and you CALL A TRICK PLAY!? Moron.

And I know moron...

Well, at least Darth Saban had his somber face on after the game. Hmmm, maybe you can whip up some Cornabogs (batter-dipped and fried Bulldog on a stick) for the weekend?

AND there's another coach who's not screwed together right. That stupid display against Florida was weapons-grade, Howard Dean, outhouse rat crazy. Anyway, should be a pretty good game...

Bountiful blessings,
Marc

Thanks!

Wow. Makes me wish I still blogged.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:51 PM | Comments (29)

August 13, 2007

A confession.

I figure I might as well go ahead and say this since we're winding down and about to go into some sort of limbo for a while (or longer). I realize this has been a rather closely held secret of mine, but as I said, I think I owe it to you, my loyal readership, to move aside the curtain and reveal...


...I really like women. A lot.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:35 AM | Comments (6)

August 10, 2007

Thing I will not miss.

Militantly, stridently, ignorant coworker. My boss was having a conversation with me about a continuing ed seminar he went to yesterday on "green" building, and apparently half of it was devoted to a presentation about global warming.

As I've said ad nauseum, I am unconvinced that anthropogenic forces are the sole cause of any observed rise in global temperatures, or if they are even a significant influence. Yes, we obviously can have some effect on climate, and probably do to some extent, but that link is much less strong than I believe many proponents would have us believe, and there are many other natural factors that contribute to the global climate and any changes it undergoes.

Second, the Earth has always experienced great shifts in climate, even absent industrialized societies. This doesn't mean (again, obviously) that we don't, or can't, have an effect, but that it's worth remembering that extrapolating from a tiny set of data to explain something that operates on a geological timescale is not good science.

Having said that, as my boss continued, he noted the presenter's program included that thing about the drowning polar bears. And my militantly strident coworker had to chime in.

All the ice has melted, and they're all drowning!

Yes, that's a broad brush, but some people are unwilling to even brook any evidence to the contrary, or even to discuss if this could possibly be an anomolous condition. But those are Stridently Militant Coworker's exact sentiments. All melted, all drowned. ALL! And any that lived were probably hunted down by Halliburton and served raw to Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Because that's just the way they are.

Yes, I'm sure some bears have drowned while searching for food. How many? I don't know. How many over the past forty years? I imagine that data is even harder to find--not that it's not there--but it doesn't seem to get published when we talk about all the poor cute bears a'dying. What I want to know is if there's been a statistically significant increase. I am willing to wager not. But that doesn't make compelling storytelling the way a pitiful bear on a chunk of ice does.

After that topic was shouted down, my boss talked about how building technology is going to have to adapt to a more sustainable model that incorporates all the neat things we can do in managing such things as water run-off, heat gain, energy consumption, etc.

Well, that's NOT gonna happen! No one is about to do anything any differently!

You know, I've gotten pretty sick and damned tired over the years of self-identified "progressive" people who do not hesitate to tell me how enlightened and intelligent and nuanced and rational they are, who turn right around and exhibit the sort of narrow-minded, stereotypical, petty, childish, ignorant, uninventive, and cynical mindset they constantly pin on others.

Yes, we will get better, because it makes sense. The free market works, and if there is a way to raise profit levels or household income through the introduction of improved building technologies, it will be done. Although there are always going to be individual businesses or players who will act irrationally or ignorantly, if there is free-flowing information and a lack of disincentives to progress, progress will occur, and the presence of some people who "don't get it" doesn't mean everyone is stupid. One big problem has been that mushy-headed government-as-savior sorts believe we must bail out the stupid people.

If there's any one reason for lack of substantial progress on any issue, you can usually rest assured it's because there is a government agent standing there trying to make things better by rewarding incompetence in the name of charity.

Let the market work, and it will.

Yes, as a society we do tend to be more wasteful, because there are few incentives to not be, and yes, it usually costs nothing (and in some cases, is financially beneficial) to be more frugal with natural resources. It does, however (at least on an industrial scale), require proof other than simply believing it so.

Yes, we do pump out a lot of pollution and garbage--more than any other country per capita. What seems to always go unsaid is that our economy is almost inconceivably large. We produce more things for more people than our own population, and yes that means we also produce more waste. Although our good progressives never want to miss an opportunity for the US to take more than its share of blame, the fact remains that China and India pump out far greater percentages of waste and pollution per unit produced than anyone else, the United States included, and they are much less able to effectively deal with the waste they produce. Which is why they have no interest in Kyoto except as a strategic way of hobbling US productivity.

Back to Militantly Strident Coworker. Lighten up, Francis. That world-weary cynicsm act reads as hopelessly fatuous when you live in the most wealthy, prosperous, powerful nation in the history of the world, of which you are just as much a beneficiary of that largesse as any other citizen.

Onward, as the "conversation" evolved from problems to "solutions," the name of The Lord High Al Gore was invoked, along with his fantabulously well-researched Book of Wisdom.

It's great--he has all these simple charts in the back, and he says if every house would change just one lightbulb to a fluorescent, we'd save just hundreds of billions of ozone.

Yes, that is almost an exact quote. Remember--smart, progressive.

Glenn Reynolds says it all the time--I'll believe there's a crisis when the people who keep saying there's a crisis act like there's a crisis.

If Al Gore lived like the rest of us have to, we'd save hundreds of billions of ozone, too. Whatever that means. But let me tell you, this thing where we let the environmental priestly caste lead us around preaching pious asceticsm for us while they loll around building bonfires to combat air pollution is going to have to stop.

Hypocrites give religion a bad name, no matter the type of religion it is. The bad thing is, such hypocrisy hides the fact that some of the basic ideas DO make sense, and SHOULD be encouraged. I intend to replace incandescents whenever I can, not because of Al or my Militantly Strident Coworker (who only has one bulb, in her foyer, and she doesn't like it, because it doesn't put out enough light), but because they last longer, use less energy to provide a given level of light, and less energy to dispense with waste heat. They don't work for everything, but for the things they DO work at, there's no reason not to change them out.

Then on to the next favored hobby-horse of Militantly Stridently Militant Coworker, evil SUVs. It might come as a surprise to you that all Republicans drive them. All. Every single brown-person-hating, baby-seal-killing, vote-stealing, one of them. ALL!

Love that nuance, and that precious unwillingness to deal in stereotypes that unfairly denigrate another person or group.

ANYway, it seems that all these perfect little Republican Trophy-Breeders are loading their perfect little Future Haters Club Members (i.e., spawn of Satan) in their SUVs and go spewing pollution everywhere to the point she can't even go outside to have a smoke break! Yes, seems that she suffers from some respiratory ailment, and one obviously caused not by her thirty year pack-a-day habit, but those filthy ozone killing Rethugs.

People can get away from my second-hand smoke, but that crap out there NO ONE can get away from!

Denial, river, Egypt, etc.

Anyway, seems we have a whole system to tell people when it's unsafe to go outside, and this bothers her, and the ambient air is obviously killing her lungs the way no cigarette ever could.

Makes no difference that Birmingham's air quality is infinitely better than when the steel mills were operating 24 hours a day. I remember--I live here and have all my life. Yes, we do have a ground-level ozone problem, but I dare say it's no worse now than it was before, it's just that we now know it's a problem, and that it needs to be monitored, and we don't need to do anything to produce more of it. (Of course, one reason is that we have more sunlight, because there's less particulate matter in the air from the now-shuttered mills, and more sunlight helps makes more ozone, but whatever.)

Also, it makes no difference that pollution from stationary sources is the predominant source of air pollution in this area, and not mobile sources. Or that an SUV-load of people puts out less pollution per person per mile than a single militant coworker in a Toyota Avalon. Or that a city with a higher proportion of lower income people tend to drive older, less efficient and more polluting vehicles (even if they aren't SUVs). Or that there are plenty of housing opportunities much closer to our workplace that would require much less fuel (and less pollution) to get here than her house in the suburban sprawl of northern Shelby County. Why, it's just the principal of the thing! ALL THOSE REPUBLICAN SUVs ARE KILLING HER LUNGS!

Anyway, I get tired of this garbage, and I'll not miss it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:09 AM | Comments (6)

August 09, 2007

Well, they obviously aren't Cornatees.

Via NASA rocketologist and noted boat skipper Steevil, this opinion from a sailboater about proper sailing foodstuffs.

Personally, I think the guy was being sorta unkind to Inscrutables in their role as seagoing food. He goes on and on about preferring such things as "energy bars" (whatever THOSE are), but let's face it--if he were a REAL sailor, he'd go at it the right way with pickled beef, ship's biscuit, and grog. It certainly would go a long way toward helping better define what "vile" really means.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:45 AM | Comments (4)

July 30, 2007

A Gentleman and a Genius

Bill Walsh has passed away.

I really don't know much about his personal life, but he always came across to me as an honest, sincere man, and that's hard to beat, no matter what field you're in.

His genius was not just the development of the West Coast Offense (variations of which are the hallmark of just about any successful team playing today--including ol' chubby Al Borges' 'Gulf Coast' offense down at Auburn) but, as the linked article points out, the idea of the "coaching tree"--men whom he'd hired and developed and trained who would later go on to be his (successful) competitors. That sort of self-confidence is about as hard to find as honesty. Again, I don't know much about him personally, but I have to think his desire to serve as a mentor and encouragement to his subordinates had to at least partly be a result of how he felt when he got passed over by Paul Brown for the head coaching job with the Bengals. There are two ways to act when you feel like you've been cheated--complain and collapse, or use it as a learning experience.

Would that there were more who'd take the latter course.

Best wishes to his family, and may he rest in peace.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:48 PM | Comments (4)

Thirty-two!?

Wow!

ANYway, Winnie's got a book, and it sounds like a good one. We've tried our dead level best to encourage our girls to be smart and never back away from it (since all of them really are quite smart in the first place) just to satisfy some sort of need to fit in with the popular stereotype.

So far, we're batting .667.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2007

Fascinating, Captain.

Nimoy to reprise Spock role in Trek film

Whatever. I just hope no one's trying to recruit Kirstie Alley to reprise the role of Lt. Saavik.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:30 PM | Comments (8)

July 26, 2007

Speaking of Soldiering and Writing

Read enough, and after a while you come to understand that this is the type of person who is much more indicative of the quality of men and women who serve in our military, and he serves as an example of how to honorably fulfill two sometimes competing obligations.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

::sigh::

Good grief--is there not ANYthing that SOMEone won't find "insensitive" or "offensive"!?

Producers: 'Cavemen' not racial metaphor

When you get this upset about some stupid teevee show that will last approximately eight episodes before being cancelled (because it's based on a mildly entertaining, but entirely one-dimensional, advertising concept) it makes it hard to believe you when something that actually IS bigoted shows up.

As for the show, Cirroc, the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer was there first, and did it better.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:35 AM | Comments (10)

July 25, 2007

Fair Question

Dr. Reynolds links to Amazon's page where they're selling diagonostic code readers for cars, and wonders:

SO HOW MANY MECHANICS WILL THIS GADGET PUT OUT OF WORK? Not as many as if you integrated it with a Web service that took the codes and gave you step-by-step instructions on what to do, specific to vehicle type. I wonder if anyone will try that?

Good question. They've been selling code readers at parts stores for several years now, so it's not exactly like it's a new thing, but I figure they won't put much of a dent in mechanic's pocketbooks for a few reasons.

First, trouble codes and check engine lights don't come on a lot nowadays. Cars, despite what you might think about your heap, are generally pretty reliable, and spending a goodly sum of dough on a reader that you might use once or twice over the car's life isn't that attractive.

Second, few people, even if they know the trouble code and had step by step instructions, are actually equipped to work on cars. It's not quite like sharpening a pencil or installing a lamp. You have to have specialized tools to fix most of the things that would show up as a fault code, as well as a place to work on it, as well as the time to do it. Even back when cars where akin to Fred Flintstone's in their technical sophistication, it was still a chore to fix them yourself. With the rise of urbanization (and hoity-toity communities where they don't like it when you have your ancient Volvo up on jackstands in the driveway for weeks on end), there are fewer areas where you can actually do mechanical work of this sort.

Third, if you're like me and you DO have tools, and DO have a place to work on your car, and DO have some practical experience with how to work on cars, and DO have several old beaters that you're financially bound to keep driving because you're barely able to keep enough money in the bank, and you've kept them long enough for them to start requiring an increasing amount of diagnostic attention, you'd probably be better served to do what I do, which is a modification of Glenn's suggestion.

Most of the parts stores around town will, as a courtesy, use one of those diagnostic readers to read your code and reset your check engine light, then give you a little readout of the code. Again, not knowing anything, this is useless, but the online part Glenn mentioned can still be done, although you actually have to do a bit of Googlefu to find it.

Every time this has happened with our Focus, I take it down the hill to the Advance (or AutoZone--sorry, never can keep them straight) and they check the code, reset the light, give me the readout, and then I plug in the code and bit of verbiage that comes with it into Google along with something like "ford focus" and after a few minutes you generally will find links to manufacturer's technical service bulletins or other online professional mechanic's websites that will give you some good, useful information on the fix and parts and tools and time required.

Of course, there is an alternative to this, although it does require killing trees.

Simply get a Haynes shop manual for your car. It has all the codes in it, and detailed instructions on fixing it, and it's pretty cheap. Sometimes you can even find copies at the library.

SO, in conclusion, mechanics don't really have to worry about these things cutting into their business, and they are handy if someone you know owns one and doesn't mind you mooching off of them to let you use it, and the link to the way to fix things is not that hard to establish, especially if you know how to read a book, and it sure would be nice if I had enough dough not to worry about having to fix my own cars, but it's nice that I can.

UPDATE: Oh, hey, by the way, if these things DO get to be the in thing for upwardly-mobile sorts to purchase, I would like to remind everyone that Possumblog Medical Devices is your one-stop source for home MRI units. Show those expensive medicos a thing or two!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2007

In other celebrity news...

Russell-Hawn son to play hockey for Alabama-Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) Wyatt Russell, the son of actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, has signed to play ice hockey for the University of Alabama in Huntsville [...]

Okay, now that's weird on just way too many different levels.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:00 AM | Comments (6)

July 23, 2007

What liberal media!?

Obama's neighborhood rich in diversity

[...] a mix of black and white residents who are wealthy, well-educated and liberal-leaning. [...]

Y'know, I've been trying for years to figure out what people mean when they use the word "diversity."

And golly gee--it's not at all what I thought!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:21 PM | Comments (6)

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

[...] raised exclusively for rich folk to kill and eat.


Mmmmmm--Wow, that's terrific bass!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2007

On the radio at the moment...

Bill Monroe, "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

He sure could sing and play.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:31 PM | Comments (1)

"I am shocked! SHOCKED..."

[...] the European Union is staying firmly on the sidelines [...]

Let no one ever doubt their strength and determination.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

Niiiice.

Vandalism.
Political message.
Smug satisfaction.
Liberal!?

Yeah, I know--hard to believe. Vandals attack man's Hummer, leave note

I suppose that whole "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" thing has its limits, eh? Sure. Maybe these good, non-violence-espousing citizens of northwest D.C. feel much more comfortable living by that old Japanese proverb, "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down." Because obviously that guy got what he had coming, right? Right.

I just hope when his smart progressive neighbors get their due, they take it without complaint.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2007

Gosh, who'd a thunk it?

Senate scuttles troop withdrawal bill

I'm sure Muqtada al-Sadr and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad and various self-detonating Paradise-seeking jihadis appreciated Harry Reid's efforts on their behalf.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

I never thought I would say this, but...

...the Sacagawea dollar coin was very nice.

However, this is only because it has been surpassed in crappiness by the new dollar coin.

I had to stop and get stamps this morning, and the machine spit back out two of the new Presidential dollars as part of the change. Now, for all the insipid, new-agey touchifeeliness of the Sacagawea coin (Indian woman with a BABY! Ooooh, fer KUUUUTE!), it did at least look like some form of actual currency.

When these two new coins were retrieved from the chute, I honestly thought that they must be some sort of new Postal Service stamp tokens.

The reverse of the coin, which the Mint breathlessly describes as having a "striking rendition of the Statue of Liberty" simply looks cheap.

PresDollar-Reverse.jpg

Sorry, Guy Who Designed It, but that's my opinion.

The off-center, 3/4 profile Liberty with the $1 bug sniffing her armpit looks slapped together by one of those weird little countries that puts Elvis on their coins. There's too much dead space in the composition, and as I have continually railed against, anything other than a profile or full face on a coin looks absolutely stupid. Low bas-relief does not allow the subtle shading that shows up on the proof-sketch versions of coins. Yes, it works fine on paper currency (and on stamps) because you're able to use engraving to get incredibly fine detail and shading, but it does NOT translate to coins with their variable shininess and the tiny amount of actual relief that can be struck.

Same thing with the front image, in this case of John Adams.

adams obverse.jpg

The sketch image looks okay, but in the three-dimensional world, he winds up looking like Porky Pig. Look, if you're going to insist on designing coins as 2-D paintings rather than as 3-D sculptures, it'd be better to come up with some way to apply a painting on the face of the coin. Which is a stupid idea, but no worse than trying to make American currency some sort of silly collectible memento like one of those "railroad penny" machines at the arcade or a Naughty Nellie from the service station restroom.

And again, the same gripe with the back applies to the obverse as well, with the relatively huge amount of "white" space around the image making it look like a bigger picture was out of the budget. Of course, the stuff that usually fills in the white space--date, mint mark, and motto--is now moved to the special incused edge. OOoooohh--edge incusing! Yet another lame idea--it's illegible without a magnifying glass, in circulation it'll get worn off quickly, and it serves absolutely no purpose at all. It's not big enough to be decorative, it doesn't have any "feel" to it like reeding.

And finally, this "golden" color thing must go. In circulation, these coins get ratty-looking quickly, adding to their aura of tokeny cheapness.

I'm tired of this. I don't want my money to have the feel of a souvenir. I have no desire for it to be used as a changing billboard of decorator-inspired kitsch to satisfy some Mint mugwump's desire to emulate the success of the stamp-collecting set. Look, when you decide to commemorate everything, nothing is special anymore. How much longer will it be before the Mint comes up with some way for each person to have his or her own image on a quarter or a nickle? I mean, if it was almost good enough for the Post Office, can the Mint be far behind?

Enough, folks.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:39 AM | Comments (13)

July 17, 2007

Groundhog Day

Y'know, if I was a professional journalist, I think I would get tired of having to write another story about some blooming plant of some sort that smells either like rotting meat or like smelly feet. Every few months it seems like there's another story that hits the news feeds about one of these plants, and I just can't see why anyone would care, or want to read more than one story about a foul-smelling plant.

Oh well--I guess that's why I'm not cut out for such work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

"Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Via Ace, a report of shocking comic-on-comic violence in the City of Angels.

Gotta say that as much as I disagree with those who engage in recreational drinking and fisticuffs, there are some awfully sorry people in this world who deserve the pain and embarrassment of getting whupped up on by Jon Lovitz.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:15 PM | Comments (2)

Should anyone ever doubt their determination to surrender.

Senate Dems Vow to Pull All-Nighter to Force Iraq Vote

Gosh, if the Copperheads had been this energetic, we might still have a Confederacy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

Uh-Oh.

Russia Vows Response to UK Expulsions

MOSCOW - Russia on Tuesday vowed a "targeted and appropriate" response to Britain's expulsion of four diplomats [...]

Probably worth remembering that their "targeted and appropriate" responses in the past have included polonium and dioxin and old-fashioned cranial lead poisoning from a 9mm Makarov.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2007

Gosh, where's Lloyd Bentsen when you need him!?

John Edwards takes page from RFK's book

By NEDRA PICKLER
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) The campaign of presidential hopeful John Edwards has a ready answer for all the criticism about his expensive haircuts and expansive home: A man can be wealthy and care about the poor, too.

Just look at a Democratic hero Robert F. Kennedy. [...]

Senator, you're no Bobby Kennedy.

Anyway, no one (well, no one with any common sense) is begrudging him his days at the beauty parlor, or begrudging him his money. What strikes some folks (including me) the wrong way is that he constantly rails against the rich (of which, he is one) and has constantly tried to misrepresent the amount of wealth he DOES have (by going about preaching his faux-populist, po' millworker's son schtick) without the slightest sense that he understands why anyone would object. If you're going to vilify those with money, don't be surprised when people point out how rich you are.

And back to this thing with the haircuts--if he's suddenly decided to be proud of his Kennedy-esque wealth and a newfound noblesse-oblige, why has he felt it necessary to make his campaign pay for his haircuts? Why not just grab one of his big sacks of gold coins and toss a few ducats to the stylists?

Because his sin is not in being rich, it's in being a venal little twit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:00 AM | Comments (4)

July 10, 2007

Uh-Oh. Gonna be trouble.

Pope: Other Christians not true churches

UPDATE:

THIS JUST IN: Baptists go on rampage, vow to invade Catholic neighborhoods and invite people to Vacation Bible School

Episcopalians call for holy war, leaders say will take local Catholic priests out for game of golf with loser buying drinks

Lutherans outraged, agree to meet with Pope over upcoming hotdish supper

Developing...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:45 PM | Comments (9)

Why They Hate Us, Episode the Next

Is it...

1) Allowing women to serve on juries; OR
2) Arresting women jurors for wearing earphones under their hajibs when they should have been paying attention to court proceedings (although technically, they aren't able to pay attention anyway since they're only women); OR
3) Holding court in a place called "Blackfriars," which is really pushing that whole Crusader imagery just too far; OR
4) All of the above

I'm not sure, but I'm sure once this story gets on the playlist, Islamic Rage Boy is gonna be bustin' a move.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2007

Snide, Rude, and Completely Uncalled-For Remark of the Day

No, this can't be Helen Thomas because she's still alive.

Kinda-sorta.

We apologize for this cheap, low humor, and now return you to your normal kind, uplifting, and gracious programming.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

Via Osmondlandia's own Nate McCord: "Clearly there were some other options available."

I'd say so, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (7)

July 05, 2007

Now before all of you start begging for big steaming bowls of Possumblog...

...please remember that this is Mailout Thursday (although with the midweek holiday, it's actually more like a pseudo-Monday--blech) and I have things to do. And further, I dreamed about blogging last night (in between the yahoos with their fireworks and our neighbor's big stupid dog that barked all night long) so that's probably a sign of some sort. Not sure what, but no matter.

ANYway, be patient and there'll be more in just a little while.

And as an aside, there are few things more sad than rebellious young people who get incarcerated for dabbling in recreational drugs, except for ones forced by their father's religiopolitics to play the rebel while driving a dorky Toyota Prius. I mean, even Patrick Kennedy had enough of the bad-boy about him to DUI himself around in a Mustang.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:01 AM | Comments (8)

June 22, 2007

What do elephants love most?

Nuts, of course!

The Birmingham News posted a little blurb on their blog page this morning asking for people to leave their thoughts about the passing of one of Birmingham's best ambassadors, Mona the Elephant.

And as is the case with such things (you know--unmoderated comments solicited on behalf of something that should be uncontroversial), the very first comment is marked by the same smug self-righteousness, bad grammar, and superciliousness that have become the hallmark of those who delight in such precious concepts as "speaking truth to power." Way to stick it to 'em, ma'am! Although I am disappointed that George Bush was not blamed in some more direct way. And that there was no mention of global warming.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:46 AM | Comments (5)

June 20, 2007

Yes, it's great fun when it's someone else's money you're spending.

New age town in U.S. embraces dollar alternative

The concept:

[...] "BerkShares are cash, and so people have transferred their cash habits to BerkShares," said Susan Witt, executive director of the E.F. Schumacher Society, a nonprofit group that set up the program. "They might have 50 in their pocket, but not 150. They're buying their lunch, their coffee, a small birthday present." [...]

The reality:

[...] "The promise of this program is for it to be a completed circle," said Matt Rubiner, owner of Rubiner's cheese shop and Rubi's cafe. Some local farmers who supply him accept BerkShares, but he pays most of his bills in dollars.

"The circle isn't quite completed yet in most cases, and someone has to take the hit," Rubiner said, referring to the 10 percent discount. "The person who takes the hit is the merchant, it's me." [..]

Imagine that! It's almost as if it doesn't matter if he has to take a 10% loss!

Progress!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

For Rosie.

Simulation finds 9/11 fireproofing key

You know, five years ago I had the honor of viewing a video presentation by the chief engineer of the World Trade Center, Mr. Leslie Robertson, and got to hear a detailed review of the findings of the FEMA report of the collapse.

The simulation mentioned in the article above is a good and valuable tool to verify what most of us have known all along, and that is that the collapse of the World Trade Center towers (and surrounding buildings) is both more simple and more complicated than what many people believe--simple in that it was not the result of a massive government conspiracy culminating in a controlled demolition. Complicated in that there were a variety of influences that worked together to ensure the collapse of the buildings. If the airplanes had been nearly empty of fuel, it's doubtful the towers would have collapsed. If the fireproofing and sprinkler lines in the building had been protected from the potential for catastrophic impact, it's again possible the buildings could have withstood the hit. If the buildings had been hit several more floors up, it's possible there wouldn't have been sufficient mass to trigger the progressive collapse onto the floors below.

But in the end, the fireproofing applied to the steel was applied without the idea in mind that it could be forcefully scraped off by a loaded jetliner travelling at 500 mph. Likewise, the sprinkler standpipes were just that--pipes designed to carry water, not ever designed to withstand an impact by a 275,000 pound airplane.

People seem to have a great need to believe in cranks and crackpots and demogogues, and this event more than any other seems to have triggered this pychopathy in some folks.

"Free country" and all that, but you folks who can't get the conspiracies out of your heads need to understand that if the world really existed as you seem to think it does--with multiple dark conspiracies by our own citizens to inflict damage upon others--YOU, my friend, would not be around to talk about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2007

June 14, 2007

I like teachers.

I really do. But this recent kerfuffle (thanks, Mr. Taranto!) about supposed mischief with the grades at our local middle school has caused me to have quite a bit more dim view of teacher's unions.

Apparently, there was a computer problem with the grades. It needed to be caught, and needed to be fixed, and parents need some assurance that it won't happen again.

But the idea that if you find something wrong with some student grades and the first thing you do is run to the head of the Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers makes me think you might have your own agenda going there. Don't give me that crap that it's about the students, or the sanctity of the teacher's gradebook or the integrity of the system. If that's what concerned you, there should have been at least ONE stop to complain to the people in charge of it BEFORE you went running off to the teacher's union and the news media.

I like teachers, but I like my kids more. Publicity stunts like this designed to attempt to play "gotcha" with administrators doesn't make me sympathetic to you or your compatriots. One of the reasons I voted for our own school system is local control, and friends, that doesn't mean having to put up with political crap from the union. Second, going off and assuming bad faith on the part of administrators and raising a stink before you even know what the problem is doesn't make you look very smart. And we've got enough stupid teachers being insulated from the consequences of their stupidity by the union.

So how about this--teach our kids, if you see a problem, try getting it fixed under the normal work rules, and THEN if you can't get some help, call upon your union reps. But you can drop the conspiracy crap right now, and quit running to Channel 6 when you think something might be wrong.

And by way of full disclosure, my father was both a Steelworker and an Ironworker, his father was in a railroad telegraphers union, my maternal grandfather was, and a host of uncles and cousins are, UMWA. I don't have any problem with workers collectively bargaining to ensure themselves a fair wage and safe working conditions. But unions shouldn't be about protecting the ignorant and the idiot at the expense of the customer, consumer, or client.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If you are going to be stupid, you better be tough."

Nate McCord just sent me this story from Out West, (MSWord document) and it's frightening, yet somehow the guy manages to make it sound humorous.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:16 AM | Comments (4)

June 08, 2007

Steevil's Funhouse

Noted skipper, famed NASA scientist, and frequent commentor Steevil sends along some items of interest this morning.

First up, words of wisdom:

Among learning experiences I've had lately:

1. If your car breaks down on a road called a 'parkway,' and you have to wait for a while, you should check yourself for ticks (I found 2).

2. Driving a small open car past a high security prison (I've never seen so much razor wire in one place in my life) gives you an oddly anxious feeling.

3. Hi-tech rope is not only difficult to cut, but turns out to be beyond what my soldering gun with a flat blade can handle. The particular high tech rope on my boat is mostly low tech Dacron, but with Vectran (and no, I had not known it was also the name of a programming language) fibers reinforcing it. Luckily, it can be cut with a serrated blade, and a butane torch is hot enough to clean up the ends.

I would think #2 wouldn't be nearly so anxiety-inducing if the small open car in question was not in the habit of occasionally shedding pushrods. As for #3, liquid crystal rope IS pretty darned cool, but I was even more impressed by the entry for Fortran. Not being a computer guy, the only thing I know about Fortran is that it is named Fortran and it's a computer program of some sort. Interesting reading. No, it really is!

Anyway, I suggested to Steevil that he should keep a battle axe on the poop deck for those times he needs to cut his Vectran off. TO WHICH, he adds this:

For normal (Nylon or Dacron) rope, a "sheep's foot" blade, designed to be pounded on with a wooden mallet (or piece of 2x4) cuts cleanly. For this other stuff, I have to hack at it (come to think of it, I think I've read of people using hacksaws to cut hi-tech rope).


Vectran's pretty good stuff. It doesn't have the heat sensitivity of some other things (hence the difficulty of cutting it with a hot blade). Kevlar has lots of disadvantages--doesn't like turning around small radii, doesn't like heat [Steve later wrote to note this isn't one of the drawbacks. Ed.], is pretty good at cutting itself. Spectra (made by Honeywell) can permanently stretch (creep) if it's loaded up to a reasonable fraction of its breaking strength. Splicing any of them is a pain, and their aren't many knots that work with them.

But aside from those things...

AND IN OTHER EXCITING THINGS, Steevil sends along a link to this handy gadget. Obviously, a market need being met. One does wonder if there will be a companion device with sayings from your mother about sitting up straight, and asking why you're not married yet, and why you never come to visit (not that it's any of her business, since you've got your own life and can't be expected to drop everything just to come see about an old woman who's probably going to die any day now anyway).

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (3)

June 07, 2007

Illegal immigration.

Boy, the place is all lit up about this, isn't it?

I've been trying to figure out what's going on and personally, I think this is a very important issue, or not, and one that must be addressed firmly and positively immediately, unless it should be addressed irresolutely and tentatively at some point in the future, if at all.

Obviously, nothing meaningful can happen without security, and meaningful security at that, provided that much good cannot be done in some other way, such as through insecurity and a three-part carbonless paper form that can be easily filed underneath a file cabinet.

It is clear that families are being hit hardest by this, except for those people who have no families, or those families who have no people, none of whom will be able to grow up and share in the benefits guaranteed by the Constitution to everyone who lives outside the United States, among these being life, liberty, the pursuit of Paris Hilton, free day care, a million dollar per year minimum wage, no late fees or failure to rewind fees, and an opportunity to appear on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.

There has been much talk of a fence, which I am all for, because talking solves things a mere fence cannot, except for those things that only a fence can solve, which aren't that many, but still frightening, or not. I know I've wanted a fence for years, because I'm quite tired of neighborhood children traipsing through my backyard taking a shortcut to other people's houses to offer grass-cutting services they are trying to wrest away from illegal immigrants. And if the fence is not the answer (although I'm not convinced that it is, or not) maybe a better solution would be a long, large, very high permanent barrier used to protect my property. Or not.

Thankfully, we have Congress to sort this mess out, and for that we must all be eternally chagrined, unless they do exactly what we want, which is much, and in doing so secure for themselves a beloved position in our hearts as highly paid, barely qualified public servants willing to sacrifice the blood and toil of others. I feel confident they will continue to look after the little man, by robbing the big man, to whom they will then succor with a special loss regaining mechanism applying a multiplier of 1.008783 to reimburse him for the the losses to the little man, and that this will gladly be paid for by the middle sized man, whose remaining worldly goods will be transferred to a special secure government holding facility where they will be washed with special environmentally-sensitive chemicals and allowed to air dry naturally on a very large fence, and from thence taken by illegal men, pressed, folded (or placed on hangers) and given to the little man, who will sell them in order to purchase lottery tickets. Or not--it's still somewhat unclear in my mind. Except for the parts that are clear.

I remain firm in my conviction that we face trying times ahead, if these reform measures are not overwhelmingly passed or defeated right now, or some time later, or earlier, or not at all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:52 PM | Comments (2)

Oh, good grief.

The original post that led to other posts that finally wound up being linked in THIS post is such a bunch of twaddle.

What is it with some people? If you can't find some sort of earthy, carnal attraction to your own spouse without getting tut-tutted about it, then something is just bad wrong with this country. The original photo that started all the swooning hand-wringing is tame beyond belief.

Look, there's a time and a place for everything, certainly, but please--just as sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes a guy standing beside his wife and talking to her is just a guy standing beside his wife talking to her.

Now, by way of full disclosure, you all should know--if you're not abundantly aware of it already--that I find it difficult to look on my wife for more than about a minute or two before my mind starts wandering to thoughts of a more base nature. Just last night, as we were sitting on the pew at Vacation Bible School, listening to all the kids singing the list of Old Testament judges, she had to tell me something, so I leaned over so she could she could tell me in my ear because it was so loud in the auditorium, and as she was telling me, I noticed that I could look right down her blouse, so I did, and I enjoyed it tremendously, and had to ask that she repeat herself several times as I held my ear to her mouth.

Oh, sure, she finally caught on and told me to stop it RIGHT NOW, but, still, this country would be a lot better if people would leer at their own spouse a bit more often, and really mean it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:37 AM | Comments (6)

June 05, 2007

Quote of the Day.

Via renowned NASA rocket surgeon Steevil: "I figured he would go up there and step on somebody's neck, and that would be the end of it."

A close second, from earlier in the same article: "You'll do."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)

One shouldn't make fun of the Irish.

Unless they have a sufficient amount of discretionary income.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Well, my, my.

The times, they ARE a'changin'!

As the old saying goes, a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.

(Via Dr. Reynolds, who is not a medical doctor.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2007

Oh, come on.

Surely he's just joking.

SO I SAW THIS LIST OF Father's Day gift suggestions and while there's nothing wrong with it, I wonder if anyone would post a list of Mother's Day gift suggestions that consisted of things like vacuum cleaners, stoves, and mops. But tools and grills for dads are different, somehow. Why?

Just in case this isn't a rhetorical question, I would say my years of research lead me to believe it's because guys like this kind of stuff.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:53 PM | Comments (3)

I wonder if she's one of Tommy Flanagan's wives?

"The show also promises to feature Abdul playing practical jokes on her assistants and show how her lack of sleep makes her loopy."

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Hey, here's a tip--if lack of sleep makes you loopy, get some sleep.

Unless, you know, you just enjoy people assuming your loopiness is caused by fistfuls of pharmaceuticals flushed down your gullet with a couple of quarts of potato-derived alcoholic beverages.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2007

Seeks Repeal of Law of Supply and Demand.

Edwards wants probe of high gas prices

I'm surprised he hasn't also asked for an investigation of high home construction prices. I bet they're eating him alive on his mansion he's having built. And dang it all, let's also do something about the ridiculous prices people have to pay to get a decent haircut and facial these days! Why, back in my day, you only had to pay a couple of hundred bucks, tops!

Given his past performance on similar issues, I'll wager he probably study the effects of high gasoline prices on the poor by taking a job dealing petroleum futures.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

I suppose we're also to blame...

...for forcing Putin to drag Russia back down into some of that good ol'-time Soviet totalitarianism.

Polonium and dioxin for everyone, comrades!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2007

Dog bites man.

Siegelman and Scrushy ask judge not to sent them to prison

I agree.

I suggest fifteen to thirty minutes spent in the midst of an angry mob of shareholders/taxpayers who just happen to be carrying pitchforks, torches, hot tar, and feathers.

After such a greeting, the nice quiet Federal pen down at Maxwell probably wouldn't seem so bad.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2007

Finally, some clarity.

Saw this on Best of the Web, and the point was too important to let pass without noting it:

Losers Lose

A telling quote from The Politico, in a report on President Bush's victory over pro-surrender Democrats in Congress:

Some activists had privately feared that Democratic leaders were losing their resolve to stage a protracted fight with the White House over wartime funding. Pelosi had announced earlier that the House would not leave for the Memorial Day recess without a new funding bill, a signal to some of a looming defeat.

"When they put out that deadline, people realized that we were going to lose," said an aide to an anti-war lawmaker. "Everything after that seemed like posturing."


This gives away the game, doesn't it? The "antiwar" people understand what it means to set a deadline--and they seek to do so because they want America to lose.

Probably not what they want to have people believe about them, but it's hard to see it any other way.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

Road to Hell Paving Department

Although, frankly, I'm not too certain of any good intentions there might be behind the effort. N.J. governor releases seat belt ad

By TOM HESTER Jr.
The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) "I'm New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, and I should be dead."

So begins Corzine's public service announcement promoting seat belt use, which is being released Thursday. The governor was seriously injured in an April 12 car crash in which he wasn't wearing a seat belt. [...]

After his opening, Corzine details his injuries as video plays of the wrecked SUV he was riding in. Corzine broke his leg, 11 ribs, collar bone and sternum in the crash and spent 18 days in the hospital.

"It took a remarkable team of doctors and a series of miracles to save my life when all I needed was a seat belt," Corzine says.

He then advises, "I have to live with my mistake. You don't. Buckle up."

Corzine has apologized and voluntarily paid a $46 fine for violating state law by failing to buckle up as he rode in the front seat of his SUV, which was driven by a state trooper. It crashed after it was clipped by a pickup truck on the Garden State Parkway. The SUV was going 91 mph in a 65 mph zone. [...]

Well, not to quibble, but doesn't saying "I should be dead" while you're standing there saying it maybe sorta give the wrong idea--"I should be dead, but I'm not, even though I wasn't wearing my seatbelt I still managed to survive." Sure, you'd have to be pretty stupid to twist the message around like that--or, you know, be the governor of New Jersey. But there is still a component of mouth-breathers out there who would draw that very conclusion.

Seems like a better idea would be for the governor to say, "I was an idiot, and now I'm paying the price." It would also help things if he wasn't a serial abuser of a system that seems to make elected officials think they can speed or otherwise ignore laws that are inconvenient for them.

If he was really serious about this, he would sign a statement admitting his wrongdoing not only in this instance, but in his past abuses of power, and agree to abide by the laws of his state, and that all other officials will be expected to do likewise. Even if it might mean being five minutes late to one of their many pandering opps. Such a willingness to subject themselves to the same laws and standards they demand of others would go a lot further toward making these mewling public service ads more believable.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:54 AM | Comments (11)

May 23, 2007

Aww. He's so cute when he tries to act all big and everything!

Edwards: Move past 'war on terror'

By BETH FOUHY
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) Democrat John Edwards Wednesday repudiated the notion that there is a "global war on terror," calling it an ideological doctrine advanced by the Bush administration that has strained American military resources and emboldened terrorists.

In a defense policy speech he planned to deliver at the Council on Foreign Relations, Edwards called the war on terror a "bumper sticker" slogan Bush had used to justify everything from abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison to the invasion of Iraq.

"We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes," Edwards said in remarks prepared for delivery. "By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam." [...]

So, at least he isn't so vapid that he won't admit that we do have terrorists, which means there's an organized group of people intent on forcing us to make societal changes through threats and overt actions against innocent civilians, and they just happen to overwhelmingly subscribe to a faith they identify as Islam (although I'm willing to allow it's a perverted version thereof), and their expressed intent is to pave the way for the return of the Caliphate and rid the world of infidels.

His premise, then, seems to be that despite the fact that these terrorists see themselves as being engaged in a titanic struggle of civilizations, and that they see themselves fighting a war against anyone or any institution that is not Islamic (as they define Islam), really, the only thing that empowers them is to set linguistic traps for us to get entangled in. If we'd quit all this talk about how they're intent on blowing things up and wiping America from the face of the Earth, they'd simply cease to exist.

Just go back to sipping thick sweet hot tea and smoking their hookahs, I guess.

Senator, these folks want something, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill that desire, whether you're comfortable admitting it or not. Ignoring them, or treating them as an unimportant distraction from important things such as good hair grooming is short-sighted. Wishing away a threat doesn't work--it's one of the reasons why we're in the middle of this struggle (whatever you want to call it, and whether or not you believe it's real) right now.

Now then--go outside and play and let the grown-ups talk.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2007

That's mostly comforting.

Most U.S. Muslims reject suicide bombings

Of course, it's not the ones who reject the nihilistic pathway to a heavenly cathouse, but the ones who think it's a keen idea that cause me some concern.

WASHINGTON (AP) One in four younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings to defend their religion are acceptable at least in some circumstances, though most Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reject the tactic and are critical of Islamic extremism and al-Qaida, a poll says. [...]

Something for our Muslim brothers and sisters to understand when they might want to complain about people giving them the stinkeye or being less than overwhelmingly friendly--it's hard to tell just on appearance the honest, hard-working, "we really DO want to live in peace" variety from the type with the short fuse who want to send as many infidels and apostates out from among the living as they can. It doesn't help things when the good folks' level of vocal and material opposition to the exploding undergarments sect is on the tepid side. And based on this poll, it's worth noting that among the 2,350,000 followers of Islam in America, there are apparently around 13%, or 305,500 folks who think suicide bombings are a nifty idea.

Yes, there have always been people of all faiths who abused their understanding of God and used a perverted faith to justify murder and mayhem, but there have been very few groups in history so unconcerned about killing innocents along with themselves as there are with the current crop of radical jihadis, and to ignore that or say it's misplaced fear is the height of ignorance.

Just a tip--if there were 305,500 fat old rednecks strapping on C4 to go forth to the mall to rid the world of themselves and their enemies, even though I wasn't one of them, I would have a bit of understanding about why someone might not want to sit near me in a restaurant, or might be a bit put-off if they had to ride with me in an airplane. If you tire of being the butt of stereotypes as violent and backward, it's time to start talking to these 305,500 folks within your midst (and the several other million around the world) and let them know they're making it hard on you to live your peaceful lives. As we say down here--it's time to cull your nuts.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2007

Offered for your consideration.

There's a lot of heated discussion about the wisdom of allowing law-abiding citizens to walk about armed. I'm all for it, and stories such are one of the reasons why.

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) Law officers have praised a bank customer who pulled his gun and helped deputies capture a gunman who opened fire during a robbery of a Wachovia branch, killing two tellers and wounding two.

Chris Chappell, who was in the bank Monday morning getting $40 in change on the way to his job in Adger, fled the bank when gunshots rang out, drew a gun for which he has a concealed weapon permit, took cover by his sport utility vehicle and alerted deputies who came up. [...]

Read it all.

It's also nice to see the man isn't being hounded by law enforcement officials--

[...] "It's certainly commendable," Jefferson County Sheriff's Sgt. Randy Christian said. "It's obvious he played a key role in keeping the guy there until we could get there. It's a great testament of someone willing to take action."

"He kept him from escaping, and he gave deputies time to get to the scene," Bill Veitch, chief assistant district attorney, told The Birmingham News in its moment-by-moment account of the robbery and arrest.

Bessemer Mayor Ed May, while calling Chappell a "good Samaritan and a brave individual," added that "I would not encourage anyone to do that." [...]

I'm hoping he meant "not encourage just anyone to do that." Using a firearm is deadly serious business, and if you do intend to carry a concealed weapon, know the dangers and consequences. If you aren't comfortable with the idea that you might actually use it, don't carry it.

[...] According to witnesses and police investigators, the gunman fatally shot Eva Lovelady Hudson, then continued firing down the line of tellers, killing Sheila Prevo. He shot two other tellers, who survived, while demanding money, and forced bank manager Myron Gooding to open the vault.

Grabbing a bag of money, he left the bank, only to find Chappell waiting.

"I was prepared to shoot," Chappell said. [...]

Good.


Oh, and as I usually do, here again is a link to an online firearm self-defense handbook put together by a local police officer/firearms instructor/FOP firing range owner. It's good, and thorough, and no-nonsense common-sense. Basic premise? Don't go looking for trouble, but know what to do when trouble comes looking for you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

High-tech 21st Centuryism?

Bah.

Doc Reynolds has a post about cordless irons and percolators, and I have to say, color me unimpressed.

I have a cordless percolator and cordless iron that belonged to my parents, and they still work just as well today as they did when they were new. (The iron and the percolator, not my parents.)

The iron looks something like this:

flatiron.jpg

And this kinda what the percolator looks like:

percolator.jpg

Oh, sure--the iron is heavy and likely to scorch, and the percolator makes coffee that tastes like burnt tires with dog poop in the treads, but both work even when there's no electricity. Why you'd need a shirt ironed or a cup of bad coffee at times like that is anyone's guess, but by Jiminy, if it was good enough for great-great-grandpa, it oughta be good enough for you bunch of young hoodlums!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2007

I am not a big fan of soccer.

Even though the kids have played it and Rebecca still plays it, and even though I rarely miss one of their games, and even though I yell and cheer right along with everyone else, it's NOT one of those sports I seek out to watch. I don't spend hours agonizing over which team is on top of the standings, or who wins the World Cup, or junk like that.

However, I would like to say this right now--I sure hope Naples wins every game it plays from now on this season.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:11 PM | Comments (1)

Not only that...

Human Ancestor Had a Pea Brain

...it also lived in Dade County and mistakenly voted for Pat Buchanan!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007

One more time.

Yes, once more I feel compelled to act like a prissy little prig.

But let me say this to my fellow citizens of Trussville--sit down, and shut up, or the next time we have ourselves a high school choir concert, I'm recreating DeNiro's baseball bat scene in The Untouchables.

Oldest and her fellow choir members had their end-of-the-year concert last night, and the auditorium was packed with "proud" grandparents and parents and friends and siblings. I put "proud" in quotes, because let me tell you this--if you were REALLY proud of your kids, you would be more respectful of them and your fellow patrons during the performances.

When the choir director nicely asks before the show to silence your cell phone and to take flash photos only between songs and to refrain from getting up to leave the auditorium during the singing--even if you were completely devoid of any sense of decorum or etiquette--it still seems as though you would be willing to comply with those instructions. The fact that the vast majority of you DIDN'T can only mean that you're just a bunch of ignorant stupid pigs who don't deserve to have kids as talented as you do.

YOU! The old sack of bones in front of me! Yes, you--the hag whose digital camera beeped and blipped the entire G--d----d performance and even after you showed everyone in the rows behind you that when you take a flash picture in the auditorium with the lights off that NOTHING shows up on the screen, you CONTINUED TO SET OFF THE FLASH! What the *^%$ is WRONG WITH YOU!? Is it THAT much trouble to wait until the gap between songs? Or are you suffering from some sort of horrible head injury that has so impaired your judgment that you would walk out in front of a bus?

YOU! The parents with the whiny child in front of the old hag with the beeping flash machine! TAKE THE KID OUTSIDE! Look, I've got four kids, and every one of them has been two years old. I've missed plenty of things because I've had to take them out of a theater or auditorium--THAT'S WHAT I GET FOR HAVING THEM! It's my problem--"my baby to rock," so to speak--and I never thought OTHER people should be burdened with them whining and crying and jabbering during a time when it would be distracting. It's not cute or precious or sweet or anything else, TAKE THEM OUTSIDE.

YOU! The idiot-child-woman behind me who continued to talk the entire time in a whisper that tells me you must have been raised in a sawmill. SHUT THE F*** UP! Trust me, chick--you don't have ANYTHING important to say. I can tell.

YOU! The person who barged through the doors! YOU! The people who wandered in during a particularly emotional portion of a song and felt compelled to go all the way down to the front. YOU! The mental gimp who kept beating folding chairs together in the back of the auditorium. YOU! The consumptive who had double pneumonia and tuberculosis and pertussis and whooping cough and phlegmy discharge and post nasal drip and for all I know some sort of vile sexually transmitted disease caught from a wombat that causes you to heave up a lung with every breath--ALL OF YOU! SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!

Again--for the love of all that's holy--if you really had any love or affection for your children, grandchildren, or friends and their talents, you OWE IT TO THEM AND TO YOUR FELLOW PATRONS not ruin their performance with your constant noisemaking and distractions. Since you seem oblivious to reason and good sense, let me warn you of this--every time you hack up a handful of bronchioles, every time your phone rings, every time you talk to your neighbor like they were across a basketball court, every time you bang through the door, every time you set off your pan of flash powder--every time any of that happens, Satan kills a sweet little puppy and a furry soft kitten.

Do you really want that on you!?

I would hope not. SO SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!

ANYway, the performances themself were very good--there are actually two choirs--one all girls (which is the one Oldest sings with) and the other is mixed. As good as the mass choirs were, I have to give special recognition to the cute young lady who lives around the corner from us who sang "Daddy's Son." She has an incredibly rich and expressive voice, and it's only gotten better over the course of the year. AND, in addition to her performance, kudos to the young man who was given the opportunity to direct the choir in "To Love Our God" (arr. Mark Hayes). He's a senior this year and just a super kid. He's going to do well for himself no matter what he does, but he does want to study choral directing. I'd say he's well on his way.

And the highlight? Probably the combined choir production of "Bohemian Rhapsody" (arr Mark Brymer), which also included backup from some student rocknroll dudes on guitar, bass, and drums down in the orchestra pit, with the director on the piano up on stage. It was, to say the least--very lively. A fun one, done well--Freddie Mercury himself would be impressed.

Good job, kids, and to your director, as well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:44 AM | Comments (8)

That's big.

Mobile County wins ThyssenKrupp plant

ThyssenKrupp AG has chosen north Mobile County as the site for what was billed as a $2.9 billion steel mill, according to Neal Wade, head of the Alabama Development Office.

The company's board of supervisors made the decision today in Dusseldorf.

The Alabama site, which is near Mt. Vernon and on the Tombigbee River, was chosen over a site along the Mississippi River near Convent, La.

ThyssenKrupp has said the mill will mean 29,000 jobs during construction, and 2,700 jobs paying an average of $50,000 to $65,000 annually once the plant is operational in 2010.

The mill would produce high-grade carbon steel and stainless steel for sale primarily into the North American automotive industry. [...]

In making the announcement, the company also indicated that it planned to enlarge the scope of the project, making its investment in the Alabama mill closer to $3.7 billion.

"Higher capacities and extended plant configurations were shown to be feasible and economic," the company said. "Beyond the original model, ThyssenKrupp Steel will install additional equipment to further diversify its product portfolio." [...]

This process seems like it's been going on forever, but persistence pays off. As I mentioned last week sometime, I noted that the press seems to take any economic news and make it seem bad, the example being all the jabbering about the "weak" dollar versus the euro, but this is just one example of the benefit of this type of exchange rate--a strong dollar would mean that ThyssenKrupp would be less likely to pursue a plant in the US.

There is a lot to industrial development deals such as this, and there's always the charge of paying out corporate "welfare." But as with Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, state incentives have worked well as an investment, with the companies continuing to grow and expand and add payroll even without additional state help. And again, it's not the only thing that helps lure these companies--there are things such as the political climate, availability of multimodal transportation (truck, air, water, rail--all of which South Alabama provides in spades), natural resources, proximity to customers (again, this plant is meant to serve the automotive industry), quality of life, and simple salesmanship. The Alabama Development Office has done a tremendous job in getting this information to potential clients, and more importantly, acting in a way that shows companies that Alabama is serious and wants investment.

In the end, no matter what you think of the way the game is played, we've managed to play it to our benefit, and to the benefit of the companies which do business here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:20 AM | Comments (7)

May 10, 2007

Some things are worth repeating.

From over at the Volokh's place, this review of one of the favorite blithering points of gun control advocates.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2007

Umm, hey folks?

Animals are not humans. I know we love them and all that, but they don't think like us. Especially Bengal tigers.

Bengal kills newest tiger at local zoo

[...] The head keeper told them to spray a hose, spray a fire extinguisher to try to get Rajah's attention. When she arrived, she started cracking a buggy whip in the air to snap into Rajah's consciousness.

Johnson, who hand-raised Rajah and Rani as cubs, yelled to him commands the Bengals normally follow. He didn't budge.

"When he thought she was dead he dropped her and then did what we had been telling him," [head zookeeper Cyndi] Johnson said.

Rajah walked away huffing and puffing and shivering, appearing in shock, she said. It seemed as though he had forgotten to breathe as he clenched Anastasia's throat, Johnson said. He sauntered into his night house as he had been commanded, drank from his trough and laid down next to it.

During the killing, Rani froze in a back corner with wide eyes, "almost mesmerized," [zoo director Patti] Hall said. [...] [emphasis mine]

Give it a rest, people. They are wild animals, and they do not have consciousness as we define it, do not suffer shock from suddenly realizing they've killed something, don't forget to breathe, and cannot be "mesmerized." I know it may look that way, but they can't. And this sort of cloying anthropomorphizing of wild animals is one of the reasons stuff like this happens. It's just fortunate that it wasn't a keeper. Or some doofus who decided to break into the cage because he wanted to pet the big pretty kitty. (Or the pretty giraffe, for that matter.)

Yeah, I know--I'm being a spoilsport again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2007

There are still men in France.

It's been a while since The Dissident Frogman has posted, but I figured if anyone had a good line on what the recent French elections would mean to regular folks like you and me, it would be him.

Bloggers over on this side of the ditch (at least the ones who enjoy 4th of July parades in a non-mockingly ironic way) seem to be relatively welcoming of the Sarkozy victory, cautiously optimistic that he seems to be willing to not hate America with as much passion as those further to his left might.

Frogman?

Not quite so sanguine. After speaking of never exercising his franchise, this:

[...] elections in France are eerily similar to those in the Soviet Union: no matter the outcome, a Socialist gets elected.

This one being no different than before, I frankly couldn't be bothered.

However, the spectacle of the (official) Socialist candidate during the big circus debate between the two finalists, and the possibility that she might be elected, was enough to actually convince me to go and vote against her today.

