October 09, 2007

Well, bless their hearts.

I signed up a while back for e-mail updates from some of our local television stations, and for the most part these have been less than satisfying from an information point of view, but, hey, they're free and you never know when something good might show up.

Such as the one I just got, which proclaimed with much shouty-all-caps--

Subject: Your "NEW & IMPORVED" Noon Headlines from NBC13.com

I replied back with thanks, and with the hope that one of the imporvements will be the use of a spell check device of some sort.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:50 PM | Comments (13)

August 01, 2007

That's what happens when you are ridiculous.

TV anchors subjected to ridicule online

Sorry, but that's what you get when you try to act like something you're not. Me? I admit I'm a moron right up front, so no one's surprised when I do something stupid, and pleasantly surprised when I manage to do something smart.

Remember--low expectations are your friends.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2007

Crimes and Journalism

I've had nothing to say about the recent furor over the articles in The New Republic by a soldier serving in Iraq--first because it was unclear in the beginning if this person was really who he claimed to be and if what he wrote is true. It appears now that he is actually a soldier, and actually serving in Iraq. The only question now is if the things he describes are true.

If they are, it makes me wonder why any reputable media organization would ever stoop to allowing such a person an outlet for confessing these obscenities without wanting the person brought to justice. Is TNR now to be considered the place where every other sort of disaffected psychopath can tell his story frankly and openly without worry that he'll be subject to justice? If one of the guards at Abu Ghraib had written stories for them, would they have been as energetic to hide the person's identity to keep him or her from suffering official repercussions? Or does TNR just not care about seeking justice, as long as it has a means to wage a wider, political battle with those who do not share its editorial viewpoint? TNR and the author have both asserted that these articles are not intended to be representative of every soldier in Iraq, but given the fact that no dissenting views were sought, and given that an overt effort was made to shield this soldier from military justice, seems to point to a different conclusion. Namely, that it is indeed meant to be seen as representative of the culture of the US Army, and further, to expose this condition, that it is necessary that rightful justice be withheld from one man. When did it become within the purview of ethical journalism to shield self-confessed criminals (criminal within the context of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) from punishment? Who gave TNR that right? And if they have that right, how is it detemined who gets the benefit of their editorial sanctuary, and who does not?

The other alternative is that the stories are not true. Or that they contain only partial truth, woven with a healthy layer of mendaciousness. Or that they are true only in