Make no mistake: I have absolutely no consideration for her opponent. I made my mind on Sarkozy a long time ago. Things like this helped me to get the picture. That, and - for instance - his willingness to confiscate guns from their legal and registered owners while letting the jihadist rampage freely during the two weeks of nationwide riots (the 2005 Allah Akbar Tour), or his big push on speed cameras (and fines) assorted with a strategic deployment of police forces to hunt down the vicious honest citizen whenever and wherever he commits the heinous crime of driving his car, in order to give some breathing space to the various victims of society in the Gaza-on-the-Seine strip, so these downtrodden sons and grandsons of immigrants (AKA Fully French Folks) could carry on with gang raping any broad guilty of being white in the aptly named (as far as the police is concerned) "no-go zones".

All the while talking his way up to his biggest PR hoax: that of appearing as a zero-tolerance Law and Order hero.

Sarkozy is all talk, no walk. Or worse: talk, but walk the other way. A politician as cunning and deceitful as Chirac, only younger. [...]

Ouch. And to wrap it all up, this:

[...] From what I've seen of the new European demagogue tonight, I'm afraid I can echo [CIA] Director Hayden's warning, [linked here] and advise my American friends to please NOT assume that the late French approach to America was the product of just one administration or just the former president.

Dont throw away that F the French tee-shirt just yet.

If only there were more like him.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Well, good.

Outdated mental illness terms being removed from law

By JULIE CARR SMYTH
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Old-fashioned terms such as imbecile, lunatic and idiot were set to be purged Tuesday from the Ohio law books, a harbinger of national momentum to once again revisit the words that most sensitively describe mental illness. [...]

It's difficult enough to have to cope with a mental illness without having to put up with being called names we now know are better used to describe politicians.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:32 PM | Comments (4)

May 04, 2007

Break out the Tiny Violins

Iran's Khatami: Pope comments still hurt

Probably so. Although I'm willing to bet not nearly so much as when someone gets their infidel head sawn off by a klatch of peace-lovin' jihadis.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2007

Unsurprising...

...considering the difficulty so many of their fellow citizens had in marking a ballot. Potential terror jurors cite 9/11 doubts

By CURT ANDERSON
The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) Many potential jurors in the Jose Padilla terrorism-support case say they aren't sure who directed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because they don't trust reporters or the federal government.

"There are too many ifs, too many things going on," one male juror said. "I don't know the whole story."

Others say they just don't pay close enough attention to world events to be certain.

"I'm oblivious to that stuff," one prospective female juror said during questioning this week. "I don't watch the news much. I try to avoid it." [...]

The more I read stuff like this, the more I admire the founders of this country for deciding to make it a republic.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

Irksome Artwork.

I should've known better than to try and read AND shave AND meditate upon the porcelain throne all at the same time. It's the stupid inconsequential things that create the most trouble during what should be a happy time devoted to mindlessly cutting hairs off your face and staring at the ceiling. But no.

I had to notice something colorful promising a cheerful dash of historical interest.

Stupid me.

ANYway, we have a little dorm refrigerator tucked in the dead space behind the door to our bathroom. This might sound weird, but the bathroom is long and narrow, so the things that create a fine mist of bacteria- and funk-laden water are a long way away, and there was a space just large enough for a little cooler to hold soft drinks and such, and it would have been wasted space anyway, so why not set up a minibar? Right? Sure.

So, sometime in the last few days, Miss Reba had purchased a can of peanuts, and absentmindedly had left the can on top of the refrigerator--right there where it could be seen. Not just any can of peanuts, either--it was a special authentic 100th Anniversary Collector's Edition can with special authentic artwork on the front celebrating the birth of Mr. Peanut. Number 4 of 4, it is.

It looks like this (image lifted from some exceptionally hopeful eBayer)--

times square peanut.jpg

Hmm. Pretty colors! Snazzy graphics! Words! Something snapped, and so I gathered my electric razor and the can of peanuts and made the trek down to the other end of the room to have a seat and see what all there was to see.

Shave, shave, relax, read, look at can. Old timey Mr. Peanut. New York-ish buildings. A subway. Old timey car. A street sign.

What?

Oh, come on, now. WHO DREW THIS DRECK!?

Look--right there at Mr. Peanut's left hand, at the street sign:

times square sign.jpg

I never realized Times Square was at the intersection of Times and Square.

And it looks awfully familiar--right down to the little directional arrows:

HaightAshburyStreetSign.gif

Look, I realize there's artistic license, but good grief, this isn't even good enough for a learner's permit! Silly crap like this from artists and illustrators just irks me to no end, and it just ruined my usual quiet time of reflection and vegetation.

I guess that'll teach me to try to bring something new to my morning routine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2007

Nuance.

Edwards commercial demands Congress push Iraq withdrawal

The Associated Press

John Edwards is blending a new television commercial with his online Web message, giving his activist supporters a voice in demanding that Congress stand up to President Bush's veto of a withdrawal timetable for Iraq.

The ad, which will air in Washington on broadcast and cable programs, calls on Congress to ignore the veto and to send Bush the "same bill again and again." [...]

"Because nobody will fight harder to surrender than John Edwards--Nobody!"

doofus.jpg

Give him this much--it's not an easy task to dethrone Dan Quayle as America's Most Mockable.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:04 PM | Comments (2)

Pitiful.

This story has been in the local news a lot lately. Popular preacher gone missing, needs his medicines, his wife on the TV barely able to hold herself together, grandkids asking where Grandaddy is. Terribly affecting, and you'd have to be a real heel not to have your heart broken by listening to it.

And this just in: Video Surveillance Captures Missing Preacher

By NBC 13 Staff

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Kimberly police have new evidence in the search for a missing preacher.

Gary Vance has been missing since April 20th.

NBC13 was told he left on a trip from Kimberly to Lincoln to check on a worksite.

Now there's surveillance video of him in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa Wal-mart where his truck was found.

Police believe he was hopping a bus to Las Vegas

For the sake of his family, I do hope they do find him unharmed.

But I know if this was me, the police would have to put me in protective custody just to keep Miss Reba from yanking my innards out through my nose.

UPDATE: They updated the story link and killed the old one--new one can be found here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:09 PM | Comments (2)

I wonder if there is a Farsi word for...

...schadenfreude.

"The Muslim Iranian people have no recollection of such acts contrary to sharia law during Islamic rule."

So very sad.

But, obviously, under the enlightened rules by which these kind people live, he simply must be put to death. It's only right, you know.

(H/T to Jim Smith.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2007

One of the greats passes.

TV's clueless everyman Tom Poston dies

In addition to having an incredibly deft sense of comic timing on-screen, off-screen he also seemed like a nice guy you'd like to hang around with. You don't see that sort of person much anymore.

And reading the article, I never knew he was a WWII Air Corp vet. A bit of searching elsewhere shows he served in the ETO and flew troop transports on D-Day, and was awarded an Air Medal.

Again, not the sort of person you run into much nowadays.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:43 PM | Comments (2)

They'd better be careful.

French TV debate promises sparks

All those Peugeots and Citroens in the seedier parts of Paris seem to have a bad habit of catching on fire.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

You know, I realize there's a thing such as nationalistic pride

...and countries want to feel as though other countries have some respect for them, but still, sometimes you want to just look at a country and say, "Lighten up, Francis."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:29 PM | Comments (3)

Yes, Let's Replace Acid Rain with Purple Rain!

Prince urges war to stop climate change

I never realized how socially conscious the Tiny Purple One was until I saw this headline. Maybe he could go back in the studio and do a remixes for Little Hybrid Corvette, Organic Raspberry Beret, and When Oil-Coated Seabirds Cry! It'll be SUPER FREAKALICI--

Hmm?

What?

Not the same Prince?

Oh.


Never mind, then.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2007

Thank goodness that's one I don't have to deal with.

Megabeth is under olfactory attack at work.

I really don't care for perfumey smells, either. Reba never wears perfume, which is really sorta odd, considering how girly-girl she is. In any event, though, all those heavy smells have never really appealed to me, except this one girl I went to college with who wore Lauren perfume, and I still get a limbic reaction anytime I smell it. But otherwise, no. I just like the plain old, "I bathe every day whether I need to or not," smell.

And thankfully, no one here where I work engages in musk anointing, but if Megabeth's gigantic utility megalopoly employer is anything like the bureaucrazy here, she might be running into trouble.

It seems like it's become inordinately difficult to deal forthrightly and openly and directly with disagreeable workplace behaviors. In most cases, unless you know the person well, you can't just say "I know you don't realize it, but I'm having a terrible time with my sinuses. I hate to ask, but could you use a different perfume, or less of it, while we're at work?"

Or if it's more than one, something like this to everyone, "I realize this is a selfish request, but lately seem to have developed some breathing problems related to perfume smells, and I would just like to ask you help me out by not wearing a lot to work." If you know everyone well enough, more groveling would be nice, because you do realize you're asking people to change something they don't think is a problem.

Back in the olden days, people understood about wearing some of that strong outdoor-grade perfume while indoors was poor etiquette (along with producing BO, halitosis, and taking care of other personal hygiene matters in public such as brushing hair or trimming fingernails), and would have acted startled that they had been the cause of such distress and agreed to limit the usage of the offending scent. Oh, sure--they would have gone home and complained about it and said what an ass you were, but in public they would have been nicer about it simply out of good manners. And part of good manners is also the way in which the request is made--sure, you're about to gag, but you still have to be apologetic for bringing up the subject.

Nowadays, there are no such things as manners. Tell anyone--even nicely and apologetically--that you're having trouble breathing because of their perfume now, and you're likely to get a huffy putdown of "WELL, YOU STINK, TOO!" along with a harrassment complaint and a ratcheted up level of stink, to boot.

Because not only do we not have manners anymore, we are apparently legally obligated to hire and retain people who are certifiably psychopathically insane.

So any sort of legitimate complaint about one of your coworkers (again, unless it's someone who's actually your friend) gets dealt with by a circuitous route designed not to bring notice of offense to the actual offender, but to level it against everyone, so no one gets offended or upset or sues. So you get a policy rewrite, and everyone is put on notice that they are to be sensitive to anyone's problems and not exacerbate them by doing anything insensitive, and the person who actually is stinking up the place with her oily funk never gets the clue that the policy is aimed directly at her, but she does see an opportunity to use the new policy to complain about Bob, who walks through every day at 3:15 using a concealed mind-ray device to read her thoughts about how George Bush is trying to have her killed.

SO, my advice to add to those of Megabeth's commentors?

Proceed with caution. If this isn't someone who can take a friendly suggestion, proceed with even more caution. Document your sensitivity to particular odors. After that, if it's a friend, ask her to tone it down a bit because your doctor says you'll suffocate if she doesn't, and hope for the best.

If it's a crazy lady, go to the boss, show him your physician's report of your disability, and request to have your workspace modified to accomodate your disability under the terms of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, installation of a system of ambient air scrubbers to remove noxious odors from any place you are assigned to work, monitoring of ambient air quality to ensure that your workplace is within levels prescribed by your doctor as safe, and that the letter P be stricken from the alphabet. (You always have to throw in impossible stuff so you can negotiate it out later when they want to balk about your demands. I mean, come ON--who'd ever fall for that ol' "air quality monitoring" ploy!?)

Anyway, boss will see that this is much more trouble than it's worth, and will bring the offensive perfume-wearer in for a conference, and afterwards will happily notify you that your complaint has been resolved by moving you to the basement and making the perfume-wearer your replacement.

See--it all works itself out in the end.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:46 PM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2007

Whoa! Talk about unexpected!

What's next, the Spanish Inquisition!?

Agents seize truckloads of explosives, weapons in Alabama raids

Simultaneous raids carried out in at least two Alabama counties today turned up truckloads of explosives and weapons -- including caches of live hand grenades -- from what authorities are calling a militia group.

Teams of federal, state and local law enforcement agents executed four search warrants in DeKalb and Jefferson counties beginning at 6 a.m., so far arresting five people. The raids took place in several areas in DeKalb County -- forcing the closing of Collinsville High School on U.S. 11 because of traffic concerns-- and in Trussville.

Authorities had to rent a U-Haul truck to haul away the explosives and weapons from a house in Trussville.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives launched an investigation into the reported militia group seven weeks ago, according to a federal source. Officials said the group had not made not any specific threats, but said they worked to quickly shut down the group because of its heavy firepower. One federal official said the group had enough armaments to outfit a small army. [...]

Well, this kind of crazy mess is just what happens when I am forced to get up at 4:00 a.m.

I would like to see that second sentence rewritten--"The raids took place in Trussville and in several areas in DeKalb County, forcing the closing of Collinsville High School on U.S. 11 because of traffic concerns." The way it was originally composed almost made it read as if a school in Trussville was also shut down.

Good thing they have editors. Which also helps with the little bit of editorializing that manages to sneak into the article at the end.

Be interesting to see which one of my neighbors this turns out to be.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:52 PM | Comments (7)

Proving that Some People are Very Stupid

Jim Smith sent me this article yesterday, doing his darndest to angry up my blood.

"I'm not a plastic bag."

Obviously made to impress people who are, as we say around here, too stupid to pour piss out of a boot even if it had instructions on the heel. Or who would pay $400 on eBay for a poke sack.

Look, I don't have anything against anyone who wants to use cloth bags instead of plastic--knock yourself out. (Okay--NOT REALLY! Apparently some of you are so dense you'd actually try it.) But this little snippet should give everyone some concern--"The resulting drop in carbon emissions linked to the manufacturing and disposal of the bags is equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road."

As I mentioned to Jim, apparently these particular cotton bags are made by magic, and thus require no huge factory farms of cotton in some underdeveloped nation such as Senegal or India, where lovely natural fibers are grown using a horrifying witch's brew of petrochemical fertilizers and insecticides, and are not then harvested by giant mechanized reapers (or slave labor), then not trucked hundreds of miles to the nearest toxic fiber mill, where the pretty pretty cotton is converted into thread, then not trucked several hundred more miles to a toxic cloth mill, where the threads are woven into ugly burlap, which is not then shipped to a child labor factory in China where it is cut and sewn together, then not loaded on a giant container ship back to England, where Keira Knightley gets to slum around SoHo with Orlando Blossom, feeling superior to everyone. The superiority that can only come from carrying a magic bag.

I don't really know where Sainsbury gets their ecotrendy bags, but if you decided to follow the trail, you'd find that they aren't quite as friendly to Mother Gaia as the trendy sorts might like to believe.

Not that it matters.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:08 AM | Comments (11)

April 24, 2007

Speaking of cars...

Honda planning new expansion at Alabama plant

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) The Talladega County Commission approved nearly $2 million in new tax breaks for Honda, which announced a $64.5 million expansion of its east Alabama assembly plant. [...]

That there is a lot of cash. What's weird is that when you read the story, it sure sounds like A LOT OF CASH, for what turns out to be a storage shed.

Well, sorta.

The tax abatements, approved during a meeting Monday, are related to a 27,000-square-foot expansion that will create 20 jobs. Work is set to begin May 1, with completion set for 2009.

The new space will be used to store steel near assembly lines where machines stamp out car parts. [...]

A really, really nice shed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2007

Careful there, Pandora.

Study: Fat workers cost employers more

Now as a Girthy-American, this story has some interest to me, in that it seems as though it could lead to some unpleasantries in the workplace based entirely upon my lifestyle choices.

Well, that's just fine, but before all you sizeists out there start applauding, just remember there are all sorts of legal activities people engage in that can cause employers to lose money on health-related job costs. All you boozehounds and nicotine addicts might have be costing employers, too, you know. Or maybe some of you who enjoy the healthful--although dangerous--outdoor activities such as rock climbing or biking in heavy traffic. I bet people who do most of their own home repairs probably have higher accident rates than those who don't, with the resulting loss of money and productivity off-the-job injuries can cause. I'll also wager stupid people cost more to have on the payroll--maybe a little common sense testing would go a long way to weeding out these sorts of undesirables. And let's not even get into those nasty things people do in their bedrooms or Interstate rest stops, because how DARE anyone criticize THAT sort of lifestyle choice!

Hey, it's not a good thing to be too fat.

But just remember it's not the only bad thing.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Say again?

Sanjaya: 'I'm not just a musician'

"Just"?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2007

Understatement of the Day!

"It was a bit strange," he said.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (7)

April 19, 2007

A grand idea.

Stan the Gummint Man (Ret.) sent me the Saloon column by a guy who claims to be their Washington bureau chief (which I find suspect, because I would have thought that such a post would require some level of smarts beyond that of a drunk squeegee guy) calling for the abolition of the Second Amendment.

Darned fine idea, I say. Yes, really!

However, in the interest of fairness, I would suggest that we at least go in numerical order and start with the First, and go all the way through the Tenth.

All of these amendments were, after all, written at the same time back in the Olden Days, making all of them equally outdated and immaterial to our modern world. And more damning, all of them were thought up by the same bunch of dead white guys. Many of whom owned slaves. So obviously they were evil and stupid. That's obviously why they thought press freedom was important.

It's not, though--it just causes problems.

If only we had some way to control violent movies and books and keep them from falling into the wrong hands and influencing people to do evil, and a way to keep people from using the media as a way to glorify their sociopathy...

While there is no way to guarantee that another Cho Seung-Hui would be deprived access to Quentin Tarantino films and instant posthumous celebrity aided and abetted by NBC News, hitting the delete button on the First Amendment surely would lower the odds against future mayhem.

Surely.

As I told Stan, anyone who can speak so cavalierly of "hitting the delete button," as if the combined deliberations and intelligence of our Founders was nothing more than a typo, is astounding and it marks the writer as a person of little intelligence and one not worth engaging in conversation.

Well, except to ridicule him.

(UPDATE: A more complete proposal for doing away with things that make people uncomfortable.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:51 AM | Comments (3)

April 18, 2007

Hmmm--hardware store worker, eh?

Survey Reveals Most Satisfying Jobs

Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer
SPACE.com

Firefighters, the clergy and others with professional jobs that involve helping or serving people are more satisfied with their work and overall are happier than those in other professions, according to results from a national survey.

The most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching and protecting others and creative pursuits, said Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey (GSS) at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. [...]

Three occupationsclergy, firefighters and special education teacherstopped both the job-satisfaction and overall happiness lists. Roofers made it on the bottom of both charts, with just 14 percent of roofers surveyed reporting they were very happy.

People who scored high on the happiness scale had the following jobs:

Clergy
Firefighters
Transportation ticket and reservation agents
Housekeepers and butlers
Hardware/building supplies salespersons
Architects
Mechanics and repairers
Special education teachers
Actors and directors
Science technicians

I'm not unhappy doing what I do, although I do tend to complain a lot. Still, the idea of hanging out all day in a hardware store sounds kinda cool. But then you see clergyfolks have the highest happiness, and you don't have to worry about fires except of the eternal sort, like you would if you're a fireman. I don't know why ticket agents would be that happy, or butlers, though. Maybe I could start a church in a hardware store with a design studio next door and triple-dip on the happiness scale.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:58 PM | Comments (5)

April 17, 2007

And speaking of cars...

It looks like DaimlerChrysler is well on the way to divesting itself of majority ownership of its US subsidiaries, and ever since I read that article saying that Al Gore and his priesthood and parishioners should put their money where their mouth is and buy Chrysler Group and make it the greenest car company on the planet, I've haven't stopped considering the possibilities. The very idea of driving a Gore-sler just makes me quiver like an excited puppy, but I'd say the Left ought to go it one better, and make Chrysler the testbed of all of the wonderful progressive policies. All that stuff about how corporations should be run If Life Were Fair?

Make it fair!

All of them should scrape together their pennies and make Chrysler not only the greenest car company, but the most socially-conscious one, too. No compensation for their big shot managers, a million dollar per year minimum wage, a 10 hour work week, free pony rides and Ben and Jerry's ice cream for all--all that stuff that sounds good and they claim they can't get done because of evil conservatives foiling their efforts. Think about if liberals could do for a car company what liberals did for talk radio with Air America! Why, it would be like the wondrous (although now sadly defunct) conglomerate British Leyland, with none of the charm!

And it would give them something to do instead of protesting everything. They might even figure out how to melt steel with fire.

[End of the day Update! I forgot the most impressive part of this whole scheme--it's obvious that these Liberalmobiles would be highly successful NASCAR racers, seeing as how all they'd be able to do is make left turns! And that annoying high-pitched whine isn't just from straight-cut gears, either!]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:48 AM | Comments (5)

April 13, 2007

Well, now--it seems I still have a pea-sized drop of functioning brain cells this afternoon!

What better way to finish killing them off than by attempting an Omnibus Wrap-Up of The Past Week!

Wait...hold on--I....urghhhhhhuh.

Aw, dangitall. Now THAT little bit's gone, too.

Oh, well, no biggie. Y'know why? Because this was one of the Stupidest Weeks in History, and it'll be a big help in discussing it if I have a completely empty cranium.

The Nappy Imus Flap? If you get so devastated by what this creepy-looking old maniac says about you that you think your life as you know it is over, well, maybe you need to go hide in your dorm and never come out. Look, he's an idiot and a moron and he said something ungentlemanly and idiotic. He's not the first, and he won't be the last. He doesn't speak for the Happy White People no more than the Rev. [sic] Al Sharpton speaks for all the Nappy Black People. This whole thing proves nothing more than where there's a spark of insensitivity, there are plenty of arsonists around willing to pour gasoline on it in the hopes that afterwards they'll be able plunder through the ashes for valuables. I'm not saying it should be ignored, nor that the women so insulted should "get over it." I'm saying get above it. You know why I don't melt anytime someone (of any color) gets on the news and talks about toothless homicidal redneck Alabama livestock-lovin' crackers? Because I'm not one. (Well, mostly not.) Life can be difficult, and people can be unfair. It's not right, but it's the way it is. You can wallow in it, or seek something higher and better for yourself. Which, seeing as how the Revs. [sic] Al and Jesse are both putative men of God, you'd think you'd hear a bit more from them about things such as God's saving grace and His redemptive power and forgiveness and following a higher standard of conduct. Yeah, I know--that's just crazy talk.

US Attorney Firings? Do you mean to tell me this imbroglio is STILL going on!? Democratics are idiots. Thank God they're not in charge of both Houses of Congress and we're not in the middle of trying to fight a war.

Hmm?

They ARE!? We ARE!?

Heaven help us one and all.

Stupid Headline--Transient arrested in death of homeless man If you have the patience to read to the third sentence, you see that both men were homeless transients. Why does the headline read the way it does? Because "transient" still has a negative connotation, and "homeless," while not positive, still evokes a sense of sympathy. It sorta reminds me of this joke:

Two boys are playing football in a vacant lot when one of the boys is attacked by a rabid Rottweiler. Thinking quickly, the first little boy rips a board off a nearby fence, wedges it down the dog's collar, and twists, breaking the dog's neck and killing him instantly. A reporter, who happens to be strolling nearby, sees the incident and rushes over to interview the boy. "That was the most incredible act of bravery I've ever seen!" the reporter exclaims. He whips out his notebook and furiously scribbles the headline: "Young Bama Fan Saves Friend From Vicious Animal!" The little hero sees this and says, "But sir, I'm not a Bama Fan, I'm an Auburn Fan!" The reporter looks warily at the boy for a moment, then flips the page and begins a new headline: "Little Redneck Kills Beloved Family Pet"

It's pretty bad when the local newspaper's reportage about a murder makes the reader think of a stupid joke. Again, not sure if that's a reflection on the paper or its readership. Either way, it's not good.

American Idol? Does anyone really like Phil Stacey? We used to have a guy that worked here that had a lightbulb head like that, and it just looks really, really bad bald. But here's the deal--it looks MUCH WORSE to put on those stoopid caps covering not only scalp but big flappy Dumbo ears. Melinda sings the best, and despite Simon GirlBoobie's assertions to the contrary, it is NOT a singing contest, or else they'd have never put Samhain into the mix. It's backfired on them now, because he's gonna be made to win by a combination of people who hate American Idol and idiots who love Sandfire. Of the ones left, I like Jordin best, even though she can't sing as well as Melinda. But Melinda just doesn't seem like she'll have huge amounts of fans clamoring to buy her records. With Jordin (or even the Beatbox Guy), you figure you'll get at least a couple of years of pre-teens who'll buy her stuff before she flames out. Anyway, if you love train wrecks, the Country Western theme show next week should be a doozy. I look for Saniflush to sing "Stand By Your Man."

Duke Lacrosse Team? Let me just say that the proper way to right past injustices visited upon falsely accused minorities is not by visiting the same injustice of false accusations upon others. Or, to put it more succinctly, this.

Selling Off Walter P.'s Garage? I like this idea more than I can stand. It just makes me goosepimply all over thinking about it.

The Presidential Race? As usual, I bring back my idea that it would be better for the Republic for us to have a nice big Texas No-Holds Barred Steel Cage Match. It'd be cheaper, quicker, and a heck of a lot more entertaining. And we might get someone with some guts and backbone. Or at least some wicked cool scars.

Katie Couric Plagiaristess? What a completely stupid story. She goes on the air with something purported to be her own thoughts (about being able to have a library card--as IF!), which were prepared by staffers and various furry underlings, which in turn were lifted verbatim from an actual news organization's publication, and Katie get's to use the excuse that since she did not know the work she did not do (but claimed credit for, i.e., plagiarized) had been stolen by other people first, everything is great and wonderful and that person has been fired, and SAY, I'm dating a 33 year old! I wonder if she'll steal stuff from his blog and claim it as her own. She probably already uses his razor on her legs.

Anyway, fake but accurate still seems to have carry a lot of weight at the Tiffany Network.

Blogger Code of Ethics? Oh, come on. If you do that, why not do something a heck of a lot more productive and have a Blogger Aptitude Test to cover book-learning, followed up by a Blogger School of Common Sense Test to test street skills. If you don't score a passing grade on both, you don't get to blog and have to go back to posting pictures of your cat on whatever stupid message board you inhabit.

New Washer and Dryer? Both work just fine, thankyewvermuch. They both have the honest unpretentiousness of a washer, and a dryer. No LEDs, no stylish swoops and curves, nothing that screams SAVE MOTHER GAIA. I like the last part especially. I'm all for saving energy and all, but if you figure that this $279 model uses $22 annually in energy, and the high efficiency $1,800 model uses $8 worth, it would take 108 years to recover the $1,521 difference in purchase price with the $14 difference in energy costs. Sorry to be such a spoil sport. All you rich folks can assuage your green guilt by buying the expensive stuff, and I'll content myself with refraining from eating boiled cabbage and producing noxious gasses from my hinder parts.

Atlanta? Eh. It's big, isn't it? Yeah. Pretty much. The Marriott was very nice, though. It was clean and neat and the bed was comfy, which was good, because all I wanted to do was stay in it with the covers over my head and the curtains drawn. Not that I got to, mind you. Just wanted to. The couple of days were spent having to deal with one derned thing after another. But no one died, so I suppose on the whole it was a very successful trip.

Oh, that's enough for today.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2007

Steevil Asks...

"Wonder if the EU really thought this through?"

Well, at first glance it looks like a typical stupid EU deal, but upon further reading, it does appear that enough time was spent on it to make certain that it specifically excluded countries that have actual functioning economies, and instead concentrates on those African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries that have found themselves bankrupted by various experimentations with European socialism/communism.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

What I wonder...

Protesters target Rove at university

WASHINGTON - White House adviser Karl Rove was confronted by more than a dozen protesters who blocked his car and threw things as he tried to leave a speaking engagement at American University, officials said.

Rove was attending a guests-only discussion of electoral politics Tuesday night sponsored by the American University College Republicans. [...]

When Rove tried to leave a campus building, he was confronted by more than a dozen protesters who surrounded his car to prevent it from leaving, Csellar said.

"They were throwing unknown objects at the vehicle," said Secret Service spokeswoman Kimberly Bruce. She said members of the Secret Service asked the protesters to move. When they continued to block the vehicle's exit, campus police were contacted. [emphasis added]

Campus police lifted some of the demonstrators from the asphalt and carried them out of the vehicle's path so Rove could leave the campus. There were no arrests or injuries, police said. [...]

Two things I wonder, actually.

Why are people who hate Republicans (and Karl Rove in particular) because of their brutal warmongering and such like always the ones throwing junk at people? Enough of this kind of thing happens, and pretty soon I'm gonna get the idea that maybe they're not really non-violent pacifists!

Second, exactly why is it that campus police had to be called? You'd figure if you had a visiting Administration official on campus--no matter his ideology or political affiliation--that you would do him the courtesy of having at least a token representation of security there. Especially if you have even the slightest idea (no matter how baffling you might find it) that you possibly might have some students enrolled on your campus who think screaming and throwing things is not something to be discarded in childhood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:52 PM | Comments (4)

"I never inhaled," although in a slightly different context.

Richards denies snorting his dad's ashes

LONDON (AP) Keith Richards was joking when he claimed to have snorted his father's ashes along with cocaine, a spokesman said Wednesday.

"It was an off-the-cuff remark, a joke, and it is not true. File under April Fool's joke," said Bernard Doherty of LD Communications, which represents the Rolling Stones. [...]

Whatever. I kinda doubt it started out as an April Fool's joke when he said it, given the lead time on print articles, but I suppose it gives him a plausible excuse. Though I'm at a loss to figure out why this particular remark would cause him to issue a retraction--I can't say I was particularly shocked by it, whether it turns out it is or isn't or might be true. If Keith Richards wanted to shock me, he'd have to become a Catholic priest for the rest of his life.

(Of course, that whole vampires vs. crosses thing would probably make that kinda difficult.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

A giant passes.

Ex-Grambling coach Eddie Robinson dies

RUSTON, La. (AP) Eddie Robinson, who sent more than 200 players to the NFL and won 408 games during a 57-year career, has died.

He was 88.

Super Bowl MVP quarterback Doug Williams, one of Robinson's former players, said the former Grambling State University coach died about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Robinson had been admitted to Lincoln General Hospital on Tuesday afternoon. [...]

In his 57 years in football, Robinson set the standard for victories with a 408-165-15 record. John Gagliardi of St. John's, Minn., passed Robinson in 2003 and has 443 wins.

Robinson's teams had only eight losing seasons and won 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference titles and nine national black college championships.

He sent more than 200 players to the NFL, including seven first-round draft choices. [...]

He was a tremendous coach and always seemed like a gentleman.

His bio from the College Football Hall of Fame can be found here, and an article from the SWAC can be found here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2007

A spanner in the works.

Or something.

But last night after the ballgame, I got word from the 8th grader sitting next to me that in addition to the math homework she had, and the language homework had, she also needed a current event article for social studies due today.

I tend to do the searching for these for the kids, mainly because they take too long to find things and tend to wander over to entertainment sites. (Not Possumblog, obviously, since it's not entertaining.)

ANYway, they've been studying world religions and junk, and they're on Islam right now, and her teacher wanted them to bring in articles about Islam. Best I could tell from her take on the assignment was that the news articles needed to be all about the lovey-dovey, RoP angle.

Okay, well, I'm just not in the mood for that.

I gave her this article, without comment, for her to read herself and see what she thought. In the car on the way to school this morning, she asked what it meant when it said "radical."

Well, radical in this context is when you have a group of people who say all they want is to live quiet peaceful lives, and all they do is go around trying to kill people who have different beliefs, because, doggone it all, they just can't have a quiet peaceful life with all these filthy kafirs around.

Not said quite like that, but close enough.

As I told her (and Jonathan, too, since he was in the backseat) there are millions of fine folks who believe jihad is an internal struggle against the power of Satan--just like Christians who put on the "armor of God" to battle the influence of evil in their lives. But there are a number of jihadis--a minority of believers, sure, but still darned big enough in raw numbers--who want nothing to do with such placidness, and only want to purify the world of the stain of the infidel.

And to be fair, as I told her, there are Christians who have similar views, too.

There is a difference, though, in that in this country there is a very vocal, very active, very large (both in numbers and in percentage) counterbalance, not just of Christians, but people of all faiths (or lack thereof), who are swift to condemn people like this, and eager to bring them to justice should they commit crimes in support of their misguided faith. For some reason, some members don't quite get around to criticizing any faiths OTHER than Christianity, but even if we take them out of the equation, you still have a healthy group of people who really DO want to have a free country where everyone is free to interact with each other.

Radical Islam has--again, on the basis of percentages--a very small minority of people willing to extend the same condemnation to the evil that lurks within the greater body of Islam. Moderate or pacifistic Muslims who speak out against radicalism do exist, but they face a determined, emboldened enemy who think nothing of imprisoning them, or killing them. It's bad enough to be an infidel, but the whiff of heresy and apostacy kicks the shariaist's angry glands up another whole notch. So, there's a lot of fear there, and I believe some sense of apathy, that has thus far made the Muslim-Condemnation-of-Fellow-Muslims-Who-Commit-Atrocities- in-the-Name-of-Allah a rather small organization.

You know, hand-holding multi-cultural feel-goodism is all great and wonderful, but let's not ignore the fact that there are people out there who actually want to destroy, with extreme prejudice, that very self-same type of happybird cloudfloaty land.

So, kids--treat people the way you want to be treated. But keep your powder dry.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:06 PM | Comments (1)

That new lower speed limit through Malfunction Junction seems to have done the trick.

Truck overturns, snarls Interstate 65 traffic

Of course, accidents like this are helpful, in that they reduce traffic speed from the posted limit of 50 miles per hour to 0 miles per hour.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)

So, it's better to be blinded than beaten?

I guess so. L.A. police to get new flashlights

3/30/2007, 4:16 a.m. CDT
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) Police will soon be outfitted with a cutting edge flashlight that is not only brighter than others, but too small to be used as a weapon.

The idea for the 7060 LED flashlight was conceived just days after news cameras broadcast images of LAPD officers beating car-theft suspect Stanley Miller with a two-pound, two-foot long standard issue police flashlight. [...]

The new 10-inch, $100 flashlight was developed and manufactured by the Torrance-based company Pelican to meet LAPD specifications. It will feature both a standard "patrol mode" and an ultra-light "tactical mode" that is bright enough to temporarily blind suspects. [...]

[Emphasis mine] You and I both know the first time an officer uses the "tactical mode" light on a suspect, there's gonna be streets full of protestors dressed up like Little Orphan Annie and a hefty lawsuit. Or vice-versa.

All I know is that I keep a four-cell Maglite in every vehicle we have.

[...] Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, praised the LAPD for the equipment change.

"It's a really important step in the right direction, and it's going to make a difference in how the police department deals with the community," she said. "We've always felt that a flashlight was not an instrument to beat people with. This new one will serve the purpose it was intended to."

"...a flashlight was not an instrument to beat people with..."

As the computer guys say, "that's not a bug, that's a feature."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2007

The Ultimate Global Warming Conundrum

Lack of ice set to kill start of Canadian seal hunt

YAY! No evil baby seal clubbers!

But all the baby seals are drowned!

But at least they won't be exploited for their pretty fur!

But this is wiping out the lifestyle of an indigenous people!

It has that whole "mother-sister-mother" vibe from Chinatown.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:13 PM | Comments (11)

Thank goodness.

Iran: British sailors treated humanely

Although you do have to remember, this is also the same group of humane-treaters who believe hanging a 16 year old girl for getting herself raped is humane.

It's just a very nuanced version of humane, I suppose.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:54 AM | Comments (3)

March 22, 2007

Gosh, reporting is so much easier when you already have the framing settled ahead of time.

Counties hit by Katrina slow to repopulate

WASHINGTON (AP) Experts say the pace of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina has slowed, leaving New Orleans and some other Gulf Coast areas with less than half the people they had before the storm.

Ummm, slow compared to--what, exactly? "Less than half"? Is there a benchmark level that we should be expecting, considering what happened in New Orleans is unprecedented?

And they say some of the hardest hit might never regain their population.

Gosh, THANKS experts! "Might never," or not! Not to diminish the suffering of people along the coast hit by Katrina, but depopulation does occur when places no longer are able to offer economic security for their residents. Out West, they're called "ghost towns." But they're all over the country--many of the places where my parents grew up are no longer visible, the houses and businesses long ago having been abandoned and taken over by kudzu. But if there's a way to make a living there, people will go back. But despite what experts might say (or not!), there's no formula to predict how long that will take.

The latest Census Bureau estimates, to be released today, say that ten months after the hurricane, Orleans Parish had slightly less than half the people it did before the storm. Nearby Saint Bernard Parish had less than a fourth of its pre-storm population.

It might be worth noting that Katrina hit 19 months ago. The data is an estimate, and it's from 10 months ago. Now that's nearly a whole year out of date, and it's possible more people might have moved in in the intervening time. But, of course, that's not really important, is it? Nah--only that it's slow, by some arbitrary measure. And convenient for making a political statement.

But other Gulf Coast communities have grown as hurricane victims fled to nearby cities and Americans continued a decades-long migration to coastal areas.

Harris County, Texas -- home to Houston -- added more than 123,000 people from 2005 to 2006. Houston attracted many Katrina refugees.

Gosh, so you're telling me places not hit as hard grew in population, because the people displaced went there?! Fascinating, Captain! The implication of the article seems to be that this growth is the result of something rather shady--it's as if those rich Houstonians are somehow sucking up all the growth that should be going into poor parts of New Orleans.

Those evil Big Oil people!

Or something.

It's hard to tell exactly what the whole point of the story is, if not to attempt to cast any part of the recovery effort in an unfavorable light. But then again, maybe I'm just being cynical.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:48 AM | Comments (4)

So long, Larry Bud.

Letterman regular 'Bud' Melman dies

melman.gif

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2007

I hope this means good news.

Just got a CNN email news update: "Radio traffic from the scene indicates a 12-year-old Boy Scout missing since Saturday in the North Carolina forest has been found alive, National Park Service spokeswoman Tina White said." (Additional story from WRAL, via Jim Smith.)

As I'm sure it has with other folks, this story has weighed heavily on me, and I have been praying they could find this kid unharmed.

(And not to be mean, but I have a feeling that his reported ADHD won't ever make him wander away again.)

Update commentary below.


And for what it's worth, whether you're a Scout or not, some basic rules for when you're in the woods.

1. Always have with you a signaling device such as a whistle or a communication device such as a radio, walkie-talkie, or cell phone.

2. Dress appropriately for the area.

3. Do not wander off by yourself. Always have a buddy with you.

4. Stay on marked trails.

5. If you become lost, STOP. (Sit, think, observe, plan) Do not continue to walk around trying to find your way back. Doing so causes you to expend more energy, and you could possibly become injured. Stay calm, make sure the area you are in is relatively safe, make sure there is a place you can find shelter, and begin to periodically signal your location or try to contact someone with your phone or radio.

Additional information geared to kids from the US Search and Rescue Task Force, and for more advanced hikers and hunters from Connecticut Valley Arms (Article one, two, three, four, and five)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2007

There are few things worse...

...than dealing with a bureaucracy.

And that's all I'll say about that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:47 PM | Comments (2)

I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll...

...smite you in the name of Allah, you filthy infidel!

Via Jim Smith, this jewel: School Changes Name of Play to 'Three Little Puppies' to Avoid Offending Muslims

That's what one British school renamed the traditional Three Little Pigs story for a school play, so as not to offend Muslims in the community, London's Daily Mail reported.

Organizers of the children's musical theater performance changed the lyrics' character's names in a move some including Muslims are saying went too far.

"The vast majority of Muslims have no problem whatsoever with the Three Little Pigs. It's always been the traditional way of telling the story and I don't see why that should be changed," Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the Muslim Council of Britain told the Daily Mail, saying the name change was "bizarre."

Gill Goodswen, head teacher of Stile Common Junior School, defending the move.

She said: "We have to be sensitive if we want to be multicultural. It was felt it would be more responsible not to use the three little pigs." [...]

You have to figure that when the people you're expending great amounts of moronwaves not to offend think you're daft, you might just BE an idiot.

How about this, Ms. Goodswen--if we're going to be truly multicultural, we each allow the other racial or ethnic groups to have their own little stories and plays and junk without having to change the names to suit some perceived, potential grievance someone might have with it.

Otherwise, you just come off looking like a real dolt.

Because, Gill, for what it's worth, and as noted in a comment on the Daily Mail's website--most Muslims consider dogs as unclean, too. Some a little more than others.

Stupid twit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:34 AM | Comments (7)

Production Levels Skyrocket...

Airbus workers strike in France, Germany and Spain

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2007

I believe the saying is something like...

..."a prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted," but on this one, I'm willing to bet there's something to the charges: AP NewsBreak: Former Secretary of State Worley indicted

By PHILLIP RAWLS
The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Former Secretary of State Nancy Worley has been indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from her unsuccessful campaign for re-election last year, her attorney told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Montgomery attorney James Anderson said he received a call from the attorney general's staff informing him that Worley had been indicted on five felony counts and five misdemeanor counts accusing her of soliciting campaign funds from employees in the secretary of state's office. [...]

During Worley's re-election campaign last year, one of her employees, Ed Packard, ran against her in the Democratic primary and filed a complaint with the attorney general's office. The complaint involved Worley sending an envelope to her employees that had a place on the outside for them to mark whether they would like to volunteer in her campaign, post a bumper sticker on their vehicles, or make a contribution.

Anderson said the envelope was accompanied by a letter explaining there would be no retaliation against any employees who didn't support her. "As far as she knows, nobody who worked for her gave to her," he said. [...]

Well, nice try, dude, but the law doesn't seem to give elected officials an out if they say they won't retaliate, or if none of the employees participate--

[...] State law prohibits state officials from soliciting their employees for help in a campaign. Violations can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, with the felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine and a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. [...]

I imagine she'll find a way to settle, since it seems even from her own attorney the solicitation was made, and the defense against the charge seems to be that it's nothing but a politically-motivated charade.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:01 PM | Comments (2)

American Idol!

Is there any way to go ahead and eliminate all the guys? I really have no desire to see any more weeks of their wimpy caterwauling. Might was well go ahead and cut some of the girls, too, although I can at least cut off the sound and look at them if I don't want to hear them sing.

As it is, I'd much rather just cut everyone but Melinda Doolittle (who can sing, but looks a little too much like Smokey Robinson for comfort) or Jordin Sparks (who's cute, but can't sing quite as well as Melinda) and let them finish out the final weeks.

OH! And Diana Ross? Frightening.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (3)

March 09, 2007

Truer words were never written.

Sorry not so hard for John Edwards

Since he prides himself on his Southernness, he understands well what I mean when I say he's as sorry as they come. As sorry as the day is long. As sorry as an egg-sucking dog. As sorry as a two-dollar watch.

Yep, sorry is something he does well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:01 AM | Comments (2)

March 02, 2007

Tough time.

Storm death total now 10

This is slightly lower than what was reported at first yesterday, which was 13 across the state. A glimmer of hope came later in the day when the toll was revised sharply downward, with the earlier preliminary numbers being said to have been in error due to miscommunication at the site. Sadly, the number at the school now appears to have been accurate, and it could turn out that the statewide number will go up again as searches continue for people unaccounted for. (Photos of the storm damage can be seen here.)

As I mentioned in a comment last night, our prayers for those who have lost family members, both here in Alabama and across the Southeast.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:49 AM | Comments (4)

February 27, 2007

Speaking as we were of dear Uncle Albert...

...this particularly telling bit from Dr. Reynold's site, in which we lesser beings are basically told by the author to shut up with all of our hypocrisy-mongering, because the natural order of things is that there are some people who by Divine right or birthright or simple treachery should be at the top of the heap, and shouldn't have to actually live the way they say we should.

"Two Americas," indeed!

In any event, the point Dr. "Blended Puppies For Me But Not For Thee" makes in his rebuttal is the same one I made earlier in the comments on the subject--religious leaders (and let's not quibble--the whole climate change matrix is becoming increasingly religious in word and deed, and Albert is rapidly ascending within its college of cardinals with the skill of a Borgia) who don't practice what they preach are always going to wind up damaging both their own credibility and that of their religion. This is especially pronounced when the scripture calls for all to take a vow of poverty, while the leadership is allowed to luxuriate, free of feeling tied to such pronouncements, due simply to their wealth or power or position.

There is nothing wrong with having money.

There is nothing wrong with spending it on what you want to spend it on.

But let's not pretend that your need for it is of greater importance than my need for it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2007

Good.

U.S. tourist in Costa Rica kills mugger

By MARIANELA JIMENEZ, Associate Press Writer
38 minutes ago

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - An American senior citizen killed an alleged mugger with his bare hands, and his traveling companions aboard a tour bus fended off two other assailants in the Atlantic coast city of Limon, police said.

The American, who is about 70 years old and retired from the military, put the 20-year-old in a head lock and broke his clavicle after the suspect and two other men armed with a knife and gun held up their tour bus, said Luis Hernandez, the police chief of Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose. The suspect, Warner Segura, was later declared dead, apparently from asphyxiation.

The two other men fled when the 12 senior citizens started defending themselves during the Wednesday attack. Afterward, the tourists drove Segura to the Red Cross where he was declared dead. The Red Cross also treated one of the tourists for an anxiety attack, Hernandez said Thursday.

The tourists left on their Carnival cruise ship after the incident and Hernandez said authorities do not plan to press charges against them.

"They were in their right to defend themselves after being held up," he said. [...]

The cruise line said the guests were questioned by local law enforcement and then returned to the ship. The ship's departure from Limon was slightly delayed.

"All of the guests involved, who had booked the cruise together as a group, have opted to continue with their vacation plans. Carnival is providing full support and assistance to the guests," according to the statement. [...]

And I have a feeling they won't have a bit more trouble.

The sad thing is that there are probably some folks who will mourn for the piece of crap who's gotten his just reward and say the old fellow should be prosecuted.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2007

American Idol!

Whew. I sure hope they can sing.

My early favorites, based entirely on looks, Antonella Barba and Leslie Hunt.

Sentimental favorite--Chris Sligh, the only Birmingham auditioner to make it to the top 24, gives hope to all quirky fat guys everywhere.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:56 PM | Comments (2)

Here's a quarter.

Maybe you can buy a clue.

Why Americans are Skeptical of Their Role in Global Warming

I don't know about everyone else, but I look at it like this: 1) There are, despite the continued news stories to the contrary, quite a goodly number of climatologists (with just as many PhDs as the alarmists) who say that the data are not nearly so incontrovertible as they might seem, and that right now it's impossible to say for sure what might be happening. 2) There seem to be quite a few people who are, if not American enemies, then at least adversaries, with an economic motive that seems suspect at best for trying to hamstring American industry while simulataneously letting themselves off the hook for pollution. 3) There seems to be among those who are most vociferous about the peril a certain disdain, bordering on hatred, of anyone who would dare disagree with them on the issue, and their manner of debate has grown increasingly illogical and shrill. 4) The continued stream of panic and despair flows most strongly from those in the news media and from politicians. While I realize some people implicitly trust anything said by members of the media and politicians, I tend to look at it with a bit more circumspection. 5) Within recorded human history, the continents were covered with sheets of ice. These sheets of ice melted due to an increase in the Earth's temperature. It's quite possible that there were no factories or SUVs around when it happened, making it seem very likely that the last batch of global warming was possibly a natural phenomenon. 6) Further back in the geological record, it is evident that nearly the entire Earth was covered in tropical forests, and sometime later, it cooled off enough to create great huge sheets of ice nearly down to the tropics. Once again, the cooling-off happened before Halliburton was founded, and before America was ruined by greedy white people, meaning that possibly, THAT climatic event was ALSO maybe the result of a natural phenomenon.

SO then, the way I see it, the Earth may be getting hotter now.

Or not.

It could be caused by man.

Or not.

It's definitely being loudly trumpeted as fact by the press and the politicians, both of whom might have a financial stake in the controversy. And both of whom in the past have exhibited a level of collective intelligence and savvy approaching that of a common flea.

Pardon, then, my scepticsm.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:48 PM | Comments (4)

February 19, 2007

Purely hypothetically, mind you.

But let's say I was a security guard sitting in a drafty basement watching a door no one uses, and maybe I feel, I don't know, maybe not Jack Bauer-ish enough. I don't think I would try to remedy that by clipping my big, heavy, bulky two-way radio to the epaulette of my shirt. Because if I did that, no one would think it was cool, because the radio would cause my shirt to sag down funny at the shoulder, and second, it really doesn't look anything like those neato handheld microphones that cops have clipped to their shirts.

Hypothetically.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

Share the Road

Or at least don't drive beyond your abilities, or you might make one of my lanky female friends into a greasy spot.

I enjoy a good drive as much as the next guy, and I sometimes do get peeved that there are these silly spindly Spandex-clad persons daring to claim part of the roadway, but I can guarantee you, you do NOT want to wind up in the pokey for vehicular homicide. Drive safely, and that means watching out for anyone or anything on the road that's a hazard, and not trying to prove your boy racer skills on a public thoroughfare.

Glad no one got hurt, Miss Beth.

(And no, I have no idea what a Terry Butterfly is, but it sounds like fun.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

Hey, did anyone have today marked...

...for the "Steel Coil Falling Off A Truck" pool? Yep--got another one on the loose: Another coil falls on roadway.

Maybe if they made steel coils out of marshmallow it wouldn't tear things up so badly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

A word of advice.

Say you're an unstable declining female pop star/mother of two, and you've got a weak chin to begin with, and then a few Pop-Tart induced pounds causing your already weak chin to be a weak double chin, and you don't have any cheekbones, and your eyes are too closely set, well, shaving off all your hair is not going to be a good look for you.

Now I like girls with hair, but there are a few out there with good cheek- and jaw definition who can pull this look off. Sigourney Weaver, Demi Moore, Natalie Portman, and Sinead O'Connor come to mind--all of them have a certain sharpness and prominence to their facial features that can play against the severity of a shaved head.

Without that, you chance winding up looking like you have a big toe sitting on your shoulders.

Oh, and find some better friends, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (10)

February 16, 2007

Wow.

'Auto News': GM in Talks to Buy Chrysler

I mean, wow. I can't see how this would be good for GM, other than simply to make it bigger, but maybe there's something I'm missing. Could be they want the Jeep division, which is one of the oddest players in automobiledom, having gone through ownership by Willys, Kaiser, Kaiser-Fraser-Nash, AMC, Chrysler, and DaimlerChrysler over the years. I can't imagine there being a place for the other parts of the corporation within GM, but I guess there's weirder things out there. Such as (as the article also notes) when GM had a controlling stake in Fiat, and that nearly killed them.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)

Another one bites the dust.

Yet another in a long string of local Birmingham companies bought out--Spanish bank to buy Compass in blockbuster deal.

I guess that's the price of success, but the one thing that's always sorta nice about living in a sorta big city is the number of large local players, whether they be banks or restaurants or department stores or grocery stores. But once they get big enough, they become prime targets for getting bought out by the multinational folks, and there's always a little bit of local service and pride and flavor that gets lost.

Oh well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:36 AM | Comments (6)

February 15, 2007

When I...

...read stories like this, it makes me soooo glad I work in a mindless bureaucracy, because no one around here tries to take credit for anything.

Oh, sure, that's because nothing ever gets done, but hey.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

He's no Uncle Milton...

China sentences man to death in ant case

BEIJING - A Chinese business executive was sentenced to death for swindling $385 million from investors in a bogus ant-breeding scheme, a court official said Thursday. [...]

Okay, it's wrong to steal, but you kinda have to admire anyone who can create a $385,000,000 pissmire-based enterprise.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

And as I predicted...

'Idol' announces the 24 semi-finalists

...no one from Alabama this time--at least that anyone is willing to admit to. There are a few from the Birmingham audition, but I imagine they'll get booted pretty quickly. Didn't really get to see any of it because of church last night, but from what I could tell this looks like the year that a guy will win.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

What a load of crap.

Hybrid cars dangerously quiet for pedestrians: US blind group

WASHINGTON (AFP) - An association of blind Americans has warned that cars with hybrid engines using electricy and fuel are dangerously too quiet for pedestrians.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) said hybrid cars pose a risk to the blind, children, the elderly, cyclists and distracted pedestrians.

The group said it conducted tests with blind people.

"We had the car drive by in different situations, to see wether or not people could hear it and use the sound of the car to safely cross the street, and they could not. The car was just silent," NFB spokesman John Pare told AFP.

Pare said NFB does not want to add to noise pollution, but hybrid cars should not be less noisy than other cars.

Chris Danielsen, a 36-year-old NFB member, said up to 30 people took part in tests on a side street and in an alleyway with a Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic.

"We all stood on the side of the street and the idea was to raise your hand as you heard the car approach," Danielsen said.

"We generally couldn't sense that it was there right in front of us, which of course, if we had been standing in the road, would have been running right over us," he said.

"By the time anybody detected it, if we had actually been standing in the road, it would have taken out three or four people." [...]

Apparently being blind also requires you to become an idiot.

Look, there are gasoline-engined cars out there that idle quietly enough (especially luxury makes) to not make enough sound for a person with regular hearing to know they're running. And the test? Good grief, it was bogus on the very face of it--why not test a variety of cars to see when the blind people could hear them? And test them on a street instead of an alley.

A thing you have to remember is that something travelling toward you is going to have a higher pitch to it due to the Doppler effect which can make it harder to hear, and if you combine that fact with the lack of sound coming from a quiet gas burner running on a smooth road with the typical ambient noise you get in an urban environment, you'd be hard-pressed even if you've got a Superman-level of hearing to know anything's coming.

I'm sure their heart's in the right place--and I don't want people getting mowed down either--but the idea that "hybrid cars should not be less noisy than other cars," is idiotic on the face of it, because although there are standards for the maximum amount of noise a car should make, there is no minimum standard.

Vehicle safety requires that drivers be alert for hapless pedestrians, that pedestrians be alert for inattentive drivers, and that pedestrians with disabilities understand the special precautions they need to use to navigate the world.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:29 PM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2007

Frank J. says such silly things.

Most of the time.

But every so often, things like this slip in, and it's not the least bit silly, and it's exactly correct.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

Good news.

A first: No firearms fatalities in Alabama this deer season

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) State conservation officials announced Tuesday there were no firearms or tree stand-related fatalities this past deer season, marking the first time no deaths were reported since records began being kept in 1973.

Alabama's hunting incident rate has decreased since the mandatory hunter education program was implemented in 1993, the agency said in a statement. It cautioned hunters to continue using safe hunting practices during other game seasons that continue through April. [...]

And I bet this will finally put an end to chatter from the open-minded, diversity-loving sorts that everyone who hunts here is a drunken deranged dimbulb redneck indiscriminately shooting anything that moves.

Right?

Sure it will.

There were still some non-fatal accidents, so there's still some room for improvement, but nonetheless, that's welcome news, and hopefully will continue on for many years to come.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:27 AM | Comments (2)

Like clockwork.

Another truck spills a steel coil on Birmingham interstate

I think it's time to start loading these things flat. It's a pain to have to do that because of the extra steps necessary to lay them down and pick them up from a flat position, but this is getting ridiculous. The article says 24 have fallen over the past twenty years, and you figure it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:16 AM | Comments (2)

February 12, 2007

Billy Wigglestick Review

Okay, I realize I'm not one of your real cultured type folks. Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough to understand the subtle nuances of theater that those whose veins run thick with greasepaint are able to discern.

I DO know that it would be unwise to say too much about the production, for fear of opening myself up to defamation lawsuits. So I will do my best, within the bounds of good taste, to point out the good of the play, and will ignore the bad.

The young lady who played Kate and the fellow who played Petruchio were both good.

This concludes my review.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2007

I don't have a dog in this fight.

They can do whatever they want to each other and I don't care, but still, this is just a bit much: LSU coach directs expletive at Tide

IAN R. RAPOPORT
News staff writer

LSU football coach Les Miles used an expletive in referring to the University of Alabama at a public signing day party attended by several thousand people in Baton Rouge.

"We're looking forward to playing Florida," Miles told a large crowd at Wednesday's Bayou Bash recruiting party at the Baton Rouge (La.) River Center. "We're looking forward to playing Auburn. But we have a new rival in f--ing Alabama." [...]

Okay, look--I've been in enough locker rooms that this isn't a particularly shocking word, and to my detriment in the past I have been known to make effective use of its root form as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb, preposition, interjection, interrogatory, and several other things I'm not sure the name of.

But come on--was this really the time or place for talk like that? I know there's bad blood down in Baton Rouge over Saban's hiring at Alabama as well as some of his own recent comments where he used a slang name for Cajuns.

But, still, couldn't we have a bit less, Les? Yes, I realize there's a lot of crudeness that comes spilling out of the pop culture spigot every day, but not everyone is so enamored of it as you might think, and especially when it's there in front of a large, mixed-age crowd.

There was a time when a man who uttered such things would have been backhanded across the mouth. I don't guess I'm to the point of caring to see a return of such things, but still it would be nice to have at least a little sense of decorum, and cognizance of time and place and appropriateness.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:31 PM | Comments (2)

February 08, 2007

Awww!

Little kids are so innocent of the ways of the world.

Otherwise, they'd understand it's better to keep him, set him up in a law practice, and let him bring in a steady stream of income, rather than selling him!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

Oh, I know I'm no Mr. Blackwell, but still...

From Miss Janis who came by it via Miss Ann, this article from Rooters: Hillary Clinton should ditch the trousers: Versace

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should tap into her feminine side and wear dresses and skirts instead of trousers, fashion designer Donatella Versace was quoted as saying on Thursday.

"I can understand (trousers) are comfortable but she's a woman and she is allowed to show that," Versace told Germany's weekly newspaper Die Zeit in an interview. [...]

Now, in the past I admit I have been more than unkind to New York's junior senator regarding her attractiveness, and most especially her fireplug-like lower legs (which indeed require covering to keep from damaging the retinas of unsuspecting bystanders).

But I have to say that besides me, there is probably only one other person LESS qualified to give advice to someone else regarding external appearance...


versace.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:18 AM | Comments (8)

February 06, 2007

Hmm.

Wal-Mart launches movie download store

I wonder if there's an old guy at the door and a parking lot full of shopping carts?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Ford to rename 500 model the Taurus

DETROIT (AP) Ford Motor Co. will rename its slow-selling Five Hundred model the Taurus, a name that Ford had previously used for a car that became the nation's top-seller, company officials said Tuesday.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press on the condition they not be identified by name because the official announcement had not yet been made.

The Taurus, considered by some the car that saved Ford, revolutionized the way autos look and feel when it was introduced in 1985. The Dearborn-based automaker ceased production of the Taurus in October after 21 years and sales of nearly 7 million, perplexing many industry analysts and former Ford executives who said the brand name had great value. [...]

Well, first of all, why is it the public doesn't have a right to know who this source was!? I DEMAND THAT WE KNOW IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY!!

Anyway, as for the car, it's a little late for that. The 500 has been selling slowly because it's never been clear what it's supposed to be. A replacement for the Crown Vic? Nope. A replacement for the Taurus? Nope--that's supposed to be the Fusion, which is sorta slotted in the same size as the late Contour. It's not a bad car at all from what all I've seen about it (although I've seen the interior up close and it reminded me of my '82 F-100 in terms of design integrity and materials), but again, what it's supposed to be is unclear. As for Taurus, it was a groundbreaking car that was damaged by the faddish ovaloid restyling, and not only never recovered, Ford ceased to invest in keeping it fresh.

Although "many industry analysts and former Ford executives who said the brand name had great value" might be technically correct, it's probably worth considering that the Taurus wound up its life being a great brand if you ran a rental car company or were a fleet buyer. Profitable? Probably. Not that great as a way to burnish your reputation as a maker of high quality, high value automobiles, though.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:10 AM | Comments (2)

January 31, 2007

Whew.

Well, thank goodness Birmingham came off pretty well last night, although I could do nothing but cringe that the first contestant was an Auburn student. In addition to being a crappy singer she had a crappy attitude. Sorry, chick, but you're not cute enough or smart enough to cover up your lack of talent. AND FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, please quit telling people you're from Auburn!

As my concrete formwork professor Vaughn Timberlake, a.k.a., "World's Most Brilliant Man," used to say, "If you have a formwork blowout, whatever you do, be sure and tell them you graduated from Georgia Tech."

Anyway, since I have to take off early today to go let the furnace repair guy in the house, I have to get to work and not mess around here and play all day.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:18 AM | Comments (1)

January 30, 2007

It's like Mama always said--

"Be sure to put on clean underwear and make sure your socks don't have holes."

I sure hope they didn't make him take his pants off to tour that mosque.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:12 PM | Comments (3)

Oh boy!

American Idol tonight, and it'll be comin' atcha from da 'HAM!

I am torn. Birmingham is home to the world's largest inferiority complex, so on one hand I would like to beg everyone not to believe just how bad our lunatics are. Then again, maybe it's time for us to move on and embrace our alternate-reality citizens and revel in the attention we'll get.

I will, however, again make the prediction that no one from Alabama and no one from the Birmingham auditions will make it past the final twelve or so. I will also predict, though, that the local Fox station will find SOME connection between whoever the finalists turn out to be and someone in the viewing area in order to keep everyone tuning in and voting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:51 AM | Comments (11)

Why I don't like Hollywood.

Well, just one reason for right now, but basically it's that whole Titanic/Pearl Harbor genre of vast overblown richly photographed splendor of a historical event and the players are all the hot young starz of today and don't seem to look or act like anything more than if they're playing dress-up. Nothing wrong with dress-up, per se, but I keep wondering why the directors keep trying to pay so much attention to set design and such, when the screenwriters have people acting and saying things with modern tone and attitude. It just doesn't fit.

Case in point is this new movie they're flogging about World War I with all this spectactular aerial dogfight going on in the trailer, and then some kid saying something like, 'I watch you guys and blah blah blah...' That word "guys" just brings everything to a screeching halt every time I hear it said. It just sounds wrong. You might as well hear him say "let's rock and ROLL, dudes!" as to hear that.

Just to satisfy myself, I checked the online version of the 1913 Webster's dictionary and as I suspected, the word at that time still hadn't taken on its modern sense of "people" or even the slightly older sense of "male people," but was still something more akin to "weirdo."

Anyway, it's a minor thing, I suppose, but it sure does get in the way of the willing suspension of disbelief that you have to have for a movie to really work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2007

Well, you know, if it's not prepared just right, that can happen.

Fleischer: Plame came up over lunch

Month didn't have an R in it, either.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2007

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!

To all the Antipodes, and to the two Bruces I have on my blogroll--Tim Blair and Kitchen Hand--best wishes for you and your happy island/continent/nation!

It is on this date that Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788 and was met by a roving band of violent biker-type guys with weird punk-rock hair and sawed-off shotguns and hockey masks and high-powered junk cars and a blonde Tina Turner. After fighting them off with a stampede of kangaroos, Captain Phillip founded the colony of New South Wales, which was named after Old South Wales, which was next door to Old North Wales, both of which were named for a mythical land called Llywehitlkghxckvhhwiillrfvlvaheysdgh.

Australians celebrate the holiday much as Americans celebrate the 4th of July, with department store sales, much public drunkeness, and random celebratory gunfire. (Although due to Australia's draconian gun laws, the celebratory gunfire has been replaced with people pointing into the sky and quietly saying "kapowww.")

You can find out more about this special fair dinkum day here at the official government website, which was developed some years after 1788.

AND as I always feel compelled to do, I want to personally thank every Australian for the simple kindness extended to my father by some of your young fighting men. In 1944, a country boy from Praco, Alabama found himself in Hollandia, New Guinea in the service of the United States Navy, which is where he found out he liked those Australian fellows pretty well. As I've written about in the past, part of surviving in the area included stealing food from wherever you could (U.S. Army rations were highly prized) so it was a treat when a group of Australian soldiers invited my dad and his buddies to share some of their vittles. A goodly portion of this food was canned mutton. Although this seemed a big treat to the Aussie fellows, I think the fact that we never bought lamb in our house when I was growing up was the direct result of the effect of canned mutton on my dad. He still liked Australians, though.

So, thanks, Australia!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:13 AM | Comments (4)

January 25, 2007

January 24, 2007

That was just all confusing.

I hate it when parlimentary procedure breaks down and everyone starts having their own little sidebar discussion and then six months later when something gets built and they don't understand why it looks that way and you try to tell them that the people were up in front talking about it and when it came time to vote that everyone approved it and if the complainer-person didn't hear it then maybe if they'd shut up their yapping for about five seconds they would have heard the architect say it was going have a giant gilded turd on top.

Focus, people. Focus. And shut up.

I have a feeling their are going to be several puzzled people in about six months.

Oh well.

Hey, did anyone know the President was going to give a speech last night!?

I did. And I actually thought it was really pretty good, although I have my doubts as to the actual consequences of it. Sure, you might like to think none of them voted for defeat, but I have to say in the back of my mind I think there probably are more than a handful who'd like nothing better than to see America perpetually on her knees. Hey, a little self-deprecation is good to keep you humble, but self-loathing is a dangerous thing for a person or a country.

Oddest thing? Well, I was on the computer getting some stuff for Rebecca for a class, and decided to see who all was live-blogging the speech. Quite a few. But you silly bloggers, with your supposed superiority of timeliness, YOU think live-blogging something is just the bee's knees, DON'T YOU!?! Sure you do. But you have NOTHING when it comes to our beloved overlords of the Fourth Estate, who not only are smarter and wiser than you, they can also SEE INTO THE FUTURE!!

I noticed at about 8:35 Central time an odd past-tense headline on the Yahoo! main page. Clicking on it, I found a column by AP writer Terence Hunt, which told me in exacting detail what was going to happen in the speech, AND in the Democratic response, BEFORE IT EVEN HAPPENED!!

Who could ever hope to compete against such omniscience!?

Now that Yahoo! News link has been used by a different story, but I did find that several other news outlets had that original version, such as this Fox station out in Denver. Note that the time stamp says it was created Tuesday, 23 Jan 2007, at 7:24 PM MST, which would be about 8:24 Central, 9:24 Eastern. About halfway through the speech. Now from this highly prescient article, while the speech was still being speeched, we find out that "Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, also took issue with Bush," and that he even supplied a handy quote for our future-seeing reporter. We later on find out that, "Bush said his approach had the best chance to succeed, but clearly many lawmakers -- and overwhelming majority of Americans -- disagreed." Amazing how the writer can know that an overwhelming majority disagreed, even before the speech was over!

Now, I know, and you know, and every other person in the world knows, that reporters have a copy of the speech beforehand. They have a copy of the opposing response beforehand. There's nothing wrong with writing a story that mentions those things and gives a broad outline of what's contained in both texts.

But it sorta seems silly to sit there, and hit the "Send" button on a story that YOU KNOW you wrote far ahead of time, with your editorial slant already preprogrammed in, and pretend that you're writing after the fact. Yes, I know it happens, that it's common newsroom practice, but that still doesn't explain the necessity of the pretense.

Please, Associated Press and all the rest of you goomers, just go ahead and admit your viewpoint is already made up, and that you invent whatever you have to in order to make it fit your framing of the story.

Iraqi police captain Jamil Hussein would want it to be that way.

comical_ali.jpg

Anyway, I don't guess I should be too concerned. I mean, who believes what you read online anyway, right?

Right.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:58 AM | Comments (6)

January 23, 2007

I know I complain about work too much.

Especially when I read stuff like this.

::marking "become abalone diver" off to-do list::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2007

American Idol Recap!

I really don't think that there is going to be a single contestant from anywhere near Alabama after the first big cull when they get to Hollywood. I just think everyone will do whatever they can to vote against, rather than for, just to keep us from getting too uppity. BUT, despite that, it's nice that they did decide to conduct auditions here in Birmingham, and as for that, I have but one hope.

That being that it doesn't turn out to be like Minneapolis or Seattle, which apparently have the highest per capita amount of people who are both tone deaf AND delusional. Please, Birmingham--I hope you weren't this terrible.

Limey Boy seemed particularly peeved last evening about the abysmal quality of the folks trying out, and I have to say that for once, I was sorta peeved as well. I like the horrible folks in measured doses, but I think it's depressing when so very many of the people are so very bad, and you try to fill up a two-hour show with them. That's just too much bad. And worse is that the good ones weren't that good.

Why, it's enough to make me want to wash down a fistful of OxyContin with a liter of vodka and clap like a seal!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:16 AM | Comments (5)

January 16, 2007

I might have mentioned this before...

...but one of my many failings is that I like girls. A lot.

But you know, despite this, sometimes I just have to say--

Ick.

Look--you're a multimillionaire. BUY SOME FOOD AND EAT IT!

By the way, I've heard of washboard abs, but never a washboard chest.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2007

Well, okay, so she's...

...dressed up in the typical ugly Brit military uniform, and she appears to have a nice set of Captain Kirk sideburns going for her, and she's more of the type of gal one would describe as "handsome," but still, it seems a bit much for AFP to feel it necessary to indicate in the caption that she's the one in the center. I mean, come on--the guy on the left has a beard for crying out loud! I suppose the guy on the right looks a bit much like Camilla, but still, I think I could pick out the girl in the bunch.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Remember...

...as a very wise blogger has noted, "not antiwar, just on the other side."

You know, if your average Protestor-American would devote even a tenth of the effort actually being a productive citizen rather than their usual "work" of philosophical onanism, the world would be a lot better place.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2007

Too bad.

Over-the-counter Viagra sales unlikely

I figure if medication such as this were available over the counter, my volume of spam e-mail would be cut by about 90%.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2007

Book Review Time!

As I mentioned sometime ago, I got a Barnes and Noble gift card from my brother- and sister-in-law, and loaded up on a bunch of bargain books online, and have managed to look at a few of them.

Ones read so far:

Allied Aircraft Art Gosh, what a crappy book. I love nose art, and thought a modern take on it would be interesting. It probably would have been, had the compiler/author taken the time to not show ugly, amateurish, half-completed work. If you're going to have nose art photos, every one doesn't have to be a Vargas girl, but whatever it is ought to all at least be well done. It would also have been good had it been printed on better quality paper. And if the photographs had been even slightly clear. And if the author had resisted the urge to "write" captions, most of which were lame attempts at humor, or otherwise uninformative. Not recommended.

Art Nouveau: An Anthology of Design and Illustration from the Studio I like the whole fin de sicle, Art Nouveau period of art and architecture, and enjoy graphic art picture books. This one was okay, but there was no organization to it, and some of the reproductions were muddy or grayish, rather than being in crisp black and white. The pulpy paper didn't help anything. Found a couple of interesting bookplates and such, but overall it was a bit thin, and less than compelling in its offering of examples. But it was only a buck, so I can't complain.

A Guide to the Most Disgusting, Hideous, Inept, and Dangerous People, Places and things on Earth (World's Worst Series) A breezy look at just what the title says. Relatively interesting, although most of this stuff I've already read online in various places, mostly Snopes.com or The Straight Dope. Eh. Whatever.

May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor It's been a long time since I read any sort of anthology, especially one devoted to humor. Humor has changed, let me tell you. The book is VERY Web-oriented, with many stories and quips drawn from the Internet or Internet life or things peculiar to the computer medium, such as a "news crawl" of silly asides printed every few pages or so. The only thing is that many of the authors are of the "I Am a Humorist, and What I Write is Humorous, and Therefore I Must Write Much of It In Order to Maximize My Funniness" school of writing, and go on and on and on with the same not-really-that-funny, but-I-saw-something-like-it-on-the-Internet-so-it-must-be-funny premise. Virtual humor, I suppose. Not really funny, but virtually so. I kept wishing for a mouse so I could scroll through all that crap.

Second, aside from the odd homage paid by so many of the writers to the pervasiveness of the online world, there is just the general quality of the writing. So much of it seems so strained. Look, we've got enough angstiness and neurotica in regular literature, so don't feel like you've got to beat the crap out of lighter topics, too. Relax a little. And again, be brief.

Anyway, I'm about a quarter of the way through, and so far the only thing that I felt was actually humorous was written by Roy Blount, Jr. Go figure. There's a lot more left, including P.J. O'Rourke, so I know I'll find something else funny. I hope. Anyway, it was only two bucks, so hey.

The final two I got I haven't started yet--The Wide Net and Other Stories and Twenty-Five Yards of War: The Extraordinary Courage of Ordinary Men in World War II.

So there you are.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2007

Once more with the bold effort to reach out to the youth market!

AND to build solid blog traffic with links to hard-hitting stories like THIS!! Britney Spears wants hot career comeback

Going on pantyless drinking binges with sullen clots of stoner hangers-on while your infant children are cared for by strangers certainly sounds like a winning strategy. Then again, until I have personally gone on pantyless drinking binges with sullen clots of stoner hangers-on while my infant children are cared for by strangers, I really can't judge her, now can I?

Of course not.

Yet, still, I am reminded of the words of the dean of Faber College, Vernon Wormer: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:53 PM | Comments (6)

January 04, 2007

Okay, here's something even I realize.

White rappers compete on reality show

This is quite possibly the Super Trifecta of All That's Not Cool--a combination of white people, rap music, and a reality show.

May heaven help us all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:48 PM | Comments (2)

If I'd have built it...

Ga. artwork of 'fragile' Earth collapses

ATLANTA (AP) A million-dollar stone sculpture, intended to remind future generations of the Earth's fragility, made its point a bit early just three months after its unveiling, it collapsed.

The 175-ton "Spaceship Earth" lay in ruins at Kennesaw State University after mysteriously falling to pieces last week.

The engraved phrase "our fragile craft" was still visible amid the debris. [...]

The sculptor is all in a tizzy about it and vows to rebuild it even stronger, but if I had made it, I'd just nonchalantly say "I meant to do that," sorta like when Pee Wee Herman fell off his bike.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:29 AM | Comments (5)

I'll bet you one thing...

DaimlerChrysler wins approval for joint venture in China

...I bet they name it something that doesn't have nearly so many Ls and Rs all run together.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2007

Daytime TV

I predicted sometime in the near past that if I did find an opportunity to watch Rachael Ray's television show, I would find her highly appealing visually, but not aurally.

This is to report that my original hypothesis was accurate. I think I got to watch her three different days, and I have to say the show's much better without sound.

Without cable, there's not much else to watch aside from all the various judge shows. It would be nice if they could liven things up a bit--maybe instead of having burly impassive bailiffs, they could have supermodels or something.

Thank goodness I had too much to do to have to worry too much about what was on.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:46 AM | Comments (5)

In the news...

...I missed most of it. Oh, I tried to keep up with the major happenings, but with being able to spend hardly any time on the computer, I was forced to get my news from the television, and I think we all know how outdated THAT is.

Let's see--Saddam got hung, which is a good thing. How do I know? By looking at the type of people saying it's a bad thing, that's how. He got far better than he deserved--my solution would have been to have left him in that hole and backed a concrete truck up to it and lowered the chute. Second choice would have been to let him go in the manner of Mussolini or Ceausescu.

What else--oh, the passing of Gerald Ford. Despite having had to bear the undying scorn of liberals for the many years of his life after pardoning Richard Nixon, he managed to redeem himself by telling reporters in private conversations that he disagreed with George Bush. Thus, he became in death the most beloved Republican leader ever to grace to Oval Office, a uniter and not a divider, full of wisdom and kindness and intelligence far beyond his simple and humble upbringing.

Or at least according to the press.

I tried to watch the funeral, and for a time was tuned to NBC, but the constant sanctimonious claptrap of Brian Williams and his lackeys about the release of those interviews and about how much different, i.e., better and all around more appropriate, his ceremonies were than those of Ronald Reagan's, well, I just had to turn it on something else. Ford was a good man, and I think his pardon of Nixon was reasonable given the times and the circumstances. I question his foreign policy expertise, based mainly upon his mishandling of the SS Mayaguez hijacking. I don't doubt his sincerity in wishing for his views of the current conflict to be broadcast only after he was gone, but I do doubt he contemplated that they'd be so loudly and persistently trumpted before he was even in the ground. In the end, they served nothing more than to overshadow his passing by giving the press something else shiny and fun to play with.

In other political news--John Edwards is running for President. A man with the ego of a Kennedy, the avarice of a Clinton, the hair of groovy '70s teen icon Bobby Sherman, and the intellectual heft of a Smurf. May God help us all.

In other things--congratulations to everyone's favorite team, the Auburn Tigers for their 17-14 defeat of the dreaded Maize Shuckers of Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. Pretty good game, although Auburn managed to play as they always do, by giving away huge advantages at crucial times through penalties or missed assignments, then relying upon the toe of kicker John Vaughn to keep them just enough ahead to win.

And speaking of football, the Saban to Bama story refuses to die, with everyone who ever wore Crimson and White flying down to Miami with suitcases full of cash to fling at the handsome former coach of LSU. Now that the season's over, and now that it appears Alabama is willing to break the bank to lure him, his protestations throughout the end of last year might grow quiet and he might decide to take the job. I do have to say that if they were going to go crazy-nuts with the money, they would have done better to spend it on Steve Spurrier instead. Saban's a very good coach, but probably not worth more than any other coach in college football. But hey, it's their money, let 'em spend it the way they want.

Weather? Well, it was mostly sunny and warm while I was off, which made being off very much nicer since I could send the kids outside to bother the cat. Who, by the way, got a fuzzy ball on a spring and a feather on a piece of elastic string tied to a plastic twig for Christmas.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:05 AM | Comments (6)

December 22, 2006

Just to set the record straight...

...I have not sought the head coaching job at Alabama, and I have not been contacted by anyone with the University.

And not only that, but: Saban denies Alabama rumors again

This has gotten to be so very comical. Yes, I know coaches have a habit of publicly saying they aren't interested when offers come across the desk, but Saban has been more vocal, more often, about NOT WANTING THIS JOB than anyone I've ever heard of before. Yet, for some reason, folks won't let it drop.

What I can't figure out is why Terry Bowden's name never gets mentioned.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2006

Here it is...

...the tail end of the year, just before the Big Holiday Break, and people STILL want me to go to boring meetings!!

Such indignity!

There should be pipers piping and ladies dancing and maids a'milking on every floor of the building, but NOOOOO! Nothing but a bunch of squirrely bureaucrats.

Hmph.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

And no, it's not "Finally All Tapped Out."

Final 'Harry Potter' title announced.

Now that this is just about done, there'll finally be room for someone new and fresh. I'm thinking about dusting off my manuscript for a character I call Hairy Possum, a young marsupial wizard who with his young school chums fights the evil dreadful honking horror known as Lord Peterbilt. It's chock full of interesting magical things such as the Cloak of Stupidity and the Spell of Feigned Expiration.

Should do pretty well, I think.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2006

And speaking of pilfered documents...

IG report: Berger hid Archive documents

By LARRY MARGASAK
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Former national security adviser Sandy Berger removed classified documents from the National Archives in 2003 and hid them under a construction trailer, the Archives inspector general reported Wednesday.

The report was issued more than a year after Berger pleaded guilty and received a criminal sentence for removal of the documents.

Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that when Berger was confronted by Archives officials about the missing documents, he said it was possible he threw them in his office trash. [...]

Boy, ya gotta love the Clintonianess of that one. Nothing like the liberating effect of what is possible. It is also possible monkey ninjas dropped out of a zeppelin and grabbed them.

The report said that when Berger was reviewing the classified documents in the Archives building a few blocks from the Capitol, employees saw him bending down and fiddling with something white, which could have been paper, around his ankle.

However, Archives employees did not feel at the time there was enough information to confront someone of Berger's stature, the report said.

Brachfeld reported that on one visit, Berger took a break to go outside without an escort.

"In total, during this visit, he removed four documents ... .

"Mr. Berger said he placed the documents under a trailer in an accessible construction area outside Archives 1 (the main Archives building)."

Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

Berger, with the authorization of former President Clinton, was reviewing National Security Council documents on Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, Sudan, and related presidential correspondence. The review was to facilitate Berger's impending testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees.

But of course. Everyone who testifies before House and Senate intelligence committees gets to do those sorts of things, right?

Sure.

Anyway, nothing to see here, folks--move along, please. Move along.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

And speaking of cankles....

Sen. Clinton talks of holiday traditions

[...] But politics wasn't the only topic on the agenda. Clinton also described her family's holiday rituals, noting that they attend church on Christmas Eve and open gifts the following morning.

"We are probably as fanatic about Christmas as anyone you'll meet," Clinton said of her husband, former President Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea. She added that she loved making homemade ornaments and trimming the tree.

"You'd be surprised how crafty she is," host Rosie O'Donnell cracked.

Oh, tee-HEE! That Rosie's just a STITCH!

Anyway, no one has to tell me twice that the Clintons are fanatics about ANYTHING, much less Christmas. I'm sure it's a lovely scene, with a roaring fire of pilfered documents in the fireplace, chubby needy interns nestled all snug in Bill's bed (which of course always leads New York's junior Senator to break out the good crockery from the china cabinet for the annual Angry Tossing of Things at Bill's Head)...

Ahh, good times--good times.

As for the article itself, good night a'living, how cloyingly self-patronizing can any one person be!?

Oh, by the way--this article has nothing to do with the above commentary.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2006

Difficult to believe.

You know, you have to wonder if there isn't something better in the news to cover than this.

Does everything have to be a controversy? Or a conspiracy?

And reporters wonder why people have such a poor opinion of them. Then again, maybe they don't wonder.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2006

December 11, 2006

Awwww, someone needs one of these..

tiniest violin.jpg

Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph laments Supermax prison conditions

FLORENCE, Colo. (AP) Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph laments in a series of letters that the caged atmosphere of the federal prison where is spending the rest of his life is designed to drive him insane. [...]

As they say down home, "Mighty short drive."

The psychopathic little twit's getting better than he deserves.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:21 AM | Comments (2)

Well, why should his last one...

...be any different from any other one? Annan criticizes U.S. in farewell speech

And let's face it--it's much easier to criticize the US than, well, I don't know, maybe, do something effective. Interesting he's giving the speech at the Truman Center. I have a feeling Truman--as big a believer in the UN if there ever was one--would have a few choice adjectives to describe Mr. Annan's tenure. To Mr. Annan's credit, probably only about 3/4 of them would be overtly scatalogical in nature.

Anyway, I'm sure Mr. Annan will have no difficulty finding gainful employment in the private sector as a corruption and graft facilitator. Good luck and best wishes, sir!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:35 AM | Comments (2)

December 08, 2006

That was some dame.

Jeane Kirkpatrick, ex-ambassador, dies

I have long harbored great admiration for this woman, and for her contributions to promoting freedom. She was tough, blunt, unashamedly pro-American, and let's face it--darned sexy.

sexy.jpg

You might think I'm joking, but I'm not--I'd rather have one of her than a roomful of Britneys. (Unless there was some way to do a brain transplant from Jeane to Britney or something, then I'd probably reconsider. Maybe.)

Hard to believe that the woman so identified with Reagan's anti-Soviet views started out her political life as a Marxist, according to the article. As for her later views, they are probably best put forward in her address to the 1984 Republican National Convention in San Diego:

[...] I am grateful that you should invite me, a lifelong Democrat. On the other hand, I realize that you are inviting many lifelong Democrats to join this common cause.

I want to begin tonight by quoting the speech of the president whom I very greatly admire, Harry Truman, who once said to the Congress:

"The United States has become great because we, as a people, have been able to work together for great objectives even while differing about details."

He continued:

"The elements of our strength are many. They include our democratic government, our economic system, our great natural resources. But, the basic source of our strength is spiritual. We believe in the dignity of man."

That's the way Democratic presidents and presidential candidates used to talk about America.

These were the men who developed NATO, who developed the Marshall Plan, who devised the Alliance for Progress.

They were not afraid to be resolute nor ashamed to speak of America as a great nation. They didn't doubt that we must be strong enough to protect ourselves and to help others.

They didn't imagine that America should depend for its very survival on the promises of its adversaries.

They happily assumed the responsibilities of freedom.

I am not alone in noticing that the San Francisco Democrats took a very different approach. [...]

And 23 years later, they seem no different, other than to be even more stridently anti-American. As she so famously said then, "But then, somehow, they always blame America first."

We've lost a wonderful and courageous American, but her words and ideas and influence will, hopefully, live on for many more years.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2006

What a story.

There sure are a lot of highly motivated and very well-placed nutjobs out there in this world.

[...] Gus Dimitrelos and Kevin Levy, of the Alabama Computer Forensics Laboratory in Spanish Fort, cracked one of the year's most high-profile identity theft cases. The team, paid for with federal funds administered by the state of Alabama, works with prosecutors and police to solve crimes.

In September, they began tracking down the woman who had hacked her way into the computer and phone records of Chester Bennington the frontman for the band Linkin Park and wife Talinda, Dimitrelos said.

The case gained national attention last month when Devon L. Townsend was arrested at Sandia National Laboratories, a Department of Energy nuclear testing site on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico where she worked. She admitted to accessing personal information of the famous pair since January, Dimitrelos said. [...]

Read the whole thing.

Someone needed a bit more supervision...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

I believe this is what they mean when they say...

"Truthiness is stranger than fictition."

Words simply are inadequite to describe my feelings upon reading this. Other than to rememberate another very famous saying: "A wasted mind is a terrible thing."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:07 PM | Comments (3)

December 05, 2006

You know, we need to thank the Brits.

Much has been written recently about one of our citizens, a motion picture actress (descended from a mother who is herself an acting person) who spends time there in Great Britain attempting to escape the burden of having to talk about money at dinnertime.

It seems she much prefers instead to pretend to be part of the Soddy Olde upper class who never talk about so crass as money, where it's taken as a given that if you are able to afford homes in America and Britain and expensive pretty things, that you obviously must have money. Which is different than here in the awful United States, where even people without money seem to be able to live it up pretty well and don't seem to feel the need to stay within their class strata. Always aping our betters, we are.

Wretched souls.

ANYway, this damsel appreciates a place where the lower classes have some decency and mind their place, and where the rich do the same, and everyone is happy and civilized, and she is free to speak without irony of her disdain of capitalism, despite the fact that capitalism itself is how she is able to pretend to be part of the English upper class. Oh, sure, she says now that the Portuguese paper mistranslated her, but as others have noted, she said the exact same thing back in February of this year to The Guardian, (apparently some sort of newpaper there in the UK which enjoys interviewing Americans who hate America).

[...] "I love the English way, which is not as capitalistic as it is in America. People don't talk about work and money; they talk about interesting things at dinner parties. I like living here because I don't tap into the bad side of American psychology, which is 'I'm not achieving enough, I'm not making enough, I'm not at the top of the pile.' It's just kind of like, I am." [...]

Wow--just like Popeye! Or God!

Well, maybe she was mistranslated there, as well. Being an American, English is obviously not her first language, and so surely she was misinterpreted. Or maybe it was simply a botched joke. Seems to be a lot of that going around amongst all of the better sorts of people.

IN ANY EVENT, I think it is high time Americans gave thanks to the United Kingdom for allowing us to purge ourselves--much as a willowy starlet upchucking the latest creation from a preciously trendy SoHo eatery--of our chuckleheaded celebrities. Only a kind and decent, and yes, civilized, people could ever put up with such inane chittering and act as gracioius hosts and caretakers, protecting her from mockery and derision.

Please, carry on!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

So, you think YOU'RE angry?!

Well, what better place than here to blow off steam? No one likes it when you're angry and pouty, so take a second to tell everyone what's got you all hot and bothered. Sure, folks blessed to live in modern industrialized countries really have nothing worthwhile to complain about, but when has that ever stopped anyone!? NEVER!! Which is probably something worth complaining about, right? RIGHT!!

ANYway, what's your beef?

Me?

You want to hear MY beef?

Well, today, I have a whole herd of beeves.

Yesterday? The Volvo wouldn't crank. Not right off, at least. I think I've got a idle control valve about to sail off to Valhalla, and when it's really cold outside, the first crank has been just barely been enough to get the engine turning. It idles way down low for almost a minute before it finally picks up and gets to a normal idle speed. But yesterday, I was just about to abandon it on the driveway because I couldn't get it cranked. Finally managed after about five minutes of running down the battery. Grr.

Last night?

Well, as you know, I love my wife, so obviously this is all somehow my fault.

She got the idea it would be fun to get a little collar with bells and tiny Santa hat and put them on Lightning, The World's Most Expensive Free Kitten, and take a picture of him in front of the tree. Apparently, the idea that L,TWMEFK is an actual sentient life form and might have an objection to being treated as a photo prop seems not to have occurred to anyone.

Other than me.

But being that I'm a good husband and doting father, when it came time to wrangle the kitty and get him bedecked, I came downstairs to help. Rebecca had gone and gotten him and had him held in her arms wrapped in swaddling clothes (i.e., a towel). Mom was gamely trying to put the bell collar on him, but he seemed not to like this. So I took the kitty from Rebecca lest she get scratched. Which meant I got scratched--right across the back of the hand. But by golly, that collar got on him!

And then he jumped down and ran upstairs and I had to get him.

This, combined with Catherine's squealing and the general mayhem usually present in the house made Kitty somewhat nervous. But I love my wife, and wanted her special picture to somehow get taken, lest I suffer the blame for that failure.

Having gotten the kitten (all five hundred pounds of him) back in my arms, she began trying to attach the small Santa hat around his head. Cats don't really like such treatment, believe it or not. "NO HAT!!" I said in my usual calm and soothing voice. So it was decided by others to simply take a picture of him with his collar on.

While Daddy held him aloft in front of the tree.

Which cats don't like.

And a displeasure he had, which he demonstrated by taking a swipe at my fingers, connecting with the end of one and opening a gusher.

Well, time to put Mr. Kitty back outside and endure the frosty dysfun that comes when the wife (whom I love) has a project that doesn't go off as planned. And with the added bonus of said project being undertaken during that peculiar time that women monthly undergo.

When they are already rather on edge and looking for any excuse to feel pitiful and insignificant and defensive and willing to lash out at anyone who would dare suggest it might not have been such a good idea to dress Kitty in a costume.

SO, all that was my fault, and I'm angry about my lack of sensitivity and my brutishness and mean-spiritedness and lack of concern about the feelings of others and not being a better cat herder and a host of other things.

OTHER THINGS? Well, there was a wreck this morning at 31st Street, and by the time I got there, the cop directing traffic was having a nice chat with one of the collisionists. Which would have been better done OFF TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD so as to block fewer lanes of traffic. OH--and to the trail of four cars that were drafting behind an ambulance passed me (and a host of other disgruntled drivers who had been courteous enough to pull over) that had been slowly making its way through the traffic tangle, I wish you nothing but the worst for the rest of the day.

AND ANOTHER THING--the local ballet company is doing a production of The Nutcracker, and their radio commercial has one jarring line in it, and no one seems willing to correct it. "...blah blah magical blah blah holiday blah--you will cease to be amazed!--blah blah..."

"You will cease to be amazed"!? NEVER cease, dimwits! The bad thing? The script had to be written, it had to be reviewed and approved by the ballet folks, it had to be READ by the narrator, and now it's been on for at least a couple of weeks, and yet no one thought this sounded weird, and no one has said anything to that would cause anyone to have enough shame to pull the ad and correct it?! Look, I realize ballet doesn't require a whole lot of grammar, but still, you'd think someone would be a bit more on the ball about this.

FINALLY, this was sent to me by Jimbo Smith yesterday, a story about the conviction of a sailor who deserted and tried to sell secret information. He's a despicable little worm, and frankly I would like nothing better than to see him hung from the yardarm or keel-hauled until he was dead, but the thing that caught my eye was this little blurb--

[...] Weinmann told the judge, who had yet to accept the plea, that he deserted the Navy in July 2005 because the service did not meet his expectations.

"I had a very idealized view, basically what amounted to a World War II Navy," Weinmann told the judge. [...]

You miserable, ignorant, stupid, disgraceful piece of garbage.

We got anyone else out there in the military who feels this way? I tell you what, you put your little whiny complaints in here with all the rest of our whiny complaints, and get over it! Darn sight better than selling out your fellow citizens.

ANYWAY--what's your complaint du jour?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:48 AM | Comments (24)

December 04, 2006

Oh, and by the way.

They said it feels like 11 degrees or so with the wind chill this morning. I hereby lodge a formal protest and demand that Al Gore allow global warming to continue and quit bothering it so that I don't have to nearly freeze to death just getting to work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:22 AM | Comments (2)

December 01, 2006

That'll leave a mark.

Chef Tony sends a link to a series of photos of an F-18 coming in for a little bit of a rough landing down in Pensacola a few weeks back.

I guess one of your kids knocking off a rearview mirror sorta pales in comparison, huh?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2006

eBay Stuff!

Despite the fact that a lot of people seem to have trouble with eBay sellers, I am happy to report that I am happy with yet another selection from one of the sellers there.

I can't remember if I posted on this, but a couple of weeks ago, Oldest managed to rip the passenger side mirror off the Focus before even getting out of the neighborhood. She reported it to my executive officer by telling her NOT that she had hit something, but only that "THE MIRROR IS HANGING OFF THE SIDE OF THE CAR!!"

They just do that occasionally, perhaps.

Anyway, after I got home, the big scuff mark on the front side of the mirror indicated that gravity had received some assistance in pulling the mirror from its mooring in the form of a solid object of some sort, about mirror high. Of course, Oldest could not even BEGIN to think HOW this could have happened, insisting that she couldn't remember hitting anything or even coming CLOSE to anything.

Fine.

Fine, fine, FINE!

I lashed it back to the door frame with a couple of loops of clear plastic packing tape, and very nearly decided to just leave it like that so she'd be embarrassed enough to QUIT HITTING THINGS.

But cooler heads prevailed, and I decided to order a replacement. After finding out that Ford factory parts are apparently made of some sort of gold-dust infused styrene, I figured eBay would be a good source. Found one that was $29 ($14 for the part, $15 for shipping) which is almost 20 bucks less than ordering it from Dearborn. And since I can put it on myself (being all handy and stuff) I don't have to pay the mechanic $60 more for that.

But still, without being able to see it in person, you're sorta at the mercy of the seller, so I was quite pleased yesterday when the box got to the house, and the mirror was a very high quality part, shipped in a sturdy box, and inside of the box bundled in its very own little flannel sack, and with the tall triangular sail piece that fits up the window frame covered with a nifty little rubber bumper.

Very nice.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:47 PM | Comments (6)

November 21, 2006

Maybe this should be in the Peeved Tuesday post below.

And to make it worse, it's old news, too. ANYway, I see that the US Mint is now going to start a new program of Presidential $1 coins.

You know, I have collected the 50 State quarters now for the past few years, and the Lewis and Clark nickles, but frankly, I'm getting tired of whatever bunch of silly dressmakers and interior decorators who are running the Mint who keep coming up with all this commemorative crap designs for the money supply. Is there any reason why we can't just have a nice, dignified, substantial, dollar coin that doesn't look like some sort of prize giveaway from an amusement park? And that doesn't change every three months?

AND ANOTHER THING--this sudden fashion for using full-face images on the obverse side of the coin. THIS DOES NOT WORK! Sure, in a monochromatic, two-dimensional representation, it looks just like an engraving on a note--but coins are THREE-DIMENSIONAL. What looks good head-on looks absolutely stupid in any other viewing orientation. The Sacagawea and the Swishy Jefferson nickle both suffer when seen on edge--they both look like some kinds of smooshed extraterrestrial aliens. Furthermore, coins are REFLECTIVE--the wrong light makes all that detailed relief go right away. There is a reason that coinage generally makes use of profile relief (or full-front relief with no sideways glances, such as a St. Gaudens $20 gold piece)--it LOOKS BETTER. Sure, you can do other views, but none of them work as well as a simple profile.

AND FINALLY, whatever they're using for these "golden" dollar coins (here it is--manganese brass) oxidizes badly--they look like some kind of play money after a few months of use. In fact, they look bad if you just leave them sitting on a desk.

Okay, Mint people--in the future please make coins with artwork that recognizes the limits and advantages of your medium, design something that suggests the stability and permanence of the currency, sculpt something for the portrait that captures the dignity of the person depicted, and use a metal that has some heft and quality, and quit these incessant programs designed to make our money like stamps. Is that so danged hard?

Grr.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

Well, give 'em credit.

I hate to direct anything positive toward international illegal drug operations, but still, you have to give some credit to the ingenuity of the guys who built this thing.

Makes you wonder what they could accomplish if they'd direct that energy toward something a bit more socially uplifting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:31 AM | Comments (4)

November 16, 2006

Customer Service Tips, Part 2.

Okay, let's say you're one of the largest camping equipment manufacturers in the world headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. (To preserve your anonymity, let's make up a name for you. Uhmmmm, how about something like Coldman. Yes, that's good.)

Anyway, let's say you also have a Canadian subsidiary (we'll call it Coldman-Canada), because you found out that people who live in cold places and talk funny like having camping equipment, too. You, being forward-looking, have embraced the Internet with a fierce devotion, so much so that you set up entirely different websites for your US and your Canadian companies. They even have two entirely different customer service telephone numbers, and two entirely different web-based customer service request forms! Neat, huh?

Well, except for one thing--this little charade of independence breaks down when someone actually TRIES TO USE the Canadian customer service system. Why? Well, it turns out there's only ONE customer service switchboard, and only ONE online customer service e-mail intake.

How do I know this?

Well, since Boy is now into camping, and since it's obvious we're going to need things to cook on, and since I don't particularly enjoy building fires, and since it's much easier to cook when you have an actual camp stove, and since camp stoves and such like can be expensive when purchased in a real store, I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF to explore the wonders of eBay to see what I could find.

Not being one to disdain old used things, I was not the least bit put off when I found a really nifty boxed set of propane powered "Coldman" appliances--a big two-burner stove, a lantern, and a heater--all for sale, and despite being at least 20 years old, more or less brand new in the box. Anyway, even if it was Canuckian in origin and old, it was fine by me--again, as long as it's more or less new, I don't really care how "old" it is. So, I bid on it and won it, and it arrived from the magical land of Prince Edward Island like some sort of time capsule. The stove may have been used three or four times, and cleaned after each use. Same for the lamp. The heater didn't even look used.

Everything is all there, although annoyingly enough, not the manuals. Well, no big whoop, right? RIGHT!

I went to the Canadian website, filled in all the information (except for "province," which is what they call states so they can act like they're different from us) and asked if they had a .pdf of the manuals they could send me.

Waited.

Finally got a reply back from customer service.

"The items are Canadian product so you might want to contact them for manuals for the items. Here is their website http://www.colemancanada.ca/?en."

Oops--sorry about that slip! Remember, it's COLDman we're talking about.

Well, okay--so the computer thing is the same for both divisions, and apparently NO ONE in the company realizes this!

I wrote back to the drone who e-mailed me, "Well, I DID go to their website and used the Customer Service page there. I suppose I should try their telephone number."

Off to their website again, got the "Canadian" number, and as I have already hinted at, when I started giving model numbers and such, the operator halted me and said she was in the US and that the model numbers I was giving her were Canadian models, and I needed to call the CANADIAN customer service line.

::blink::blink::

Okay, so NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE COMPANY realizes that there is only ONE CUSTOMER SERVICE PLACE!?!

Anyway, there's other places online to get this stuff, but it was awfully frustrating to go through all these motions expecting to talk to people who say "a" after every sentence, and then wind up back where I started, and apparently with a better understanding of how the place works than even the people answering the customer service lines!

Makes you wonder how they ever managed to corner the market on potentially explosive heating devices.

Oh, and by the way, "Debbie" wrote me back this morning in reply to my suggestion of using the Canadian telephone number, "Yes, you might want to go ahead and call the 1-800-387-6161 Canadian Consumer Line and anyone that answers can help you out."

Yes, they were just as helpful as Debbie.

Anyway, here are my tips:

1) If you only have one customer service center, don't act like you have two.

2) Let the people answering the phone know that you only have one service center.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:29 AM | Comments (7)

Customer Service Tips.

Let's say you own a large architectural firm.

Your receptionist or secretary who is responsible for answering the telephone REALLY should have a sheet of paper in front of her that lists current projects and who's working on them, because if she doesn't, and someone calls to ask for the lead architect and he's not in the office, you REALLY don't want her to say when asked if there is anyone else working on the project, "Uhhmm, well, I guess there probably is."

Worse is when there's a pause afterwards, as if she's waiting for the caller to hang up.

To compound the consternation on the part of the caller (consternation that you've created by not having a handy project list nearby), it's probably best to instruct her when a caller asks if there's a way she could find out who, exactly, might be an alternative person with whom the caller could converse, that she not say something like, "Uhm, well, whoever it is might be out with Mr. Lead Architect."

Such obvious lack of ability and tact in the person who gives the public its first impression of the company reflects poorly upon your hiring decisions, Mr. Firm Owner. If you hire people like this to talk to the public, what sort of dimwits might you be hiring to design that new parking deck!?

So, in order, to help you out:

1) Have a project list of current projects nearby to the phone-answering person, with the names of everyone in the office who is working on each project.

2) Have those persons' contact information printed beside their names.

3) Have the telephone operator use the list when people call.

4) Have a sign-out sheet that lets the operator know when someone is out of the office, and when he or she will return.

5) If the project isn't current, instruct the operator to politely ask the person to hold, then have her ASK someone else in the office who might know something about the project, and have that person speak to the caller.

See, it's really rather simple.

Also might save you a bit of grief from your client on down the road, too, when they find out they're being delayed by some minor bureacrat who couldn't get the answers he needed because he couldn't find anyone at your company to talk to.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:29 AM | Comments (3)

November 15, 2006

Hmm...

Report: Scarlet fever spreads in N.Korea

Scarlet fever, eh? One imagines this will be styled by the North Korean press as The Glorious Glowing Red Socialist Workers' Rash.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Wow, that guy's a LAFF RIOT!!

Annan criticizes global warming doubters

By CHARLES J. HANLEY
The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the U.N. conference on climate change Wednesday that those who would deny global warming or delay taking action against it are "out of step" and "out of time."

"Let no one say we cannot afford to act," Annan declared, in a clear reference to those, such as the Bush administration, who contend that reducing global-warming gases would set back economies too much.

The U.N. chief lamented "a frightening lack of leadership" in fashioning next steps to reduce global emissions. "Let us start being more politically courageous," he urged the hundreds of delegates from some 180 member nations of the 1992 U.N. climate treaty. [...]

BWAHAHAHAAAAAHA--::gasp::wheeze:: Sorry-- ::hack:: Sorry, but hearing Kofi Annan lecture anyone about showing leadership and being politically courageous is about like Ted Kennedy lecturing someone on the dangers of drunk driving.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

First they came for our hats...

City school board bans hats from basketball games

DECATUR, Ala. (AP) Hats off to the city school board at least during basketball games.

Board members voted Tuesday to ban hats from all basketball games at Austin and Decatur high school games this season.

Superintendent Sam Houston said a committee discussed banning gang-related headwear, but the board decided instead to ban all hats from games.

"It's a judgment call on what's appropriate and what's not appropriate, so we thought it was best to not allow any," Houston said.

Decatur High Principal Mike Ward said the rule is a return to the days when men didn't wear caps in a building.

"You can't distinguish between what kind of hat a person wears or that it's tilted in a certain way," Ward said. "Taking it off is a very easy way to regulate this problem."

The school board approved a $1 admission increase to $5 to offset the cost of doubling the number of security guards at games from two to four officers. The city's two high school gymnasiums hold about 1,200 people each.

Emphasis mine.

Well, see, the problem is trying to find an "easy way" to regulate a problem. Doing something the "easy way" as described above--a blanket restriction based entirely upon appearances--requires little thought, and as such, is rarely effective at getting the desired results.

You say you're too friggin stupid to figure out who the troublemakers are, and somehow you think that if you can't figure out all those wack cap-tilt codes, people intent on causing trouble can't find ANOTHER way to signal their intentions!?

Look ANYthing can be turned into a symbol--maybe the precious little dears will start wearing two different color shoes. Maybe they'll have on a shirt with one sleeve rolled up. Maybe they'll just come in and start a fight.

You want to know how to solve this?

Quit trying to be politically correct, and come down hard on anyone who starts a fight. Likewise, if your precious little snoogums decides to engage in a little turf battle, don't run to the television station and complain that he's being mistreated. Expect people to be decent and have fun, and then don't tolerate misbehavior by the ones intent on doing wrong.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (2)

Well, fair is fair.

Smokers, obese should pay more health insurance: poll

I've got some other ones to consider.

1) Stupid people should pay more for health insurance since stupid people are hurt more and don't take care of their health as well. A simple test such as the MAT (which I scored above the 99th percentile on) should be able to be a good benchmark. If your raw score is above, say, 90, your health insurance is completely free.

2) Liberals should pay more, because they seem to think people aren't paying enough to start with.

3) People who drink should pay more, since they go out and get drunk and cause car crashes and marry Britney Spears.

4) Muslims should pay more, since they are genetically predisposed to want to accelerate the arrival of their 72-virgin eternal reward by spontaneously (but righteously) exploding.

5) People who answer polls should pay more, because it's obvious they don't have anything better to do than answer polls, and everyone knows idle hands are the devil's workshop, and so they'll obviously get into some deep trouble on down the line.

Look, I'm all for people paying for insurance based upon some sort of objective standard, but these people who keep pushing to punish one type of group for their evils and vices don't ever seem to like it when it's THEM who are being targeted for THEIR vices.

And although my suggestions are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I do find it remarkable that the booze industry DOES seem to find itself remarkably free of class-action lawsuits and calls for it to be punished for selling a dangerous product the way Big Tobacco has been pilloried. It just seems that alcohol has been a lot more of a problem than Twinkies and Big Macs, but no one seems to like the idea of a couple of extra bucks thrown onto a fifth to pay for treating alkies or drunk driver victims. Go figure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:41 AM | Comments (4)

November 14, 2006

No WAY!

Why, this is just inconceivable!! Plutonium found in Iran waste facility

Next thing you know, they'll say they've found a bunch of swarthy, Farsi-speaking sorts lolling about!

Thank heavens we have the UN to protect us.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

There's a shocker.

Home Depot results send stocks lower

Reached for comment, corporate spokesman "Tom" looked confused and said he wasn't sure about that, and promised to go find someone who knew, but instead went on break. The only other person available stated he had not been trained to operate any machinery and that he would go find his supervisor, but instead went on break.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)

From the "BREAKING NEWS--SUN HOT, BRIGHT!" File...

Bob Knight's temper flares again

What a dip.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Innocent Until Proven Sorry as the Day is Long

Woman accused of stealing from stand at National Peanut Festival

You have to be pretty low to (allegedly) steal from a high school band booster stand at a peanut festival.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:16 AM | Comments (2)

Possum News

Saw George Jones on Letterman last night. Holy cats, he looked rough. And sounded worse, singing "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

Then again, it's pretty amazing he's still upright, so I guess he gets points for that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

Peanuts.

And a wedding.

Yet another reason why I love America.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:56 PM | Comments (2)

November 02, 2006

Now THAT'S a knife!

Miss Janis has been pondering lately what sort of edgedware to purchase (and finally decided on this), and now that I have some time to hold forth on the matter (and with the full knowledge that my opinion is rather meaningless) I have my own preferences for such things.

First of all, I love good knives, "good" being a highly subjective term, but one that I say means that it does the job it's suppposed to do. All the fancy stuff is nice, but if you can't use it, it's worthless. "Doing the job" also is subjective, but for a knife, to me it means that a) it will take and keep an razor edge, b) it is strong, yet flexible enough to take some abuse without snapping, c) it fits the hand, d) it balances properly.

I don't like stainless steel blades, or at least not any that I've ever used, and this includes the various Swiss Army makers. They seem to be quite brittle, and although they can be made sharp, they are difficult to sharpen if they get dull, or worse, if they get a nick in the blade.

I like a full tang knife, because it will always be marginally usuable even if the grip somehow manages to crack or come off. Something with a rod type tang is useless without a handle.

I like handles made out of something dense, and I like them pinned through the tang. I like having a good grip, but I've always like having the handle countoured enough to grip naturally even if the handle is wet or slippery, rather than trying to have soft or checkered handles for slip resistance. This one could go either way, though. I just like having a smooth handle that fits, rather than the squishy or the nubby.

I like a metal pommel that's hard enough to hammer with.

I like having enough of a bolster that my index finger can theoretically not slip off and get sliced, but I'm not sold on having a big one that goes all the way down to the blade edge.

As for the blade itself, I hate to say it but I like blades made from old files or industrial hacksaw blades. They're really too thick for swishy kitchen work, but for a dual purpose chef's knife, I really like them. As for real purpose made kitchen knives, I think stuff like this stainless-cored Damascus bladed knife are just nifty as all get out. I love the look of Damascus, and its toughness and ability to take a razor edge. These don't like to get nicked, though, so I wind up back where I was as to blade material.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:59 AM | Comments (9)

October 27, 2006

You want to know why?

Testosterone Tumbling in American Males

FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The testosterone-fueled American male may be losing his punch.

Over the past two decades [emphasis mine], levels of the sex hormone in U.S. men have been falling steadily, a new study finds. [...]

The reasons for this trend are unclear, said researchers at the New England Research Institutes in Waterdown, Mass. They noted that neither aging nor certain other health factors, such as smoking or obesity, can fully explain the decline. [...]

I'll tell you why.

The Oprah Winfrey Show "is the longest running daytime television talk show in the United States, with 20 seasons - currently in its 21st season - and thousands of episodes since it debuted on September 8, 1986."

Coincidence?

I THINK NOT!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:41 PM | Comments (8)

Observations from the Food Court

I hadn't intended on sitting down and eating, but the idea of wrestling a take-out box of food back to the office while simultaneously holding an umbrella and a drink and fighting a stiff breeze didn't have a lot to recommend it.

SO, I got my food and sat down, and as is the usual case, I could not help but notice that I have much wisdom to offer to the youngsters out there.

Namely, this: Guys--if you took the time to make a lunch date with a pretty young blonde girl, go ahead and try to dress up just a little. Shave, comb your hair, put on something that tucks in your pants, wear shoes that you can't also hike in. You know--dress like a grown-up. Especially since she showed up and took the time to wear something pretty--simple black sweater and slacks, but look at those shiny high heels! And look at that hair! She dressed up some, you should have, too.

Second--for the girls. If this joker shows up and doesn't have the sense to turn off his cell phone, and allows it to continually interrupt your conversation with him, drop him like the bag of warm moist dog poop he is.

Guys, I hate to tell you this, but there are very few people so important that they can't take an hour disconnected from the phone. Especially if we're talking about you, and you're wearing a concert tee-shirt and sneakers. If you're REALLY important, remember that important grown-ups have secretaries to take messages. If you aren't that important, remember that there's a reason for having voice mail. Otherwise, turn off the phone and talk to the nice girl you're eating with.

So there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2006

There Will Always Be An England

But only if they continue to make guys like this old chap:

Fighting spirit saves retiree from attack

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 70-year-old British pensioner, trained in martial arts during his military service, dispatched a gang of four would-be muggers in a late-night attack in Germany.

"Looks like he had everything under control," a police spokesman from the German town of Bielefeld said of the incident last Friday.

The man, a native of Birmingham who now lives in Germany, was challenged by three men, demanding money, while a fourth crept up behind him. Recalling his training, the Briton grabbed the first assailant and threw him over his shoulder.

When a second man tried to kick him, the pensioner grabbed his foot and tipped him to the ground. At this point, the three men, thought to be aged between 18 and 25, fled, carrying their injured accomplice with them.

The pensioner, whose name was not immediately available, suffered light abrasions.

I sorta have a bad feeling that had this happened in his country of birth, he would have been prosecuted for being so rough and uncivilized.

Anyway, hopefully the little dears who assaulted him will think twice before picking on someone else.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:14 AM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2006

Irony beaten to death, Republicans blamed.

Clinton urges Dems to question criticism

But, I thought dissent was the highest form of patriotism. So, like, the more you disagree with someone, the more you love them, right? Sure!

Now then, time for the pap and twaddle:

By PHILIP ELLIOTT

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Former President Clinton bemoaned ideologues who describe opponents as "running for office on his or her way to hell" and urged Democrats not to shy from fighting back.

Clinton, criticizing Republicans weeks before the midterm elections, told an audience at Georgetown University on Wednesday that intellectual debate should trump partisan rancor and either-or choices are false.

"Most of us long for politics where we have genuine arguments, vigorous disagreements but we don't claim to have the whole truth and we don't demonize our opponents and we work for what's best for the American people," he said.

Well said from someone who once had to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I've said it before, it's worth repeating--never allow yourself to be lectured about veracity by someone who doesn't believe in the concept of absolute truths. Because, let's face it--if we can't agree on a common truth, then his point of view is no more or less valid than any evil stupid baby-eating Rethuglican's view. All the same, in the end, right? Sure!

Clinton, whose wife Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is eyeing a 2008 White House run, spoke at his alma mater to mark the 15th anniversary of his series of speeches there as a then-fledgling presidential candidate. The former president gave notice that Democrats would not be passive victims of attacks.

One is led to assume from recent events that this means that they should out as many gay Republicans as possible. Because, well, they just should.

"This is a contact sport, politics," he said. "You can't complain about being attacked. It's like Yao Ming complaining about being fouled playing basketball."

Well, not quite--hard to tell what he's actually saying here, but the idea seems to be that Democrats have been being pummelled, but that it's all part of the game, so they should just shut up and take it, or, maybe should dish it back out, or not. But still, it does my heart good to see he still has snuggly warm feelings for the Chinese--they give us a wonderful basketball player AND great wads of campaign cash!

Clinton said he doesn't see Democrats shying from the debate.

"It's not that we want a bland, mushy, meaningless politics," he said. "We like our debate. ... We understand that campaigns will be heated and only one side can win. [...]

Translation: "Only one side SHOULD win, and if it doesn't, we'll sue." And by the way, isn't the fact that one side wins and the other one loses DIVISIVE!? ::crashing piano music:: HE'S A DIVIDER, NOT A UNITER!! But that's okay.

Clinton also argued that the GOP has allowed its conservative element to drown out moderate voices.


"The ideological, right-wing element of the Republican Party has been building strength, partly in reaction to things that happened 40 years ago Barry Goldwater's defeat, the excess of the '60s, Ronald Reagan's election" he said.

Thank goodness the Democratic Party doesn't have any idealogical, left-wing elements that has been building strength, partly in reaction to things that happened (not quite) 40 years ago--McGovern's defeat, the excess of the '60s, Ronald Reagan's election...

"But this is the first time on a consistent basis, the most conservative, the most ideological wing of the Republican Party has had both the executive and legislative branches with a very distinct governing philosophy and very distinct political philosophy."

Thankfully, there is no true right-or-wrong distinction that can be made between this time and the previous bright times in our history when the Democrats ran things, or else we might be able to judge those mean old foulers by that scale. So, hey, whatever, right? Sure!

He said the United States' effort to develop new weapons and cut taxes undercut the moral arguments.

Well, you know, morality has some basis in the idea of universal truths, and that's such a confining construct, isn't it?

Anyway, I'm all for new weapons and lower taxes.

"They favor unilateralism whenever possible and cooperation when it is inevitable," Clinton said without specifically mentioning members of the Bush administration.

"They favor unilateralism whenever possible and cooperation when it is inevitable." Hey, that's not a bug, that's a feature! Because believe it or not, it's not necessarily a bad thing to look out after your own interests first. Aside from that, what's the deal with the reporter saying he didn't specifically mention members of the Bush Administration? Who should we think he's talking about, Martians!?

Anyway, to cap things off:

"The problem with ideology is, if you've got an ideology, you've already got your mind made up. You know all the answers and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time. You tend to govern by assertion and attacks."

Said without the slightest hint of playful irony!

Just remember friends, if you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:02 PM | Comments (2)

Well, now...

...I've been incommunicado for so long, I have no idea what to talk about!

How about this--the ol' hometown has spiffed up their website! The older version wasn't really bad, but it did look a bit tired and some of the information was outdated. The new one is actually very nice and easy to read, and wonder of wonders, doesn't use Flash or any other of your various inappropriate animation, yet is spiffy enough that it looks almost 21st Century-ish. Nice and neat and very well done. Nice photos, too.

Politics? Whew--been a while since I actually said anything that rose above mild mockery, but I know if you read my blogroll, there seems to be a lot of talk about conservative sorts making Republicans "pay" for acting like Democrats. Now call me crazy, but if you don't like the Democrats and their silly ways, finding a way to get them into power seems counterproductive. Something like cutting your nose off, then your entire head, to spite your face, which, for good measure, you decide to also kick. Yes, they've not been true to their stated goals, but is that worse than having the Party of Fecklessness in power? Sure, the world won't end (probably) if the Democrats are put in control, but here's the deal, if you're trying to teach someone a lesson--YOU DON'T HURT YOURSELF (i.e., ME!) IN THE PROCESS! Whatever happened to just beating them with a cane? That way you get the satisfaction of teaching them a lesson, and yet the stupid people are still a minority party. And hey, beat them with a cane, too, while you're at it, but just remember the idea is to NOT PUNISH YOURSELF (i.e., ME!) for the misdeeds of others.

Just remember, although there may be plenty of Democrats who talk conservative, they are beholden to the national party, which, believe it or not, isn't conservative. You might get yourself a nice conservative Dem as a Congressperson (i.e., convict-in-training), but that only means all the howling loons who actually run the party get to get themselves all the cush committee seats and chairmanships. Your guy just gets left standing around with his hands in his pockets. In local offices, even governorships--indulge your "punish 'em" fantasies all you want--kick out all the Republicans you want. But don't think that doing that on a national level is going to get you what you think it will. [UPDATE: Related take on things via Betsy Newmark (1st Update), and Kim du Toit (2nd Update).]

Lunacy? Hey, if you must ask, here's a nice story from the Land of Kennedy: Not it! Mass. elementary school bans tag

ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) Tag, you're out! Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban. [...]

Thank heavens. And it makes sense, too, since we've decided school is no longer a time when education can happen. Again, you folks do whatever you want to locally, but let me tell you, this type of nonsense doesn't translate well into either real life or international relations.

Speaking of which, someone who NEEDED to run and play at recess a bit more, Dear Brother Leader hits the airwaves: Kim makes 1st appearance since nuke test. Like a groundhog, ain't he?

By JAE-SOON CHANG

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) North Korean leader Kim Jong Il made his first known public appearance since his nation's nuclear test, official media reported Wednesday, amid concerns that the regime was readying a second detonation.

Kim, accompanied by top Communist Party officials and military officers, attended a performance of songs praising him, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

The exact date of the performance was not specified, but Kim most likely attended the event Tuesday evening on the 80th anniversary of the "Down-with-Imperialism Union" a political platform on which the ruling party was built. [...]

Golly, that sounds like fun. And you know, when your people can't find food, it's nice to take their minds off of it with joyous hymns to the evils of running dog Yankee gangsterism. Especially if you can maybe get Jimmy Carter to sing tenor.

NOW THEN, off to find more stuff to talk about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:43 AM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2006

I wonder if North Korea will try to sue them?

China erects fence along N. Korea border

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:21 AM | Comments (3)

October 13, 2006

Bless their little hearts.

Bleeding though they may be. Air America Radio files for Chapter 11

This is one of those stories I really don't care about--I never feared Air America would be anything more than what it actually turned out to be (i.e., interminable whining, at least from the stories I've read, since I can't be bothered to actually listen to MORE interminable whining, since I hear enough of it from a certain teenager in my house), but whether it was wildly successful or fantastically destined to fail, I never really cared.

I just like the fact that in America, we're free to flush millions down the crapper on something so unctuous and fatuous and self-serving and full of preening. Capitalism is a pretty neat thing--no one tried to stop anyone from attempting to compete in the marketplace. Well, except, you know, by the evil tactic of deciding to not listen. The capitalism of ideas is a pretty neat thing, too.

So why do I even take the time to mention this? Because of a letter to the editor in the Birmingham News. (Rest assured I didn't buy it--it was just in the office and I decided to see what there was in it.) Anyway, the letter can be found here (fifth letter down), and it says:

Last week, Scott Stantis in "Prickly City" published a series of cartoons based on the premise that Air America had gone bankrupt. Since the right wing has declared Air America defunct about once a week for the past two years, I was dubious, and a few minutes on the Internet showed no such event had occurred. What this reveals is:

The right wing does not care about accuracy. Not really a surprise.

Stantis cannot even take two minutes to check out the accuracy of what he hears in the right-wing fantasy-sphere.

The News doesn't seem to care, either. A bit more surprising.

Old joke: What is the easiest job in the world?

Answer: Rush Limbaugh's fact checker.

New version: The Birmingham News' fact checker. [name and address in the original]

HAH!! That guy's a STITCH! But, to the meat of things, let's just admit that Stantis wasn't wrong per se, he just got ahead of the news cycle! It was fake but accurate! It had truthiness!

Anyway, bless people who still take the time to write letters to the editor.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2006

I love a parade!

Well, most of them, at least.

I have to say that this year's Columbus Day parade is one of those that might make me rethink my infatuation. The Ks of C come first, then the John Carroll band, then the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria (rendered in authentic aluminum siding), then Carver's band, then everyone else, which this year consisted of about ten fire trucks, a firefighter's motorcycle club, a radio station van, and a very unhappy-looking lone marcher holding a sign touting a court reporter's association. I know there HAS to be more than one court reporter in Jefferson County--you'd think at least a few could be urged to participate. Maybe even marching along while pushing their Stenograph Miras on little wheeled stands. THAT would be entertaining.

And this part I know is going to upset someone out there, but the K'niggits of Columbus deal is just a little played. I know they do good stuff, but a bunch of rotund old guys prancing along carrying little plastic swords while wearing capes and feathered hats, well, it's a bit cheesy. What young kid would aspire to that? Luckily, I'm not one of these people who just complain without offering a better alternative.

My idea?

The NINJAS of Columbus! They could drop out of trees and stun onlookers with their mind-clouding abilities! They could battle evil warlords with tremendous kung fu! And forget little plastic swords, my friend--nothing but the finest samurai steel!

See, that's what the youngsters crave.

But do let the ninjas continue the tradition of throwing candy--kids crave that as well. Although a few throwing stars mixed in might keep things interesting.

Second, I love firefighters and firetrucks and stuff like that, but it would really be cool if they would start a fire in the middle of the street, then jump out and douse it. I mean, dousing IS what they do, you know.

Anyway, that's the parade report.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2006

"We that handle plates are extremely excited"

Alabama switching to flat, digital license plates

Ahhh, back to one of my favorite stupid topics--license plates! Read the whole story, but the short one is that the old stamped steel plates are being replaced with flat aluminum blanks having a reflective material applied to them. Notice the number of tag permutations--225. If this works as advertised, it should be a lot more cost effective. Then again--if we could find a way to eliminate some of those more stupid tags, we could save a bit that way, too.

In any event, I think this is getting pretty close to what I suggested the last time the subject came up--just let everyone pick their own tag design like they do bank checks, or like the Postal Service was going to do with stamps. It's all digital now (supposedly) so it should be a simple matter of setting out a few guidelines for content (no naughtiness or making it look like some other state's tag), size, amount of contrast between background and numerals--stuff like that--and then let people have at it. Might even create a specialized niche of car tag artist to give the people who airbrush plates down in Gulf Shores something to do in the off-season.

UPDATE 2: Here is 3M's brochure about the technology (.pdf).

UPDATE 1: I was just perusing the Revenue Department's website and noticed something that is actually pretty cool, at least for those of us who like old cars.

Vintage Vehicles Can Now Display Original Model Year Tags

Act 2006-612 (.pdf) allows owners of antique or historical vehicles to register their vehicles using an original Alabama license plate issued in the vintage vehicles model year, beginning Oct. 2, 2006. Original Alabama license plates through 1976 qualify.

Not a big deal to most folks, but a lot of old car buffs like to have their car be as close to original as possible, and an old tag is one of those things that helps kinda set the mood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2006

I have resisted the urge to comment...

...up until now, because there is nothing in the sordid Foley mess that is anything but sordid and messy. But I have to say, this headline gave me pause--Analysis: Hastert learned from wrestling. Call me crazy, but it's probably not the best idea for anyone to use any sort of analogy dealing with sweaty muscular young men in singlets to demonstrate the idea of being tough in the face of adversity.

Just sayin', is all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2006

One must admire...

...any woman who can correctly use the term "all het up" when speaking about the childishness of wee socialists.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2006

Gosh, there's a shocker.

Negotiator says no progress with Iran

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A top European Union negotiator said Wednesday that "endless hours" of talks with Iran about its nuclear program have failed to make any progress, while the Iranian president said U.N. sanctions would not stop Tehran from enriching uranium. [...]

Why, that's just inconceivable! It's almost as if the Iranians have no fear at all of strongly worded memoranda!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2006

You know, because they're peaceful.

2 Turks surrender after hijacking plane

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)

Hmm.

That's odd--Colonial Properties selling Trussville centers

Very interesting--the Target/Home Depot anchored shopping center is very new, and the second phase up on the hill above just opened yesterday. The way the article reads, the sale was done to keep good ol' Bobby Lowder from showing an overall loss due to pressures over on the residential side of the business, but it does seem strange to sell your newest creation before the paint's even dry.

I just hope that whoever bought it keeps it up as nicely as Colonial keeps their properties--I'm not a big fan of the folks in the management of Colonial, but aside from that, they do run attractive shopping centers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

Well, it IS the Fall Season...

Interstate ramp damaged, traffic diverted as 18-wheeler loses steel coil [Link and story updated]

Yet another tractor-trailer load of a giant heavy thing overturns on a local Interstate. For once, this didn't punch any holes in any roadways or hurt anyone, but it's only a matter of time before something truly horrible happens if companies don't find a better way of transporting these coils.

I suggest motorizing them and letting them roll themselves down the road instead of loading them on a trailer.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:24 AM | Comments (5)

September 26, 2006

Possumblogger shrugs off suggestion he should care.

Clooney shrugs off talk of candidacy

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2006

What she said.

Except maybe without the mild blasphemy. But only just maybe.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2006

Well, he's just quite the Washington Chatty Cathy, no?

Bush 'taken aback' by Musharraf comment

By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Friday he was "taken aback" by a purported U.S. threat to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate in the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. [...]

In an interview to air Sunday on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" program, Musharraf said that after the attacks, Richard Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, told Pakistan's intelligence director that the United States would bomb his country if it didn't help fight terrorists.

He said that Armitage had told him, "Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age."

Armitage has disputed the language attributed to him but did not deny the message was a strong one.

Asked about the report, Bush said, "The first I heard of this is when I read it in the newspaper. I guess I was taken aback by the harshness of the words." [...]

After the revelation that Armitage is the person who should be doing the dance of the marching frogs for saying something to reporters that they should have been able to figure out from Who's Who, it could be that Bush is merely allowing Armitage to twist in the wind on this one in order to make Armitage appear to be even more loose-lipped and twitchy.

I have a feeling that the idea was to send Musharraf a strong message to make him understand the necessity of not supporting bin Ladin and being an actual help, and the deputy sectretary of state took it upon himself to flesh out the details of just how strong of a warning to send. Nothing like a little swaggering cowboy imperialist chatter to make a point--especially since everyone probably figures that's what Bush would have said, since he's so lacking in grace and nuance. Truthiness, y'know?

Sure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

Homework

Stan the Soon To Be Ex-Gummint Man sends along a link to Dr. Helen's place where the discussion turns to homework, and the lack of correlation between more homework and higher achievement.

Interesting stuff, and the commenters have some good points.

Having four kids, ranging from high school to elementary school ages, I figure I've got as much empirical experience as anyone else in the topic, so my opinion is: it all depends.

The idea that more homework is needed has come about from our good educational folks who observed students from other countries where schooling is much more rigorous (such as Japan). Those kids have a lot of homework, so we figure WE need a lot of homework to be able to compete.

But what everyone seems to forget (and which is brought up in Dr. Helen's comment section) is that there's a quality/quantity part of the equation. Simply loading kids down with lots of inane busywork does nothing but make them miserable. And you can just about be guaranteed that if the homework is inane busywork, the classwork is no better.

Again, part of this is born of competing desires on the part of educators--we (folks who still think schooling is necessary) want to SAY that we're doing the same thing other countries are doing with their systems, yet in practice we find that requires adherance to a higher standard of testing and insuring something is actually being learned. BUT, we don't actually want to make anyone feel bad about themselves if they fail.

So we have incredibly high standards, but no expectation that anyone would actually have to attain them.

I see it in my kids--they do get As, but even the worst kids in their classes rarely fail. In fact, they rarely even get Cs. Why push yourself to do better if there's no reason? Why have to deal with irate parents who threaten to sue if their child is held back? Why worry if your kids bring home Bs or Cs--it's not like they're failing, right?

So you have a situation where excellence can occur, but there's no penalty for its lack. Now there's a lot of "progressive" folks who see nothing wrong with that scenario, but it's not a recipe for anything other than a continual slide into irrelevance.

Reba and I push our kids because we know the real world is a competitive place and they need to be self-reliant and self-sufficient should the need arise where such skills could mean their survival. Yes, all that 'it takes a village' crap is sweet and useful, but what happens when you find yourself without a village? If you don't know how to use the tools of knowledge, you get really extinct, really quick. SOMEone needs to know how things work and how to make things work, and I don't want to go through life thinking that my kids are incapable of independence. Reba and I are both of the mind that there is still some shame in being stupid, and in allowing stupidity to flourish.

But having seen some of the stuff the kids have to do, it's clear some of their teachers never had mamas and daddies who saw anything wrong with having stupid kids. Despite all their degrees and testing, some of these folks entrusted with educating our children are themselves dense as lead.

As some of Dr. Helen's commenters noted, there's homework, and then there's homework. As with anything else in life, it has to be judged on its merits--some of it's worthless and does nothing to make kids better at anything other than using a pencil.

Some of it is stimulating and useful in extending the child's understanding of classroom concepts.

Eliminating it entirely is probably not the solution, nor is simply adding more. The reasoning behind it needs to be properly examined to determine if it can be of help, and it needs to be structured so that it actually serves its purpose.

All this reasoning and purposing and stuff doesn't happen by accident--it is the task of the teacher and the administration (and ultimately, the parents) to insist that whatever is done, is done with a clear purpose and reason. This can only happen when parents decide to quit shielding their children from failure or deflecting from them bad consequences for bad actions.

Obviously, this has become much more difficult in a public school setting. Some districts manage to do very well, others less so, and some are utter and abject failures. The ability for parents to have some choice in the manner in which their children are taught is the only way to begin addressing this inequity. Of course, that dilutes the power and control of state-sanctioned educators and their legislative lackeys, so parents have had a hard time overcoming it. But it can be done.

And speaking of legislators, the solution to better schooling also has very little to do with money. It all comes down to committment, which is why homeschooled children can perform as well or better than children in public or private schools.

In the end, as with most things, the homework concept is probably a good one, but the execution is lacking. The execution won't get better until you decide to make it better. Quit complaining and do something.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:57 AM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2006

Given Harvard's Recent Tendencies...

...one might wonder if it will be fer it or agin it--Yale creates center on anti-Semitism

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:33 AM | Comments (6)

September 18, 2006

Cool! I've always wondered what it would be like to be ignored by that many people!

Home Depot is hiring 1,000 new employees

The article noted that Home Depot has 2,000 stores in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Best I can tell, this means a net increase of one-half employee per store.

As Opie Taylor would say, "Poor Horatio."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

Maybe it's just me.

Maybe I just don't have a fine enough sense of playful irony, but I just have to say that if you've got yourself a religion that--rightly or wrongly--has a reputation for being its adherents being thin-skinned, insensitive, violent, murderous, and having tiny misshapen genitals, you probably should find a better way to respond to criticism of said religion than taking offense at every single negative thing people say and threatening to kill everyone who disagrees with you.

But, hey, like I say, maybe that's just me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2006

"Spray 'Misty' for me..."

In which I once again sally forth as a hard-hitting citizen-journalist to expose yet another of the world's manifold problems--pleasantly-scented restroom deodorizers!

(Yes, it's a slow news day.)

Anyway, the housekeeping folks here have taken it upon themselves to equip each restroom in the building with a spray can of something called Misty, a "dry deodorizer" of some sort, in the refreshing "Lemon Peel" odor. (Why such things aren't called reodorants, I cannot tell you.) Anyway the intent, as expressed on the can writing, is to remove the unpleasant odors that might be sucked up your nose and replace them with newer, betterer odors. According to the company's info (.pdf file)

"The fragrances have been upgraded to ensure superior olfactory notes and tones. But a fantastic fragrance is not the only premium feature you will find. Also included is not one, but two odor counteractants for maximum deodorizing power. The dual system quickly neutralizes malodors with industrial and institutional strength even on smoke, decay, urine, feces, solvent, vomit, cooking, animal and more."

Good night Irene, what more could there be!?

IN any event, I will attest that the chosen fragrance is indeed robust yet pleasant. That being the problem. It's a little TOO nice--it smells a bit vanilla-y, something like Stewart's Creme Soda, or maybe like someone is cooking lemon-poppy seed muffins.

Now, obviously I don't want our restrooms to smell bad, like the stuff they are designed to carry to the sewer. Neither do I necessarily want them to smell of industrial solvents and disinfecting chemicals. But I have to say, I really can't get into the idea that the outhouse should smell like the kitchen--it unnerves me to walk in, expecting to see a man about a horse, and it seem as though I lost my way and wound up in a bakery.

Nice scent--wrong venue.

In order to make things better, I have taken it upon myself to suggest alternative scents. Looking at the available choices: Baby Powder, Bayberry, Cinna Fresh, Cool Breeze, Lemon Peel, Snappy Apple (The Traditionals); Autumn Heather, Harvest Fruit, Holiday Potpourri, Spring Rain, Summer Breeze, Winter Fresh (The Seasonals); Floral Gardens, Highland Forest, Waterfall Mist, Wild Berry Patch (The Botanicals); and Fresh Cotton, Mango, Melon, Orange, Peach, Vanilla (The Naturals), I believe it would be best to do away first of all with anything that might be edible.

This gives us:

Baby Powder--Possibly good, in that it is what you put on a baby after you change his smelly stinkin' pants. There is, however, the off-chance that this is actually made from powdered babies. That's just wrong.

Cool Breeze, Summer Breeze--Well, there's breezes, and there's breezes. This could be a good choice if you had beans the previous evening.

Autumn Heather--I knew a girl named Heather back in college, but I don't remember her smelling like anything special. Let's skip this one.

Spring Rain, Waterfall Mist--Sometimes the smell of falling water CAN be pleasant, so this one might be a good choice.

Winter Fresh--Sounds like it might be like smelling someone with a mouthful of Wrigley's or Certs, which would tend to put it over in the edible-so-don't-use-it category, but then again, it might be that smell of burning dirt when the furnace kicks on for the first time. Skip it.

Floral Gardens, Highland Forest--No. I can't stand florally botanical type smells in the crapper. It just makes the whole experience that much more unpleasant.

Fresh Cotton--Well, I like this smell--nothing like a set of bedsheets right out of the dryer, but again, it's such a pleasant non-pooping-place smell that it might be the wrong thing, too.

After all that, it pretty much leaves us with the scents intended to replicate either air or water.

Might be best just to open the window.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:28 AM | Comments (9)

Okay, this is worthy of the ol' Tom Landry quote.

Although he was talking about what an incredible game football was when he said sometimes "it's so incredible, it's unbelievable," I think I can say this fellow's work fits the bill even more.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

Time to Switch, I Guess.

'God Bless America' tag available in state Oct. 2

Again with the car tags. I've ranted about this before, so you can skip it if you want.

Now, I love God and America and Alabama and cars, but Alabama has so many different types of car tags that it's gotten ridiculous. There are NASCAR plates, college plates, military plates, 25 different specialty tags, eight oxymoronic "generic specialty" tags, plates for the revenooers themselves, commercial vehicle plates, not to mention just the regular ones that are available.

Look, if you're going to do all that mess, just go all the way and give us a way to make our own license plates, sorta like the Post Office was going to do with stamps. It would certainly be attractive to people like me, who cannot STAND the way any of the license plates look. The "Stars Fell On Alabama" tags look terrible, as do most of them.

Again, I'm not a fan of the proliferation of tags, but the newly announced one isn't quite as bad, although to my eye, it's still a graphic mess. Or maybe I'm just an old fart. But I say give me something that looks like an inmate made it, not something painted by someone's grandma in craft class.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:27 AM | Comments (5)

And the day after.

A couple of you asked the significance of the blank post yesterday. As I've mentioned in years past, I never quite know the best way to commemorate September 11. I had several graphical things lined up to try, but in the end, I figured in the case of this blog, absence would be more noticeable than anything else.

This place is full to overflow with my thoughts--a continuing stream of thoughts both serious and silly--about everything that crosses my path. At some point in there, the serious gets overwhelmed by the banal, and I just think there would have been few things I could have posted that would have added in any substantive way to what other people have done or said.

So for once, I just shut up.

But should you care what my thoughts are, they are simple.

No quarter.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:51 AM | Comments (4)

September 11, 2006















Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2006

In other words,

--voting their consciences might lose them an election—and when the choice comes down to a vote between conscience and appearance, the people Sullivan wishes us all to vote for will of course choose appearance and sacrifice principle.

Talk about fathomless cynicism.

But, it's such a pure fathomless cynicism.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2006

Weekend at Bernie's?

Dead body travels 1,000 miles on Amtrak

CHICAGO (AP) — An Amtrak passenger traveling with her ailing father waited nearly 23 hours and about 1,000 miles to tell authorities he had died so she could avoid the cost of shipping the body home, police said. [...]

You know, if you can't afford to ship papa home, just bury him where he dies and save yourself a bit of trouble. Save you up some money, and when you have enough, dig him up and THEN send him to be buried where you wanted him.

Especially during this time, because you know there are insensitive people who will take any opportunity to work in a Snakes on a Plane reference, even though Stiffs on a Train isn't the least bit funny.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:58 AM | Comments (6)

August 31, 2006

Yeah, well, good luck on that.

Italy coming out of Washington's shadow

Lots of blather in this one about how Italy is walking with a swagger nowadays, based on--well, based on something about having someone other than Berlusconi in charge and having troops in Lebanon.

To which I say, 'big whoop'--we are talking about Italy, after all, where governments wear out revolving doors faster than they can be made. I did happen to find this a bit on the funnyish side--

[...] The Lebanon crisis provided Prodi — whose government was given little chance of making a big impact after winning a razor-thin margin in April elections — an ideal platform for showing the world the new Italy.

Italy has no colonial history in the region and enjoys close relations with both Israel and the Arab world, making it a natural leader in peace discussions. [...]

Well, I suppose it's a bit of a stretch to recall Roman occupation of the region that lasted up until around 476, but Italy does have a relatively recent colonial history in nearby North Africa with Libya and Ethiopia, and its treatment of Muslim inhabitants during that time was about like any of the other colonial powers in the Middle East and Africa. That is, nothing to be proud of. Likewise their treatment of their Jewish population within Italy itself during the Fascist period. Again, geographically a bit remote from South Lebanon itself, but when you're dealing with populations who are still fighting over Ishmael's and Isaac's birthright, well, you know.

Obviously, things change, and Italy's past is past, but it does seem slightly unfair that certain countries are allowed to paper over their historic injustices when there's a political expedient for it, while other countries tend to remain popular targets of ill-considered hatred and derision, no matter how immaterial such criticism might be to the matter at hand.

But you know what? Big talk never did anything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:58 PM | Comments (4)

Oh, please.

Last-ditch meeting on Iran scheduled

Folks, this is the UN we're talking about--the only concept of "last ditch" its estimable batch of yammering ninnies understand is, "Last ditch, before we go off and dig another ditch behind this one. Which will be the absolute last ditch, until we can get one dug behind THAT one. And if you do not believe us, we shall appoint a commission to discuss possible further ditching, after which a stern rebuke will be forthcoming, unless we decide to issue an ultimatum, then appoint a commission. It probably needs some study."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (2)

Speaking of cars and computers...

Swiss police stop multitasking motorist

GENEVA (AFP) - A 34-year-old saleswoman was caught driving down a Swiss motorway while she was using her laptop computer and chatting on a handheld mobile phone, police in northeastern Switzerland said.

The driver said she was unaware of any wrongdoing and responded that she was "driving like I always do", police in the canton of St Gallen said in a statement.

A police patrol pulled her over on Wednesday afternoon after they saw her car zig-zagging along the A3 motorway near the town of Murg.

The woman was remanded to magistrate's court because of her "unreasonable behaviour", police said.

Those sophisticated Europeans!

I find it difficult to believe a saleswoman--a woman, who's job it is to sell--couldn't find a way to talk her herself out of a ticket--or as in this case, a trip to the judge.

Or maybe I'm just used to all the real estate agents around here who pretty much do the same things without impediment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2006

Well, it's about derned time.

Speaking of the mindlessness of bureaucracies, this was some welcome news--DHS Gets Rid of Dress Code, Hotel Regulations for Air Marshals

WASHINGTON — Air marshals were told Thursday they will be allowed to dress the way they want and choose their own hotels in order to protect their anonymity while on missions.

Federal Air Marshal Service chief Dana Brown, who has been in the job for five months, said he was changing the rules, starting Sept. 1, after listening to air marshals' concerns.

In a memo to the air marshals, Brown said the dress code was changed to "allow you to blend in and not direct attention to yourself, as well as be sufficiently functional to enable you to conduct your law enforcement responsibilities." [...]

When the bad guys know who is most likely to try to stop them, based on the fact that a political appointee wanted the good guys to look like the good guys, it would be pretty simple if mischief was planned to make sure THAT guy in the snappy Washington G-Man Suit was taken out of action first. Or, alternatively, wait until you got on a flight that didn't have Lil' J. Edgar sitting in it.

The only question is why this is only NOW being instituted--allowing at least some air marshals to blend in seems to be so bafflingly simple on the face of it you have to wonder why in the world anyone would be so stupid in the first place. Sure, we want passengers to feel safe, and having a visible presence means you can show them their tax dollars at work. "See me!? I'm from the government, and I'm here to help!" But here's the deal--feeling safe and BEING SAFE are two entirely different (although not mutually exclusive) things.

In this instance, the fact that it was easy to spot the air marshal meant that it would be just as easy for him to be picked off before he could stop an attack. The fact that it hasn't happened up until now is partly blind luck, and partly due to the combined efforts to keep terrorists off balance.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:01 PM | Comments (3)

August 22, 2006

Well, there's one you don't hear every day...

Psycho killer raccoons terrorize Olympia

One wonders which group of Aggrieved-Americans will be the first to speak out about this bit of reportorial defamation--psychos, killers, or terrorists?

Anyway, seems Oly's got problems that even the Ledbetter boys would have difficulty handling. One thing worth considering--all you urban dwellers who might say something like this:

[...] "We used to love the raccoons. They'd have their babies this time of year, and they were so cute. Even though we lived in the city, it was neat to have wildlife around," he [Tony Benjamins]said, "but this year, things changed. They went nuts." [...]

--just remember that they aren't little humans, despite what years of Disney movies might have led you to believe. They're wild animals, and you need to leave them alone.

Or make them into a hat.
davy crockett.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)

August 21, 2006

I can't quite tell if it's inherent bias...

...or just being so stupid you can't tell the difference between commenting and reporting. Bryant Gumbel makes one of his usual catty little remarks, gets in trouble for it, then tries to be above it all by donning the hat of Objective Journalist:

[…] Gumbel, once the host of the NBC pregame show and later co-host of "The Today Show," said when he was hired that no restrictions had been put on his ability to comment on what he sees on the field.

"It's a lot like covering any story," he said. "You see what is front of you and you report on it." […]

Uhhm, no, Mr. Gumbel--what you did was conflate your own personal opinion about something with reporting news.

Not that news reporting is necessarily one of those things at which he's particularly adept--he's much better at offering ill-though-out, smugly self-congratulatory brain flatulence that tries to pass itself off as deep thought.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Hey, new quarter!

Got a new state quarter today, this one for Colorado.

It's real pretty, but I am somewhat baffled. There is a relief of a mountain range on it, and below a small banner with an inscription. Now, maybe I'm just being too picky, but I think the slogan "Colorful Colorado" tends to lose a bit in translation when it's displayed on something that is decidedly monochromatic.

Thankfully, there is a place that I'm certain will be able to provide a remedy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:41 PM | Comments (12)

Obviously...

...we must find a way to blame America for this blatant attempt to incite Moslem anger.

Or, you know, global warming.

(Thanks once again to Steevil for finding such interesting stories about cricket. Goodness knows they are few and far between.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:30 PM | Comments (6)

Is our children learning?

Via the ever erudite Steevil (well known rocketologist), this article from the Washington Post by journalism prof Michael Skube, in which he wonders if anyone is teaching basic English anymore.

Not enough, they aren't. I'm blessed with a pack of kids who are voracious readers and who manage to do quite well in their language classes, yet even then, they manage to come up with some real corkers when it comes to words. My biggest chore is trying to instill in them some sense of how to figure out meaning from context, and failing that, to GO LOOK IT UP.

I will take slight issue with the author on one thing--sometimes a dictionary by itself isn't quite as useful as he or I might think, because the information available online truly is amazing. IF you know where to look. I pretend to know a lot, but really I just know where to look, and one of the handiest online references is the OneLook dictionary. Another that I use even more is one that's actually part of a University of Chicago project about the French language, ARTFL--it's an online version of the 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged dictionary. It's quick and simple and gives a much richer background, and has more obsolete words, than many newer dictionaries.

Anywho, make sure your kids can name some favorite authors.

(When I hit the gates of College U. back in the Long Ago, I think I remember my favorites being Twain, Thurber, P.J. O'Rourke, and Samuel Eliot Morrison. Not that anyone ever asked me, because they didn't.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:07 AM | Comments (5)

So, it's finally here.

For some reason, I just can't get that worked up about it, but nonetheless, it is nice to have visitors in town who otherwise might not have ever come here.

I have a feeling that although the producers felt compelled to have tryouts here due to the success of past winners, that only means they will be MUCH less likely to have yet another person with ties to Alabama get NEAR Hollywood this year. Birmingham is, though, a good town for musical talent, so even if you don't see someone from here on American Idol, don't think that's because they couldn't find someone.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2006

I got so excited!!

Bush White House fires back at critics

Until I found out it didn't involve Dick Cheney and a shotgun.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

Again, maybe I'm missing something here, but...

Iran seeks to test taboos with Holocaust cartoons

By Parisa Hafezi
Wed Aug 16, 10:49 AM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - At the exhibition entrance, a poster shows a helmet with the Star of David lying on top of others carrying a Nazi Swastika. Inside, the Statue of Liberty is pictured holding a Holocaust book while giving a Nazi salute.

Organizers say displaying more than 200 entries from Iran's International Holocaust Cartoons Contest aims to challenge Western taboos about discussing the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died but which Iran's president called a "myth." […]

…I kinda always thought “challenging taboos” a bit more edgy if there was an actual chance the person doing the challenging might suffer some adverse repercussions from it.

I realize the Iranian government is merely cribbing from the Western “progressive” playbook where dimwits cloak themselves in the mantle of the oppressed whenever they mount their little art shows or protests or whatever. Oddly enough, the only adverse repercussion about such events (aside from the event) is having to be around a bunch of smelly sorts who think soap is a government conspiracy. Somehow, despite the jackbooted thugs lurking around every corner, they still manage to have their show and prance around on the stage as they pat themselves on the back for being boldly transgressive and brave.

Anyway, when you get a big cash prize and all sorts of international acclaim for challenging taboos, I have to say I’m a bit suspect about the whole affair. I mean, I wonder how much prize money Atefah Sahaaleh got for challenging taboos?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

Maybe it's just me...

Disturbance diverts London-D.C. flight

BOSTON - Fighter jets escorted a London-to-Washington, D.C., flight to Boston's Logan airport Wednesday after the pilot declared an emergency because an apparently claustrophobic passenger caused a disturbance, a federal official said. [...]

The female passenger aboard United Flight 923 said she was claustrophobic and became very upset and got into some kind of confrontation with the flight crew, said George Naccara, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration for Massachusetts' airport. [...]

--but just in case you think you might be prone to claustrophobia or acrophobia or aerophobia or herpaerophobia or overheadbinophobia or ANYTHING ELSE THAT MIGHT CAUSE YOU TO LOSE IT, I happen to think it would probably be awfully considerate of you to consider alternative transportation. I know I would be very angry with you if your sudden mental break caused me and my fellow passengers to be blown out of the sky by a fighter jet just because you got all William Shatner "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" on us.

I'm just saying...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

And it's full of B.S.!

David Copperfield says he's found Fountain of Youth

By Jane Sutton
Tue Aug 15, 11:43 AM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) - The man who made the Statue of Liberty appear to vanish may soon claim to do the same for unsightly bags and wrinkles.

Master illusionist David Copperfield says he has found the "Fountain of Youth" in the southern Bahamas, amid a cluster of four tiny islands he recently bought for $50 million (26.4 million pounds). [...]

"I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting." [...]

[Following is a gratuitously catty comment. Reader discretion is advised.]

Gee, I wonder if he could put his relationship with Claudia Schiffer in there and have it come back to life?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2006

Some good news.

Report gives Birmingham high marks for treatment of evacuees

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Evacuees from Hurricane Katrina who fled to Birmingham generally fared as well, if not better, than those who ended up in other cities, according to a report released Monday.

The report by the nonprofit Appleseed Foundation focused on how evacuees have fared in five major cities — Atlanta, Baton Rouge, La., Birmingham, Houston and San Antonio. It also took a close look at New Orleans, where about 40 percent of the city's residents have returned.

The report found that about 20,000 evacuees ended up in the Birmingham area and that about 1,500 are still there, the smallest number of evacuees remaining in any of the cities studied.

The report found that the Birmingham area could have handled more refugees partly because of the "open heartedness of Birmingham's citizens, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and businesses."

The report also found that Gov. Bob Riley set a positive tone for the evacuees when he asked state residents to treat Hurricane Katrina evacuees "like our own."

"The report reflects favorably on how effectively the people of Birmingham responded to this crisis. Indeed, in large part Birmingham did it right," said John Pickens, executive director of the Montgomery-based Alabama Center for Law & Justice.

Pickens said the number of evacuees who ended up in the Birmingham area was small compared to other cities, such as Baton Rouge which initially received as many as 300,000 evacuees, and Houston, which received as many as 250,000. [...]

Overall, it sounds good, and I don't want to take anything away from anyone who has been associated with this effort. Birmingham doesn't get a lot of good press, and the volunteers who helped coordinate relief for these folks are to be commended. I'm just glad we didn't have to see how the system would work if we had gotten the same volume of people as Baton Rouge or Houston. The system we had in place worked, but it might not have with ten times as many people. Especially with what the report noted about the lack of convenient public transit here.

I'm not one of those who believes that Western Civilization will end if there aren't buses and streetcars and stuff, but I figure if you are going to have them, at least make sure you're actually running the system efficiently.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:59 AM | Comments (2)

It just occurred to me that--

--there has never been a major motion picture based on a story about an assassin on an airliner who releases masses of hungry, venomous possums. I wonder why that is?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:31 AM | Comments (6)

August 10, 2006

The Private Distress of the Chronically Bothered

You ever see someone with their clothes adrift in some way--a button loose, a hem turned up, a pant leg in a sock--and it's all you can do to not fix it?

I don't know when this started with me. I suppose it was when we got so many kids in the house, necessitating near constant attention to insure that various pants are zipped, shirts are on right-side-out, and skirts are not stuffed into unmentionables. Oftimes it's just easier to reach over and fix that flipped up collar, even if the kid in question doesn't like me doing it.

Anyway, that nervous fidgetiness regarding someone else's appearance sometimes hits at bad times, such as just now, as I stood in line at Sneaky Pete's for lunch, and there was a hefty lass in front of me, and I could tell that her right bra strap was twisted. I was in one of those wandering-mind mindsets, and for an all-too-long split second, I considered reaching up there to fix it for her.

Luckily, I caught myself before embarrassing myself. And lest you think this was some veiled attempt at groping a good-looking female, I must be frank and say that although I do not automatically disdain women of a certain avoirdupois, once it becomes obvious that they outweigh me, the desire level drops off precipitously. And by my reckoning, this young lady made about 1.7 of me.

It was just that darned bra strap--WRONG! "Can't she FEEL that? Doesn't that drive her INSANE?" Apparently not. Or, at least not as much as it does some people.

I am reminded of an old story told by the late Grady Nutt. Obviously, this retelling leaves something to be desired, since storytelling requires an element of hearing and seeing, but I think it's funny so I'll put it here anyway.

Grady said he was sitting in church and it came time to stand up and sing the invitation hymn. As everyone stood, he noticed a kind sister in front of him, of considerable girth, whose dress had become lodged up between the valley that marks the joining of her left and her right leg. He decided to be of help to the unsuspecting woman, and so he reached out and gently tugged her dress out of its resting place.

He said the next thing he knew, that big gal swung around and caught him in the head with a hymnal. After recovering, he took the open cover of his own songbook and reached back over the pew, and shoved her dress back up into her cleft. Whirling around again in a rage, the angry woman walloped him again and asked just exactly what he thought he was doing. "Well, you got so mad when I pulled your dress out of there, I thought you must have wanted it to stay up in there!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:50 PM | Comments (4)

See? B.S.

CBS' Wallace interviews Iran president

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer


NEW YORK - Twenty-seven years after a chilling sit-down with Ayatollah Khomeini that was one of Mike Wallace's most memorable, the CBS newsman snagged an interview this week with current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.

The 88-year-old Wallace had been pursuing the interview for so long that he had to be reminded by Ahmadinejad when he first asked for it. [...]

Of Ahmadinejad, Wallace said, "He's an impressive fellow, this guy. He really is. He's obviously smart as hell."

Wallace said he was surprised to find that the Iranian president was still a college professor who taught a graduate-level course.

"You'll find him an interesting man," he said. "I expected more of a firebrand. I don't think he has the slightest doubt about how he feels ... about the American administration and the Zionist state. He comes across as more rational than I had expected." [...]

"And he left me a 20 on the nightstand, and when I gave him my number, he even said he'd call me again!"

Mr. Wallace seems to be of the mind that evil and intelligence are somehow mutually exclusive. I am not the least bit surprised.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:14 PM | Comments (7)

Oh, my!

Google sees privacy threats

By Eric Auchard
Wed Aug 9, 6:38 PM ET

SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Web search leader Google Inc., which stores vast amounts of data on the Web surfing habits of its users, sees government intrusions rather than accidental public disclosures of data as the greatest threat to online privacy, its chief executive said on Wednesday. [...]

'Unless, of course, you're talking about the Chinese government, in which case we'd like to say they are fantabulous and kind and always smile broadly at us and have such lovely, thick black hair! Super-duper folks, those Chinese! No, what we're talking about are the governments that don't require us to pay what amounts to huge bribes to operate in their countries. THOSE are the really dangerous ones, you know. Just can't trust them an INCH. Sure, the Chinese can look at anything they want, anytime they want, but they're not the least bit dangerous to us. Especially after we make sure nothing bad gets through. Nope--no Falun Gong for us! Strictly business, you know--we've got to be there when the masses of Chinese people want to use a search engine. I mean, they're gonna use SOMEthing, right? Why not Google, we say! But AMERICA! Oooh, buddy--THERE'S your problem.'

Anyway, to paraphrase the old joke, we've determined what Google is (along with Yahoo! and Microsoft) , all we're doing now is negotiating the price.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

You know, for something that prides itself on being...

...The Religion of Peace, they sure do seem to breed a lot of folks with decidedly antipeaceful aspirations. Oh, sure, we're supposed to adhere to the PC line that anyone could be a terrorist--from the little old grandma clutching her bottle of Sprite to the family of ruddy Ohioans travelling to Washington with two screaming babies and a twin stroller--but you know, it never seems people like that are the ones who wind up getting caught in these sorts of incidents. Yeah--I know--because of the West's hatred of the swarthy man, such people are ignored.

Yet, still, for some reason, I just can't help but think that if you're going to call yourself peaceful adherents to a religion whose name means peace, that you'd do a lot better in the PR arena if you'd quit trying to come up with new ways to kill all the Jews and infidels and be a bit more like the Amish. They seem to get along okay in this world, even with all of its Jews and infidels and "the English," and I can't remember the last time any of them drove a buggy full of black powder into the county square and detonated it for the sake of purifying the world of unbelievers and paving the way for the return of the Caliphate.

Oh, sure, that would mean you have to actually become a productive citizen and work at something like working a plow or a two-man saw, and you'd have to actually practice what you preach, and you'd have to stop blaming everyone else when you stub your toe, and well, you know, quit just being so flippin' insane and all, but I think the idea is at least worth considering.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:03 AM | Comments (7)

August 08, 2006

I don't think it means what you think it means.

I was sitting in class Sunday listening to a good lesson about the necessity of sacrifice when the teacher got tangled up on a word. He searched his mind for a second before deciding "spontanuity" was what he wanted.

'That's an odd one,' I thought. He was going for either "spontaneous" or "spontaneity" but what came out sounded like some kind of a cross between spontaneous and continuous. Or maybe spontaneous and ingenuity. Or, as the Pseudodictionary has it, a combined form of spontaneous and opportunity.

Anyway, now I can't quit thinking about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:27 PM | Comments (8)

August 03, 2006

Oh, is that all?

Ahmadinejad: Destroy Israel, end crisis

Reached for comment later, Ahmadinejad expressed that what he said was vitriolic and harmful, and asked "the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery--you know, by ceasing to exist or something. I mean, come on--meet me halfway here, 'kay?!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2006

Goodbye.

Saks selling Parisian to Belk for $285M

I have no idea how this will all turn out, but I still have a sense of sadness about it. In the past, Birmingham was always just big enough to have some high quality, regional chains based here (Yeildings, Loveman's, Pizitz, McRae's, and Bruno's in the food biz and Marks-Fitzgerald in the furniture trade), and for so many years Parisian was the best--good quality merchandise and the best service. But when they got big enough to make folks from outside the area take interest, money started changed hands awfully fast. After the Saks deal a few years back, service began to take a dive at Parisian, and I can't see how being sold to Belk will make it any better--especially when Belk already took over their closest former competitor, McRae's.

Also of interest is that the new shopping center in Trussville was scheduled to have both a Belk and a Parisian--I wonder if both brands will still be included in the mix?

UPDATE: Ahh, I see. Parisian name to disappear

The new owners of Parisian plan to phase out the department store name, which has a rich history in Birmingham. [...]

A company official said plans call for converting Parisian stores to the Belk name in the third quarter of 2007.

Individual decisions will have to be made regarding what to do in instances where both a Belk and a Parisian are in the same mall or shopping center. [...]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:24 PM | Comments (11)

Worst Job in Birmingham

I complain a lot, but only due to lack of perspective.

Things tend to clarify themselves, however.

Driving back from my noontime car parts escapade (about which, more later) up 20th Street, or as we like to call it, Birmingham Green. Temperature at noon today, 92 degrees; relative humidity, 50%; winds, calm. (For you punishment gluttons and RealFeeltm fans, that's like 111!)

Up ahead I see a giant cup with the Quiznos logo on the side, walking along the sidewalk. Upon closer viewing, I see that it is not just a giant cup, but a giant 8 foot high cup costume with a person inside, walking up and down the sidewalk to entice people to visit the Quiznos on the other side of the street so that passersby might partake of some sort of icy frozen concoction vended therein. A frozen concoction that manifested itself by a simulacrum of frost heaped up on top of the cup costume with the obligatory straw.

Give the body credit, though--he was in full peppy jittery mascot mode, prancing and preening with all his cupful might--bobbing, and weaving, and waving, and gamboling. He WAS the cup.

Thank goodness it wasn't as hot today as it usually is.

And thank goodness it wasn't me.

AS FOR THE HOSE--I went and got the car, parked right outside the parts department, had Bob Uecker come out, and he proceeded to look very carefully at everything before pronouncing himself confused. Went back inside to look on the computer, and was further stymied and baffled. Seems the hose left the throttle body, arced down, went around, and ended somewhere near Tijuana. Althought this was not a certainty, and it could just as easily been closer to Calgary.

By this time, I had already decided what I was going to do. He wanted to order the hose he thought it might be, but I told him I would hate for him to order it and it be the wrong thing. He said it would be simple to send it back, but my REAL objection was the added frustration of having to bring the car by AGAIN and it possibly STILL not be the right part.

"Tell you what I'm gonna do--before I have you order that, I'm going to do this--I'm going to cut off the leaky end of that hose and clamp it back on there and see if that works."

"Hmm--yep--that'd be a good idea!"

Thanks. Although it still seems like it would be a better idea to have a shop manual somewhere close by to look things like this up, but I realize that to do so would be to penetrate the veil that hangs between the service department and parts department, and it could lead to a cosmic cataclysm.

Anyway.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:31 PM | Comments (9)

July 28, 2006

Of course not.

Owen Wilson says 'Dupree' is no rip-off

...unless you decide you want to see it bad enough to actually pay to go see it. And you know, still, the popcorn is a bigger rip-off.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2006

To the young lady...

...driving the ambulance which made a left-hand turn from 3rd Avenue, North onto 23rd Street at approximately 11:50 this forenoon, I have a tip.

Despite what you might believe, if you are not on a call and do not have your lights and siren turned on, you're pretty much no different from any other vehicle.

So, when I am attempting to get into the turn lane on 23rd Street to execute a left-hand turn onto 3rd Avenue, North, and have had to come to a complete stop because you are crowding over into my lane--admittedly, with good cause, since someone in a parking space on the curb was pulling out and not watching--it is NOT the preferred method of dealing with the errant parker by stopping dead in my lane, then reaching up and turning on your SIREN to make him stop so YOU could go on your merry way. This is very loud, and frightens me, and makes me think that you INDEED are possibly on a hot run, rather than just trying to get back to the garage so you can show your bepierced, inked, and pock-marked nether regions to your mouth-breathing lummox of a partner. (Of course, there could have been another reason.)

Next time, please be aware that sometimes drivers do not pay attention, and take it upon yourself to drive defensively. If you see a driver pulling away from a curbside parking space, do NOT attempt to squeeze your way past him, then become hostile when you find you do not have the room to make such a maneuver. Simply stop behind him and allow him to exit the space, and possibly chasten him with a very slight sounding of your vehicle's service horn, and nothing more.

Thank you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:17 PM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2006

English Usage Question

Alright, now.

Or, more particularly, the word alright.

I know it's not "standard," and that you're supposed to use all right, but doggone it, if it's not all right to use alright, why do almighty and already and although and always and albeit and almost and also get a pass!?

I like alright just fine, and it's not right to make one rule for it and not apply the same rule to the other eight I listed. I'm going to keep on using it, but out of curiosity, which version do YOU use?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:44 PM | Comments (6)

HEY!

Since when did we decide to go and pay for a subscription to the New York Times for Saddam!?

Saddam pins war on Bush, pro-Israel lobby

It's like he's gone and done a cut-and-paste of the editorial page or something. I tell you what--if he starts asking for water and flour and glue, watch out--he's obviously about to make himself a big papier mache head and go on protest march!

Anyway, his apologia reminds me of a trip I took in my senior year of high scho--oh, wait. I've already used that example earlier today.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2006

One is reminded...

Annan criticizes both sides in conflict

...of an old joke: Two Jews, sentenced to death by the czar, are before the firing squad. They are offered blindfolds. One says to the officer in charge, "You can stuff your blindfold!" The second Jew responds, "Shh! Don't make trouble!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

For some reason...

...when I read this story: Boston commuters get pleasant surprise

By LING LIU, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jul 19, 5:53 PM ET

BOSTON - After part of a Big Dig tunnel collapsed last week, killing a motorist and forcing the closure of two connector tunnels, commuter Bob Jacobson was prepared for big-time traffic jams.

But Jacobson, who travels 60 miles each day into the city's downtown from his home in Westport, near the Rhode Island line, has been pleasantly surprised.

"It's gotten easier," Jacobson said. "It was bad the first day, but it's been progressively smooth since then."

Despite some detours and delays, many traveling through Boston via car, subway, train, bus and boat say it's not as bad as it could be. [...]


--I couldn't help but sing (and whistle!) Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

Aaarrrggh.

As noted Friday, we did indeed go see Pirates of the Caribbean--The Empire Strikes Back this weekend.

MOVIE REVIEW TIME!

Well, a nasty turn of events--our lovebirds (Legolas and Princess Leia) have been ordered to be arrested by some mincing ponce from the East India Company who comes in to take over the island's governership from Leia's daddy, who, although he wears a big wig, is not a ponce. The usurper's actually after something else, though--Edward Scissorhands, and not just Edward Scissorhands, but actually his compass, which points to something even MORE specialler, a box that contains something VERY valuable--the beating heart of Davy Jones, and NOT the one from the Monkees! Once Nancy Boy has this, he figures he can rule the world's ocean trade, and crush the Rebel Alliance. So he gives Legolas some get-out-of-jail-free cards for him and his new almost-wife IF he goes and finds the right combination of playing pieces from McDonald's.

Then, all sorts of things happen.

In the end, Han Solo winds up frozen in carbonite, but in this version, the Ewoks are cannibals, and not cute and furry.

Did I like the movie? Yes I did--it's exciting and visually impressive, and full of swordplay and buckling of swashes and all that junk. But it left me somewhat miffed, which is why I keep going back to the Star Wars allusions. It doesn't stand on its own. The first movie would work just as well if another one was never made, but the second one's only purpose seems to be to set up the third movie. I understand why, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

It's still exciting, though. As for scary stuff, there is some, so it's not for little kids. Catherine made it through fine, but she's generally pretty fearless. Stuff I could have done without? The pipe organ scene by Davy Jones--a little too Captain Nemo-ish hokey, and not in a good way. He's better on the maracas, anyway. The giant squid, however, is MUCH better and more frightening than the one Kirk Douglas fought. The undersea rogues and monsters--when they manage to find themselves ashore, they look like something from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. And again, not in a good way.

Puzzling things? One scene has Captain Jack looking through a telescope at Will being captured by Davy Jones. Jones turns, sees Jack, and suddenly is standing right in front of him with a bunch of other of his sea critter crew. Now, I have to ask--if he can magically teleport, why on earth does he need a ship to sail around in? Why not just teleport to wherever he wants to go? Second, in another one of those 20,000 Leagues deals--the ship he DOES have can also work like a submarine. But why would you want to do that, since pushing a sailboat UNDERwater would be awfully difficult, given all those sails holding you back. Seems like it would be better anyway if he had one that could fly, like Captain Hook's. (Not to be confused with Dr. Hook.) Anyway, none of that really matters that much, nor does it when Elizabeth threatens the Poncey One with a pistol that is cocked in the beginning of the scene, and then after he tries something shifty, they insert the sound of the pistol being cocked, even though she doesn't move her fingers. It's a single shot black powder pistol folks--if it ain't cocked, he wouldn't have been nervous in the first place, he would have just grabbed it from her.

Is it worth seeing? I think if you liked the first one, you'll like this one, but if you're like me, you might be disappointed that it's quickly become a franchise-type event. It's still expensively well done, but it seems less about making a good story and more about perpetuating the brand image. Let's give it 8 out of 10 curly possum tails and be done with it until the third episode.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:32 AM | Comments (11)

July 13, 2006

If we aren't free to pet our animals, then the terrorists have won!

Is petting zoo a terrorist target? 'This is absurd'

By PATRICIA C. McCARTER

Times Staff Writer patricia.mccarter@htimes.com


WOODVILLE - Not once has Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo gotten a bomb threat.

It's a tranquil place between Gurley and Scottsboro, where children on school field trips feed goats and llamas, where there's no talk of national security or terrorists or explosions.

That's why Wednesday morning, when owner Sherry Lewis was told that her zoo on U.S. 72 was included in a New York Times story about terrorist targets, she was baffled. Baffled, and miffed.

"We've never had a bomb threat or anything that would possibly come close to terrorism," said Lewis, who has owned the zoo in Jackson County with her husband, Jim, for 11 years. "This is absurd. Who on earth would waste their money and time bombing us? Nobody.

"But I'm afraid this is going to have a negative impact on my business. I've already had one phone call today from somebody asking me if it's safe to come here."

Even though The New York Times story mentioned Old MacDonald's as being included on a list of possible terrorist targets by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a state official said that isn't quite true.

In 2004, the zoo was included in an initial needs assessment list - submitted by county Emergency Management Agency managers to Homeland Security - of the state's key infrastructure and resources.

More than 700 sites were on Alabama's list two years ago during the first stages of compiling the National Asset Database. But Tracey Ayres, communications director for the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, said the list has since been winnowed to 28 sites.

As Ayres explained it, each county in the United States submitted its asset list directly to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. When the lists began arriving, Ayres said DHS realized that it hadn't provided enough guidance concerning what should've been put on the list.

For instance, some counties included ice cream shops and Wal-Marts and flea markets. In Tennessee, the annual Mule Days festival in Columbia made the list.

Indiana listed 41 "tall" buildings that could be possible targets; Illinois - home of the world's tallest skyscraper and dozens more in Chicago alone - listed only 28. In fact, Indiana was the state that listed the most possible targets with more than 8,500. New York listed fewer than 6,000. Vermont submitted 70.

Ayres said states were given more exact criteria in 2005 for what to include on their lists, and then the sites were verified. Just 14 percent of the sites on the states' initial lists rose to the level of "significant" for the National Asset Database.

Out of 710 Alabama sites proposed, Ayres said 28 are now on the federally approved critical infrastructure list. Ayres said the identity of those 28 places is classified.

Did Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo make the cut?

"You decide," she said. "The criteria is that it must have an economic impact of $1 million a day or the potential of 300,000 lives lost. I can't give you any other hints."

Ayres referred to the initial arbitrary lists as "old news," saying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognized the problem two years ago and corrected it. However, in late June, national DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner released a report outlining the progression of the database, recapping the temporary inclusion of such random places as the Woodville petting zoo.

Emphasis mine above.

So, the "Paper of Record" issues a story in which outdated information is included, making particular care to insert one rather silly item about a petting zoo in Alabama. It's almost as if they have a politically driven agenda to make the current Administration look stupid and out of touch, even if it means using information that is inaccurate. "Hee hee--that George Bush is so stupid. And so are those yokels in Alabama who think their petting zoo is a terror target! Hee hee hee."

Even though a newspaper in Huntsville is able to quickly figure out the problem with the information, and provide a detailed and succinct round-up of how the process was completed, and seeing as how the NYTimes seems to do this (i.e., willfully obfuscate) with great regularity, how can it still seen as reliable? As truthful? As objective?

One would have to strain mightily, it seems.

DHS and everyone else involved in keeping terrorists at bay have in the past done stupid, inexcusable, hamfisted, lame-brained stuff. But what's worse--that they did it and corrected it, or that an organization located in the heart of the place where the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil was conducted would take this opportunity to use outdated, misleading information, seemingly for the sole purpose of weakening, rather than strengthening, our ability to fight terrorism? Add to this the Times' willingness to actively search out ways to inform our enemies of our intentions, and it begins to make one wonder what they put in the water cooler in their offices.

Second, even though the probability of a random attack on a small-town target in Alabama is much lower than a large scale attack on New York, the fact remains that we are a large, open, and free-flowing nation, and unless we realize that not just New York or Los Angeles could be targets, we set ourselves to become complacent. That complacency is what allowed 20 terrorists to take flying lessons at midsized airports across the non-New York/Los Angeles parts of the country, and no one really thought too much about it when none of them really seemed too concerned about being able to learn to land properly.

By the way--don't believe this story has legs? Look at this list of news stories on Google News.

As for the Times' story, the link is here. Any doubt that it might be commentary masquerading as straight news is dispelled by the headline--"Come One, Come All, Join the Terror Target List."

Bunch of jackasses.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:24 AM | Comments (6)

July 12, 2006

Okay, now THAT'S a new one on me--

Trinity Medical Center creates, fills 'chief culture officer' position

Culture officer? Although I'm sure it's unintentional, it sure does sound like it has shades of the old Red Army's political commissars. As for what it REALLY is:

[...] As Trinity's first culture chief, [Ricky O.] Creech will oversee the hospital's Pastoral Care Program, Pastoral Advisory Council, Mission Integration Committee, Patient Advocates, organizational development, community outreach and governmental relations.

In creating the position, Trinity CEO Vicki Briggs says her focus was set on building relationships that further the hospital's faith-based mission.

"For years, it has bothered me that the one item missing from the balance sheet of a hospital is the equity of human capital. Those relationships are incredibly valuable," Briggs said in a written statement. [...]

Ummm, okay. I'm still kinda shaky on the naming, because to me it sounds more like being the director of public relations. But then again, I don't run a hospital for a living.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:21 PM | Comments (4)

July 11, 2006

Well, whaddya know.


"Idol" coming to Birmingham for auditions

For the first time in its six-year history, “American Idol” will hold auditions in Birmingham.

An Aug. 21 stop at the BJCC Arena is one of seven that “Idol” will make prior to next season.

“Because that’s where so many of our our Idols have come from, that’s a must,” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told USA Today. The reigning Idol, Taylor Hicks, is from Birmingham, as are season 2 winner Ruben Studdard and Season 4 runner-up Bo Bice.

Producers expect up to 100,000 auditioning in each of the cities. Here’s the list: Los Angeles (Aug. 8), San Antonio (Aug. 11), East Rutherford, N.J. (Aug. 14), Birmingham (Aug. 21), Memphis (Sept. 3), Minneapolis (Sept. 8) and Seattle (Sept. 19). [...]

Local viewers will almost certainly be treated to breathless, 24 hour coverage from our local FOX affiliate.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I really have to believe, though, that the producers are going to do their best to weed out anyone with Alabama ties this time around

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2006

Video Camera Review

Alternate title--"I am a moron."

Why? Because despite all the online shopping I've done, in the end, I was hooked not by ease of use, or high quality features, or exciting new technological breakthroughs, but by the fact that the camera I wound up with came with a few accessory items--a tripod (which I already have one of), a carrying bag, five DVDs and a kewl yellow-green plastic case that looks like something a 10-year-old would carry around, and an emergency battery pack. I'd read some of the reviews, and the Hitachi models invariably don't fare well, and I had very nearly talked myself out of it (after going back to Wal-Mart across the highway later on that day and playing with other models), but when it finally came down to it, I got suckered by the extra toys that have nothing to do with camera quality.

BUT, it's still such a leap of technology from the old giant RCA VHS camcorder that had been Reba's before we got married that I don't even care. It's not like I've had anything comparable to, well, to compare it to, so if it does something 18% worse than the one I didn't get, I don't know about it. Ignorance is bliss, you know. It's the creed of the moron!

As for actual use, to me, it seemed intuitive enough. The manual is the size of a phone book, and I suppose if I read it all the way through I would know more, but just opening it up and going through the on-screen menus, I was able to figure out the stuff it would do and was able to make a couple of quick recordings that played back just fine, at least through the LCD. I haven't hooked it up to the television yet, since there's only about five minutes worth of footage (pixelage?) on the DVD, but from all indications, it seems simple enough to use for my moronic purposes.

Which, when you get right down to it, is pretty much okay. AND it came with a TRIPOD! And a BAG!

The only thing I don't like is that it's not one of their standard catalog models--it's one of those specially numbered jobs that big electronics companies will make when they cut deals with gigantic retailers. The same thing happens with computers and still cameras and everything else, but it seems that each retailer is able to swing a deal for a particular set of features and accessories, and it winds up with some weird model number that you can't look for online if you have a problem.

Still, not enough of a nuisance to turn away from my really sweet yellow-green DVD carrying case!

Now then, one day I will figure out how to post my stellar directorial work online, and PossumblogTV will move one step closer to reality.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Hey, how 'bout that World Cup?

Yeah, me too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

Separation of Church and Skate

Doc Smith with a real howler.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

Mockery Called For.

The still-recovering and not-quite-up-to-snide Man With the Golden Leg, Dr. Jim Smith, sends me a link to a peculiar story out of our saluted state of the day -- Dead Webcast: L.I. Funerals Now Available Via 'Net

West Babylon Chapel Offers Cyber Viewing Free Of Charge

Jennifer McLogan
Reporting

(CBS) EAST HAMPTON When a Long Island man died this week, some of his extended family, scattered across the country, were unable to fly in for the funeral, which under Jewish custom was held within 24 hours.

But they said they felt a part of it anyway because they were able to watch it LIVE via an Internet hookup.

Emphasis belonging to Ms. McLogan. LIVE! I think there might be something ironic in there, but I'm not sure. Further:

“There is a time frame when families want to bury someone. So instead of delaying the service, out-of-towners, or the very sick, can still take part even if they are not there physically," said Kevin Gray, co-owner of The Star of David Memorial Chapel in West Babylon.

I realize it's kinda hard to pick good hometown names, but I think I'd rather not be reminded of any sort of Babylonian captivity if I were a Jewish type person. But maybe that's just me.

The chapel was recently outfitted with video cameras and Internet servers so that funeral services can be put online. His chapel is believed to be the first in the New York area to have live webcasts of funerals.

LIVE!

“We do it at no extra charge,” Gray said.

Viewers can see the funeral from two angles -- a panoramic view from the back and then from a second camera, a close-up of the speaker.

LIVE! FREE! AND TWO ANGLES!

Gray demonstrated, and the video was clear, the sound audible.

And you were expecting? I mean, it's not like the technology itself is all that new, just the application.

Across Long Island on Thursday, it seemed everyone had an opinion on this.

NO! WAY! I just cannot believe that people might have an opinion about something! PLEASE LET'S HEAR THEM!

“How odd,” said one.

Well, I tell you, you can always rely on ol' One to come up with a kneeslapper--pithy, succinct, and rapier-sharp! MORE PLEASE!

“The infirm and elderly could use it,” added another.

Land's sake--if it's not One, it's Another! But wait, there's MORE!

Other responses included:

“Computers are impersonal.”

Said an unnamed source...

“I hate funerals anyway.”

So why not combine your hatred for funerals with your hatred of the one-eyed beast wrought by Bill Gates and you know, kill two whatevers with something, you know?

“I think you owe it to the loved one to be there in person.”

But, did we mention it's LIVE! And FREE! And that the loved one might not have wanted you there to begin with, since you never could be bothered to even pick up the phone and call? Anyway, you're probably only wanting to come by to gloat, or to go through the house and pick over the stuff your Uncle Edgar said were supposed to go to MY kids! You always were that way, you know!

Some Industry experts CBS 2 spoke with predict that webcasting will become more popular as younger funeral directors take over and Internet connections speed up.

Stealing a bit of Taranto's schtick, "What would we do without Industry experts"?

As for my actual, non-jokey opinion--not that you asked: feh. Whatever. We've already got drive-through funerals and funeral DVDs--this is the obvious next step. As long as it's free. And live.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:31 PM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2006

Ethics

A little afternoon exercise.

Let's say you are a healthcare provider working at a large, central city county hospital. You were not coerced into your employment situation, and, in fact, being that you work in the state's largest city, and being that this city is home to numerous other hospitals--some of which are next door to your current employer--if you did happen to feel you were being underpaid for the work you do, all things being equal it should NOT be difficult for you to find alternative employment at a higher wage.

Now then, let's say you know that the high school kids who volunteer to work at the hospital are given compensation in the form of a coupon for one free meal in the cafeteria. And further, you understand that free meal ticket is their sole compensation.

When it comes to your attention that one of the volunteers does not use her free meal ticket, do you:

A. Figure she just must not be hungry and not worry about it.

B. Worry that she might not be eating a healthy lunch and encourage her to eat something she won't get sick, and if she still says no, not worry about it.

C. Decide that since she's not using the ticket, you should have it.

If you answered C., upon the volunteer's refusal to ask for a ticket from her supervisor, then turn around and give it to you, do you:

A. Decide that since you do get paid, it would be unfair to take something that you did not deserve and did not work for, and apologize for asking.

B. Begin berating the volunteer and telling her that she should give you the ticket anyway, and continue in this manner for several minutes until one of your fellow employees tells you to stop.

If you answered B., The Possumblog Ethics-o-Meter says "You are just a sorry no-account excuse for a person, and obviously have no shame."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:59 PM | Comments (4)

WMDs? In IRAQ!?

Yeah, I know, hard to believe if you've invested a lot of effort in using their absence as proof of the essential evil reckless cowboyness of a certain politician, but this is certainly a strange enough story even without all the braying of the lunatics.

The fact is, as best as I can glean, we did find some older chemical weapon artillery shells in Iraq--and I seem to recall reports from the time saying just that--but since that time their existence has been classified, for some reason. As you can read in all of the articles Mr. Goldstein links, there's enough conspiracy theories out there to float an aircraft carrier about exactly why this was the case, but I tend to go with the old bromide about not blaming conspiracy when incompetence offers an equally valid outcome.

I doubt this will get very much play in the old-line press, in that it would tend to invalidate what their party-line has been, just as I doubt any of them would ever assign anyone to track down leads about so much of the manufacturing bits and pieces being spirited off to Syria and Iran.

IN the end, I have the feeling that anything short of Saddam Hussein running naked down the middle of Broadway screaming and throwing flaming wads of anthrax on people would ever be enough to convince some folks that he might have--maybe, theoretically--been dabbling in such things.

There's more to be learned in this, and it will be worth seeing how it is handled.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:50 AM | Comments (9)

You know what THAT means...

IOC picks three finalists for 2014 games

By STEPHEN WILSON
The Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Three cities — two from Europe and one from Asia — made the cut Thursday as the IOC trimmed the field for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Salzburg, Austria; Pyeongchang, South Korea; and Sochi, Russia were selected as finalists by the International Olympic Committee's executive board. [...]

That's right! Time for the good folks from Salzburg, Pyeongchang and Sochi to break out the hookers, booze, and bribe money!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

FINALLY!

Got that stuff out of the way, which means it's time for our newest feature...


LET'S BE SACRILEGIOUS!!

Famed NASA rocket scientist and boater, Steevil, sent along a link to this article regarding the decision of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (meeting here in the grand old Magic City, by the way) to consider alternative, gender-inclusive titles for expressing the identity of the Trinity, getting away from the old-fashioned "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Some of their suggestions include: "Mother, Child and Womb," "Rock, Redeemer, Friend," "Lover, Beloved, Love," "Creator, Savior, Sanctifier," and "King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love." (Although I have to say the last one is a bit gender specific, unless women can now be kings and princes, which I admit might have already been taken up in an earlier synod or something.)

ANYWAY, Steevil, ever the sensitive sort, suggests maybe we could use "Rock, Paper, and Scissors." (No word on if he's working on a new hymn entitled "Roshambo of Ages.")

Chet the E-Mail Boy said he always like Kookla, Fran, and Ollie, as well as Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod.

The only problem is that I think Chet is probably serious.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:13 AM | Comments (6)

June 19, 2006

As for Father's Day--

--aside from the prospect of serious bodily injury, I got some sweet cards from the children (including two extra hand-made ones) and some cool stuff--a DVD of The Out-of-Towners with Steve Martin and John Cleese (and Goldie Hawn, whom I can't stand, but the kids don't know that, so don't tell them), the first season DVD of The Office, a big bowl of Sunkist jelly beans, two books by Paulo Coelho--a writer with whom I'm decidedly unfamiliar, and the book I started on last night, 1776 by David McCullough.

I'm hoping for a good read on this one, but I was getting a bit antsy last night during the first chapter as he seemed to be straining at the seams to draw as many parallels as possible to our current Administration and our conflicts in the Middle East. It's not that parallels can't be drawn, it's that they can be drawn between ANY conflicts. Pointing out obvious similarities and acting as smug as if you've just invented the wheel doesn't really make you look that clever, especially when you're cherry-picking press quotes, no matter if they're from the 18th Century or the 21st. Maybe I was reading too much into it, but then again, maybe he's a much more hamfisted partisan hack than I gave him credit for being. I think not, but we'll see.

Other Father's Day gifts will go unreported in order to protect the delicate sensibilities of Miss Reba.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:31 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2006

I usually complain--

--about poor customer service.

BUT, every once in a while someone comes along who knows how to take care of their customers.

As you might recall, I was miffed this past weekend when I couldn't find any replacement bird feeders that were as good as the ones I already had. The whole post is here, but it boiled down to the fact that the new feeders had crappy plastic perches and lids (ready to be gnawed away by the stupid tree rats), and I had to fix them with leftover parts from my old feeders. Sorta. I still had two plastic perches, and the bottoms were still nice, chewy plastic.

IN a fit of pique, I e-mailed the company's customer service rep, explained my situation, and asked if they had any of the metal parts for sale--perches and lids.

After a couple of go-rounds where I tried to make it clear I didn't need a whole feeder, just the parts, the lady I was corresponding with said she'd check the warehouse and see what she could find. Which I thought was very nice of her. I told her I would be glad to purchase anything they had if she could find anything.

ON TO TODAY, where, as I was sitting here minding my own business, the secretary brought in a long white box. Not expecting any Volvo parts deliveries, of course my first inclination was to check and make sure it wasn't ticking.

Hearing that it wasn't, I saw that it had come from the Heath company. I had no idea why they'd sent such a huge box for some piddly little bits of pot metal.

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE when I opened it up, and inside was the Model 493 Silver Sky PREMIUM feeder--fully assembled, all metal components, and lifetime warranted! Metal cap with a metal rod holding the hanging bail. Metal perches. It even has a metal bottom held in place with SCREWS. This baby is the top of the line!

I just now wrote the nice lady back and thanked her (I hope profusely enough) for sending along a whole feeder, since I only needed the parts, and asked her how much I owed them.

"I couldn’t find any parts so that is why we sent the feeder at no charge. Enjoy the birds!"

So, in the spirit of giving credit where due, I would like to thank the Heath Outdoor Products Company, and most especially their Customer Service Manager, Ms. Nanci Beck, for making me one happy possum!

Take THAT you stupid squirrels! ::shakes fist::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:21 PM | Comments (5)

I did not know that!

I never realized Martin Luther King's dream was that rich white men would be able to swap money for political favors without fear of government intrusion! That's COOL! Now if only I were a rich white man...

Scrushy attorney invokes MLK Jr.

By EDDIE CURRAN

Staff Reporter

MONTGOMERY -- Jurors now deliberating the fate of former Gov. Don Siegelman, ex-HealthSouth Corp. Chairman Richard Scrushy and two others can "make Dr. (Martin Luther) King's dream come true by returning a verdict of not guilty" against Scrushy, famed civil rights lawyer Fred Gray said here Thursday.

Gray's rousing closing argument opened with a Psalm, then segued into a recitation of some of Gray's best known civil rights cases, including his representation of King in the 1960s and, later, the case against the federal government on behalf of black victims of the Tuskegee syphilis study.

As Gray spoke, another member of the Scrushy legal team quietly put up a poster-board of King's, "I have a dream," speech.

With his voice rising to a crescendo, Gray gave the final words from the defendants in this now seven-weeks-long public corruption trial. He implored federal jurors to "fulfill Dr. King's dream and fulfill that old song!"

"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty we're Free at last!" Gray sang out. [...]

Amen brother!

Why would anyone dare get up and say this kind of silly garbage about these guys?

One, money.

Two, it would probably work a WHOLE lot better than actually arguing the merits of the case. The defense strategy has grown into quite a show, all predicated on the idea that the government's case is a sham, is politically motivated, is full of lies, and is just ridiculous on its face. So WHAT if people got a little favor or two--that's what friends do! So WHAT if people where strongarmed into giving money for political campaigns--why, that happens ALL the TIME! It's not like anyone said, "Go break the law," so therefore, no laws were broken! So, rather than discuss all that, (which might lend credence to the charges, after all) let's just skip right to trying to pander to emotion, and not JUST emotion, but the raw emotionalism of the Civil Rights era, when Martin Luther King took to the streets of Montgomery to insure that one day Don Siegelman would have the right to walk down the street with his head held high and his hand in everyone's pocket! Where little little petty moneygrubbers could join hands with obsequious little politicians and walk together as co-conspirators free of the injustice of obeying the law.

Free at last?

Oh no, my friend.

Bought and sold.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2006

The Flag

A very succinct post from Skinnydan on the flag as a symbol of the things that are both right, and wrong, with a nation.

I am proud of the United States. I love it above every other place I've ever been, and don't mind being an American in the least. I think it is the best place in the world. BUT--despite expressing such awful sentiments that lefties might be quick to pronounce as mindless jingoism--it doesn't bother me that people in OTHER countries feel the same way about THEIR country. It's sorta like kids--I love mine and think they're the best looking in the world. I also realize everyone else thinks the same thing about their kids.

EVERYONE should love their country, and there's nothing wrong with a bit of healthy national pride. And in the example cited by Dan, I can't think of a thing wrong with English soccer fans flying the Cross of St. George, or of Scottish fans flying the flag of St. Andrew, or Northern Irish fans flying the flag of St. Patrick, or even of Welsh fans flying their dragon flag.

In the end, if it makes the Offended Victims of Fluttery Cloth crowd unhappy, it can't be all bad.

Speaking of which, the U.S. is blessed with all sorts of flags that evoke discomfort amongst those of a certain stripe (so to speak)--nothing like the First Navy Jack to warm up a crowd.

first-navy-jack.jpg

And, of course, one to upset the Establishment Clause crowd, flown from the armed (guns BAD) schooner fleet outfitted from the personal wealth (profit BAD) of the evil George Washington--

AppealToHeaven.jpg

So, fly your flag proudly.

apollo flag.jpg

(And please, this image was not chosen simply to offend moonbats.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2006

More surprises.

Bush meets with Iraqi PM in surprise trip

Yet more opportunity for The Left to get itself into a lather. Which is fine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:05 AM | Comments (2)

Well, now...

This was a surprise of sorts--Defense rests in Siegelman government corruption trial.

The gambit seems to be, "we've been saying all along the Feds have no case, so we don't even have to mount a defense." It might not be that big of a gamble--although the government's case is as strong as any case can ever be against a criminal, there seems to be a big swath of the population who can be persuaded that unless we have a signed piece of paper saying 'I want you to go get me some bribe money' that no crime has been committed. The precept of reasonable doubt has become very squishy in certain cases, especially in those cases where there are defendants can afford to hire clever legal advice, and defendants who directly appeal to a certain portion of society who tend to think of the law in partisan terms.

Be interesting to see how this turns out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

My newest idea!

It's something I've noticed for a while, that being the propensity of our Arabic friends to express joy through the indiscriminate firing of weaponry into the air. This photo of an Iraqi granny emptying the mag of a gat into the air in celebration of al-Zarqawi's devivification reminded me of this phenomenon.

Now then, while I think this is charmingly juvenile, being a guy and all, I think this only because I'm looking at it on a monitor and not having to dance around and dodge a hail of falling 9mm and 7.62mm slugs!

Ishmaelites! Peoples of the Desert! Falling bullets are DANGEROUS! You could be harming or killing people who don't need a good harming or killing!

Now then, again, it's not like I don't understand the allure, and it's actually not something that is strictly Arabic in nature. Back in the 18th Century, the idea of having a military celebration with a rattle of musket-fire was pretty common. The French called it a feu de joie, and all the cool armies did it, even folks such as our own Continental troops, who would be ordered on special occasions to let loose to celebrate days such a July 4, or when they went and did something really nifty like defeating Cornwallis.

BUT HERE'S THE DEAL--the quartermaster would issue blank cartridges to everyone, because even though the science of physics was still in its infancy, they still understood that dancing about to dodge a hail of .75 caliber lead balls falling from the sky really puts a damper on any celebration.

So, I propose that we institute a program whereby we assist the Iraqi people in procuring a sufficient store of blank cartridges that each family--including Mee-maw--would have a sufficient number of rounds to provide noisesome and gratifying celebratory gunfire, while limiting the amount of falling projectiles.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:24 AM | Comments (5)

June 08, 2006

Okay, I love everyone.

Bunches. And heaps and wads. Especially the people I go to church with. But I tell you, sometimes you wish they didn't have your e-mail address.

Just got a forwarded request to put my name on a petition. The folks who sent it are nice, well-meaning folks, who are just now discovering this Internet thing, and I'm sure they probably feel very strongly about the subject of the item they passed along. Which just happened to be all them there illegals a'gittin' all our Social Security. Or, as the e-mail stated it "social security."

But come on, folks--no one cares about e-mailed petitions, because they don't work, and they don't work because no one cares about them. MOST ESPECIALLY when the text I'm supposed to agree to seems to have been prepared by a lobotomized spider monkey.

If you want to make a difference, call the person or send a hand-written letter.

And when you do send a real letter, use the proper forms of address for the type of office that person holds. Realize that the plural of a term such as "illegal" is not "illegal's." And such things as Senate and Congress and House of Representatives and Social Security are supposed to be capitalized. And verbs are supposed to agree with their subjects. And sentences are composed of a subject and a verb. And that sentences should be polite, and respectful, and crafted to actually make a substantive point, rather than read like some sort of polecat manifesto.

Thank goodness for the delete button.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2006

Oh, please.

Apparently all of the puppy smoothies have gotten to Doc Reynolds. He notes some sort of robotic floor cleaner, and says: "The reviews aren't bad, but I'm skeptical. I really want Rosie from The Jetsons."

I mean, Rosie was well-meaning and all, but good grief, dude--she had that horrible, grating Hazel-like voice, and she was all the time having to thwap herself in the head to make herself remember things.

If we're gonna have floor cleaning robots, I want one like Jean Marsh in that cool Twilight Zone episode where they dropped her on that asteroid with the convict guy, or like Ashley Scott in AI.

Then, if the floor didn't get clean, you know, like, who cares?!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:12 PM | Comments (2)

May 31, 2006

A very bad thing.

A sobering story that started unfolding this morning: Lawyer kidnapped in Birmingham; tag number released

It's unclear what's going on--the police have information about activity on her bank accounts at three different locations, and they have a cell phone call from her, which seems like it would make it slightly easier to track her kidnapper.

Terrible things like this can occur anywhere, even someplace you might feel safe--believe it or not, downtown Birmingham really isn't the worst place for crime, but crime can still happen anywhere, anytime. Also, although I honor and respect our police force, they can't be everywhere. It would be vanishingly unlikely that the police would be in a position to prevent a crime such as this from happening. They might be able to find you later, but later might not be good. Further, this could just as easily been a man as it was a woman--it is essential whenever you are in public that you try to be aware of your surroundings and be ready to react if you must. As usual, I recommend you read local range operator and police officer John Grigsby's excellent handbook on self-defense. Although geared toward those who carry firearms, it is still full of good information for those who don't.

My prayers go out to this young lady and her family, and I hope she is found safe.

UPDATE: 6/1/06 As I was on the way home yesterday, I was listening to the news on the radio when word came that police had located Ms. Gregory and her assailant and rescued her safely.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

More cuteness than you can shake a cute stick at!

(Belated) Congratulations to Sarah and Larry, who seem to be awfully fond of each other.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:23 PM | Comments (2)

Which means that somewhere in Mumbai...

...a disgruntled customer will be complaining about not being able to understand the accent of some Alabama tech guy--

India firm set to open office in Magic City

MICHAEL TOMBERLIN
News staff writer

An India-based technology company is planning to open an office in Birmingham, eventually creating 100 jobs in what organizers hope will be the first of many companies coming to the state from that country.

ITC Infotech, a subsidiary of India's ITC Limited, is scouting the Inverness area for office space. The location will serve as the company's Southeast headquarters with 20 jobs initially. The company plans to add 80 more over three years.

ITC handles information technology services for clients, including networking, programming and software testing. [...]

Silliness aside, it's a good article, and if this venture is successful, look for a lot more in the future. Birmingham has a relatively large population of folks who've come here from Southwest Asia and done well for themselves, and the costs of doing business are somewhat lower here, so it should be interesting to see what happens.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:36 AM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2006

Boy, how I hate--

--answering the phone. Thankfully, it's a day after a holiday, and so there aren't that many calls. Likewise, only one angry citizen who has gotten herself entangled with one of the many mental deficients who populate the main floor of our building. The feeble-minded person who was dealing with her first called upstairs where I tried to tell him the guy he was looking for was gone. Not being able to make Mr. Microbrain [not his real name] understand the concept of "gone," I decided to transfer his phone call so he could hear for himself what "gone" means.

After listening to the intermittent tinkling-buzzy sound of an unanswered telephone, yet completely oblivious and undeterred as to what "not here" was like, some minutes later he showed up to inquire about the person he'd phoned earlier.

"He's gone. Still."

I then had to hear the story (such as it was) of why he couldn't help out the angry citizen downstairs as it was being told to someone else on our floor. Someone who had no idea about what was going on.

So then, Mr. Microbrain hied himself back downstairs. Sometime later, a lady came up asking to speak to the very same Man Who Is Gone.

"Ma'am, he's out of the office in the field, and I'm not sure when he'll return."

"Well, I was just downstairs and they sent me up here to talk to him and" Etc., etc.

I finally understood that this lady was the one whom Mr. Microbrain had been dealing with. "Uh--ma'am? Ma'am? Did Mr. Microbrain send you up here?" "Yes, he did! And I am trying to figure out--" More of her story, etc.

I finally managed to talk to a Muckety-muck, whose only help was in telling me to tell her to go back downstairs and wait to speak to someone else. Who just happens not to be in the office at the moment.

Golly--and people around here wonder why no one likes dealing with us!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

And speaking of lightning...

Daphne woman hit by lightning while praying for family in storm

DAPHNE, Ala. (AP) — Worried about the safety of her family during a stormy Memorial Day trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown stood in her kitchen and prayed for their safe return as a strong thunderstorm raged through Baldwin County.

Suddenly, lightning exploded, blowing through the linoleum and leaving a pockmarked area on the concrete. Brown wound up on the floor, dazed and disoriented by the blast but otherwise uninjured.

"I said, 'Amen,' and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire," she said. "I'm blessed to be alive." [...]

"I was just standing there when a huge ball of fire engulfed this whole room. I don't remember much after that," Brown said hours later as her family helped clean her home. "Concrete was everywhere."

Brown was at home alone when the storm hit, while her husband, James Brown, was at the store and her son and his family were on their way back from the beach.

James Brown said fire officials told him lightning likely struck across the street from the couple's home and traveled into the house through a water line. The lightning continued into the couple's backyard and ripped open a small trench, James Brown said. Pieces of concrete were scattered throughout the family's kitchen — ruining day-old brownies sitting on the stove. [...]

You know, all things considered, I don't think I would be too worried about the day old brownies on the stove.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:16 PM | Comments (5)

Although it has been said--

"never bring a knife to a gunfight," sometimes, if the guy with the knife happens to have served in the Marines, you might better bring more than a shotgun, a pistol, and four assailants.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:11 AM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2006

Apparently, they never understood the need to become televangelists...

Lay, Skilling convicted in Enron collapse

Meanwhile, in a Montgomery, Alabama courthouse, a disgraced but proudly unconvicted former HealthSouth founder and CEO receives a text message of the result on his Blackberry, and can barely stifle a cackle.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

Huh?

Mop-topped Hicks crowned 'American Idol'

Mop-topped?

Now, I've heard a lot of talk this season about his gray hair, but it would be very difficult to think of his neatly trimmed hair as moppish. THIS is mop-topped--

clay mop.jpg

Good googly-woogly, Gus, what on EARTH has Clay done to himself!?

Anyway, THAT is quite the mop, or if you prefer, there is also available a handy sponge you can use to clean bottles--

sideshow bob.jpg

Yikes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:21 AM | Comments (2)

May 22, 2006

You don't say.

Bush not likely to see Gore's film

And the winner of the Palm D'Or for Best Implementation of Unintended Self-Parody--

Speaking Saturday in France at the Cannes Film Festival about global warming, [failed Presidential aspirant Albert Arnold, Jr.] Gore said, "I even believe there is a chance that within the next two years, even (President) Bush and (Vice President) Dick Cheney will be forced to change their position on this crisis," he said. "One can only attempt to create one's own reality for so long. Reality proper has a way of insisting itself upon you."

Spoken like a true alpha male.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:38 PM | Comments (6)

May 19, 2006

Steevil News Network

This afternoon's news tip updates from Steevil, famed NASA rocket scientist and quahogger--

From Arkansas--someone must have gotten an advance copy of Bill Clinton's book on public service. And yes, there must be something in the water.

From Afghanistan--Steevil notes it might be best for Satari not to laugh, in that if mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy.

From Florida--THEY'RE KILLING THE ARCHITECTS! By way of Bldg Blog, by way of Ann Althouse, the fascinating story of a novel pest control scheme.

From Missouri--will it be good-bye to the enigmatic #33? Devotees of fermented hops and malt (i.e., Steevil and Jimbo) say probably so.

Finally, from Italy--Steevil points us to this cruel japery from the Brothers Judd blog, delivered at the expense of the nation that gave us Sophia Loren. Please, can't we encourage them to do what it is they do best, and leave things like using explodey stuff and firearms to us?

We would like to express our thanks to Steevil for this roundup. Thanks, Steevil!


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:09 PM | Comments (3)

May 16, 2006

English

I'm not a big grammar and usage pedant. As you might notice, I occasionally take liberties with English, and don't apologize, or even call back later to talk it over. But spelling errors do catch my attention, especially when I make them, and even more especially when they are of the homophonic variety. "They're, there, their," you might say, "don't feel bad. Or badly. Or whatever." But I do, and I do try to fix stuff when I find it.

Anyway, I understand that I don't have a lot of room to talk about other people'ses mistakes, but there is one that keeps gouging at my eyes every time I see it.

"Ya'll."

I cannot STAND to see that good old Southern contraction for you all rendered as if the first word is "ya." And the second is, well, something ending in two ells.

It's y'all. Y(ou) all.

So stop spelling it wrong right now.

Y'all have been warned.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (20)

May 11, 2006

Well, I just can't not say something.

I mean, here we are again, with yet another Birminghamster in the final rounds of American Idol.

I haven't posted a lot about the show, because I find it frustrating; although, oddly enough, not so frustrating that I won't watch it. I was encouraged at the first of the season when it appeared Randy had done away with his incessant use of the term "dog" for EVERYthing. However, it returned full force. He's a smart guy, so it's not like he can't come up with something else. But I have to believe that if "Randy Says Dog" was a drinking game, everyone would be just like Paula and sloppy drunk within five minutes.

Paula. I'm sorry, but I don't buy the, "it's only the medication I have to take to function that makes me act this way" story. She needs help.

Simon. I'm tired of everyone booing him. Of the three, he's probably the most objective, although he does have his obvious favorites. But the audience reaction and, more pointedly, the reaction from Randy and Paula, is just too stupid. It's embarrassing to everyone and makes me uncomfortable in the same way I get when I watch the Democratic National Convention.

Ryan. Twit. Without this show, he'd be sharing a spot on the too-echo-headed-to-have-a-real-job list along with Kato Kaelin. He has his funny moments during the auditions, but the scripted banter with Simon is achingly unfunny and makes me uncomfortable in the same way I get when I think about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid necking in the backseat of Patrick Kennedy's Mustang.

ANYway, as for the final three--I was about as shocked as anyone else that Chris is gone. I detested his stupid topiary facial hair, and the extremely self-conscious "I am a ROCKER, dude!" persona, but he really could sing pretty well.

Elliot? Well, he's an okay singer. But as an unattractive man, I can safely say that's ONE UGLY GUY. I think "Goat Boy" every time I see him, and as you can guess, this makes me uncomfortable, and in the same way as seeing Mr. Tumnus on Narnia. But I will say this, he has gotten better every week, and he doesn't seem so full of himself like some of the other has-beens have been. I think he's a good kid, and I just hope if he does somehow manage to win that the first thing he uses his big recording contract for is some dental work.

Katharine? Well, ever since Becky O'Donohue got booted early, I've been hoping she'd continue on, based simply on looks. As an unattractive man, I can safely say she is incredibly attractive in that "pretty girl with some real good squishiness in all the right places" sort of way. Voice? She's got one, but frankly, there's little in the way of feeling to it--she has yet to make the hairs on my neck stand up the way that Kelly Clarkson could, or even Mandissa from this year. Technically, good but lacking that oomph that says you understand the lyrics you're singing. She might stay in until the final two, but I can't see her winning, especially if she keep screwing up like she has the past couple of times.

Which leaves Taylor. And the question of just how it is that Birmingham keeps managing to get people into the finals of this program. As this Birmingham News article from today notes:

[...] During interviews this week, "Idol" judge Simon Cowell predicted Hicks would make it into the finals, which will be May 23 and 24 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

If so, Hicks will be the fourth contestant with Birmingham ties to battle for the "Idol" title, following Ruben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo and Harold "Bo" Bice. Studdard, a Birmingham resident, won the competition in 2003. DeGarmo, a Birmingham native, and Bice, a former Helena resident, were runners-up in 2004 and 2005, respectively. [...]

So, just how is that happening? Well, I think it's because if anyone from Birmingham manages to make it through to the voting rounds, the tremendous marketing power of our local FOX affiliate brings in a huge amount of potential voters that other contestants just can't get. In past years (as in this year), if any tie can be found to Birmingham or to Alabama, WBRC goes into near full-time "news" coverage, with all sorts of cross-promotions and coverage of viewing parties (which are given huge amounts of exposure during the local news segments) and a host of other goodwill. This wouldn't be that much of a deal in some markets where the FOX affiliate is small, but WBRC is the ratings 600-pound gorilla in this market, and has a very broad signal coverage in a relatively large (around #40) television market.

Not that the Birmingham performers aren't good--they are--but when you can effectively co-opt a local broadcast company (or when a local broadcast company allows itself to be co-opted) to provide free public relations (such as Taylor's appearance tomorrow morning on their morning show Good Day Alabama) well, it sure can't hurt your chances.

As for Taylor himself, I like him. I've always like guys who sound like guys--I can't stand these boy band types who sound like Britney Spears at a slightly lower pitch. And I just like his goofy good humor, and he can sing pretty well, if it's in his comfort zone. I have a feeling though, that Simon and his company wouldn't know what in the world to do with him. Taylor's gotten this far because of things that aren't typical in the poppish, sugar-coated, zippity-doo-dah music genre, and I have a feeling that Taylor would actually do better for himself if he came in second. That way he could write his own ticket and not be beholden to trying to please the various handlers and goobs who are more comfortable with someone like K-Fed.

Anyway, they're going to have a big parade for him tomorrow outside my window, so I'll try to remember to bring my camera. I am, after all, not above allowing myself to be co-opted.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:40 AM | Comments (6)

May 04, 2006

With the regularity of Ol' Faithful...

...we were blessed here in town YET AGAIN with a tractor-trailer dumping a load of steel on a section of the downtown Interstate 59S/20W, YET AGAIN punching several holes in the roadway, and YET AGAIN tying up traffic for the whole area. Making it worse is that the local television stations all gave conflicting reports of exactly where traffic was being diverted off of the inbound portions of the Interstate, and if and when some lanes were going to be open, or not.

I got here with plenty of time to spare, though, even with taking the two middle kids to the middle school, because Birmingham does have the benefit of an extensive grid of surface streets, including some major thoroughfares that were in place before the Interstate came through.

It also really helps to know your way around.

The big problem for people coming from my part of town is that everyone gets on Highway 11/Roebuck Parkway/1st Avenue and it creates a tremendous traffic jam on that roadway. When it gets like that, you might as well just stay on the Interstate if it's moving even the slightest bit.

But this morning, I figured I'd try a different tack--I-459 to I-20, exit on Montevallo Road/Highway 78, then take Montclair Road all the way into town. This was something of a gamble, because Montclair necks down to a simple two-lane street when it gets to Mountain Brook, and continues like that as it changes to Pawnee then to Niazuma then to 26th Street, South then to 10th Avenue, South then finally to 24th Street, South (all of these are nothing more than changes in designation, and they occur within the span of no more than about a mile and a half--confusion for the sake of confusion). The final designation, 24th Street, is then a straight shot across to the north side of town, and then you hang a left on 8th Avenue, North and then you're home. Or to the office. The whole jaunt got me here in about 40 minutes, which is about 10 minutes longer than the usual route via the Interstate.

It's kinda frustrating to me that so many people don't see what a useful layout we have--Birmingham is, and just about always has been, laid out for getting around with relative ease. Back around the turn of the previous century, before "suburban sprawl" was a four letter word, Birmingham had an extensive web of streetcar suburbs spread out all over Jones Valley, but instead of making the suburbs function like some of our New Urbanist social-planners' fervid dreams by doing away with private transportation, the original layout also made provision for automobiles, too. The streetcars are gone, but the wide-laned grid remains as useful as ever for bypassing the occasional indigestion on the limited access parts of the system. Yes, it's a bit slower, and the capacity is lower, but it beats not moving at all.

Anyway, I'd like to encourage all of you to do a bit of exploring and find out how to get around town, even if it means getting out and burning up a bit of precious hydrocarbons.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:40 AM | Comments (12)

May 02, 2006

Alternatives

I remember a long time back--maybe twenty or even thirty years or so, I'm not sure of the exact year--when there was a sudden rise in the price of coffee. Folks were going crazy about it, and my mother responded by not buying coffee.

Same thing with lettuce a few years back, too--it went up sky high to some weather-related malady, and suddenly it was $5 a head when it had been 50 cents. I seem to recall my mother responding in the exact same fashion she did when coffee got so high--she just quit buying it until it was cheap again.

That's what happens when you have a product that is something you want, but not necessarily need. You either do without, or you find out there are alternatives.

Now, I really think this guy in the picture was a FrankJ ringer sent in as a show of mockery, but just in case he thinks he's serious, he might just want to know that a) not every burrito is made by an illegal immigrant, and b) there are other things to eat besides burritos.

This phenomenon of substitution was also noted by Delaware's own Fritz Schranck, who found that although his favorita Mexican place might have been closed up in solidarity with the protests of yesterday, there was, in fact, ANOTHER restaurant in the area which was all too happy to take Fritz's money.

As Fritz notes, the call for demonstrating political power through idleness was probably not such a great idea, especially in a nation where there are alternatives to illegally hiring illegal immigrants. Yes, taking those alternatives might be more expensive in the short term, but we also have the option of not filling some jobs that could be considered non-essential. And that's not just talking about what you eat in the restaurant.

In the end, there are many jobs at the lower reaches of the pay scale that don't pay much simply because those types of jobs don't require any particular skill-set other than respiration. If immigrants truly want to empower themselves, the way to do that is through acquiring skills and knowledge that the greater society they happen to find themselves in sees as valuable.

In this country, the first step to making that happen means learning to speak English. It is easier to learn English in America than it is to learn any other language in any other country--this nation goes out of its way to offer opportunities to learn, and furthermore, the language is so full of different methods of saying the same thing, it itself lends to being understood functionally even if you don't quite have fluency. It is much more forgiving of grammatical errors and syntactical flubs than any other language I know of.

Of course, English's flexibility does have a downside, in that writing and reading it can be an awful chore due to all the aggregated (or aggravating) spellings brought in from other languages, but a person who comes to this country still has it much easier than other places. Take advantage of that.

Second step--decide you want to be an American. If you just can't stand that idea, then it's best for all concerned that you go on back to your homeland and make your own society as open, free, democratic, wealthy, prosperous, and accommodating of others as you have found America to be.

If you want the majority of Americans to work with you and accept your contribution, you cannot do it by saying you want to take back all the land that your Spanish forebears stole from the Indians and that we defeated you fair and square for; and you can't expect us to pay you good money only to hear how awful and evil and terrible America is. We have the New York Times for that. You want the rewards this country offers? Then accept the method by which those rewards have been brought about--which weren't developed by Che or Castro, by the way--and embrace the free enterprise system, and the idea that you are responsible for making your own way in this world.

True, it seems unfair that we expect you to work and make your own way, when we already have a bunch of ne'er-do-wells who sit around and suck at the public teat, due only to God's grace for them having been born here, but we do at least put them in Congress so they're less apt to hurt people.

Third, after you've decided to learn the language and embrace the idea of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and have decided you are unwilling to allow yourselves to be used as tool of those who wish to destroy your adopted homeland, make sure your children are told how valuable education is, and how they can go even further than you ever dreamed. Never let them accept that it's okay to fail--teach them to overcome failure. And don't think that educating your children to be good Americans means your kids can never know about where their ancestors came from--this country is made up of a bunch of people from all over, and we all like to get together and have parades and stuff to celebrate that and show off. Remember, if you think your land is so much better, you can return and no one will think less of you.

But never forget this--if you want to succeed in America, you have to be American.

But, if you want to be perpetual second-class residents, in the thrall of identity politicians who will take you for granted and never deliver on their promises, if you never want to be more than a peon with a slightly nicer house--then proceed on with your addle-pated desire for cultural insularity, and the economic suicide of being unwilling to add value to yourselves through education and by embracing a proven system of law and governance that has withstood the test of time.

And don't whine about it when you find out I can buy burritos in the grocery store.

UPDATE: More on the subject from Dr. Joyner.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

Pictures!

Well, some, at least. I had intended to snap a few more than I did, but when I went to take a photo of one lady's extraordinary display of quilts, she scolded me severely and asked me not to take pictures of her quilts, so I got all nervous about taking ANY pictures of anything specific. But, maybe you'll get the general feel of the event.

First up, the view from my office--a more southeasterly view:

and then one in a more northeasterly direction:

I have a nice view.

This was a steel drum band from UAB they had set up to play--

right in front of the gyro trailers.

The band was really quite good. The food I can't vouch for because I was too impatient to stand in a line that did not move.

On around--here is one guy's metal stuff that I thought was quite good--

I took this before getting scolded, so let me just say to anyone who sees this photo NOT to rip off this man's designs! EVER! You will also note the woman in the foreground is in high-water pants, which I generally can't tolerate, but ONLY when worn as business attire. On a day like today, they were perfectly appropriate. Which is why I decided to walk around the rest of the time with my slacks rolled up to my knees. (Sorry, no picture of that.)

The nice thing about the park is that there's ample shade--nice big trees, and a gazebo that usually houses an assortment of urban campers. Today it was taken up with the event organizers. They seem to have showered. Also, you will notice that the mama over on the right of the picture is also seen wearing a gaucho-inspired variation of the high water pants; but again, in a much more appropriate setting for them. (And she was cute, too, so she would have gotten a pass no matter what.)

Another purty-type shot just for effect--

--along with one of the entrance to the old main library that now serves as the archive building--

Rounding the corner, I disturbed this couple's lunch for no good reason.

One of my favorite things about the park is one that I should have mentioned the other day when I did the post on the anniversary of the Spanish-American War--there is a very impressive statue in the park commemorating local soldiers who served.
Here's one view:

--and another:

I like it for a couple of reasons--the pose is natural, and is at once alert and relaxed, and distinctively masculine. We also have one of Viquesney's mass produced "Spirit of the American Doughboy" WWI statues, but it just isn't as good, mainly because it looks too posed. No one runs with a grenade like that unless they want to get killed. But the proto-Rough Rider gets it right, and the details are quite nicely done, right down to the well-rendered Krag-Jorgensen rifle and sling--

and the Mills pattern cartridge belt--

The dedication reads like this:

IN HONOR OF THE SOLDIERS,
SAILORS, MARINES, AND NURSES
OF THE VOLUNTEER ARMY OF THE
REPUBLIC WHO SERVED IN THE
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR,
THE PHILIPPINE INSURRECTION,
AND THE BOXER REBELLION

APRIL 21, 1898 -- JULY 4, 1902

There is a companion inscription on the back, but I couldn't get around to it to photograph it. There are two other mottos on each side. This simple one:

and this one, which at one time was equally well-known:

"Gridley" refers to Captain Charles Gridley, skipper of Dewey's flagship, USS Olympia.

In all, a nice perambulation, and some stunningly beautiful artwork. However. (Always one of those, isn't there?) Although some of the work was beautiful, there was an equal amount that was just crap. Silly, pretentious, self-referential, self-absorbed, talentless dreck. Which to me is one of the problems with art nowadays--basically, anything can be art, if an artist says "this is my art."

Take this famous image, for example:

I mean, what in the world is so great and wonderful about that!? Well, an artist decided it was art, and therefore, it is art. And since it's managed to become famous by being famous, there are bound to be some who'd accept it as art.

Even though it's nothing more than a plaza drainage grate I took a picture of myself and diddled about with.

I suppose if people want to produce crap for a crapophilic market, that's fine, but it's still crap.

ANYway, that was my lunch hour in the park!

NOW THEN, back to work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:02 PM | Comments (8)

April 25, 2006

Oh, good grief.

Moussaoui jury can't have dictionary

By MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui asked for but were denied a dictionary Tuesday for use during their deliberations on whether the Sept. 11 conspirator should receive a death sentence or life in prison.

Before their lunch break, the jurors — and Moussaoui — filed into the courtroom to hear the response of Judge Leonie Brinkema to the request to have a dictionary in the jury room.

Brinkema told them that sending a dictionary in would be like adding additional evidence in the case, but she invited them to come back if they had questions about specific definitions. And she warned them against doing their own research, including looking up definitions. [...]

I feel for these folks because they do have a tough job to do. But this is stupid. I have a feeling there must be one or two people holding out (for either decision--life in prison or execution) and my guess is that it all probably boils down to what the definition of martyr is. In any case, the judge's instructions seem sound, and to me basically boil down to telling them to go on the evidence they have in front of them, not on their feeling that they might look around at something else long enough to find an 'out' to justify one particular decision or another.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

Well, if anyone knows a thing or two about obscene amounts of money being paid for precious little in the way of substantive work...

...Senators raise idea of taxing 'obscene' oil profits

Well, that would be fine, if there was no such thing as supply and demand. Because oil is a commodity, and the only way we can get oil is from people who have oil wells, and you can't just switch to something else to run your car on, any taxes pretty quickly are passed right along to consumers. Second, if you want incentives to get oil companies to explore and drill for more oil, profits are a pretty good way of doing that. What might not be profitable to exploit at $50 a barrel suddenly becomes much more attractive at $70. Third, unlike Senators, it's not like oil companies have a big room full of dollar bills that they go and wallow in--profits are useless unless they are either returned to the economy either as dividends for stockholders (which would include smart retirees who put some of their 401K money in energy stocks) or to the economy as new construction and exploration, or as raises and bonuses for employees--all of which will be taxed in some way. Finally, it has long been a staple argument from the environmentalists that the government should be RAISING gas prices through burdensome taxation to make people drive more fuel efficiently, or alternately, to fill up all the empty mass transit boondoggles. So, it's not that they really dislike high gas prices--they just want the government to control all that extra cash, rather than private individuals.

No, I don't like paying more for gasoline. But adding on a tax that will only get passed along to me ISN'T HELPING ME! You want to reduce long-term reliance on petroleum? Open up more public land for drilling, and quit blocking the construction of new nuclear plants.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2006

Hmm--

Hu wraps up U.S. tour with visit to Yale

I wonder if he's going to pick up an enrollment package while he's there. Nothing like the ringing endorsement of a totalitarianist:

[...] He opened his speech by quipping "if time could go back several decades I would really like to be a student of Yale, just like you." [...]

Hey, if there's room for a former Taliban member, surely there's room for a Chicomm quipster.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:53 AM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2006

How very odd.

Investigators: Booster death was accident

By WOODY BAIRD
The Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A University of Alabama football booster died when he hit his head in an accidental fall at home, rather than being slain as first thought, the police director said Thursday.

Police initially described the death of 65-year-old Logan Young as a bloody slaying after a fierce struggle but quit calling it a homicide a day later.

"He fell in his house, hit his head on a metal stair railing and died from that injury," Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said at a news conference. [...]

Crime scene crews spent most of two days in Young's house, where police said blood or traces of blood were found in several rooms.

Lt. Joe Scott said Thursday that investigators determined that after Young fell, he lay on the floor awhile before getting up and walking into several rooms and then upstairs to his bedroom. [...]

Given the hyperventilating media coverage on Tuesday--fed in no small part by the police with their talk of a "mystery homicide"--this does seem to be an odd epilogue to the whole sad story. Given his notoriety, there will doubtless be folks who think there's yet more to the story than that of a simple fall and a dazed and dying man stumbling through his own house.

It was still an awful way to leave this life, but if there's any comfort to be found in it, at least it's not nearly so bad had it been done intentionally.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Two Headlines--

--that look just that much worse when they appear one right after the other on the news page:

Few states likely to reach new teacher quality mandates on time

South Alabama teacher accused of student sex, murder plot

And some people wonder why the home schooling movement keeps growing.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2006

Hmm.

Alabama booster convicted in recruiting scandal found dead

By TERESA M. WALKER
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Logan Young, the booster convicted of bribing a high school coach to get a top recruit for Alabama, was found dead Tuesday in his Memphis home, his defense attorney said.

Memphis police were on the scene of Young's home investigating the case as a homicide, Sgt. Vince Higgins said in a telephone interview. He said officials assume the victim was Young but needed to use fingerprints and dental records to confirm the identity.

"We're treating it as a mystery homicide," Higgins said.

Nashville defense attorney Jim Neal said he had been told the body was found by a housekeeper.

"I've had two or three calls about it, all to the same end, found killed in his home. ... I heard that there was blood everywhere. That is all I know," Neal said.

Young was 64 when he was sentenced last June to six months in prison and six months home confinement then two years supervised release. But he had been allowed to remain free pending his appeal in the case involving the peddling of defensive lineman Albert Means.

A "mystery homicide"? What on earth is that?

Anyway, an awful and terrible fate for Mr. Young. Given the nature of his life, you would probably be safe in saying he had far more enemies than friends, especially when you consider the way in which he exited life.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:06 AM | Comments (4)

A cautionary tale.

For those who think we should be able to just knock on the door to a cave and arrest Osama bin Ladin, this story out of Italy:

By LUCA BRUNO and FRANCES D'EMILIO
The Associated Press

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — Italy's reputed No. 1 Mafia boss was arrested Tuesday at a farmhouse in the Sicilian countryside after frustrating investigators' efforts to catch him during more than 40 years on the run, the Interior Ministry said. [...]

Provenzano, on the run since 1963, has proven an elusive target.

Turncoats have told investigators in recent years that he avoided capture for so long by sleeping in different farmhouses across the island every few nights and by giving orders with handwritten notes, not trusting cell phone conversations for fear they are monitored by police.

Authorities were also hampered in their hunt for him because their last photo of Provenzano dated back nearly 50 years. However, personnel at a clinic in southern France where Provenzano is believed to have been treated for prostate problems under a false name a few years ago helped police to create a new composite sketch. [...]

FORTY years. On an ISLAND. Sure, Sicily's not the smallest place in the world (at 9,925 square miles, it's just a bit bigger than Maryland) but dadgummit, it's still an ISLAND. And it's not like there isn't a governmental presence on Sicily--it has police and military, and a population of 5,000,000 people. And it still took forty years to catch the guy.

So, the next time you hear someone say they guarantee if you vote for them that they'll make sure to catch Osama, it might be best to take that with a grain of salt.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:21 AM | Comments (2)

I am reminded of a certain line from Dire Straits--

Clinton-Gore era returns at fundraiser

"...money for nuthin' and your chicks for free..."

Good times; gooood times.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:00 AM | Comments (4)

March 30, 2006

One for the "I am shocked--SHOCKED!" File

Iran defiantly rejects new U.N. demands

Why, it's almost as if they think the UN is a powerless, hidebound bureaucracy more suited to mindless finger-wagging than an effective deterrent to international brigandry!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:05 AM | Comments (7)

March 29, 2006

A simple solution, really.

I mean, I really have no idea what to do about illegal immigration, but it seems to me if we want all the illegal aliens to leave, probably the best thing to do is declare that they are now all under arrest and cannot leave the United States, and most especially cannot return, EVER, to their country of origin.

I figure the ACLU will be filing papers immediately to have everyone released and sent back home as quickly as possible, and if there is any delay whatsoever, I'm sure there will be an overnight grassroots movement that will sring up to spirit the poor prisoners out of the country.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2006

Training

Don't want to do it.

I know I could do it--the information is about the ADA, which I've had a relatively good handle on for a long time now, so it would be a nice refresher course for me. I just don't want to have to turn around then and try to teach this stuff to the other folks I work with.

I just don't have the patience for it--I've been in training sessions on other topics with certain of my esteemed coworkers, and it never fails to be a teeth-gritting experience. There's always one guy who thinks he's a lawyer, and wants to drag the discussion down a thousand different tangents, none of which make any sense, except possibly in Bizarro World. Then there's the person who hallucinates, and the guy who thinks he's bright and witty--just like Hawkeye on MASH--except he doesn't have a team of writers and a laff track, then there's the woman who is confused by things like "left" and "right."

Since we have rules that prohibit shouting at people and telling them that they need to either shut up and listen or leave, and other rules that say smiting them with fearsome blows is just right out, I just don't think I would do well in such a position.

Unless I could finagle a way to have a supermodel as my assistant.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)

Well, that's rather boring.

VisionLand amusement park now `Alabama Adventure'

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) — The VisionLand amusement park is getting a new name to go along with millions of dollars in improvements.

Southland Entertainment Group said Monday the park, located west of Birmingham, would now be called "Alabama Adventure."

The California-based company purchased the park three years ago, and president Kent Lemasters said a name change was planned all along. But Southland said the company wanted to make sure it "changed the park" before altering the name. [...]

I was always very partial to "Electric LarryLand."

(Those from the local area will appreciate that.)

Anyway, "Alabama Adventure" really isn't the most compelling name for a theme park. It's not bad, it's just sort of bland. Then again, something like "Knott's Berry Farm" doesn't exactly scream excitement, either, but it would be nice if it had a bit more oomph.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:53 AM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2006

What a nice parade!

In years past, I haven’t been quite so charitable to the St. Patty’s parade, which has always seemed to me to be a little lackluster, or something.

This year’s parade was better than I recall from years past, though, and now I could kick myself for not bringing my camera with me today.

But, that’s the breaks.

I went out for lunch and caught the head of the parade just breaking up in front of City Hall--the standard set of convertibles with either pretty girls or pocky old politicians. The Birmingham Irish Cultural Society was set up with a pipe and drum band (I’m almost certain it was these folks, but I will gladly make the correction if not) right at the end of 20th, and the cacophony of cats being strangled was stirring to the soul. Especially, I’m sure, for the Irish wolfhounds who had turned out.

There were more old cars and politicians driving by as I took up my post at the corner of Park Place and 20th (I was the chubby loner by the information kiosk), and then the more interestinger folks started coming by--the requisite curly-mop-haired toe dancers, people with kids on scooters, some Shriners, some cops and firefighters, various Irish pubs, and then something quite extraordinary--a Goth-girl roller derby group known as the Tragic City Rollers, (playing on Birmingham’s motto of “The Magic City”), who were all decked out with a variety of blinding green leggings and panties under their otherwise black ensembles. I realize I shouldn’t--I mean, I have a wonderful wife and family--but I tell you what, sometimes I do wish I were a young single man again.

But not to be outdone, no sooner had they passed than did pull up a float full of women from a local business known as The Furnace. (Sorry--no link on this one--you can use Google just as much as I can.) Anyway, from what I hear, this is a club where, unlike the mechanism on a Coke machine, dollar bills must be folded in half lengthwise before any sorts of refreshments are forthcoming. The girls were modestly dressed in nice tee shirts and shorts (in fact, probably more modestly than some of the onlookers) and were throwing out various caps and foam can cozies to the crowds. Well, to the men in the crowd.

Such a dilemma! I mean, I have tons of gimme caps, and they were FREE, and being thrown everywhere! Do I get one? Nah--somehow, I just don’t think Reba would have appreciated me wearing that particular one around the house or to the store.

Anyway, the girls all seemed as though they were having a wonderful time, and believe it or not, it is possible for them to move in a quite provocative manner to any sort of music, witnessed by the fact that one nicely-assembled brunette was bumping and grinding along to a tune that sounded very much like “Battle of the Tyne.” My only suggestion is that next year I think the girls could use a green, orange, and white striped pole attached to the bed of the trailer. Much safer that way--wouldn’t want any of them to fall off.

Anyway, quite a show this year to be sure--I’ll be sure and bring my camera next year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:01 PM | Comments (3)

March 16, 2006

Are Video Rental Places the Betamax of the Market?

I have no idea--we don't rent movies--we generally just buy them from the sale rack at Wallyworld, but I suppose a lot of people use the places. Just not as many as used to back in the glory days before the Internets. Lileks had a riff on these stores the other day:

[...] We have one in our neighborhood, part of a small chain, and while the owners were always friendly and nice when I went there (I could bring the dog!) the place smelled of wet musty carpet, the new stuff was always sold out, and half the store was given over to VHS tapes. And since the shelves faced big broad windows, the sun had leached the color from the boxes. So you’d walk past the store and see WESTWORLD and SUPERMAN II and other hits of the VHS era propped up like tiny little tombstones for a dying medium. In any case, whatever you wanted, they didn’t have it, unless it was one of 100 popular recent movies. Would I miss it – or rather, will I miss it when it closes? Not at all. It’s irrelevant. Now. Is there a social cost to losing a local merchant? Is the cost lesser if he’s a franchisee? Is the cost greater if it’s a local chain? I suppose there’s an answer, but I’m not sure it’s a useful one – and that’s a recipe for paralysis, anyway. [...]

He had an earlier one, too:

[...] I cannot enter a video store without detecting the faint whiff of death that saturates the industry . . . .the business model seems so 1985, like selling holy precious internet access by the minute in special stores. [...]

I couldn't help but remember what he said after I saw this headline: Movie Gallery amends bank debt, will miss filing deadline for its 10-K, and read the accompanying article.

If the second biggest concern is having a hard time, it doesn't bode well for the whole model.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:43 PM | Comments (4)

March 09, 2006

From "going postal"...

...to "going pedagogical"--Ex-teacher takes pupils hostage in French school

NANTES, France (Reuters) - An armed, unemployed teacher took 20 pupils and three adults hostage at his former school in western France on Thursday, local officials said.

Police surrounded the secondary school in Sable-sur-Sarthe in western France and established contact with the man, who barricaded the pupils aged 17 to 18, a teacher and two other adults into a classroom.

Other pupils were evacuated from the school and a hotline was set up for anxious parents.

A spokesman for the town authorities in Sable-sur-Sarthe said the man was a 33-year-old supply teacher who had recently worked at the Colbert de Torcy school but was now out of work, and was carrying a hand gun.

"The man wants to talk to the press about job problems," the spokesman said. [...]

Frankly (so to speak), I think he's got bigger problems right now than not having a job.


UPDATE: Thankfully, it's over, with no one getting hurt.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2006

Obviously something else we should blame Bush for...

Sonoma levee break floods Calif. highway

SCHELLVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A levee in Sonoma County broke early Monday, flooding part of a highway and threatening a half-dozen homes and a winery, the California Highway Patrol said.

Heavy weekend rains weakened the banks along Sonoma Creek, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a flash flood warning.

The levee that broke is on private property about seven miles south of the city of Sonoma, CHP Officer Gerald Rico said. The break flooded the property owner's vineyard and threatened about six other homes and a vineyard about a half-mile south of the site, Rico said. [...]

Does Bush's hubris know no bounds!? Imagine using his secret weather machine to breach a levee in the exact spot necessary to turn water into a winery.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:36 PM | Comments (3)

March 03, 2006

And in related handbasket news...

Schools pay staff for 'doing nothing'

GIGI DOUBAN
News staff writer

The Birmingham school system is spending at least $400,000 each year for salary and benefits of employees on paid administrative leave, school officials said.

That cost sometimes is as high as $800,000, said school Superintendent Wayman B. Shiver Jr. He wants to reduce that amount as the system deals with cuts in state, city and federal money.

Currently, 21 Birmingham school employees are on paid administrative leave, a result of a backlog in hearings on their alleged offenses.

"We shouldn't be sitting here with people sitting out a year, two years without any action" school board member April Williams said. "Having employees getting paid to do nothing, to me, is us being totally irresponsible and not being good stewards." [...]

Ya think?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:11 AM | Comments (2)

Why am I in this handbasket, and why is it so very hot in here?

Steevil sends along this link to Tom Elia's post yesterday (which I realize has already been heavily linked by everyone up in the blogroll) about the pitiable state of education in the U.S.

A good read--sad, but good. And frankly, not the least bit surprising, if you happen to have to deal with people on a daily basis.

Anyway, as the product of a small private Christian school, and with a sister and parents who always went to public schools, and with four kids who've spent time in both public AND private schools, what I've come to believe is that if you think you can rely on a school--and a school alone, of any sort--to teach your kids, you've doomed your kids to perpetual ignorance.

There's more to education than making sure your kids get to school before the tardy bell rings. It takes a lot of time, and constant effort, and an unwillingness to accept excuses for poor effort. In other words, it requires acting like a parent.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

Hammered.

Lit.

Gassed.

Snockered, bagged, skunked.

Blasted, blitzed, blotto, boiled, bombed, canned, fried, high, hunchpunched, juiced, loaded, looped, pickled, pig-eyed, plastered, ripped, sauced, smashed, soused, stewed, stoned, tanked, tight, tipsy, toasted, wasted.

Paula Abdul last night.

Great gravy, woman--please lay off the Kickapoo Joy Juice.

As for who got let go--the only one I would have done differently is to have gotten rid of Peter Brady before that David kid. He is simply impossible to look at without hearing "Time To Change" running through my head.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:19 AM | Comments (4)

February 20, 2006

American Sportsman.

Sportscaster Curt Gowdy Dies

He was a giant--as a kid, there was no show on television I enjoyed more than American Sportsman. I can still remember him fighting those marlins, and hunting with Bear Bryant and Phil Harris. It was a show where adults acted like adults, but still seemed to be having enormous fun doing it. As opposed to most of what you see nowadays, which is adults acting like children, and not enjoying it very much.

He was a good one, and he left some great work behind.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)

Film Trailers I Saw That Guaranteed...

...I Won't See the Movie.

We got to the theater Saturday just in time for the previews. I can't quite recall any that seem compelling enough to have to go see, but there were a few for which the trailer was so craptacular that it's obvious someone made the movie to purposely lose money.

First up, Madea's Family Reunion. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that the whole genre of foul-mouthed black guys dressing up as foul-mouthed women has gone on as long as it has.

Next, Aquamarine. A mermaid movie for teen girls. Please, just harpoon me now.

Third, Benchwarmers, a heartwarming Schneider, Spade, Napoleon Dynamite vehicle. "Heartwarming," as in, "it gives me indigestion just to watch the trailer, which is neither funny, nor amusing, nor humorous, nor witty, nor original, nor clever, but abundantly idiotic. And not in a good way."

The one I hate with a visceral hatred completely out of proportion to all reason? Hoot. The trailer started out so nice, too--kid moves away from the big city to some backwater place in Florida, befriends a little girl who shows him a cool place full of old boat wrecks where the kids hang out and make a clubhouse, then they find some cute little ground-burrowing owls--then it takes a turn where the kids have to Save the Owls. The book it's based on might read differently, but from what I can tell by the movie trailer, the evil earthraping landgrabbing development side of the story is basically a overblown, overwrought cartoon of adult people. It does have Tim Blake Nelson, although sadly he is not reprising his role of Delmar from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but merely playing some kind of yokel. Frankly, I think it would be more compelling if the kids were trying to save a Hooters from being plowed under.

One that looks simultaneously stupid AND watchable? Nacho Libre--it has religion, masked Mexican rasslin, and the luminous Ana de la Reguera. Rrrowll.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:14 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2006

One assumes...

School bus drivers join the terror watch

...that this involves looking in the rear-view mirror, if the stories my kids tell of the miscreants they're forced to ride with have even the smallest basis in reality.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

Piling on.

I have not commented on this, because I think the entirety of the coverage of Dick Cheney's hunting accident has been overblown by dimwitted pinheaded pundits, and there is nothing to be added that would be of any benefit.

Which is why I cannot for the life of me figure this one out. Chuck Hagel, of all people, is quoted thusly in this article just out:

[...] And Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican and Vietnam war veteran, told The Omaha World-Herald, "If he'd been in the military, he would have learned gun safety." [...]

If that is actually what he said, it is beneath him as a veteran and as a thinking rational human being.

Is he saying that no one with military experience has ever accidentally shot someone? If so, it is beyond ludicrous.

Is he saying that people without military training are somehow less able to understand the fundamentals of gun safety? If so, it is beyond ludicrous.

Is he saying that in order to go hunting, a person must have first served in the military? If so, it is beyond ludicrous.

I can't figure out what he's trying to get at here, other than it must have been a while since someone cared enough to ask him about anything, and he got so excited by the prospect of blasting away at something that he shot off his mouth before defining his target.

I hear stuff like that happens in Washington a lot more than people accidentally shooting their hunting partners.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:57 AM | Comments (11)

February 14, 2006

I rarely get short.

With the public, that is.

I really do take my responsibilities seriously, and I know full well who pays my way. So I do my best to go out of the way to be deferential to folks who land on my phone--most of the time, they've been bounced all over the place by people who don't really care to help them--so I do what I can. Which is what everyone should do, so don't think I'm bucking for a medal or anything, because I'm not.

Probably wouldn't get one anyway after this last call.

Young fellow calls up and tells me his name, and starts asking me about notes on a permit application that were written by someone else. The note basically asked the applicant to supply some more details about screening some rooftop antennas. I know about it, tangentially, because we do have to review it as well, but there's nothing to review until those details get submitted.

I listened to his brief explanation and then said, "Those are X's (not his real name) notes on there--you'll have to speak--"

"Well, it says we're supposed to contact you."

A-hem.

"Yes, you will need to speak to us later about the screening, but until you submit the details for it, there's really nothing for me to be able to review. It might turn out to be something that doesn't require any further review beyond me, but you're going to have to submit those details to X before any review can be done."

"Well, just what kind of antennas are they? Radio? TV?"

At this point, I became a very bad civil servant, because even though he had that cocky, young, smart-alecky edge to his voice, and seemed to think it was my job to tell him what was on his own stinkin' permit application, it should not have come across in my voice.

With barely concealed ill-mood, "Sir, that is your permit--you submitted it to us. X has the application downstairs, and he's asking you for details. I don't have a copy of it, and I really can't explain what you need if you don't even know what the application is for."

That was so mean of me, and I realized it immediately, and tried to lighten up a little for the rest of the conversation. Of course, after my terse little lecture, he probably wasn't really receptive to a bit of chuckling, either--it may have made him feel even less capable. So, that was bad, too.

Sorry, young fellow.

But a word to the wise--next time, know what you're calling about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:00 AM | Comments (4)

February 10, 2006

Now this is just plumb weird.

Candidate's vision leads to Ala. arrest

By JAY REEVES
The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — More than five years ago, Rod Spraggins made a sensational charge at a candidate forum, publicly accusing a political opponent of murder with nothing to back up the allegation except, it turns out, a vision.

Now police say Spraggins was right.

Barry Waites, Spraggins' opponent in the 2000 race for Lanett City Council, was arrested this week on murder charges in the 1998 slaying of his wife, who was found dead in their split-level home in this sleepy town of 8,000 along the Georgia line.

In 2000, Spraggins, a bail bondsman, stunned a crowd of 100 when he accused Waites of killing his wife and dared the man to sue him for slander if he was wrong. Waites was not at the forum, never responded publicly to the accusation and never sued.

In an otherwordly turn to the saga Friday, Spraggins disclosed that he never had any evidence to make the accusation and that it was based entirely on Mrs. Waites' appearing to him in a series of dreams.

"She started appearing to me within the first weeks of her death," said Spraggins, adding that the dreams prompted him to enter the City Council race for the sole purpose of making the accusation. [...]

I tell you what--we certainly seem to know how to breed a lot of "truth is stranger than fiction" types around here.

UPDATE: Of course, Haiti offers some pretty strong competition.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

That sure was one long hiatus...

...but I'm glad it's over, even if only for a day.

Columbiana, Alabama's own Susanna Cornett, with a short but thought-provoking post that well captures the difference between those who seek to fulfill the Biblical injunction--"but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear"--and those who act like this.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006

Why does it have to be this way?

King eulogists jab Bush at funeral

Can liberals not have a decent funeral for someone, without it devolving into yet another method of denigrating the current Administration?

Self-aggrandizing bunch of nincompoops.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:13 PM | Comments (3)

February 03, 2006

Hmmm.

I saw this story this morning--Climate change makes Russian bears aggressive: WWF

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians have had to shoot three unusually aggressive polar bears so far this year, in what environmental group WWF said was a sign the bears' feeding patterns were being disrupted by global warming.

The group said bears used to come ashore in winter along the sea ice to forage for food, but that the ice had retreated unusually far from the coast leaving predators with a long swim.

"This makes them particularly vulnerable since animals in search of food lose their sense of danger, they enter villages and often attack people," the WWF said in a statement. [...]

And then I saw this one--New Siberian cold wave hits Russia, Georgia

MOSCOW (AFP) - A new wave of Siberian cold struck Russia this week, plunging temperatures to record lows in the far eastern part of the country and sweeping as far as Moscow.

In neighbouring Georgia meanwhile one person died and two dozen were injured in the second city Kutaisi as heavy snowfalls collapsed buildings, cut power supplies and stopped a train in its tracks.

"There are no warmer temperatures in sight," said Dmitry Kiktyov, deputy head of Russia's Hydrological and Metereological Centre, adding the freeze would last at least six more days. [...]

Obviously, the only answer is to move all the polar bears to Siberia. That'll teach 'em to be aggressive.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:37 AM | Comments (6)

Oh, good grief.

Fla. children protest candy sale

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — More than a dozen elementary school students refused to sell chocolate bars and potato chips to raise money for trips, saying they had learned in class about the health dangers of such snacks.

"If they tell us to don't eat junk food and then after school we sell it, that disobeys what they said," said 10-year-old Daphnie Auguste, a member of the defiant class of 19 gifted fourth- and fifth-graders at North Side Elementary.

Their teacher, Monique Manigat, who is also the school's wellness liaison, said the students came up with the boycott themselves but finding an alternative hasn't been easy. She said she tried to organize car washes for her pupils but the school couldn't afford the necessary insurance.

"Parents are contributing as much as they can. They just don't have the means to foot the whole bill," Manigat said.

Fifth-graders have until the end of February to raise the remaining $12,000 needed for a weeklong trip in May to Williamsburg, Va., and Washington, D.C.

Daphnie said she hasn't raised one dollar toward her personal $455 goal.

"I'm happy because people won't get fat. But I'm sad because how are we going to get the money to go on our field trip?"

Eighty percent of the school's pupils are eligible for a lunch program for low-income students.

::sigh:: I don't know what's worse--the fact that the school's "wellness liaison" seems to have very little in the way of intelligence, the fact that there's such a thing as a "wellness liaison" in the school, the fact that this school seems only to be able to hire people with mush for brains, or the idea that paying for an expensive trip to Washington might require a bit more fundraising planning and creativity if the kids aren't rich.

Okay, let's see--these are supposedly defiantly gifted children, how 'bout we help them by using OUR brains for a minute.

As a fat person, I can say without hesitation that it's not candy and chips that's bad for you--it's eating TOO MUCH candy and chips that CAN be bad for you, especially if you don't eat a well-balanced diet. This kind of nutritional scare tactic has taken a huge amount of joy out of the lives of kids. You want my idea about what has caused the increase in the number of overweight people? The healthy, eat-more-bread/pasta/baked potato/rice fad that nutritionists got kicked off in the '80s. No, candy and chips shouldn't be all you eat, but having a little enjoyment from a piece of candy won't hurt as much as people are letting on.

Second--are candy and chips the ONLY thing they can sell to raise money?! What about finding a local organic wheatgrass juice bottler who will lend a hand and give them a nutritious beverage to foist on customers? What about wrapping paper? (Or is that degrading to packages?) What about magazines? What about coupon books? These kids are supposed to be smart--can't they figure this out? Well, obviously, they're just kids, and might not know such things--which leaves me wondering why the ADULTS can't make a few suggestions.

Third--how about this: raise money first, and then decide after you've finished what sort of field trip you can afford to take. Yes, it would be nice to go to Washington and Williamsburg, but sometimes those things are out of reach. (And this comes from someone who has to repeatedly tell his four kids that we can't afford to send them off on $500 field trips every six months.) It's pretty sad that these kids seem saddled with people who seem bent on making sure they see every setback as an excuse to accept victimhood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (12)

"A Decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind"

From Hugh Hewitt, a rational response both to those who would do violence to those with whom they disagree, and to those who depend upon gratuitous offensiveness as a means of expression.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

Bread and Circuses

New Orleans still seeking sponsors to pay for Mardi Gras

I don't begrudge New Orleans wanting to have Mardi Gras. And I don't even begrudge them using some taxpayer money for police overtime and such things as that. But I do think it would've been better to have spent about a tenth of the effort and concern given to holding a party and direct it toward making sure elections were held on time.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:35 AM | Comments (3)

January 31, 2006

Well, this is just peachy.

B'ham judge rules sweepstakes machines are legal

Look for them to be as ubiquitous as Coke machines from here on out, folks. This has been quite a contentious little affray between the sheriff and ol' Milt--good to see the po' ol' Christian feller won't be forced to stop taking money from folks.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Jack Bauer Update!

Well, what a crappy episode THAT was! Not nearly enough gratuitous bad-guy slapping, way too much time taken up with Deep Thoughts of a Highly Personal Nature.

BUT, to recap--these events take place during lunchtime. Yet, no one seems to be complaining about not eating, not even the Pudgy Needy Dork.

Brokenose Blonde gets lost in thought a lot this week, and interrupts her important nerve-gas finding assignment to moon over Jack, who looks at her and says kind words instead of being crazy mad insane like he should be and saying something like, “DO YOU NOT REALIZE WE’VE GOT NERVE GAS ON THE LOOSE AND THE WHOLE CTU’S BEING RUN BY GOMEZ ADDAMS’ SON!?”

Meanwhile, Crazy First Lady Jean Smart is found hiding in the stable amongst the saddlery and leather goods, which could have been very interesting, but wasn’t because she had on her Crazy First Lady pajamas which were decorated with little cartoon tranquilizers instead of something interesting and slinky. She got out from behind the whips and bridles and desperately clutched at Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy (who I come later to really like) and tried to get him to help her and she spilled the news about the phone call she got and how Nixon’s Evil Henchman had been rustling through her undergarments and was sending her to the crazy farm to shut her up. Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy listened politely (since she is Crazy First Lady Jean Smart) and then let the young guys take her off to repack the clothes she should have packed before she got out of the bathroom window. Her Brunette Assistant, Who Is Very Hot, stood around and moped, but that’s okay, because that’s obviously why she was hired. That, and for being hot.

In other matters, Jack is trying to figure out how to nail Nixon’s Evil Henchman Mole who has been creating all this trouble all along. Jack sets up a meeting with Mike, the Level Headed but Boring Bald Guy, so he can tell him secret things, and, of course, THIS is the one phone call that Stupid Evil Henchman of Nixon manages to intercept and he talks to Ruski Meester Beeg about it, and Ruski Meester Beeg is all POed that Bauer is still alive, and they go back and forth trying to escape blame. They decide unless Evil Henchman Mole does something quick, he’s going to be a Dead Evil Henchman Mole, and so they say ‘bye and hang up. “You hang up first.” “NO! YOU!” “NOoooo, YOU!” Et cetera.

Anyway, Nixon’s Evil Henchman Mole figures out he can manipulate the President, because the President has a brain the size of a bean, and figures he can bust in on Jack and Mike, the Level Headed but Boring Bald Guy’s meeting, get Jack arrested, again, and then sometime in there, Reba got back from the career night at the high school and I lost track of what was going on.

But apparently, after making his plans, Nixon’s Evil Henchman Mole finally told Nixon that he was kinda, sorta, ::air quotes:: involved ::air quotes:: with this whole nerve gas imbroglio--BUT IN A GOOD WAY--and convinces Nixon that it’s not the coverup that gets you in trouble, but the crime. Nixon, being evil and quite possibly the stupidest man to ever hold office aside from Harry Reid, decides, “Hey, whatever, as long as I get to have my own personalized stationary,” and tells his Now Openly Bad Evil Henchman to have the Secret Service be at the meeting between Jack and Mike, the Level Headed but Boring Bald Guy so THEY won’t endanger national security by revealing that there are NERVE GAS CANISTERS all over the place, AND to get CTU off the case so THEY won’t be asking all those uncomfortable questions.

Back at CTU again, the order comes down for everyone to go get lunch or something and forget all about the nerve gas, and everyone gets in a room and starts acting like a bunch of Democrat lawyers talking about needing “evidence” against Nixon’s Evil Henchman Mole and all that kind of crap in the face of a potential catastrophic terror attack (which they ought to already have figured out if they’d just watch the show), and Jack tells them they’re a bunch of babies, and then Gray Haired Boss gets all up in Rudy’s face about being a baby and a kid and a punk and not knowing when to shut up and tells him he doesn’t care if his mama IS Patti Duke, he should quit being such a whiner and make a decision and for goodness sake, cover up his huge hairy feet. Samwise gets his feeling hurt and takes Gray Haired Boss outside the glass room where everyone can still see him pout and almost cry and tells him to let him be boss, PLEASE, and they go back inside and decide to ignore the President, who by this time, everyone figures is stupid as a plank.

Jack runs into the Slacker Kid who Looks Like His Daughter and tells him to get a haircut and then talks to his former landlady, who wants to know if he’s ever going to pay her the last month’s rent he owes her (wink-wink) and he says he can’t because he’s a secret agent man and lives a life of danger. “IT’S THAT STINKIN’ CROOKED-NOSED BLONDE HARPY, ISN’T IT!?” she demands of him, and he thinks about it some, which is great, because he needs to waste a few clock ticks to think about what to say, because he DOES still sorta likes Brokenosed Blonde Girl, but he likes his landlady, too, who not only has a house, but doesn’t need a rhinoplasty OR breast implants, but she does have that slacker kid and he’s all conflicted and all and so he blinks and says “Uhhh..WHAT!? WHAT’S THAT!? Oh, hey, I hear bad guys calling and I gotta go. THE CHECK’S IN THE MAIL!” But it’s really not.

Jack goes to the ranch to meet Boring Bald Mike, and then gets arrested when everyone comes around. He screams at Mike, Etc., who screams at the Secret Service, who scream back, which makes Jack scream AND scowl, and Boring Bald Mike looks helpless. For some reason, they take Jack back to the stable (which as we know is VERY secure, and given his MacGyver-like ability to fashion killing implements from paper clips, seems to be the perfect place to keep him since it only has long leather straps and large heavy metal objects and probably hypodermics full of horse tranquilizers, but NO paper clips). Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy comes to get Jack, because they always send the boss to do such things, and Jack manages to convince him that a) Nixon is a feeble-minded idiot, b) Nixon’s Evil Henchman is in fact, a MOLE, and was involved in killing the Allstate Insurance Guy AND involved in the morning’s little shindig with the airport terrorists, AND helped steal a bunch of NERVE GAS CANISTERS, and c) that they need to do something. Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy thinks, and connects the dots, and adds two plus two, and figures something is rotten in Denmark.

Nixon and his Now Openly Evil Henchman are in the rumpus room when all of a sudden Jack comes storming in with Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy, and Jack starts filling in Nixon on all the ACTUAL bad news type stuff that’s been going on in front of his stupid face, and Nixon stammers that his Evil Henchman LIED TO HIM! Duh. Moron. “Agent Bauer--are you AWARE of what you’re SAYING?”

“YES, MR. PRESIDENT! I’m not a flaming idiot like you!”

“But, but--Agent Bauer--you mean these magic beans he gave me--they’re not…”

“No Mr. President, they aren’t magic.”

“And these X-Ray spectacles…”

“NO, Mr. President--they’re nothing but a cheap toy!”

“And, and Santa Claus? And the Easter Bunny? And professional wrestling?!”

“Well, he had to cloak his lies in believable truths, Mr. President--those things ARE real, as is the THREAT TO ALL HUMANITY BECAUSE WE’VE GOT NERVE GAS OUT THERE WANDERING AROUND!”

“Oh. That’s bad, right?”

“Yes, Mr. President.”

FINALLY, Jack gets around to the action and leaps over onto the Evil Henchman and starts waling the crap out of him like he deserved, and the guy starts crying and being a baby and saying he’s just a humble patriot, which Jack slaps right out of his mouth, and Nixon gets all scared and starts squealing, “GENTLEMEN! THIS IS THE WAR ROOM! YOU CAN’T FIGHT IN THE WAR ROOM!” And Jack turns around and tells him that the Evil Henchman needs to be roughed up some because viewers really want that smarmy smirk slapped right off his head, and then he asks Evil Henchman where the nerve gas is, and because Evil Henchman is trying to be brave, he says he don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’, which causes Jack to whup out his frog gigger and FINALLY get all psychotic on the guy. He waves around the pig sticker and tells the guy he knows what Jack’s capable of--gouge out that right eye, then the left one, then work his way down. Nixon looks over at Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy, and begs him not to let Jack make a mess on the carpet, but Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy stands there, impassively, wondering exactly how it is that Jack has a knife, seeing as how he didn’t give it to him, and seeing as how the should have been searched before being put into the stable, and that he was slightly peckish, it being past lunch. “Mr. President, as your Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy, I think Jack’s doing a fine job, and if your stupid Evil Henchman would just talk, your carpet won’t have any of those tough blood stains.”

Jack finally decides to start to sawing on the Evil Henchman’s right eye, and he finally cracks and screams like a little girl and tells them the nerve gas is on a container ship, which earlier in the show had been delivered by two double-crossing goons who had to go into a long expository dialogue so people would know what was going on, yet made no sense in reality, because two double-crossing goons are much more likely just to talk about women and sports.

Switching back to important things, back in there sometime, Jack’s landlady somehow finds Brokenose Blonde Girl and tells her to back off, because she doesn’t care if Jack DOES still have the hots for her, Jack doesn’t want anything to do with all that glam secret agent stuff anymore (aside from the current ongoing crisis) and wants someone who actually looks like she eats three meals a day AND who has a spare room for rent. Brokenose Blonde Girl looks at her and thinks, deeply.

Nixon then figures he needs to stop the Funny Farm Motorcade, and runs up to tell Crazy First Lady Jean Smart that he was wrong and he believes her now since he has corroborating evidence from people who weren’t crazy. “And those magic beans--they weren’t really magic!” CRLJS, although relieved not to have to be given the warm sheets in the bathtub treatment, is obviously hurt by her husband’s stupidity and meanness, and you can see in her overly-made-up Tammy Faye Bakker eyes that she has decided Nixon won’t be getting any for a LONG time. Still, you have to give Nixon some credit for trying to get him a little peck on the cheek out of it, but I think he would have had better luck with CFLJS’s hot assistant.

ANYWAY, back at the ranch, Jack calls CTU and tells them to find the boat with the goods, and there is only one shot of Sourpuss Chloe, who acts all harried because she’s asked to do her job rather than sit there and be all needy, but Chubby Putz jumps up to say HE knows which container the nerve gas is in, because he hacked into the ship’s manifest and looked under “Canisters, Gas, Nerve, Secret, Stolen.”

They send a bunch of guys with guns to keep the canisters from attacking them, and then find out that one of the double-crossing goons is dead and all the canisters are gone, which is illegal because they didn’t note that on the manifest. Everyone is puzzled, and so Jack drags Worked Over Thoroughly Evil Henchman in to see what’s happening, and he plays dumb, and can’t believe that the unseen Ruski Meester Beeg he’s been palavering with on the phone might not be a swell guy and might actually just have been using Evil Henchman’s misplaced sense of right and wrong to HURT America!

Amazing, I know.

Anyway, then his phone rings and after everyone checks their phone, they figure out it’s his and he needs to answer it, and it’s another bad guy who tells them he’s gonna do terrible mischief and that they’re all a bunch of silly persons.

Everyone looks at Evil Henchman and he says, “WHA? What’d I do!?” and Nixon says, “Something really NAUGHTY! I think. Maybe. Agent Bauer, was he being bad?”

“YES, YOU STUPID SIDESHOW GEEK!”

NEXT WEEK: Jack will yell at someone, and hopefully slap them around a bit afterwards. Rudy will get a foot wax. Nixon will be sullen and stupid. Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy will think about a nice ham sandwich, since it’s now long past lunchtime. Ruski Meester Beeg will sit in his secret private lair and pet a cat and look at all kinds of big screen teevees with nothing but numbers on them.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:23 AM | Comments (7)

January 30, 2006

Helpful Hints from the Schranck Household!

Candles and sinks do not mix.

Probably goes without saying, but it probably wouldn't be a good idea to pour some flammable petroleum products down in there and light a match, either.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:09 PM | Comments (2)

January 27, 2006

Art?

You want art?

This is art.

(Via Lileks)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2006

Barrelfishing.

Again. Sorry, but this one was unintentionally humorous in a very dark way: Hamas Captures Landslide Parliamentary Win

Leading one to wonder if they will merely hold it for ransom, or videotape themselves killing it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

Speak and Spell!

Just had a quick visit from my coworker who thinks "prolithic" is a word.

"When you're pluralizing the word facade, is it s or es?"

Now, reading this in black and white, you see that it should be an s on the end, but you've got to understand that in all likelihood, she has probably been spelling facade as facad. Or worse.

"E-S."

I just hope after making the assumption I did that she doesn't spell facades as facadees.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:07 PM | Comments (4)

January 24, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

On last night's episode of 24, we find that the hidden nerve gas was outside the secure perimeter at the airport, thus "explaining" how no one noticed it. Not explained was how the hostage who was the terrorist fellow-traveler got through the "secure" perimeter, nor why nobody thought it was a big deal to see a SWAT van come from somewhere beyond the secure perimeter back around to a checkpoint.

Crazy First Lady Jean Smart showed more of her ample acting talents in the early part of the show, although that was about it, because later she ducked out of the bathroom window to avoid being taken on a shopping trip to Straitjacket and Barrel. Television show's director still not heeding my advice for fewer closeups of any area above the shoulder. CRLJS's attendant is hot. Secret Service is inept--if CFLJS could get OUT, couldn't someone get IN to kidnap her?

Some weasely little dude who slept with Chloe Sourface is really some kinda mole sent in by Nixon's chief of staff, who is a bad guy, and the little creepy dude wanders around all over the place playing with computers and acting creepy. What DID Chloe Zellweger see in him?! Dern, woman--look online sometime--they got all kinds of things that only require a couple of D-cells and aren't nearly so creepy. Anyway, she catches him touching the computers in a bad way, and bustes him to her boss, who is now not really the boss since Rudy is in the house, and her chubby needy goomba platonic friend gets all put out and hurt-feelinged because she's always angry and not dishy enough with him, and always looks like she smells someone talking to the herrings.

Anyway, the little creepy guy goes downstairs to let in a bad guy, who we later find out is a REALLY bad guy. Proving that all of that cool lighting and computers and concrete walls and bullet-proof glass and armed guards and security cameras and jarring music and hot babes walking around CTU are pretty useless when it comes to protecting anything. I think they could have spared everyone a lot of money if they'd have just set up in a camper in the Wal-mart parking lot.

Jack is finally brought in to CTU, and Good and Kind Samwise decides he's not the presidential assassin, which he SHOULD already know if he'd been keeping up with the show! I mean, sheesh, dude--how'd you get in charge!? But who could it be!? I vote for a bad guy of some sort, of which, given the general lack of oversight in the place, turns out to be about half the population.

Jack goes downstairs to the hospital to check on his old buddy, the Dark Haired Guy, and meets up with both the kid who looks like his daughter (except I doubt he will be in Maxim) and then goes on to run into his former lover, whom I don't know anything about because I lost track of the show last year (and yet, I STILL know Jack didn't kill the Allstate guy! Stupid Rudy!) but I do know that something must have gone on between Jack and this girl, and that she must be trying out for a sequel to the most popular movie amongst Golden Globe voters, and it will be called Brokenose Mountain. My goodness, that girl must have gotten her nose all out of joint about something--and it STAYED! She's still highly attractive though--as you know, I have a thing for girls with interesting noses. ANYway, they take some time out from a worldwide crisis to catch up and put away hurt feelings. Priorities, you know. ANYWAY, she gets an assignment to interrogate the Mom Woman Who Sheltered Jack, and they Discuss Jack, tenderly.

Jack goes on to see Dark Haired Guy in the hospital, which requires the Guy Playing the Dark Haired Guy to lie there with a bandage on his face, and as Jack's whispering tender nothings in DHG's ear, he sees the reflection of the bad BAD guy that the creep-weasel let in a'sneaking up behind him with a hogleg. Because, as a trained assassin, the bad BAD guy knows he shouldn't just kill Jack the moment he walks in, but wait until Jack can find something reflective, or otherwise the show would be over and it would have to be called 4:30.

ANYWAY, Jack sees him and wallops him with a tray full of hospital food and the guy starts randomly firing because Jack has his arm in an armlock and then they commence to slapping at each other, and I keep thinking Jack should, you know, like, kill him or something, and then they roll around on the floor and the bad BAD guy finds scissors and starts trying to stab Jack with them but Jack's too quick and so he slaps the bad BAD guy some more and grabs those scissors and jabs them in his neck, which is dangerous, because they were the pointy kind and not the blunt kind, and so the bad BAD guy kinda looks at Jack, and then Jack demonstrates again why the scissors are so dangerous by poking them all the way into the guy, who then finally goes to the bad BAD guy place.

FINALLY, the rest of CTU shows up to clean up the mess, and Jack starts ordering everyone around, then goes and plays with a computer and gets a photo of his handiwork and runs in and shows it to the creepweasel, who up until this point had been interrogated by Chloe, whose technique involved acting like a girly girl, and putting on her usual "Would you PLEASE use the air freshener after you're through" look, all of which was aided by the Gray Haired Boss being gruff. Obviously, this had no effect on the creepy weasel guy, until Jack got there, which is when I was really REALLY hoping for some proper interrogative techniques, maybe even some involving scissors. Sadly, the guy rolled over before Jack had a chance to deweaselfy him any.

Finally, they all find out Nixon's right-hand man--who last week got to feel around in the First Lady's blouse for state secrets--is possibly--and we're just speculationg, here--maybe, potentially, theoretically, allegedly, a tiny bit of a bad guy. Good grief, LOOK AT HIM! Of COURSE he's a bad guy! But they all seem to think--despite all the shenanigans with the Allstate guy President--that such a possibility is just CRAZY TALK!

Next week--Jack will get arrested again, and yell, and Chloe will look poochy-jowled and sour, and that woman Jack rented from will ask about getting the final month's rent check from him, and the kid will decide to be just like Jack and GET A FRIGGIN' HAIRCUT so he's not a slacker hippy, yet he will still manage to get Jack in trouble, and Rudy will get to score a touchdown, and Hot Brokenose Blonde Girl will look mournfully at things, and the Russki who's running this whole shebang from his Secret Bad Guy Lair will look at computers and talk on the telephone a lot.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:25 AM | Comments (10)

January 19, 2006

If you're going to bribe people...

...you best make sure they stay bribed.

Writer: Scrushy paid for sympathetic news stories amid trial

By JAY REEVES
The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Throughout the six-month trial that led to Richard Scrushy's acquittal in the $2.7 billion fraud at HealthSouth Corp., a small, influential newspaper consistently printed articles sympathetic to the defense of the fired CEO.

Audry Lewis, the author of those stories in The Birmingham Times, the city's oldest black-owned paper, now says she was secretly working on behalf of Scrushy, who she says paid her $11,000 through a public relations firm and typically read her articles before publication.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show The Lewis Group wrote a $5,000 check to Audry Lewis on April 29, 2005 — the day Scrushy hired the company. The head of the company, Times founder Jesse J. Lewis Sr., is not related to Audry Lewis.

The firm wrote another $5,000 check that day to the Rev. Herman Henderson, who employs Audry Lewis at his Believers Temple Church and was among the black preachers supporting Scrushy who were present in the courtroom throughout.

Audry Lewis and Henderson now say Scrushy owes them $150,000 for the newspaper stories and other public relations work, including getting black pastors to attend the trial in a bid to sway the mostly black jury.

The payments raise questions about the legitimacy of the ostensibly grass roots support for Scrushy seen throughout his trial. [...]

In an e-mail response to questions from the AP, Scrushy denied authorizing payments to Henderson or Audry Lewis for any work on his behalf.

Scrushy said he "hit the ceiling" when he learned that the PR firm had paid Henderson but added that he had considered Audry Lewis to be "a nice Christian woman that thought we had been treated badly and she wanted to help."

Now he said he knows they are both "about the bucks."

Lot of that going around, I hear.

Jesse Lewis, whose son James E. Lewis Sr. is listed as the paper's editor, denied being part of any scheme to plant favorable coverage of Scrushy in the paper. "We are in the advertising and public relations business, period," he said.

Audry Lewis' columns were uniformly flattering toward the defense, both before and after money changed hands. After Scrushy hired The Lewis Group, her stories moved from inside the newspaper to the front page.

The day jurors got the case, the Times featured a front-page piece by Audry Lewis saying "pastors and community leaders have rallied around Scrushy showing him the support of the Christian and African American community."

Audry Lewis said she initially wrote the columns and submitted them to the paper for free because she believed Scrushy was innocent.

Scrushy liked the pieces and began paying her to write the articles midway through the case, she said.

"He didn't think he was getting a fair shake in the media, which is why he hired me," she said in an interview. She said she sent unedited copies of her stories to Scrushy and Jesse Lewis, who had them put in the paper.

Scrushy said he looked at some of her stories before publication "to make sure the facts from the trial were correct."

After the initial check for $5,000, Audry Lewis said she later got another $6,000 from Scrushy that was routed through the public relations firm, including $1,000 to replace a stolen computer.

Separately, a Colorado public relations man who worked for Scrushy, Charlie Russell, said he gave Audry Lewis $2,500 during the trial and signed a contract stating the money was an advance payment for possible work after the verdict.

Russell said she didn't do any work for the defense after the trial, but he denied the payment was for her stories. Russell said he gave Audry Lewis money mainly out of sympathy when one of her relatives died in Detroit and she lacked funds to get to the funeral.

$2,500 seems like a lot to buy a round-trip ticket to Detroit, but what do I know. These PR folks are probably just very kind and generous.

Scrushy gave Henderson's church and an associated thrift store five checks totaling $25,000 during and after the trial, according to copies of checks provided by Henderson.

Henderson said he was paid for his efforts to raise support for the defendant, but Scrushy said he had given money to the church because Henderson and Audry Lewis had asked for his help with a church building project.

Donald V. Watkins, an attorney who represented Scrushy in the trial, said the allegations by Audry Lewis and Henderson, along with their requests for more money, "could be perceived as a shakedown. It definitely is a hustle."

And if there is one person in this town who can spot a hustle, I can guarantee you it is this fine attorney.

During the trial, prosecutors had worried that Scrushy was attempting to sway community opinion — and possibly the jury — with a Bible-study program he hosts on local TV, as well as a daily show about the trial that aired on a local-access channel purchased by Scrushy's son-in-law.

U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, who prosecuted the case, said Audry Lewis' claims, if true, don't seem to indicate a crime occurred.

"If you want to pay someone to write favorable stories and can get a paper to print them, I don't know of any law it violates," Martin said.

Yep, that's about right--never start a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel. Or reporters.

"I am shocked, SHOCKED..."

(And by way of full disclosure, James Lewis used to be one of my coworkers, and around six years ago or so, I wrote a story for him--for free--for his paper talking about a guy who came through town touting historic paint colors for Lowe's and who spoke at a historic preservation seminar in town. The story itself, which I can no longer find a copy of on my computer, was absolutely mangled when it finally got printed.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:04 PM | Comments (4)

Slow-motion screw-up.

Not only describes Possumblog, but also the subject of this post from our good friend up in the Blue Hen State.

Speaking of tractor trailers overturning, which they do around here with regularity, ALDOT has taken to putting up hazard signs at the more likely overtumping places. Big yellow diamonds with the butt-end of a trailer tipping precariously to the left. (The famous and attractive W1-13 sign, courtesy of the United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices [MUTCD], 2004 English Edition of the Standard Highway Signs handbook.) Why don't I like them? Well because they also have a big black arrow on top of the sign, and it points in the opposite direction as the trailer is tipping. Which seems to indicate if you go around the curve too fast and start to flip, some sort of cool magnetic thing will keep it from happening.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)

Tell it to the Marines.

From a proud Marine wife.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

This is news?

Just got one of those CNN breaking news alerts: "Al-Jazeera airs audiotaped message purportedly from Osama bin Laden warning that plans for attacks inside U.S. are under way."

Uh, well, you know, I was kinda under the impression that they've been planning attacks in the United States for years now. Why this, why now?

Frankly, I believe it's because the big media folks have finally decided it's worth noting that Osama's not been heard from in over a year. I've mentioned it several times, and each time said I believed it was because he'd gone to Allah's Big Frat Party in the Sky. But since al-Qaeda's (rapidly exploding) leadership can read the New York Times like anyone else, they probably figured they needed to trot out some crackly audio to keep up interest in their efforts.

As Martha might say, "that's a good thing." (I imagine Murtha wouldn't see it so, but hey, consider the source.) They realize internally that interest in being blowed up real good by a Predator just isn't as glam as taking it to the Great Satan by punching your own ticket in a shopping mall, and they realize they've got to do something to make wavering potential jihadis think there might be some hope of doing something big here. There still is danger, no doubt, but this tape only proves that they know they've got to do ANYthing to make it look like the whole Caliphate plan is rocking along just fine.

As I've said before, audio tapes might do it for the splodey-types, but in this day and age of advanced, low-priced video, gimme a picture of the old goat, with maybe a live feed of Fox News on a television in the background. Otherwise, it's just the same old-same old.

(Not that this will keep the networks and newspapers from going into breathless, full tizzy mode.)

UPDATE: And Doc Reynolds notes the thing that all schoolkids know: first person to call truce is the loser.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2006

Hey, speaking of singing.

I wonder this every year, but exactly what do these American Idol rejects think? I'm not talking about the one like the guy who dressed up like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I'm talking about the people who swear everyone tells them over and over how talented they are, and how they could be bigger than Madonna, and how they don't care if they got rejected, America is still in love with them and they'll be rich and famous in spite of Simon, who just be hate'n on them. And second--why do they come in with these lyrics that are pulled from songs that require LOTS of background music and heavy processing in the studio? Like the policeman who kept repeating "I shot the sheriff."

Just exactly what do these people think?

Anyway, I just hope Randy has a new word this year instead of dog.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:21 PM | Comments (7)

January 17, 2006

Let's see, what else?

Well, Sunday was entirely uneventful--no one called to say they couldn't teach, Reba was up early and ready to go on time, and despite the fact that the clothing did not get removed from the dryer, a plague of flaming lobsters did not rain from the sky--at least not in our neighborhood. Sunday night? Well, had to catch up on the zany antics of Jack Bauer and the CTU on 24. I lost track of it last season and didn't really watch much of it, but this season seems to be worth watching.

Monday night was really the better one, in that Jean Smart seems intent on showing us her undies (although I could do with a few less extreme closeups of her facial expressions, please) AND we get introduced to Special Government Guy with a Badge, Sam Wise, who seems to think Jack is after the Precious or something, which is probably going to create problems for Jack, and possibly for Gandalf.

I really like the show, but when Jack was up in the ceiling of the airport, I sure do wish he had been a little quieter up there. And I think if I were a supersecret agent, I'd have a little lanyard around my telescope and my cool picture phone from Sprint, just in case I dropped either one by accident through the bars and onto the floor. And why is it when Jack kept saying he was in a "flank 2 position" did not one of the SWAT guys say, "what on earth are you talking about, Jack--there's no such thing as being in a flank 2 position!?" Thank goodness for good Sam Wise, who saved their bacon on that one. And just how is it that all of those armed guys who swarmed over the terminal manage to miss a gigantic gaping hole in the concrete floor where the nerve gas was hidden!? And how did it get hidden there in the first place? I mean, who hides that kind of junk at the Ontario, CA airport!? And do all evil geniuses have a hidden lair with all sorts of cool electronics, and if so, why do they want to take over the world, since they obviously have the really important stuff already in their possession, namely, a hidden lair with cool electronics?

Well, it's all just a mystery. As opposed to Jean Smart's foundation garments.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:43 AM | Comments (13)

January 13, 2006

Having just returned from the food court...

...and being well known for my sartorial magnificence, I offer these fashion tips.

Women's fishnet hosiery--most especially the kind with the very very wide network--is appropriate in approximately two scenarios, neither of which involve going to the food court. Further, neither scenario calls for wearing a pair of big ugly tennis shoes or a denim skirt, most especially when the entire garb is intended to be worn as office attire. Finally, the ankle tattoo does not help.

Straight men--I am pained to tell you this, but the whole woodsy, urban cowboy thing, with the leather Crocodile Dundee hat and the Marlboro Man sideburns and Levis is going to have to be put away for awhile, at least until Clint Eastwood makes another movie about cowboys in which they only kiss women or their horses. Further, attempting to macho it up by leering at various women as they pass by your table will not work right now, because most women will think you're admiring their shoes.

That's the bad--the good? There is something very attractive about a redhead wearing a green dress. I don't know if it's the color clash complement (thanks, Miss Janis) or what, but it looks really, really good.

Other good things? Chicken. Mmmm. Chicken is good.

SO, there you go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:30 PM | Comments (4)

One thing I am angry about?

I missed My Name is Earl last night. I really like that show, and I'm not really sure why, other than it manages to make me glad I'm not like Earl and Randy (much) but also that I wouldn't mind it (much) if Earl and Randy were my friends.

But I tell you this right now--the NBC radio ad campaign where they have what sounds like four mid-20-ish aged people jibbering away in a breakroom about all the great NBC shows? It drives me absolutely stark raving insane. I would like to put them all in a sack and hit them with a shovel. And then drop them off a cliff in the sack. And when I get down to the bottom of the ravine, I'd like to hit them with my shovel again.

And I AM being nice about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (4)

January 12, 2006

Uh-oh.

Alito Says He'd Emulate O'Connor's Style

This is bad news--that lace collar ruffle/table napkin just screams for an update.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2006

Oh, good grief.

For the love of all that's decent, someone PLEASE give that poor idiot hole-digging instructions!

What a pathetic waste of corpuscles.

Aside from that, his whole obsessive deal with Princeton, and especially that transcript from when he spoke there in '04, just gives me the willies. Now I'm not generally very shy about my enjoyment in admiring good-looking womenpersons--in fact, there are some fellow girlbloggers I know whom I've noted are quite attractive. But something about his whole, "this magnificently attractive, intellectually and physically, beautiful young girl, was a sophomore, etc.," line just strikes me as being really icky. I've said it before, but if you make another guy uncomfortable with your schtick, you're coming in too hot. He comes across sounding like that creepily dapper uncle who never married and has a subscription to Penthouse Letters. That weird facial tic where he looks like he's smiling when he's not sure doesn't help, either.

Anyway, Joe, for your benefit, when you find yourself at the bottom of a hole with no way out, quit digging.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:29 PM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2006

Wow, if I only had cable.

Penn, Redford to appear on Gore's show

I, too, could learn to be an overweening, self-righteous prig.



Oh, okay--learn to be a better one.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

I heard this story on the news yesterday, and it still seems highly unlikely that a flaming mouse could have the wherewithal to jump from a pile of brush and run straight to a house--before himself being consumed in his own little self-conflagration--and set the place on fire.

If true, I imagine there will be an outbreak of mouse-borne fires reported. Much easier to rig a flaming mouse than faulty electrical wiring, you know.

"I think so, Brain, but what if the hippopotamus won't wear the beach thong?"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:59 AM | Comments (2)

January 06, 2006

On the other hand...

...municipal government DOES seem to attract more than its share of persons with the cognitive abilities of planarians.

A discussion of toilet habits follows. Readers discretion is advised.


I usually use the restrooms here when I only have to stand. Sitting down? I'd rather not, but on those rare occasions, I try to find a stall that still has blue water and the seat up. I figure no one else has been on it yet, you know. But still, sometimes you can't find a treasure like that, and so you just have to do what you have to do. [Heh--"do"]

Now, we have those tissue seat cover things, but I've never been that fond of them, and given what it takes to actually catch something, as long as the seat doesn't have a weird crust or film on it, I'll go ahead and sit down on it without paper.

But [heh--"but"] I realize some people still like having the paper on there. That's why someone in our department insisted they hang up those dispensers with the ring-shaped tissue in every single toilet, public or private, everywhere in the building Fine. Whatever.

HOWever, I just walked into the can just now, and despite the fact that there are TWO packs of ring-shaped tissues out in plain sight, someone had taken it upon himself to cover one of the seats with about twelve layers of regular toilet paper.

Yes, that's right--and he LEFT IT THERE.

What kind of moron is so paranoid about getting cooties on his butt (that can only have come from the people he already works with), yet is so patently dismissive of OTHER PEOPLE'S hygiene concerns that he leaves his OWN buttaminated paper on the toilet seat!?

Stupid bureaucrat.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

Yep, still cranky.

So, I have an idea for the good folks at the National Broadcasting Company--it's a doozy, too! Lotsa wacky hijinx, but with a message. It's about this imam, see, and he abuses painkillers, has a gay son, a promiscuous (he dates infidels) straight son, a daughter who deals marijuana and won't wear a hijab, and a wife who drives a car. Occasionally, Mohammed appears as a character on the show, discussing matters with the imam. Laffter ensues!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

Since I'm already irritated...

Worst Christmas Gift this year?

Probably one that Reba's mom got for Rebecca. Seems Middle Girl (who already has a VideoNow player) saw something else that sounded cool and just had to have it--the VuGo.

Now, I didn't know she'd asked for this, and hadn't heard about it until she unwrapped it and created intense jealousy on the part of Oldest, who kept screaming about how much it cost. But it seemed that it might indeed be a pretty cool deal, promising as it did to be able to record TV shows, hold digital photos, and digital music. All with a nice screen to look at.

After the hubbub had died down of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, she finally pestered me enough to get me to get it working for her. It comes with a software disc--first ominous clue. It seems that you can't just put digital files on it--you have to first import whatever MP3 or jpeg or mpeg file you want into the special software, and from there it is translated into a proprietary file format only for the VuGo.

That is, if you can get the software to install properly in the first place. Second ominous clue--the install seemed to be crippled, and getting the program to open in a window was nearly impossible. Sometimes you could click on the icon and it would show up, sometimes not. And sometimes it would tell you it was running, but there were no windows open of any sort or button at the bottom of the screen.

I finally, FINALLY got it to open a usable screen, and proceeded to copy some Christmas photos over into the software converter. Seeing as how there was absolutely NO information in the paper that came with the player or anything usable in the Help file on the software, I had no idea how to get the files out of the translator into the player. I had the USB cable hooked up and tried using Windows Explorer, first filling it up with useless jpeg images (this is where I found out that it wouldn't take plain old normal image files) and then found that even if I transferred files with the proper suffix, it wouldn't read those, either. I was, after several hours of struggling, able to figure out how to keep the VuGo software window open AND how to get it to transfer stuff into the device. It was so counterintuitive it could have been Democratic election strategy.

BUT, I got them tranferred, and then it was time to view them. The picture on the box showed a bright, high resolution photo of girls having fun. What showed up on the screen appeared to be a resolution on the order of 5 to 10 pixels per inch. Ghastly--especially considering the VideoNow she has has decent quality. Not great, but sheesh! better than this pile of crap. Oh, and the supplied USB cable required that you hold your mouth in a particular position and wiggle the plug jusssst-so to get it to establish a connection. An ominous clue, no doubt about it.

BUT WAIT, there's more!

I showed Bec the results and she was less than impressed. "Now, let's see if we can record from the television!" I said, trying my best to salvage the present. We went to her room where her (just replaced) television was sitting and I hooked up the supplied video/audio cables to the plugs on the front of the set. Popped in a DVD, hit record. "Recording Music Now" it said. [Yet another ominous clue.]

Music?!

I figured out that maybe it wouldn't record a copy protected DVD, and the box did say it would record television programs. Stopped the DVD, and turned over to a station, plugged the cables in again to make sure I was doing it right, hit the record button, "Recording Music Now." Huh!? We tried and tried, and never could get it to record anything at all. The sound it did manage to record off of the television was static.

It was at this point I told her that I was going to have to work on it some more to see if I could get it to work, but what I did in fact was to jump online and see what other people were experiencing. As you can see from the About.com reviews (or rather, the ones written by actual humans and not semi-literate droolers), this thing is a stinker of the highest order.

After I had read all that and spoke to Reba about it, I came to the conclusion we'd be much better off with something else--ANYthing else. Not much else of the sort out there, but better to one good thing that might only do pictures or music but would do them well, than one bad thing that won't work at all. I gently told Rebecca that we might need to take it back since it just didn't work right and let her get something else. Thankfully, she wasn't too disappointed. She'd already gotten enough of that when she saw how crappy the pictures looked.

So, we got the receipt from Grandmom, and I proceeded to go back in and try to remove the pictures that were on it. Now, we had not used the batteries at all--it had been plugged into the DC adapter the whole time. On. On. ON. ON! I pushed and pushed the power button and it wouldn't come on. I figured it must have depleted the four AAAs somehow, and so I got the adapter back out. Plugged it in, on. On. On. ON. ON! No amount of pressing would make it come on. GRR. Finally managed to get it to come on by unplugging the power cable, holding down the on-button, and jamming the jack back into the side of it while I had the button down. That made it come on. I deleted the photos, and packed the cheap gimcrack back into the packaging it crawled out of.

Such a waste--poor quality screen resolution (if a GameBoy SP can look so good, why not this?), cheaply made parts, kludgy software, no useful instruction, and unable to operate as advertised--and the boxtop advertising on the packaging was expressly deceptive as to the video quality one could expect.

Thankfully, we were able to get a refund (of course, the predatory return practices of Target meant it wasn't a full refund, but it was better than nothing.)

Short lesson? Don't buy electronic stuff for your grandkids. And don't let your kids beg their grandparents for this rilly kewl electronic doodad they want. And remember, VuGo rhymes with Yugo.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:46 AM | Comments (4)

December 22, 2005

Chutzpah

But I dare not say anything else! I would never wish to be accused of saying anyone was a devious hypocrite and heathen.

Despite the fact that the shoe seems to fit quite comfortably. And the fact that the small winged animal walking around the place looks, acts, and sounds like a duck.

O! the persecution...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Well, A) I don't believe it--

Saddam Says He's Been Beaten in Detention

But, B) If it is true, I offer this tiny violin.gif to Saddam, with my kindest regards.

Given past prison scandal, I cannot imagine how this could be true, aside from the possiblity that he might have tried to grab someone or hurt someone, and had to be restrained. Of course, that might require some small measure of courage, which to date he has not seemed to possess.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2005

World's Largest Small Town

Yes, I know Reno claims to be the Biggest Little City in the World, but that's not what we're discussing. We're talking about something just about anyone around here will confirm, that is if you live here a while, you find out you know everyone. It's sorta like Mayberry on a grand scale.

It's weird, but for a metro area that's spread out over a territory of 4,677 square miles (only slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, and bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined) I continue to run into people I either know from somewhere or who know someone I know. Maybe that's the way it is everywhere with everyone, I don't know. I was always shocked whenever I was little and we'd go to the mall or something--my dad always ran into someone he knew. My mom even noticed it (usually because she was miffed that he would never introduce her or my sister or I). Now I can say that my dad got around a lot and was the garrulous sort, which might explain why he knew everyone. However, I am definitely not the social butterfly.

But I notice I keep running into people no matter where I go. Last night, for instance, we had the town Christmas party for the folks who sit on the various boards and agencies. (At Joel's, by the way--good food and good folks.) Last year, we found out one of the older couples we go to church with served on a board, and they were there again this year.

We sat across from one of the guys on the zoning adjustment board I serve on, whom I knew before I was ever on the board because his firm did some work back in the long ago for us when I worked at The Bad Place. Another couple came in and sat down beside them, and it turns out he's a judge. At first I didn't think I would have anything to speak to him about (not having any outstanding warrants or anything) but it turns out he's represented one of the guys I work with here (the one who brought collards-as-a-finger-food to the Christmas party several years back). Also, it turns out he and the guy I knew previously both managed to serve as interim mayor and city attorney for a small town over to the southeast of Trussville where several of our friends from church live.

On the other side of Reba the local insurance guy and his wife sat--he's on the adjustment board with me (and is the one with all the cool old cars at his office), and we found out the other day that his daughter-in-law is the daughter of the preacher at the church where Reba and I grew up, and where Reba's parents still attend.

Even more strange was this morning I had to make a stop at the main post office in downtown Birmingham, and I was running late, but decided I wanted to go see the building the motorcycle guys are going to move into before I came on in to work. A minute or two after I pulled out of the parking lot, I looked in the rearview mirror to see one of the Birmingham News reporters who comes to report on the off-campus meetings I have all the time.

It's just very strange that I can go for years not ever seeing the people who live down the street, and yet I still seem to run across all sorts of folks I know or who know people I know, without even trying.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

SUCCESS

I am very happy to let you all know that I spoke with Nick the Marine about 20 minutes ago, and he says Francesca had just finished up her surgery with flying colors and is now in recovery.

Nick said the doctor ("he's squared away!") was very optimistic about what he had been able to accomplish during the surgery, and that after the post-operative pain has worn off, she should have a much more comfortable life. The surgery took about an hour and a half, and in addition to freeing up all the internal bits and pieces (and yes, I do feel somewhat uncomfortable talking about another man's wife's internal bits and pieces, especially considering he could probably crush my skull between his thumb and forefinger) the doctor verified that there were no signs of cancer.

In all, I don't think they could have gotten a better report. The whole Yorkie Family does still require your prayers, though--the next couple of days are going to be rough for the Grouchy (not really) One, and the recovery, as she has noted in previous posts, will be several weeks long. So, keep them all close to your hearts.

I will call the hospital later in the week and give you another update, and hopefully soon you'll have your favorite authoress back to regale you with tales of Starbucks and home renovations.

(Crossposted over on Yorkie Blog, where, despite my threats, I intend not to post anything related to Volvos.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:53 AM | Comments (3)

December 13, 2005

What is it with me?

Have I just gotten to the point where I am one of those people?! You know--intolerant!?

I had an off-campus meeting within the last couple of hours (thus explaining my lack of posts) and in what is seems to be becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence, I once again found myself in close proximity to someone who simply could NOT KEEP HER MOUTH SHUT FOR ONE BLOODY SECOND! She sat behind me carrying on a semi-whispered ("whispering" being a skill which she apparently learned while working in a sawmill) conversation:

Jabberjabberjabber--whisperwhisper--HYUCK! HYUCK! SS-Ss-sss--uhuh! --jabberjabber--MMMhhmm!--chatter-- chatter--THAT'S RIGHT--jabberjabber. Jabberjabberjabber!

WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT UP!

Great Thor's Hammer, woman, there is someone trying to speak to the rest of the people in the room, and if you would just keep your mouth quiet for maybe even a SECOND, we could concentrate. Because I guarantee, from what I've heard, you don't have anything to add to any discussion other than volume and hot air.

Anyway, I've noticed I am becoming much more bothered by such behavior of late, and I'm not sure why.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:38 PM | Comments (9)

December 12, 2005

Somehow, this doesn't seem like the right thing...

La. governor postpones New Orleans vote

12/12/2005, 12:40 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Kathleen Blanco postponed the New Orleans mayoral election indefinitely on Monday, setting up a legal battle with voters who filed a lawsuit seeking to ensure the election is held as scheduled.

Blanco's executive order cites the recommendation of Secretary of State Al Ater, the state's top elections official, who has said the city is incapable of holding elections in February because Hurricane Katrina caused so much damage to polling sites and voting machines. [...]

Gee, just the other day they were touting the fact that the city has a free wi-fi set up, and they can't figure out a way to have an election? I realize the whole area has been through a devastating storm, but if we can manage to find a way for combat soldiers in the field halfway around the world to be able to cast a ballot, surely this can be figured out without resorting to an indefinite suspension of the right to cast a ballot.

I'm sure Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are on the way right now to decry this heinous disenfranchisment of the voters of New Orleans. Right?

Right?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:41 PM | Comments (9)

You know how addled last night made me?

I was so addled that I just now remembered that this was on Alabama Public Television as part of their incessant fundraising drives. But for once, I didn't care. Rrowlll.

AND, not only that, Saturday night they had on a Fawlty Towers retrospective, and one of the premiums is this! I might consider contributing to get one, if they only had an executive version.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:36 AM | Comments (2)

From a Democrat, to the Democrats

From Fritz Schranck:

[...] There’s no advantage to the Party’s long-term interests to continue to be identified with the folks who hope to see Iraq’s fledgling democracy fail, primarily because they think that an Administration debacle overseas will further their own parochial interests here at home.


And in golf news, what not to get Fritz.

I must say, that set of "Be the Ball" coasters makes me wince when I see it, much as whenever the thought crosses my mind of various times I fell off the seat of my bicycle and landed on my crossbar. So to speak.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

Maybe, maybe not.

Envoy: Bin Laden may not be in control

I still think he's being rogered with a pitchfork by Beelzebub, but it's hard to say for certain. I've said it before, though--he seemed awfully fond of videotapes back in the day, and we've not seen one from him in a very long time--it's been over a year since we've heard even an audio tape, and far longer than that for a video. Now, either he's grown camera-shy, or he's not fit to be seen by the faithful because he's a grown into a tiny broken-down husk of a madman, or he's dead. And you know, if he does decide to show up again, it would be nice to have a recent copy of the New York Times, just to show the date and all.

He does seem to have been neutralized as far as everyday control of things--but people like Zarqawi and al-Zawahri and various Democratic party functionaries still seem to think it's good to keep mentioning him, Boogie Man-like, so the true believers will continue to fight the good fight.

In any case, it's good we haven't heard from him, and the less, the better.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)

Thanks for the tip.

Poll: Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence

This might come as a shock, but I hear that the former Confederate states were none too pleased with Federal occupation during Reconstruction.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

Maybe I just need to give up.

I mean, it's obvious no one else cares, right?

What am I talking about?

Why, the Christmas Choir Concert at the high school, of course.

And the inevitable circumstance that arises every time I go to one of these things, in which people who seem to think the best way to show their appreciation for the children and their hard work is to sit there and TALK ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE PERFORMANCE.

It never fails. YOU! The big goomer sitting dead center on the front row with your wife and two little boys. Yes, you--the guy with the patch of gray hair about the size of a half-dollar on the back left side of your head. SHUT UP ALREADY!

He sat there, and when he wasn't singing along in the non-singalong parts, he was chatting with his wife. Loudly. And despite the obvious throat-clearing disdain shown by the man sitting behind him, who just happened to be me. If you think your precious chorister is worth coming to see, SHUT. UP. AND. LISTEN.

But, like I said, maybe I just need to give up and join EVERYONE ELSE, who seem to think these things are some excuse to act like a bunch of drunk quidchompers at a tractor pull. Maybe next one I'll get up and WHOOTWHOOT! at the top of my lungs during the quiet parts where I tend to drift off. Or maybe I can just turn around in my seat and scream "THAT THERE'S MAH BABY!" I don't think anyone would care.

::sigh::

AS FOR THE PERFORMANCES themself, well, pretty good, but I have a few tips. The middle schoolers were mostly girls, and had very pretty black formal floor-length dresses on, with a pretty white pleated bit on the skirt. There must have been fifty of them. Each one seemingly having had a jar of crazed itching-powder-dusted fire ants dumped into their drawers before going on stage. My goodness, I have never seen so much fidgeting in my LIFE. Please, please--hands in front of you or to the side. And stand still.

And second, please refrain from acting like a troupe of hyenas on crack when you've sat down in the audience to hear the high school choir sing. Yes, I was young and enthusiastic once, too, but there's a time and a place for everything, and a loud, raucous WHOOTWHOOTWHOOOT!ing after In Excelcis Deo (and every other song, for that matter) seems a bit out of place.

For the teachers--hey, how about a rehearsal to figure out where everyone is supposed to be on the risers? During the show is not the time to figure it out. And please, don't make the kids who use wheelchairs or walkers or stuff wait OUTSIDE IN THE COLD to come on stage--there's a whole area stage right where they could have stood and been inside. And this--how about a little less banging on the pianoforte. Accompaniment is fine, but remember, we didn't come to hear the piano player.

They all have such beautiful voices, and all the miscues and unforced errors doesn't make me say "Aww, how cute and charming!" but rather makes me wish adults had enough confidence in themselves to not be self-conscious about requiring some level of decorum amongst their charges. Then again, when you have parents who can't keep their stupid yaps shut for five friggin' minutes at a whack, maybe I just expect too much.

You know, maybe we could just have a Jumpin' Baby J. Hannukah Pep Rally or something.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:07 PM | Comments (4)

A knee, if you please.

One of our frequent commentors around here (and e-mail correspondent in private) who goes by the name of Steevil just received word (in a most inapt way, I might say) of some health problems.

Steevil, whose real name is Stephen and whose claims to fame include being a NASA rocket scientist, a Moron Project Leader Extraordinaire (i.e., he has a sailboat), and being the brother of Dr. Weevil, has been quietly wrestling with a couple of health issues for a while now, and has received some additional news that seems to indicate yet more difficulty in the coming months.

UPDATE! 10:45 a.m. I AM COMPLETELY WRONG! No big surprise there, but upon further word from Steevil, it seems that I was under the wrong impression. He received a form letter from one of the medical offices, and I thought it meant he actually DID have something much worse wrong with him than just having a sailboat, and that his doctor just hadn't had the chance to tell him yet. Silly me. HOWEVER, despite Steve's request, I'd still like to ask you all to keep him in your thoughts anyway, because he's STILL not quite back up to speed yet from his current malady. So there.

AND, as you all know, my good friend Miss Francesca will be undergoing surgery next week, and she, too, is in need of encouragement.

Thank you.

The whole thing with Steevil's note does remind me, for some reason, of the old joke about the guy who left his cat and his mother in the care of his neighbor before going on a trip. Upon his return, he asked how his cat was, and the neighbor blurted out, "Your cat got hit by a car and died."

The man was obviously heartbroken and in shock at how tactless the neighbor had been in delivering the news. "Next time, try to be a little more caring! Say something like, 'Well, your cat climbed up on the roof, and we tried to get her down but couldn't,' and then when I ask what happened next, say something like, 'she hopped down, and a dog chased her into the street,' before just coming out and saying she got hit! Okay!?"

Having unburdened himself of this sudden sad news, he then asked his neighbor where his mother was. "Uhh, well, she's up on the roof..."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:14 AM | Comments (4)

December 08, 2005

Sugarmama Makes My Dreams Come True!

I just received an e-mail from the fit and fine Sugarmama, who lets me in on a little secret--

You can have your own replicas of the Alabama Power Company spokes birds, Ben and Micky. I know this is VERY EXCITING news!!!

Oh, those birds. I hate them. I wrote about them last year in this post. And this one. Yet, despite my visceral dislike for them, our local benevolent oligopoly has tenaciously stuck by their creations, and seems to think everyone just loves them to death. Hmmm. Surely I didn't mean to write "death." Anyway, from somewhere deep in the corporate recesses of the power company, this memo floats about:

Ben and Mickey plush toys still for sale

STILL?! NO! WAY!

There’s still time to purchase your own set of “Ben and Mickey” plush toys. For your convenience, Alabama Power’s TV spokesbirds will be on sale on the Corporate Headquarters mezzanine Friday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The pair comes in a handy, clear plastic drawstring sack with the company logo for only $15.

You call it "a handy drawstring sack," I prefer to think of it as a body bag. With the company logo!

Ben and Mickey are terrific stocking stuffers,

Yeah, well so's plutonium.

presents for children

Especially ones you hate, or ones you're trying to make stop believing in Santa Claus.

or office decorations.

Yep, I'm sure the CEO of Alabama Power has 'em in his office. And so does that squirrely systems engineer who doesn't bathe and insists everyone call him "Mister ELECTRO!"

Proceeds will benefit local charities supported by the Alabama Power Service Organization. These special toys are available for a limited time, while supplies last.

I.e., available indefinitely, or until someone finds a way to sneak them into the landfill.

Me? Oh, I might by a dozen or so, just to have something puffy and explodey for shotgun practice.

Boy, I dislike those birds.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:31 PM | Comments (11)

Should be a cinch.

France tries to improve tourist image after riots

Ministers Say "Burning Car Smell Really No Worse Than Gaulloises!"

Officials Note Riots Prompted Downturn in Gypsy Pickpockets, North African Trinket Vendors

Fire Department Officials Proclaim Success In Finally Washing Most Dog Droppings From Sidewalks

Plea for Return of American Tourists, "Gives Rioters, Non-Rioters Common Enemy For Whom to Express Haughty Disdain"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:01 PM | Comments (5)

Finally, something for the smart set...

Via the Birmingham Business Journal, Public TV documentary to highlight Alabamians' generosity

Tiffany Ray
Staff

In 2003, Alabamians donated nearly $2.2 billion to charity, Internal Revenue Service deductions show. That outpouring makes Alabama the sixth most generous state in the nation, according to recent results of the Catalogue for Philanthropy's 2005 Generosity Index, a ranking that measures the difference between each state's adjusted gross income and its contributions to charity. [...]

As is the usual case, BBJ is still coming to grips with the idea of providing links to other information, so here's your website for the Catalogue for Philanthropy's 2005 Generosity Index.

Alabama's behind only Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee in overall ranking, which is pretty nice no matter how you look at it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:39 PM | Comments (3)

Thank you...

Dean seeks to clarify comments on Iraq

...but frankly, your comments, even in their broader context--especially in their broader context--are quite clear and unequivocal: victory = retreat.

That is the only way they can be read.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

Tiny Violins A'Playin'

Saddam says he will boycott 'unjust court'

Wow--if only those Kurdish villagers had just boycotted being gassed...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2005

Coffee, again.

I note with no small amount of pride that Miss Francesca has managed to deprive Starbucks of operating capital for an entire five days. Bully for her! She now is deciding whether to buy her own brewmaking machinery, or to sacrificially eschew java altogether.

Obviously, a difficult decision, and one that has only the slightest to do with the following commentary, directed at the Senseo coffeemaker. They've had ads out for a while--a lovely brunette fidgeting with her fingers and making coffee-blowing pursing motions with her mouth, and then the magical juice comes flowing out of the Senseo spout--all very enticing.

Sorta. I mean, the woman's enticing, but the camera shots of the coffee coming out are in slow motion, so that the machine appears to have a sluicy, slo-mo, wavy-looking semi-liquid goo coming out. "Frothy," they say. It does have bubbles on top---but not whipped cream or meringue or styrofoam or whatever it is you gourmet-coffee people ladle on there--it's just bubbly coffee fizz. Which is fine, I guess, but the image on-screen of the gloppy consistency and same-colored bubbles doesn't really look like hot refreshing coffee so much as it does hot redeye gravy.

Now, I love redeye gravy, but just because it contains coffee, I'd rather not drink it as a beverage. (I will say that if someone came up with a gravy machine, that would be pretty neat.)

So, anyway, speed the film up just a little, guys, and let the coffee be coffee.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:45 PM | Comments (7)

How nice.

Saddam: 'I Am Not Afraid of Execution'

No reason to be, really. Unlike your political enemies when you were in power, there is still a chance you could dodge this with some help from the various quislings who've flocked to your cause, merely for the off-chance to pet and groom you the way various species of monkeys fight over tasty body lice. And even if you don't beat the rap, well, no one's gonna feed you feet-first into a shredder, after making you watch your daughters being raped. Nope, it'll be quick and merciful--again, assuming it even happens.

But really, the thing to fear isn't the execution, though, is it? It's what comes after, when you stand there, trying to convince God you were completely innocent. He's not near as big a pushover as Ramsey Clark, you know. Or the U.N.

Anyway, no matter what happens, be sure to say hey to Pol Pot.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:32 AM | Comments (7)

December 02, 2005

Peevishness

In the greater scheme of things this is really meaningless, but it still chaps me anyway, mainly because the people who do these things are the ones who tend to miss no opportunity to tell others about their own superiority.

First up, this headline--City's murder rate near 100 with overnight death

No. The amount of murders is near 100. "Rate" is term indicating a ratio, a comparison to a fixed number--for crimes, the usual reporting standard is the number of crimes per 100,000 of population. I realize a lot of people make the mistake, but professional journalists are the ones who keep telling everyone about the superiority of their medium, based upon the idea that they have a staff of trained editors toiling away to insure accuracy both in the overall tone of the article, as well as language usage. But irritating stuff like this gets printed every single day--innumeracy and illiteracy amongst the people we pay to bring us the news seem to abound. And frankly, if they can't get the small stuff right, why should I bother to believe they'd be willing to take any greater care on the big stuff?

Second--the term "1st Annual." I just got through reading our school system's quarterly newsletter, and they had a blurb about the upcoming "1st Annual System-Wide Holiday Celebration" at the central office. Again--I realize many people don't see anything odd about that, but a bunch of highly-qualified teachers should know that "1st Annual" isn't the best way to say that--it's either the first, or the inaugural, or the introductory, or the initial. I know what they mean--they intend to have one next year, so this one is the first of what is planned to be an annual event. But, still, since Christmas only comes around once annually, at least acknowledge that even if the usage is acceptable, it's still redundant in this case. It's like saying annual anniversary.

Again, in the greater scheme of things, it's not a big deal, except for the fact that I keep hearing just how essential all these folks are to my child's well-being. And I don't disagree--but if you're going to set yourself out there on that pedestal, I would prefer not to see so many simple, common, irksome things that cause my teeth to go on edge. Because, just like the newpapers, these sorts of things keep coming to my attention--we get a flood of papers from all the kids every day, and some of what passes for pedagogical excellence simply defies belief. If they can't get the small stuff right, why should I bother to believe they'd be willing to take any greater care on the big stuff?

/rant

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:02 AM | Comments (3)

December 01, 2005

A Sad, Weak Woman

In which Starbucks loses a valued and loyal customer for one, or possibly even two days.

Me? I only like my coffee one way. You walk into a dim tired joint, sit at the counter, and tell the beefy young waitress you want a cup of coffee. She turns around and pulls a glass carafe from under a big stainless Bunn coffeemaker, and the coffee comes to you hot and black and fully caffeinated in a plain thick white ceramic cup. You get free refills. If it's a new girl, before you order, you ask her first if they have free refills, and when she says yes, you tell her you'll have one of those. She stops for a minute and then figures out the joke, and says you have to buy the first cup. You leave her a dollar tip.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (6)

What not to do.

When I was in the process of going to get gas last night, I was struck by a curious craving.

Vienna sausage.

I had gotten a box of cans at Sam's the last time I bought groceries, because I had a craving for them while I was at Sam's, said craving then departing until last night.

Now, I realize some of you are already feeling a bit queasy--I realize what Vienna sausages are made of (first ingredient--"mechanically separated chicken"), and further that they are offensive to at least three major world religions. But, you know, to those of us in the redneck religion, there is nothing else that can satisfy that craving when you get it--aside from potted meat.

Anyway, got home and opened the box and grabbed a tiny tin of the tender pink cylinders, popped the top, rinsed off the yummy chicken broth and gelatinous goo, and had myself a little feast, repleat with crackers. (Because, as we know, Vi-inners just aren't the same without crackers.)

Afterwards, I went upstairs, got my pajamas on, read the mail, helped Rebecca with some homework, did some other stuff, and finally got a chance to lie down on the bed to read a bit and watch Letterman before bedtime.

Letterman's special guest? Maureen Dowd.

Oh, Charlize Theron was on there, too, but Dave saved most of his ill-informed sycophancy for Modo. Having read only enough of Dowd to create a distinct distaste for her cognitive skills, and never having had the opportunity to hear her speak extemporaneously, I can only say that if this is what passes for Pulitzer Prize-winning talent, the Pulitzer Prize must be akin to the chicken broth and gelatinous goo I washed off my Vienna sausages.

So, by way of a caution, never eat Vienna sausages late at night and then subject yourself to viewing a brief television interview with Maureen Dowd. Just turn it off after Charlize Theron is on, and dream better dreams.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:32 AM | Comments (13)

March 24, 2005

You know what that was? The last time I paid $1.999 for a gallon of gasoline--before last night, that is. Went and filled up the van at Sam's, and thought it would be good to look back in my little Volvo logbook and see just how far back it was that gas cost so little.

So, not only is gasoline now back down below the price it was before Hurricane Katrina, it's lower than it has been since before I even moved from Blogspot to Munu. And, in fact, BEFORE I EVEN OWNED MY VOLVO. That $1.99 price was how much the previous owner had paid. By the time I got the car, gas was up around $2.20 or so.

Conclusion? Well, obviously severe natural disasters have the net effect of driving gasoline prices down in the long term. That Karl Rove guy sure is a genius with his Evil Hurricane Machine and all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2005

Well, not quite.

From the Birmingham Business Journal--State of Alabama's official Web site ranks in top 10 again

The state of Alabama's official government Web site, www.alabama.gov, has been ranked among the top 10 state Web sites for the second year in a row.

Now in its tenth year, the Best of the Web competition evaluates government Web sites based on their innovation, Web-based delivery of public service, efficiency, economy and functionality. The 2005 Best of the Web competition was conducted by the Center for Digital Government, an international research and advisory institute. [...]

Well, I suppose it's one of those things where people are wont to say "it's just an honor to be nominated," but after finding the Center for Digital Government's website (when will BBJ be more conscientious about links!?) I noted that only the first five places actually get awards--the rest are just finalists, and as with football and beauty contests, no one ever remembers the losers.

Nice to see Fritz Schranck's home state pick up the heavy 1st Place hardware, although I must say I think it would have been even better if they'd have a little animated blue hen pecking around.

As for the sites themselves, I'm at a bit of a loss to see what separates one from another--they all look okay, though a bit pixel-happy with all the links and places and news and pictures and colors and stuff. But in the end, they all look like official state websites--like license plates, it seems no one is willing to be creative anymore. And Texas! It's not any bigger than any of the other websites! How disappointing.

I suppose it's a bit like cars--they all tend to start looking alike after a while, until someone comes up with something fresh to set the new fashion trend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:15 PM | Comments (3)

November 23, 2005

Thank you.

May you all have a joyful time of reflection and giving of thanks, and may you all be kept safe until we speak again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:06 PM | Comments (3)

The South?

A very long AP article about the nature of Southernness.

As with most articles of this type, there are the inevitable sets of surveys and polls and "scientific" analysis and commentary and hand-wringing and the substitution of one stereotype for another.

Do I consider myself Southern? Well, of course. But, of all the supposed traits that somehow make us distinctive, I've got as many of them as I don't, and I suppose the most defining thing about my association is simply geographic. I'm a Southerner because I live in the South.

All the hoo-hah about it all, though, reminds me of nothing so much as the ridiculous ongoing French debate about keeping non-French words from contaminating their language. Once there is a concerted effort to stop something from changing, rather than keeping it alive, it kills it. There's good and bad to everything--the trick is finding the good things, and letting go of the bad.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:01 PM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2005

Okay, I admit the output has been a bit off.

But doggone it, when I find writing like this, it just makes me lose all hope of ever being able to write anything any better.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:44 PM | Comments (1)

The other day...

...the kids got out the paper trebuchet model we built last year and were messing with it, and I mentioned to Boy that there were several websites that had other paper models you could build.

This might be a bit beyond both of our skills.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:20 PM | Comments (6)

November 16, 2005

I blame Beethoven.

Because if he'd never written Für Elise, I would not be subjected to it continually playing in all of its tinkly polyphonic ringtoneyness by the guy who seems to believe his cell phone must be on all day (even when he's sitting right beside a telephone) and who seems to believe that it would be somehow inappropriate to mute the ringer while he's in the office, because doing that wouldn't let people know he has important cell phone calls he simply MUST take, and that the best way to let people know that (in addition to loudly answering said phone and carrying on a conversation that was apparently too confidential for the office phone, but not so confidential that it could not be shouted so that all can hear it) would be to install a ringtone that adequately describes his lovely charm and cultured upbringing.

Stupid Beethoven.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:59 PM | Comments (2)

As you all know--

--I think Alison Krauss is just pretty as a peach, but I don't think this photo is quite so flattering. Nor this one.

Twain (not Mark), on the other hand...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (7)

November 14, 2005

Movie Time.

I had a WHOLE LONG post on here, and it got ate up. Gone. Pif. Grr!

Elizabethtown--didn't want to endure it, so Reba took the older two to that one. Eleven out of ten high-pitched squeally screams.

Chicken Little--I took the younger set to this--critics seem to hate it, I thought it was fine. Cute little animals and all. I'd give it three out of five curly possum tails.

Grr.

I just sort of write the way I talk, and if I get sidetracked or the post gets disappeared, I just feel stupid re-talking the same thing I just got through saying. It's like having to repeat everything to your hard-of-hearing uncle.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:44 PM | Comments (4)

November 09, 2005

Okay, you know I'm not scholar of ancient mythology, but--

--Cassandra.

I was just reading a blog that talked about Cassandra-like people who keep spouting off predictions that never come true. And twice within the last year, Brock "Cannonball Run" Yates has in the pages of Car and Driver likened Democrats to Cassandra, again for their Chicken Littleness and timidity about this or that, and their general inability to couch the future in any but the most dire terms.

But, doggone it, even a dumb hick like me should know that Cassandra's problem wasn't inaccuracy--it was not being listened to. Everyone thought she was off her nut and refused to believe her, even when she was proven to be right. Seems she got Apollo all hot and bothered and got him to give her a nice gift of prophecy and some jewelry and a gift card to Crete and Barrel, but when she said, "thanks, but I'd really rather just be friends" (because he was all stuck on himself, being a god and all) he got all mad and finagled around with her gift so that it still worked, but no one would give her any heed.

She's the one who told the Trojans to watch out for those Greek guys bringing them stuff (and that Laocoon dude told 'em, too), but they didn't listen, and so when the Greek pledges parked an RV outside their stadium, the Trojans thought they were trying to make nice and be friends and so they drove it on in and during the night after the bonfire and pep rally and the Trojans were all asleep (i.e. too much Long Island tea), the pledges slipped out of the RV and pennied the Trojans in their dorm rooms and did a panty raid on the sororities.

Or so I've been told.

ANYway, Cassandra's problem was not being listened to, not that she was wrong. So stop using her for that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:25 PM | Comments (12)

November 04, 2005

Ab-b-b-b-o-o-ou-u-u-t-t-t-t T-t-i-i-m-m-mememe

Bump-smoothing work starts on I-59

GINNY MacDONALD
News staff writer


State transportation officials say it literally took an act of Congress for work to begin on the bumpy lanes of Interstate 59 for 16½ miles from Trussville to Alabama 23 in St. Clair County.

The resurfacing will include all interstate lanes. The first phase began last week at the Jefferson-St. Clair County line, and will extend for eight miles into St. Clair to Alabama 23. The second phase of the work will be from seven-tenths of a mile south of Chalkville Mountain Road, extending 8½ miles to the county line.

The work, which will cost $21 million, is scheduled to be completed next fall. [...]


Motorists have complained for years about the interstate's condition, especially the right eastbound lane beginning near Trussville. Drivers say they are forced to use the left eastbound lane to avoid the rough surface.

Drivers say the interstate is dangerous because drivers stay in the left lanes eastbound and then cut across right-lane traffic to take exits. [...]

It's not actually the roughness that's the problem--the road is smooth, but has something of a sinusoidal wave surface that can only be driven if you're going 40 or 90. Anything in between and your tires start bouncing out of phase and hammering the car like you've installed four jackhammers on the corners, and pretty soon you're about ready to go airborne.

Really.

It was undrivable when we had Moby, and the other day I made the mistake of moving over to the right lane in the Volvo and thought the thing was going to shake to pieces before I was able to get back over in the left lane. It's been a hazard for years, and it goes for miles before the surface goes back to something approaching level.

I know a bunch of happy taxpayers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)

November 03, 2005

Really now?

US leads way in medical errors: study

Hmmm. Interesting that the study (at least as it is reported in the article) is not based upon a scientific look at misdiagnosis or lab errors using a standardized set of criteria common to all the countries, but rather is based upon patient reporting.

Not to say that patients don't know when they've been done wrong, but it is much more likely for a patient to fill out a survey of this sort when they HAVE had a screw up.

Second, the idea that test results are being delayed--by what time clock? Is it the same clock that told us FEMA should have New Orleans completely rebuilt by now? If your expectation of test result timing are based upon some mistaken belief that they should be done quicker than they turn out to be, you would be much more willing to believe that it's being done slower for you than other people.

Likewise, if you have been led to believe that your system of medical treatment is far superior to others, you might think that your results are just fine, or that the errors made in your case aren't that bad. It's a bit like those surveys of car owner satisfaction--it used to be (it might still be) that the expensive foreign makes all had incredibly high levels of owner satisfaction, despite the fact that objective measures of quality such as time in the repair shop showed them to be less reliable than some of the lower-priced makes. People were willing to overlook such things--sometimes because they might have been afraid to admit buying an expensive lemon.

If your expectations are unreasonably high (or low), your experiences might be a less than reliable indicator of actual performance.

Further, the issue of cost. The study seems to suggest (and many people seem to believe) that tax money comes from the sky in pretty parachuted bundles. Although patients might have lower out of pocket costs in socialized medicine schemes, that's only because their pockets have already been pilfered to pay for the system in the first place.

Anyway, remember what Mark Twain said.

UPDATE 11/4/05--More on the subject from James Joyner.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Maybe it's just me, but...

...I think a 38-year-old Cuban-born guy who grew up being a juggler and magician and lives in Alabama and invented a snowmaking machine is just pretty darned cool.

Remember--"Everybody loves the Ring Rocket, and if they don't they're just not regular people."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:58 PM | Comments (2)

October 31, 2005

Sympathy for the computer guys.

No, really.

I got an internal e-mail a few minutes ago that obviously was in error. Looked like someone was trying to do a test of how to send a message to the whole building, and it messed up. Subject? "Hopefully this is a city-wide distribution" Only message? "Hope this works for you."

Now, the recipient wasn't intended to be me, so I just deleted it. No use replying, in that it's not to me, and was an obvious error.

Which never seemed to occur to some people. Started getting strings of snotty replies, which obviously meant the stupid people were hitting "reply to all."

After a few minutes of this, the MIS guy just sent his own building-wide message:

Once again, someone has sent a message to everyone that should not have been sent. Now people are responding to it using “REPLY TO ALL”. As we said the last time this happened:

STOP RESPONDING TO THIS MESSAGE! PARTICULARLY, STOP USING “REPLY TO ALL” TO RESPOND TO A MASS MAILING!

All the responders are doing is propagating this essentially empty e-mail.

Thanks for your consideration.

Poor guys.

UPDATE: Two hours after the MIS guy sent his plea to every single e-mail address in the building, everyone on the distribution list got this message from one very particularly stupid person:

"Whaaaaat is it????? An empty email. Please resend."

Idiot.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:58 PM | Comments (3)

October 19, 2005

Yet more unsolicited marketing advice.

Just went out for lunch, and after successfully running the bum's gantlet, I noted two people up on the corner of 20th Street wearing sandwich boards handing out literature of some sort.

::sigh::

All of the intrusiveness of people begging for money, combined with personal signage.

Oh well.

Got closer, and found that they were with the downtown YMCA, and were handing out free passes. Which was kinda nice. But.

See, one of the people was a pretty young slim blonde girl of the sort who would look good wearing anything, including two corrugated-core plastic boards.

The other person? A guy. But not the macho, rugged sort of man who likes the Y for its wide selection of exercise opportunities and naked men, but a fellow who was the exact size and shape of a barrel. It seems that if you're trying to tout the benefits of joining a health club of some sort, it would be good to have folks who look less like a giant meatball sandwich.

Just saying.

After turning down the coupon (I don't feel so bad about that, seeing as how the bum who was following me turned it down, too), I went on over to AmSouth Harbert to get some lunch.

Went back to Wall Street Deli for the second day in a row, with the intent of getting a salad. (Not prompted by the need to look less like a giant meatball sandwich myself, mind you--I knew what I wanted beforehand.) As I was walking in, I noticed the sign above the salad bar, in particular the line in red letters above the big price numerals:

Good Things Last FOREVER!

Well, that's nice. But you get to thinking about it, and a salad bar probably isn't the best place to display that slogan, given that the average lifespan of chopped lettuce is about two days. If good things last forever, bad things must not, therefore lettuce and its little salad bar friends must be bad, too. With the exception of the tiny ham cubes, which have enough nitrites and BHT in them to last well into the afterlife. THOSE are good things.

So, I filled up my plate with ham cubes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:17 PM | Comments (2)

October 12, 2005

Well, that's okay...

Alabama adds women's rowing as varsity sport, plans boathouse

...but around here I bet varsity bass fishing would go over a LOT better, for both men and women.

Not to be totally dismissive of rowing, though--nothing like a nice set of shoulders on a girl.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:17 PM | Comments (4)

::cough::cough::

Survey finds workers faking more sick days

Somewhat interesting article about calling in sick--I don't know if you can believe this or not, but it seems some people aren't really sick when they call in sick! Further, it seems these people tend to call in most often on Monday, or on Friday. Amazing!

Anyway, it's something to read, but most especially for the list of excuses some people use. Certainly tends to bear out the old adage that if you're going to lie, lie big--

I'm too drunk to drive to work.

I accidentally flushed my keys down the toilet.

I accidentally drove through the automatic garage door before it opened.

My boyfriend's snake got loose and I'm afraid to leave the bedroom until he gets home. [And not only that, I bet the snake has no depth perception! Ed.]

I'm too fat to get into my work pants.

God didn't wake me.

I cut my fingernails too short, they're bleeding and I have to go to the doctor.

The ghosts in my house kept me up all night.

I forgot I was getting married today.

My cow bit me. [I imagine it wasn't the bite that was so bad but the continual chewing afterwards. Ed.]

I was walking my dog and slipped on a toad in my driveway and hurt my back.

For all my bad habits, calling in sick isn't one. I rarely feel so bad that I can't come in and infect everyone, and if I stayed at home and wasn't REALLY sick, I can guarantee you that there would suddenly appear a HoneyDo list a mile long. It's much quieter and more restful here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:29 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2005

Oh, and before I forget!!

Glenn Reynolds rightly notes that today is the Monday Version of Columbus Day (the actual day being October 12). In honor of this Holiday for the European Oppressors, I often wonder how it is that the despoliation of the North American continent by the evil Conquistadors was carried out by angry Caucasians, but now that everyone south of the Rio Grande speaks Spanish (and Portugeuese--don't want to forget the boys from Brazil), they are now considered brown.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:58 AM | Comments (10)

October 07, 2005

HOORAY!!

Goody's Family Clothing to be acquired in private deal

By DUNCAN MANSFIELD
The Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Goody's Family Clothing Inc. has agreed in principle to be acquired by an affiliate of private-investment firm Sun Capital Partners Inc. in a cash deal valued at $272.8 million, the department store chain said Thursday.

The Knoxville-based retailer "contemplates the prompt commencement of a cash tender offer followed by a cash merger," a company statement said. The deal would pay $8 per share and "would not be subject to financing or due diligence." [...]

My only hope is that this means an end to Goody's CEO Bob Goodfriend doing the television commercials.

I mean, I'm sure he's a super nice guy and all, but he ranks right up there with the Plastic-Headed Burger King as someone who just gives me the creeps. My wife doesn't like to shop there because she thinks he's got cameras in the dressing room that link up to a television in his office.

Okay, not really.

I'M the one who thinks that.

But she still doesn't like to shop there because of his incessant appearances on the television.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:45 AM | Comments (1)

October 06, 2005

And for some reason...

When I saw this, I was reminded of this movie scene.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:16 AM | Comments (3)

October 05, 2005

Yet more numismatic insipidness.

A smile for a nickel: Cheerful Jefferson on new coin

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Mint is trying something different after nearly a century of depicting presidents in somber profiles on the nation's coins.

The new nickel features Thomas Jefferson with the hint of a smile.

Mint officials unveiled the design yesterday in Washington. [...]

and from the US Mint site--

[…] The forward-looking 2006 nickel obverse (heads side) was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Jamie Franki of Concord, North Carolina, using the Rembrandt Peale painting of 1800, the year Jefferson was elected President. The new nickel obverse will be sculpted by United States Mint sculptor-engraver Donna Weaver. As on the 2005 nickels, the word “Liberty” in Thomas Jefferson’s own handwriting will be inscribed on the obverse. […]

Jamie Franki’s forward-looking image of Thomas Jefferson was selected from 147 designs submitted by the United States Mint sculptor-engravers and AIP artists from throughout the country. Franki also designed the reverse image on the 2005 American Bison nickel. […]

::sigh::

Here's the design--
thumb2006Nickel.jpg

and here's the putative inspiration--
peale jefferson.jpg

You know, I would really like for us to go back to having serious money, instead of stuff that looks like Chuckie Cheese tokens. And second, despite the appearance of high relief in the drawing from the Mint, as witnessed by the Sacagawea dollar, all that relief simply doesn't show up when you try to do anything other than a profile. Shallow head-on bas-relief winds up looking weird, no matter what. And doggone it, the nickel looks less like Peale's portrait and much more like Chuck "The Rifleman" Connors--
chuck connors.jpg

Anyway, if we're intent on doing this kind of silly mess, why don't they come up with a durable way to do full-color portraits on coins? Now, that would be cool.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:57 AM | Comments (7)

September 26, 2005

My kids, bless their hearts...

...are still in the 'begging for pets' mode. No matter how much I tell them we need to wait, no matter how little they understand what a big responsibility it is to have a pet, they still want one. They are aided and abetted in this irrational behavior by a certain mother of theirs, who will occasionally break down and take them to the pet store. Thus beginning yet another round of whinyness from them, along with demands that if they can't have a pet, well, could they at least go look at the pet store.

I have tried and tried to make it clear to Reba my disdain for commercial pet stores, and why it breaks my heart to go into those places and see those cute little animals. I haven't been in a pet store in years, and I am really getting put out by the fact that I can't seem to break the kids from wanting to go, nor that I'm able to get Reba to quit taking them.

I think I have finally found a post that makes the point more clearly than I have ever have been able to--I'm going to print this out and take it home.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:40 PM | Comments (5)

September 23, 2005

It ain't just a river in Egypt...

Adams 'confident' IRA will disarm fully

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK

The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said Friday he was "quite confident and satisfied" that the outlawed Irish Republican Army will get rid of its stockpiled weapons, but he declined to comment on when the historic move would happen. [...]

Thanks for that, Gerry. For once, the use of Reuteresque quote marks in a headline seems quite appropriate.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

Fascinating.

Saudi Foreign Minister Chides U.S. Policy

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
Fri Sep 23, 5:57 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the Bush administration did not heed some Saudi warnings on occupying Iraq and that he doesn't believe a new constitution and elections will solve the emerging nation's problems. [...]

Yes, obviously the solution is to have the sort of societal stability only an entrenched totalitarian hereditary monarchy can provide. Well, you know, that, and working to eliminate the Jews.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:59 AM | Comments (2)

September 14, 2005

Hyperrhinosity

Just got back from my short walk to Sneaky Pete's. There was a young lady in there waiting along with me, with quite a striking appearance. Petite, yet nice and filled out; lovely medium brown hair done up in a professional-looking do; large, smoldering, deep-set eyes; and finally, a pronounced hump in the bridge of her nose.

It was oddly alluring.

I think it's because you see so little of that nowadays--plastic surgery for such flaws has become so common and inexpensive that you hardly ever see any Pallorous-American girls under thirty with anything but a tiny turned up button of a nose. I think that's one of the reasons (of admittedly several) why I like Gillian Anderson--she has a nice convexity to the bridge of her nose. It also reminds me of a consultant here in town--tall and lean, with a snout like a borzoi. Despite its length and bladelike appearance, it's actually quite elegant and suits her very well.

And for the record--I lucked out in this matter. Miss Reba has a very fine nose. Straight and slim, and although not outsized, still quite easy to play "gotcher nose" with fingers and thumb. It certainly is a happy accident of genetics, because she just as easily could have gotten more of the nasal material from the paternal side of her family, all of whom bear trunks which closely resemble a Russett potato in size and shape.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:03 PM | Comments (6)

September 13, 2005

Of Windows, Football, and Cannons

Peg Britton talks about her ordnance ordeal.

She and her hubby seem to have gone out of their way to be nice about this, and I sure hope the gun crew will be as accomodating. Not knowing what they're shooting, it's hard to say for sure, but it certainly seems as though they could maybe ease back on the charge a bit if it's making that much racket.

At least Peg can take some small comfort that there have been no rounds in the tube. At least not yet.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:52 AM | Comments (2)

September 09, 2005

For today, for days past, and for days to come.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Ecclesiastes 3

Until I see you again on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:36 PM | Comments (3)

September 07, 2005

Getting out.

Larry Anderson! Posting?! Well, sure--a short cautionary tale on trusting others, but making sure you also have a backup plan.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

He who smelt it, dealt it.

I haven't written much about the recent hurricane and the aftermath, mainly because it would do little good at this point. The best thing anyone can do is to donate if you're not in the area, and get to work if you are.

But it has still nagged at me--the almost immediate, and increasingly incessant, caterwauling by certain politicians about whom to blame.

Long ago when I was a kid in school, and farting was quite the social high point of life, it was a well-established fact that the person who first mentioned a particularly odious contribution to the ambient atmosphere was more than likely the perpetrator of the vapor cloud. The way we had of dealing with this was to heap scorn on the person with the taunt of, "He who smelt it, dealt it!" Meaning, the person who spoke up was probably trying to deflect suspicion from himself by acting as though someone else did it.

In the case of this storm, and in New Orleans in particular, it seems clear to me that the first person to start screaming about how everyone else is to blame is probably a lot closer to being the producer of the stink than he dare admit.

In this situation, there truly is enough blame to go around, but the sign of leadership is knowing how and when to accept your portion of it. To date, I have not heard a single local official step forward and forthrightly say, "Yes, there's plenty of blame to go around, including on my part. When this is over, I know I'm going to catch heat, but let's get things working first." To say anything else at this point is counterproductive. Unless your true priority is covering up your own failings.

I don't know Louisiana's local politics, other than the seemingly unquenchable taint of corruption. But that seems to afflict local politics everywhere, not just Louisiana. In this instance, though, there it seems that there is an overabundance of people appointed to positions of authority primarily out of repaying political indebtedness, with little thought given to the tasks they might be called upon to carry out. Too many who see all the various emergency and security directorships merely as a resume-sweetener. Too many people given ostensible authority in times of peril who can do nothing but throw up their hands and cry. Too many people who made careers out of turning vast swaths of the population into essentially wards of the state, whose only purpose was to keep voting their patron into office. Too many people who have decided to cede control of their destinies to the idea that if trouble happens, the President (of whatever party) will come wading in, grunt once, and crap great loads of fresh hot disaster relief into their eager waiting hands.

It was a terrible catastrophe, made worse by inept planning at the local level, made yet worse by bureaucratic misassumptions up and down the chain of command, and topped off by a rich stew of local and national media doing its dead-level best to insure that every story did two things: 1) berate the Administration, and 2) make good copy for submittal to the Pulitzer Prize Board.

Frankly, it's hard to see how it could have turned out any differently.

As for the future, one hopes that the people who do return do so with a far better understanding of the necessity of becoming more self-reliant, and self-sufficient. I love my country, and I think despite its downfalls our government works well. But it cannot, and should not, be expected to do everything. Bad things will continue to happen until God calls a halt to the proceedings. That's just the way things are. I love my state, and my county, and my home town, but they can't do everything, either. At some point in here, people have to make up the difference, and realize that just like the cops can't be everywhere, neither can the guys bringing cots and water, or your FEMA check.

Community is wonderful--on some level I do believe all that "it takes a village" stuff. But when the village is wiped out, you have to be able to carry on without it. And without hopping on the local airwaves to unleash your foul-mouthed tirades at others.

New Orleans, and the rest of the Gulf Coast, will be rebuilt. People will return, and life will return to the street. It will be different, yes, but with work it can be good. Not perfect, not immune to tragedy, but maybe better able to cope with trouble when it comes again.


And by the way, I know you've probably all read it, but just in case, I recommend that you Be Gray, and Wear a White Hat.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (5)

September 02, 2005

And yet another opportunity offers itself here in the local area

Just got an e-mail from Jett Superior (she of the somewhat recent tractor-bashing incident) who is getting together an effort to help the storm-displaced children of families who are sheltered at the Gadsden Civic Center--which, incidentally, is housing even more refugees than the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Read the whole post (and realize that "assload" is purely figurative) and if you can help, please give her a shout.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2005

A bit earlier than scheduled...

...but I'm not sure how busy I will be tomorrow and wanted to go ahead and post something while I had a moment to spare.

If you are interested in donating to a group coordinating aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, I would like to recommend Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc. out of Nashville, TN. Although they aren't one of the larger or better-known relief agencies, they do good, efficient work, and our congregation and individual members have made contributions in the past to them in the wake of several natural disasters.

Other worthwhile organizations can also be found over at Dr. Reynold's place, and at The Truth Laid Bear.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:04 PM | Comments (4)

August 30, 2005

Maybe if they changed the name...

Google loosing [sic] ground in China

I mean, if I couldn't easily pronounce something, I wouldn't want to use it either. Maybe they could just drop the L or something. (And we don't even need to mention the excessive O use in the headline--I'm sure it was meant to be an eye-rhyme for Google.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

Everyone loves circuses!

Sharpton Driver Arrested for Speeding

It just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. Which, obviously, means that it's all actually a plot by evil genius Karl Rove to discredit everyone involved in the protests.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

Windiness.

Well, we made it through with only a couple of minor hiccups. The worst of it hit us sometime after midnight, but thankfully not much other effect than the power going off. It started flickering about 9:30 or so, and then shut off right in the middle of my effort to download that image editing program I mentioned yesterday. BAH! After about five minutes, everything came back on, so I cranked the computer back up and started again. Which was fine, because I got a quicker line that time. While the program was downloading AGAIN I decided I would go to this website and copy down the information on how to get the dashboard out of the Volvo. Due to the way it was laid out, it didn't print correctly, so I started trying to do a cut and paste in Word and had just about gotten it finished when the power went down again at about 10:45. No, I hadn't thought to save my work--why do you ask?

Well, the power flickered on a couple of more times during the night but never actually came back on full steam, and as of this morning it was still pining for the fjords. And we had just made a giant pot of homemade soup last night and put in the refrigerator. ::sigh::

Right before I climbed into bed, we heard a loud bumping sound downstairs. Reba thought I was about to go see what it was, but I figured whatever it was could wait until this morning. Turns out it was our portable propane grille and the smoker that had both tumped over. And even though the wind was still blowing pretty danged hard and it was still misting rain, I went ahead and righted them both, and looked around outside to see if anything else went astray. Nope. Although the wire trellis we have beside the Not A Storage Shed had fallen over, so I put that back up. Didn't look like too much other damage in the neighborhood--our neighbor across the street lost a limb off his Bradford pear, but what do you expect?! Crappy trees. They also had a few shingle tabs blowing up from the wind, but as far as I could tell, ours were all still holding on.

School closed today, so the kids are spending the day with Grandma, which I'm sure will be great fun for somebody.

We were certainly blessed to have been spared what others have had to endure, and will have to endure in the coming days. As always, if you have a desire to help folks who've been hurt, the best thing to do is send money, either via the Red Cross or through your place of worship. Remember, people need shelter first, so it does them no good to have tons of clothes that they can't store or use. FEMA has a list of other ways to help and tips for making sure your donation of time or money is well spent.


UPDATE: 8:49 a.m.--just got a call-back from the APCo automated response center telling me the power's back on at the house. Maybe the soup will still be okay. As well as all the stuff in the freezer.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:08 AM | Comments (5)

August 26, 2005

You want fury? Well, try this on for size.

Why would anyone do this?

Astoundingly, shockingly, sickening.

(Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, et al. for the link)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:52 PM | Comments (1)

Maybe it's just me.

But it seems to me that being "furious" is a rather overwrought reaction to have regarding an alleged bit of insensitivity, especially coming from someone who was quite adamant about someone else's perceived insensitivity.

Then again, I've never been refused entry to the Hermes shop in Paris, nor been unable to make a funeral because I was in Hawaii, so how could I possibly be a fair judge?!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Shorts?

Well, since I gave up pants completely, I think this probably covers short pants as well, but I noticed Fritz's admission of wearing tiny trousers in response to Ann Althouse's antipantifesto, and, of course, I feel compelled to comment.

As you all know, I am something of a fashion guru, throwing out fashion advice helter skelter, hither and yon, ad infinitum, and ad nauseum. Given that expertise, I will have to say that for going out on the town and engaging in adult activities such as dining or attending the symphony, I must agree with Fritz and say that men wearing culottes is a bad idea. Either wear regular pants, or, like me, eschew them entirely. Be a man, and take no half measures.

As for childish, playtime-type activities, such as golfing or other things designed to make you look ridiculous, shorts are entirely permissible.

Outliers in this advice?

Well, those weirdos in Bermuda, who have taken to wearing "Bermuda shorts" and trying to convince everyone they are sane. Well, whatever. "When in Bermuda, do as the Romans do," I always say.

Mailmen? Yep, go ahead and wear them, guys. And that spiffy pith helmet. And in this instance, I do mean mailman, not woman (or something like the rather more PC term, "letter loser"), because girls can wear shorts just fine. Well, girls with good-looking legs, that is. The rest of you can stop.

Basketball players? Soccer players? Bicyclists? Kid games, kid clothes.

So, there you have it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:07 PM | Comments (2)

I'm FREEEEEEEE!

I tell you what, it sure does feel nice not having any of that horrible money weighing me down! ::sob::

I wonder why I though having four kids would be fun? Well, they ARE fun, but good GRIEF it's expensive making sure they don't have hillbilly teeth. $274. PLUS the hundred bucks for the filling I got two weeks ago.

On the plus side, I found a strudy plastic battery tray and a proper-year grab handle, all for the sum of 3 dollars. I'm enjoying my time at the junkyard much too much. It's hot, and I get all sweaty and dirty, but it's just so doggone interesting. And nobody bothers you. Aside from the guy who wanders around yelling to people as they come in, "I PULL PARTS! I PULL PARTS!" Well, I like to pull my own parts, thankyewvermuch. Anyway, it's strangely relaxing. One day I'm going to play hooky and stay there ALLLLL day long.

Speaking of cars, I hear tell of various moonbats and dingleberries who've once again jumped on the EVIL SUV bandwagon. I've been following the story via Insta-Man, and haven't really felt compelled to comment, mainly because the story is so FLIPPING stupid that I just don't feel like it, but I will say this--I have a gut feeling that the people who are most loudly proclaiming that EVIL SUVs help fund terrorism are the EXACT SAME PEOPLE who not long ago were loudly scoffing about those anti-drug public service ads that drew a link between terrorism and drug trafficking. Even though the link to illicit activity and terrorism is MUCH more direct than through legal commodities. Why are the SUVhaters acting like this? Gee, I think it might just be unhinged, reactionary Bush hatred, but what do I know?

Here's the deal--ANY PRODUCT MADE can in some small way be said to drive money to fund illegal activities, because it increases the available world store of money. If you create capital, and you have a way of exchanging it, illegal actors will find a way to use it for the wrong purposes. So, ANYthing is capable of eventually leading back to bad people.

AND ANOTHER THING--some people need SUVs. Some don't. But it's not like the ones who don't are stealing anything from you. They pay for their choice. And although you might feel smug driving to work--alone--in your 25 mpg car, the moment someone in a 15 mpg SUV takes on a passenger, suddenly it's equivalent to them halving their fuel consumption--almost like they're getting 30 mpg. Gee, who's wasteful THEN!? And why exactly are you satisfied with 25 mpg?! There are cars that get 50--why don't you get one? EARTH RAPER! And why do you even have a CAR? You don't need a car. Ride a bus, you fascist! Better yet, walk.

Obviously, I don't believe that junk--you make your own choices. I do think, however, that it's a bad idea to start deciding for other people what we think they "need." People don't "need" publicly funded art projects, you know. People don't "need" PBS, or the NEA, or a host of other letters. People might not "need" SUVs, either, but then again, Hollywood celebrities or Massachusetts senators probably don't "need" a host of expensive mansions or a private jet. So, I would appreciate it if the Self-Righteous Need Nannies would think through their arguments before spouting off.

We now return you to mindless chitterchatter.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:53 AM | Comments (6)

August 25, 2005

Wow.

Walter Reed Medical Center to Be Closed

Incredible. The place has such a tremendous history that it's almost like hearing Fort Knox was closing. Which, as far as I know, isn't, but still, it's quite a bombshell.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:46 AM | Comments (7)

August 18, 2005

I have an even better idea.

National Geographic goes without photo

WASHINGTON (AP) — National Geographic magazine, known for its breathtaking photography, decided this time a picture wasn't worth a thousand words — or even six.

The single-topic September issue, on the complex problems and promise of Africa, is the magazine's first cover without a photograph since 1959 — and only the second since it began using cover photos in 1943.

The white cover is dominated by a bold, brown word — "Africa" — and below that, "Whatever you thought, think again." [...]

How about this--ditch the "Letters to National Geographic" feature. It has become a cesspool of rhetorical insipidness and astonishing fallaciousness. It never matters what the story might be, there is going to be SOMEONE who writes in with such a tenuous grasp of reason and reality that they just HAVE to disagree. And to disagree in the most cloying, crass ways.

Why can't you people just read the danged magazine and shut up?! Or more to the point, WHY DO YOU EVEN READ IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!? Do you not have anything better to do than to review monthly periodicals trying to find things that offend your sensibilities so you can dash off a half-witted tirade to show your supposed moral superiority?! GET A FRIGGIN' LIFE!

Or, you know, start a blog.

Anyway, get rid of the letters. If that happened, I wouldn't allow my subscription (held since 1973) to run out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2005

Whew.

Some folks don't need to be any more awake than necessary.

Just had a visit from a fellow (I won't say what level of the organizational chart he's at, merely that he's on there, and the fact that I won't say where exactly should give you a clue about his position relative to mine) but every once in a while he rouses from his daily grind and starts thinking.

All sorts of flights of fancy about marvelous technological doohickies and ways of doing things, which is great, except it's usually stuff that's already been around a while. It's like he's just heard about this stuff called "fire" and you can do EVERYTHING with it--heat water! Cook food! Burn down Rome! AMAZING! And then there's this thing called a "wheel"--ooWEE! Now THAT thing is SLICK!

So, he goes through all that, and then jumps to the conspiracy theories that he usually keeps tamped down into his mental sock drawer--"You know--the sled people had a lock on moving things, and they bought the wheel from those guys and now NO ONE can use wheels!" Oh, and don't get him started on Big Ice and how they managed to squelch that whole thing about the machine where you could carry a source of fire around WITH YOU in your POCKET! From there, on to how they taught us all this in school and as soon as we got out we forgot it--and I'm thinking, "What this 'we' business, Kemosabe?!", but he keeps on his Junior Einstein riff about all this stuff and trying to get out on the cutting edge and all those ideas just keep roiling around and shooting out like popcorn and you get the idea that in his mind, he's very close to developing a unified field theory, the only holdback to which is finding a secure source of unobtanium and a Green Hornet PEZ dispenser.

He finally went on to his office, bless his heart.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:23 PM | Comments (2)

August 10, 2005

Farewell, Miss Ellie

Film, stage star Barbara Bel Geddes dies

She passed away Monday, according to the article. I never knew about her until Dallas, but she was always my favorite of the bunch, on- or off-camera. And besides all that, she was a striking-looking woman, both in her youth and in her maturity.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:23 PM | Comments (2)

August 05, 2005

I hope it works.

U.S. to help rescue Russian mini-sub

The story says Japan is also being asked to help, but I think the most heartening thing in what could still turn out to be a tragedy is that Russia actually asked for help, and seems to have asked quickly, and is allowing the U.S. to fly closer to Kamchatka than it ever has.

For those of us who remember the Cold War, such a turn of events is something to behold.

Apart from the political side of things, the story is particularly poignant after the sinking of the Kursk, so my thoughts and prayers to the crew and their families for a successful rescue.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

My goodness.

That sure is one big ol' tall gal.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:58 PM | Comments (5)

Hard to believe.

But summer's almost over. The kids go back to school next Thursday, and it seems like they just got out yesterday. Then again, sometimes it seems like it's been forever, which I blame on the long smear of non-news, at least on the political front, over the past months. As you know, I like reading about politics, but what's there to talk about? Oh, I realize there's been a lot of blabber in the news, but it's a lot like styrofoam--lots of bulk and no weight.

--The Wilson-Plame thing? A most convoluted mess, the best read on it being that the entire brouhaha over Plame's "outing" is more of a cover to deflect criticism of Joe Wilson's inability to admit he's an idiot. The conventional wisdom (as exemplified by cliches) in the papers is that the Democrats "smell blood in the water," and have been yalping to be thrown the body of Karl Rove. This would be frightening if a) Democrats were sharks, or b) well, I can't think of anything. There's no "there," there, folks--if there was, they'd wait and let a grand jury indict people up and down the line and then gravely nod their heads and say, "See, these Republicans are evil." But then they'd have something to back it up, rather than saying it as rote material. As it is, not a lot except a herd of braying asses.

--John Bolton's nomination. Again, the Democrats seem to think anyone cares what they think, and worse, that what they think is actually important. Let's get one thing straight--John Bolton is a pansy compared to Jeane Kirkpatrick. I say let's get her back. For some reason, the Democrats seem determined to make sure the United States pays proper obedience to the UN, despite the fact that an overwhelming number of member states of the organization are antidemocratic. The Democrats seem much more concerned that Mr. Bolton might have spoke crossly to a staffer in the hallway than Sudan being elected to the Human Rights Commission.

--John Roberts' nomination--yet another in a string of unhingments by the Democrats. From his clothing, to his family, to his WILD EYED EXTREMISM, the left has been in a dither. Then again, so has the far right, who say he's not beefy enough in his Reaganesque bona fides. In the end, he's qualified, and all of the hubbub is just posturing. For the left, get over it--he's not going to be Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The President doesn't have to nominate people with whom he has fundamental political disagreements. It's just not the way things work, kids. For the right, get over it--he's not Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He might not be what you think consititutes a "real" conservative, but he's more reflective of the large swaths of red on the last electoral map. Be happy with him, and remember what Mr. Reagan said about not badmouthing members of your own party.

--Iraq in particular, and the war on terror in general. Iraq's a bad place right now, with some bad people. "Bad people," not in the sense of people who double park, or who reuse postage stamps that didn't get cancelled, but indiscriminate killers whose goal is to murder anyone who doesn't buy the idea that Islam is a religion of peace. These bad people need killing, quickly. Until they are all dancing in the Muhammed's Big Cathouse in the Sky, it's best that we not give them quarter. They certainly won't give it to us. But you know what? It's going to take more than a week. Maybe more than two. So the next time I hear "exit strategy," it better have the word "our" before it, and "is victory" afterwards.

--Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean. ::sigh:: Howie was in town last night, and had this corker:

[...] They say we didn't win the election last time because of moral values. The opposite is true," said Dean, who lost a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and is now party chairman.

"If the election had been held on moral values last time, the Democrats would have won. Why is that? Because more people agree with our moral values," he said. [...]

Okay, so if it wasn't about moral values, what WAS it about? Foreign policy? Economics? Domestic security? Education? Energy policy? That's like saying, "people say football is a game of inches, but if it really was, WE would have won!" Left unsaid is the idea that they would also have gotten to use their own measuring stick. In the end, they lost, for a variety of reasons, one of which happened to be morality, certainly. But it wasn't the most important reason, despite what their friends at the New York Times keep telling them.

The Democrats seem to have bought the idea that morality is the ONE thing that beat them, and are pinning as many multi-colored moral ribbons to themselves as they can to counter it. But, it goes back to the idea that you can't convince people to vote for you if you say they're not wrong, but evil, if they disagree with you. The fact that I voted for Bush does not mean I want children to starve to death in the streets. It doesn't mean that I think gay people should be rounded up and put in jail. It doesn't mean that I think old people should be kicked to the curb and made to clean dumpsters. To continue to make that insinuation doesn't compel me to vote for you, and it makes you look like the raving lunatic you claim not to be.

--Nazis. You know, this has gone on long enough from our friends over on the left. Because, let's face it--if Bush really was Hitler, he'd be getting a LOT better press. Witness the gentle-handed treatment Robert Mugabe receives in the papers. Or Dear Leader and Hole in One Master Kim Jong-Il. Or the 'now rotating on a spit at Satan's big barbecue' Yasser Arafat.

Anyway, it's been a summer of the typical reruns. Be glad when the new shows come on, but I have a feeling it'll just be the same old stuff in different packaging.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (6)

July 26, 2005

Morning Teevee

::sigh:: More than a week now without Wendy.

One of our regular visitors around here, Lauren R., aka Kenny Smith's Lady FriendTM, wrote in last week to see how I was doing, and if my withdrawal symptoms were manageable.

Well, I guess they are, but it's a pain trying to find something else to watch in the mornings. I did decide I would watch the new, revamped anchor team just to say I wasn't being overly prejudiced, and I have to say the show is...well, pretty much the same, except with different people. Which makes the decision to make the changeover that much more inscrutable from a viewer's perspective. I mean, if you're trying to draw folks away from the competition over at the FOX station (where Lauren, aka KS'sLF, works), it seems odd to think that a huge number of people had been just itching to switch away to NBC, except for those two awful former anchors they had.

As I told Lauren, it seems no one at the NBC station has recognized that one of the reasons the morning show on Channel 6 might be doing better is the fact that the station's audio signal can be heard on the FM dial--87.7--way down on the extreme left end. It's mono, and sometimes weak, and some cars' radios only go down to 87.9, but in the end, it's basically a free way to get people to tune into the television. If you can hear it, you might just leave it there so you can listen to the news on the way to or from work in the car, then be able to pick right up on it when you come in the house. I know I do that a lot in the evenings.

Anyway, that one little extra bit of viewership, and that one little extra way to make the decision to watch one station over another, and the way in which people begin to make convenience something of a rote experience, might be the thing that keeps Channel 13 running behind their morning competition. Obviously, the bosses have to show some effort to make it look like they're doing all they can to boost the ratings--especially when the parent company keeps touting the Today show as having been #1 for 500 weeks in a row. But it seems like it might be better to put a bit more thought into it and the reasons why the competition keeps winning.

ANYWAY, since I no longer have any personal reason to keep watching the show, I figured I might branch out and see what else is on the airwaves in the morning.

This whole task would be much simpler if I had cable--we'd pretty much stay on the History Channel or AMC all the time. But, being that I--Ned Ludd's Favorite Son--make due with signals pulled from the ether down through a set of rabbit ears, I am forced to make do with the local broadcast stations.

Channel 6, the FOX affiliate--as I've mentioned ad infinitum, their morning show has the pacing of frozen molasses. I like Janice Rogers and Rick Journey a whole bunch--they're good kids--but it's also necessary to put up with Bill Bolen and Sarah Verser. Also two very nice people, but who seem to have no small difficulty with English.

Channel 10, the PBS station--in the wee earlies, all they have on are those shows that come on for adult education classes. "Today, we're going to show you how to respond to situations in the workplace that might require you to read..." No news, and no hot babes.

Channel 13, NBC--well, I USED to watch the morning newser, but now there's no reason.

Channel 21, WB. I have never checked on the Dubba-Dubba station in the mornings (since I didn't have a reason), and now I know I'll NEVER be back. The very early shows are the paid promos for worthless junk, then at 6:00 is when the Viewpoint show with Dick and Les Scrushy comes on, a paid promo for Dick and Les Scrushy. This morning I flipped by and Tricky Dick was slathering great and unctuous praise upon that incredible man of "God," Benny Hinn. Well, two peas in a pod, I suppose. Not going to watch that, even for the high entertainment value.

Channel 33/40, the ABC affiliate, has it's own little brother knock-off to its network's perennial ratings loser Good Morning, America, with the local version (called, oddly enough, Good Morning, Alabama) hosted by former Channel 13 anchor Pam Huff, and the really cute Maggie Poteau. Well, I suppose there IS an alternative to Channel 6 and 13, but I have to say the whole thing looks more or less like something done in a college television studio. Huff has a lot of experience in this market (the uproar when she left NBC 13 was tremendous), but the program needs some work to look like a credible effort. And, as I mentioned, Maggie's cute. Oh, and it has some Doppler-besotted weather guy, too. Best of all, I was able to get the antennas in the EXACT right position to see the screen--this is a big problem with any of the UHF stations--none of them come in worth a hoot.

NEXT in the Great UHF Cavalcade of Faded Craptacularity, Channel 42, the CBS affiliate in town. A station with a long, tattered history. Morning programs consist of marvelous paid promos for worthless junk.

Finally, there's WABM68, the UPN affiliate. Weak signal, which is fine if you want to see what a television show would look like if filmed in a blizzard. Early morning shows include a fine variety of paid promos for worthless junk.

Not much in the way of choices, is there? I think it's time to dust off my idea for PossumblogTV, and get a station worth watching in town.

Oh, by the way, Ms. Garner says she's doing fine, and is enjoying not having to get up at 3:00 a.m.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:30 AM | Comments (5)

July 22, 2005

Okay, some politics.

RE the recent nomination by President Bush of John Roberts for the SCOTUS, I have to say that his resemblance to Captain Tony Nelson gives me pause, because I know if I were an astronaut and found a bottle on a beach and rubbed it and a hyper-subservient yet incredibly powerful Barbara Eden popped out, I sure wouldn't stay in the Air Force, OR be a Supreme Court justice, for that matter. I wouldn't have married Sue Ellen, either.

But I think that should have no bearing on his ability to properly interpret and apply the Constitution, and although many conservatives don't think he's conservative enough, I believe he's a sound enough choice and more likely to cast more logically consistent and reliable votes than was O'Connor.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

KELO

...in a nutshell, by Charles Austin.

You know, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times--"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government."

And yes, there is some lovely filth down here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:04 AM | Comments (7)

Phish heads, phish heads, roly poly phish heads...

::sigh:: Don't know if it's the full moon or what, but the level of Nigerian-scam-type spam has picked up the last couple of days on the ol' Gmail account, as well as the phishing expeditions. In fact, got two this morning from the same place:

Dear Bank of America valued member

Technical services of the Bank of America are carrying out a planned software upgrade. We earnestly ask yo [sic "Yo, Adriane!"] to visit the following link to start the procedure of confirmation on customers [sic] data.

To get started, please click the link below:

https://www.bankofamerica.com [Obviously, don't follow this link!]

This instruction has been sent to all bank customers and is obligatory to fallow [sic].

Thank you,

Customers [sic] Support Service.

No, thank YOU!

Bank of America has been hit hardest by this, and according to this article have responded by instituting a variety of security schemes to fight bogus crap like this.

Of course, one of the most obvious signs that this is a scam is that I DON'T HAVE A BANK OF AMERICA ACCOUNT.

Anyway, hopefully folks who visit here are savvy enough to realize by now that they are much better off just sending their money to me, instead of to perfect strangers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:31 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2005

The Liberation of Confession

From Fritz Schranck.

Excellent points, but I must say it seems to be casting pearls before swine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (3)

June 22, 2005

Hmm.

What happens when unfair foreign government subsidies hurt competition by domestic companies, but those same subsidies are used to invest in OTHER domestic ventures? Airbus picks Mobile, Ala., over three other Southern sites

By JEFFREY McMURRAY

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The parent company of European aircraft maker Airbus, seeking to better compete with Boeing for a lucrative Air Force contract to build military refueling tankers, announced Wednesday it has selected Mobile, Ala., over three other Southern sites for a $600 million factory.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. selected the Alabama site over three rival bids from Melbourne, Fla.; Kiln, Miss.; and North Charleston, S.C.

Ralph D. Crosby, chairman and CEO of EADS North America, said Mobile was chosen because it is "strategically located" on the Gulf of Mexico, and offers a skilled workforce, airport runways and a deep-water port. Brookley Industrial Complex provides 4.5 million square feet of industrial space, and includes access to the Mobile downtown airport. [...]

The immensely public search gave EADS some much-needed positive spin at a time when the U.S. and the European Union are engaged in a trade battle over the EU's subsidies to Airbus, which the U.S. claims gives it an unfair advantage over its chief rival, Boeing.

EADS hopes to get a substantial portion of an expected $9 billion in new spending for military tanker planes, but congressional leaders are trying to tie the subsidy debate to the contract decision.

"My only guess is the openness is political," said Charles Hill, a professor at the University of Washington School of Business who closely follows the aeronautics industry.

"They are trying to send a message," he said. "Their strategy is to have quite a bit of work done in the United States. It is clear they want to be seen as a global organization, not just a European one."

EADS and subsidiaries already have facilities in Mississippi and Alabama. EADS-owned American Eurocopter LLC opened a helicopter factory in Columbus, Miss., last year, and EADS North America this year invested in a new support center for Coast Guard patrol aircraft in Mobile near the proposed site for the tanker factory. [...]

Well, it's obviously a boon for Mobile, and for Alabama as well, just like the auto manufacturing industry has been.

I suppose on the question of subsidies, it's one of those robbing Peter to pay Paul things, which is just fine as long as you're Paul.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2005

Wendy Garner Show Comes to Trussville!

Sadly, missing Wendy Garner, making the whole exercise rather pointless from a local-celebrity-stalking point of view.

For those who haven't been keeping up, the local NBC affiliate has a two hour morning news show starring Ms. Garner and other people who aren't her. For the past couple of months they have been going out every Friday to various local communities for a series of meet-n-greets (actually, more like meat-n-grits, given the fact that they manage to find the local breakfast joints).

Several months back I suggested to a certain former Auburn dance team member that she ought to bring her people out to Truss Vegas, in what I thought was an obvious, blatant attempt to actually get to see her in person and possibly finagle another haul of NBC logo'ed merchandise and maybe a hug. I also figured that since that Ken Lass guy lives here, it ought to be pretty well a cinch.

WELLLL, imagine my surprise when I turned on the show this morning and saw they were right in the very middle of lovely downtown Paradise On the Pinchgut! WITHOUT WENDY. She's been off all week on sick leave, and so once again my hopes were dashed.

Oh, well.

Highlights of the show included a tour of Golden Rule Barbecue for breakfast, various segments of local historical interest--did you know that Trussville was first settled by the Truss family in 1781; the First Baptist Church was organized around 1820 or so; and the first six Apollo missions were launched from here and not Cape Kennedy (not really).

Another highlight was when Ken Lass showed a shot of the mighty throbbing Pinchgut Creek running behind Golden Rule and under the railroad tracks--it was very impressive, and given the recent rains, actually had a good bit of water in it! Most humorous was when Ken and his camera man crossed the street at the bridge, and Ken said they were taking their lives in their hands crossing Chalkville Road at rush hour. It being six a.m., and it being Trussville, at that moment rush hour consisted of a white pickup coming down the road about an eighth of a mile north.

They had a nice segment on Haisten's drug store soda fountain, (the Haistens also own internationally-famed Toomer's Drugs in Auburn), and on Mabe Power Equipment, which, as far as I know, is the oldest continually operating business in Trussville, and still at the same location since 1921.

Trussville has grown a lot in the past twenty years. Throughout most of its past it was nothing more than a wide spot in the road on the way to Springville, but the population has increased by a factor of 5 since 1980. Big doings for a little place, but every seems to understand that its best feature is that it IS a small town, and there are many things underway to keep it from losing that charm.

Or even enhancing it.

Trussville never really has had what you would call a quaint or pretty main drag. According to the mayor, it looks better today than it ever has in history, but he and everyone else realize it's not quite as good as it could be. There's not a lot of pedestrian traffic, and the buildings don't create a consistent street face (lots of gaps, incoherent layouts, etc.)

Speaking of Springville again, just east about 12 miles, now they have that type of main street--it's a compact, pretty place, with all sorts of small shops and buildings that look like a nice old town.

Well, it appears we might be embarked on a program to just build ourselves something new that attempts to make a past we never quite had. A local developer (and, believe it or not, "developer" isn't a dirty word) has contracted with the firm of Duany Plater-Zyberk to conduct a design charrette for a gigantic parcel of property just a few blocks east of the established part of downtown. Lest you get the idea it's something akin to urban sprawl, it's not--it's almost in the center of town, on property that has been generally industrial.

The idea?

Well, according to the little newspaper that was sent out, the developer wants to create

[...] something very special -- a thriving village with big trees, a riverwalk and a main street that is actually a Main Street. We envision a place that is environmentally sensitive, with modern comforts, and as beautiful, walkable and friendly as the Cahaba Village.

I've written about the Cahaba Project before--it was a WPA housing project of 44 large duplexes and 243 houses, arranged around a large open mall, with a school and commissary anchoring the east end. Its original name was Slagheap Village, because it was built on the site of the old Trussville Furnace, and was indeed built mostly on the site of the slagheap. It's still a wonderful place, although the rented dwellings are now all private single family homes, and the commissary is now the Chamber of Commerce and community theater building. (The school is still there as the middle school.) Here are some photos from the Farm Security Administration from when it was under construction--you'll notice it looks awfully barren. People who love the huge oaks of the Mall need to recall that at one time there wasn't a twig around.

Sometimes folks want instant historicity, and it's a bit more involved than that. Places develop over time, and they may not necessarily end up looking or working they way they were intended. In the case of the Cahaba Project, that's a good thing--it became better as it got older, but I doubt anyone could have ever foreseen what it would eventually wind up being. Just a word of caution that sometimes even the best plans and most beautiful drawings are subject to forces that we just can't control. Hopefully everyone understands that, and enough flexibility is built into this new development to allow for such happenstances of fortune. Second, although there is a wonderfully high-minded sense of purpose and outlook for this proposal, in the end it must be remembered the reason it is even being put forth is because the developer wants to make money. That's not a bad thing--we need people willing to put up their own money in an effort to make more. That's what commerce is all about. But in land development, there is most assuredly a more important factor than the ability to get things built. It is to get things built with OPM.

OPM--other people's money.

Although there will be plenty of investment from the private side, folks are going to have to realize there is going to be something of a quid pro quo expected of taxpayers--just like there has been for all the other large retail developments in town. If it's worth doing, fine. But just remember that if we're investing tax money, let's make sure we get our money's worth.

This caveat isn't as a knock against the project or gainsaying--I'm all for folks taking the time to do things like this, and if it goes as planned, it will be a wonderful addition to my town. Let's just keep an eye on the moneybag.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:45 AM | Comments (4)

June 09, 2005

If I were Howdy Doody...

...I think I would consider a defamation suit for even being mentioned in the same breath as Dr. YEAARRGHHHHH.

(Thanks for the comparo, Fritz!)

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but it does seem that the estimable physician has brought the DemParty chairmanship his brand of lunatic self-destructiveness that worked so well in his Presidential bid.

Whatever.

I mean, you know, I'd rather have two (or more) good, strong parties vieing for my votes, but if what he's preaching is what is meant by "inclusiveness" and "tolerance," well, include me out. Not that I have a choice--he's already said people like me aren't worth the effort.

Silly git.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:45 AM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2005

Who knew!?

Fan claims comedian Gallagher hit him

Gallagher still has fans?! Amazing.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:48 AM | Comments (5)

"Makin' a list..."

Congratulations to Nate McCord on a very fine accomplishment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2005

"Etta who!?"

A nice article from Janet Cho for Newhouse about one of my pet peeves--phone manners:

[...] Peter Post, director of the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vt., enumerates a number of phone faux pas in his book "The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success," co-written with Peggy Post. At the top of the list for callers is failing to identify yourself at the beginning of a conversation.

"The presumption, of course, is that you recognize their voice," he said.

How many times have I had to carry on a conversation with someone whose identity I could only guess at? The worst was once when one of Reba's aunts called--an aunt we rarely see, and whom I have actually met face-to-face about three times--and she called up one day and just started yammering at me about something and it took me nearly five minutes to get her to a) shut up, b) identify who she was, and c) figure out why she was calling. After I got to b), I just handed the phone to Reba.

"The second mistake I think people make, especially in cubicle farms, is to presume that their call is totally private, that nobody will listen to them," he said. "But there's a thing called `phone voice,' where people talk louder when they talk on the phone."

At The Bad Place, we had an old Andy Rooney clone who'd get on the blower to his wife and cuss at her loudly and lengthily. Such a sweetie pie, he was. I do believe he was the inspiration for title of the Rocky Horror Picture Show song, "Dammit, Janet." Only the title, though--unlike the song, the rest of his conversations were always full of mean gassy vitriol. And we allllll got to listen along. Whee.

If you're talking to someone you've never met and can't pick up visual cues on how you're coming across, the quality of your voice and your choice of words become even more important. "The volume of your voice matters to me. The tone of your voice matters," he said.

The way employees answer the phone is critical to making a good first impression, Post said. The person on the other end relies on your voice to gauge your energy, enthusiasm and interest. That's why you should identify yourself with your name and the name of your company, as well as a courtesy greeting such as "How may I help you?" [...]

I might have to print this article out and leave it in the outer office. I'm not saying for sure, but there is the possibility that we might have some reception staff who might benefit from the idea that a person should not have the phone manners of a hyena. But that's purely speculation. I mean, this is a bureaucracy, and we'd NEVER hire ANYone who wasn't fully capable of using a device so simple as a telephone. Right!? Right? Anyone?

The article goes on for a good bit more, and all of it's good advice. Mainly because it's all common sense, which, as we all know, ain't that common. It concludes with a list of Dos and Don'ts, which are always helpful. The biggest ones on my list?

1) Don't lie--don't say someone's away if they're not; just say you'll have to take a message.

2) Don't daydream and dawdle during a business call. I got one today from some dude who sounded like he was alternately staring out the window and taking bong hits. The call took thirty minutes, and there was about two minutes worth of information he actually needed.

3) Don't make me say things three times. Listen if you want to know what I'm saying.

4) Don't you use that tone of voice with me!

5) Do return your calls.

6) Do try to speak clearly. Those of you whom I've had the chance to talk to know I start out very intelligibly before I drop off into my more comfortable and familiar Junior Samples-speak that I use with family. I never know who's on the other end, and it's better to start off at least sounding like you might know something.

7) For you receptionists out there (and NO, I have NO knowledge of ANYone on my floor who might benefit from this!) don't scream; don't interrogate callers; don't try to fill me in on their problem rather than just letting me talk to them; don't be psychotically abrupt; if I'm on the phone, TAKE A MESSAGE; when you take a message, GIVE IT TO ME; don't make noises that callers could mistake for wild animal noises, such as the braying of an injured zebra, or the hooting of a gibbon; do not burp into the mouthpiece and then scream I'M SORRY I BURPED!; do not slam the phone down into the cradle; do not tell people I have gone for the day when I sign out for lunch; do not tell people they talk funny; say things such as "please" and "thank-you" when you speak to the public; if you simply MUST ask, pleasantly ask, "May I tell him who's calling, please?" rather than screaming "WHO IS THIS?!"; and finally, although I am religious, and I appreciate people who try to be, it's probably counterproductive for you to run about the office screaming, "O SWEET LORD JESUS, PLEASE GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO ANSWER THE TELEPHONE," because, you know, it's really not one of those things that requires a whole lot of supernatural intervention for it to proceed smoothly.

Not that I know anyone who acts like this. Because I don't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:49 PM | Comments (4)

May 26, 2005

Interesting.

Dakotasotans dream of Arizona.

I sometimes dream of having a small place around Bon Secour that I visit a couple of times a year, and the rest of the time I spend here. I don't know, maybe I don't have much imagination, but I kinda like not thinking I have to move 1800 miles to be comfortable.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005

A bad idea.

Alabama congressman: HBO comedian's remark "borders on treason"

By JEFFREY McMURRAY

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Alabama congressman says comedian Bill Maher's comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the "low-lying fruit" is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the HBO show.

Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus takes issue with remarks on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.

"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said in giving a comic twist to his commentary. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies." Army Pfc. England was accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."

In a statement released Monday, Maher defended his support for the American armed forces.

"Anyone who knows anything about my views and has watched my show knows that I have nothing but the highest regard for the men and women serving this country around the world," Maher said in the statement. [...]

"I don't want him prosecuted," Bachus said. "I want him off the air."

Well, the best way to KEEP him on the air is for a Congressman to start spouting off about treason. I cannot fathom why Bachus wouldn't understand that by giving attention to this silly piece of garbage, he is having the exact opposite effect than what he intended. Maher now gets resurrected from obscurity--an obscurity of his own making due to his own shocking ignorance and glib pseudointellectualism--and now comes back as a cause célèbre amongst the Left. All their silly twaddle about censorship and "speaking truth to power" suddenly seems more plausible.

Yes, Maher is an idiot, and his cloyingly professed love of the American armed forces is equalled in mendaciousness only by the former Iraqi Information Minister, but more to the point, if this particular jibe was treasonous, then where was ol' Spence when Fahrenheit 9/11 was released? There's a lot bigger and more influential voices out there who have said far worse--some of them serving in Bachus' own Congress--shouldn't we go after them first? (Actually, that would be kinda fun.)

Bachus is a smart guy, and not usually one of the wild-eyed sorts, but the best thing he could have done in this instance is to allow Maher to take the heat from the "low-lying [sic] fruit" he has such 'high regard' for, whom he sullied with his ill-tempered little diatribe.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

Earnest T., R.I.P

I don't know how I missed this, but--

Comic Actor, Director Howard Morris Dies

And more from Mr. Morris's Earnest T. website, and his page from IMDb.

The little guy was a genius, and a prolific one.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:24 AM | Comments (6)

May 18, 2005

Hmm.

I didn't realize he was still with us.

He always kinda gave me the creeps, even when he wasn't in a role. Sorta like Christopher Walken, except without the sense of humor.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:43 PM | Comments (7)

I told my kids this morning...

...that I saw a picture yesterday of Natalie Portman sporting the Sinead O'Connor look. They were aghast. "WHY'D SHE DO THAT!?" Probably for a movie, but who knows anymore. Whatever. Cute bald chicks don't shock me anymore, but I do wish she would eat some cheeseburgers, and maybe a couple of milkshakes, and a large order of fries.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (9)

This will be interesting.

Scrushy jury gets instructions; deliberations to start Thursday

They're going to hear the closing arguments today, and then start their deliberations tomorrow. It might just be my perception, but it seems that jury trials have become crapshoot when it comes to being able to predict an outcome. From what I've read about the case and from what I know of the organization just based upon personal observation and conversations with friends who work(ed) there, the government's case seems overwhelming.

This is balanced by a defense that seems determined to tout the fact that since the defendant's fingerprints were never found on anything, since he never typed up a big memo stating that he was going to engage in a little criminal enterprise, then he must be innocent. A quote from the News article--

[...] Scrushy predicted a victory Tuesday after court adjourned. "I feel good. We've had a good defense. There is no evidence that ties me to anything." [...]

Sorry, but that's the talk of someone hoping to beat the rap, not someone who's innocent. Whether the jury is able to see the weakness in that argument for what it is, who know? It seems that at one time, such an argument was guaranteed to get you a room at the Gray Bar Hotel, but now it seems too many jurors are much too willing to accept even the most ridiculous assertions as proof of innocence. I have no idea who the jurors are in this case, but I do hope if they don't convict, it's not because they bought that juvenile, "you never saw me do it," line of reasoning.

I'm sure if he does walk, in his mind he will probably be able to twist an acquittal around to salve any sort of wounds his mighty ego may have suffered in this process. He'll go on with whatever it is scandal-clouded rich guys do--maybe play a round of golf with O.J., and they can all talk about Jesus, and how mean-spirited some people can be.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:42 AM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2005

Good news for SOMEbody...

...but I'm not quite sure who--

New study suggests kudzu helps curb binge drinking

The Associated Press

A curb to binge drinking may be growing over fences, trees and barns near you.

Yes, kudzu.

Researchers at Harvard University-affiliated McLean Hospital say their experiments show subjects who took kudzu drank less beer.

The researchers set up a makeshift apartment with a television, reclining chair and a refrigerator stocked with beer.

Volunteers -- and there were plenty -- who received kudzu averaged one-point-eight beers per session. Those who got a placebo downed three-point-five beers.

Researchers aren't sure why, but believe it has something to do with kudzu speeding up the effects of the beer, allowing the subjects to feel intoxicated with less brew in them.

Lead researcher Scott Lukas says it's only a theory, but it's the best he has so far.

Kudzu is an Asian plant that was introduced across much of the Southeast, including Alabama, during the Great Depression by the Soil Conservation Service, which promoted it for erosion control.

It's been spreading ever since.

Intoxicated with less brew? Ladies, beware of gentlmen touting the health benefits of kudzu supplements before they take you for a night on the town...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:18 AM | Comments (7)

May 12, 2005

Well, yes, if you don't understand sarcasm.

I've tried not to comment much about this garbage, but this one caught my eye--Journalist on Tape Lauds Jackson As Parent

Uhmm-yeah. Here's the quote:

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The jury in the Michael Jackson trial watched a video Thursday in which the journalist who made a damaging documentary about the pop star actually praised him as a parent.

"Your relationship to your children is spectacular," Martin Bashir said to Jackson during the making of the documentary. "It almost makes me weep." [...]

Well, I don't see that as any sort of praise (although Mr. Neverland probably thinks everything said about him is some sort of praise). This unpraiseworthiness is especially notable if you take the definition of "spectacular" as being, "Of or pertaining to a show; of the nature of a show," or "Adapted to excite wonder and admiration by a display of pomp or of scenic effects; as, a spectacular celebration of some event; a spectacular play."

I saw the documentary when it aired, and I knew exactly what Bashir meant, and I knew he was saying something ambiguous enough that someone with a poor sense of irony and a highly inflated ego would take it as a compliment, even though it obviously wasn't meant as such. Unfair to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed manchild? Probably. It almost makes me weep.

What I don't quite get is why the reporter for the article would want to try so hard to read into the quote the meaning Jackson wanted it to have. Why not say, "Jackson's legal team saw the statement as praise," or some other such phrase--something with a bit less obvious cheerleading to it. Or is that what I hear called "advocacy journalism"?

Anyway, another nice quote from the article, this time from Jackson--

"I'm not a nut," Jackson said. "I'm very smart. You can't come this far and be a nut."

Smart, successful, and crazy aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. But you know, at least Howard Hughes had the good sense to not mess around with kids.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:32 PM | Comments (4)

May 10, 2005

Call me crazy, but...

this just doesn't sound like something I'd want to see--

NASA satellite captures black hole birth

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:06 PM | Comments (2)

I've mentioned it before...

...but it bears saying again. Something is going to have to be done about this:

Bush praises determination of Georgians

Either the Eastern European version is going to have to go to something like Gyorgi, or the Southern United States version is going to have to go to something like Big George. But we just can't keep having two very dissimilar Georgias wandering around with the same name. It just breeds all sorts of confusion.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (2)

May 06, 2005

Give it a rest, Bubba.

Clinton: Peace in Mideast a 'tough slog'

Searing insight, there, dingus.

Oh, how I long for the days when after Presidents left office they kept their yaps shut and played golf.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)

May 05, 2005

I have resisted with relative success--

--making any more than a few passing references to American Idol this season, because I thought after last year's show that it has outlived its usefulness as a mindless distraction. Dog. But I have to say that I cannot fathom how Scott "I Look Like A Moldy Slab of Weisswurst" Savol managed to make it all the way to the top five. Good GRIEF he was annoying. Dog.

But the problem is, I no longer care who wins. Even though Bo is from Shelby County and gets hometown hero points, all of the ones who are left are all okay and pleasant and seem nice and can sing. So, congrats to whoever wins. Dog. But there's no real reason to watch now, because the only REALLY controversial thing would have been if Scotty had managed to make it into the top two. Now THAT would have been a finale I would have made an appointment to see.

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that now.

Dude. Dog. Man.

OUT!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)

May 04, 2005

Big deal.

New Computers Make Grocery Carts Smarter

I'd be satisfied to find one with four operable wheels.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

Governor Moonblog.

Jerry Brown enters world of blogging.

Yes, that Jerry Brown. The article is one of those that is entirely self-parodying, both for the subject of the article and for the inane pretentiousness of the author, leaving me not much else to say except..

...who cares?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:53 PM | Comments (4)

Governor Moonblog.

Jerry Brown enters world of blogging.

Yes, that Jerry Brown. The article is one of those that is entirely self-parodying, both for the subject of the article and for the inane pretentiousness of the author, leaving me not much else to say except..

...who cares?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:53 PM | Comments (4)

Whatever.

Just saw this one--Guerrilla Art Group Mocks Exclusive L.A. Enclaves.

Hey, maybe it's just me being an old fart, but if they really wanted to be edgy and philosophical, why not have a guerilla art group that mocks the entire idea of there being such a thing as guerilla art groups?

Idjits.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:27 AM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2005

April 19, 1775

And so the battle is joined--from the Library of Congress' American Memory website, a notation marking the beginning of the American Revolution with the battles of Lexington and Concord.

In 1836, only 61 years distant from that first shot (and only 53 since the end of the war), a monument was erected to commemorate the event and the following hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson was sung--

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world,

The foe long since in silence slept,
Alike the Conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem,
When like our sires our sons are gone.

Spirit! who made those freemen dare
To die, or leave their children free,
Bid time and nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and Thee.

The Michael Moores of the world may believe these men are no different from the bloody power-mad murderers the world now calls terrorists. The men who fought to leave their children free were not murderers, not be the context of our time, nor of their own. Even their foes saw them not simply as enemies, but as honorable enemies--weak, upstart, misguided--most certainly. But not men of dishonor.

That they persevered and were victorious made the world a better place, and by that grace allowed even the simpletons and buffoons of our land to show themselves freely for what they are. That such mockers and poltroons are given a place in our midst is not by the hand of their own idiocy, but rather is a gift from their fathers; the same fathers whom they hold in such low regard.

May those who unjustly equate the founding of this country with the deeds of evil men never have to live without the protection of her liberty.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:54 AM | Comments (3)

April 15, 2005

Yes, believe it or not, we DO have electricity.

Alabama taxpayers lead Southeast in filing tax by e-mail

The Internal Revenue Service says Alabama leads the Southeast - and surpasses the national average - in adopting electronic methods for filing and paying income taxes.

Through April 7, Alabamians had e-filed almost 974,000 federal tax returns for 2004, a more than 10 percent increase from 2003 filings, making it one of only three southeastern states to match or exceed the national increase of 7.8 percent.

More than 187,000 tax returns were filed by Alabamians from their personal computers, an increase of 14.7 percent compared to 2003 filings. The increase slightly exceeds the national increase of 14.6 percent. [...]

Pretty impressive, I suppose.

I am still somewhat put off by the fact that the IRS won't come up with an online form to fill in to pay your taxes. Seems like if Amazon can do it, the IRS should be able to as well.

Than again, I'm not sure why we can't just eliminate the IRS.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:10 AM | Comments (5)

April 14, 2005

If everyone was jumping off a bridge...

Interesting article from Auburn U. about a study they did about folks' attitudes toward cheating on taxes.

Mine? It's wrong on the face of it--"render unto Caesar," and all, and there is no justification for even thinking about it, much less doing it. I don't like taxes, I don't like paying them, I don't want to pay more than I owe. But if I owe it, I'll pay it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:29 PM | Comments (6)

How do you know the U.N. Oil for Food scandal is real?

Annan: US, UK Also Bear Blame in Oil, Food Scandal

Because Kofi's trying to weasel out of culpability by blaming someone else, of course!

The article is one long series of finger-pointings, with the sort of Annan-whininess that has all the lasting importance of a toddler slapfight.

Okay, big boy--you want the U.S. and Britain to really be in charge? Get out of the way and let us run things. Don't like it when the U.S. and Britain don't do what you think is their job? Stand up and say something.

Kinda like what Lee Iacocca used to say--'lead, follow, or get out of the way.'

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:11 PM | Comments (2)

A mind is a terrible thing.

I just read Eric Rudolph's rambling confession and apologia for his deeds. I had a much longer comment I was going to make, and erased that, and then had a short one, and that went away as well.

It's just that I find it hard to fathom that anyone could be so full of hate and evil. Young, relatively smart, not a bad looking kid--and rotten to the core. Remorseless and arrogant, yet full of self-pity and inferiority. Wanting so badly to be someone, to stand tall; but in the end, nothing but a wretched criminal, and much less than a man.


There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.

Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; And the end of mirth is heaviness.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

Something to consider.

Sources: Rudolph planted dynamite near building agents used as headquarters during manhunt

By JAY REEVES
The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Eric Rudolph stashed dynamite near a building that government agents used as a headquarters during the huge manhunt for the serial bomber, federal sources close to the case told The Associated Press on Monday.

Agents believe that while he was a fugitive, Rudolph left a large stash of dynamite near a National Guard armory that served as a temporary base for agents during the search for Rudolph near Murphy, N.C., a federal official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The exact proximity of the explosives to the armory is not known, but the official said the cache was close enough to the building to have caused damage had it exploded.

Another federal source said bomb components were found buried near the armory — located near woods about two miles outside of Murphy — but officials weren't sure how long they had been in the ground. The device "wasn't operational," but contained all the pieces of a bomb, the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. [...]

For some, the failure to date to apprehend various terrorists, most especially Osama bin Ladin, is held up as some sort of failing of the current Administration. It might be worth considering that Eric Rudolph eluded capture for five years, all the while operating in a small portion of territory in the midst of a relatively well-populated area; and as the article notes above, occasionally within striking distance of his pursuers. Five years to find a guy who was there all along. If bin Ladin is still alive, he will be caught, but it serves no purpose (except to our enemies) to cast his escape to this point as a general failure of policy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:01 AM | Comments (2)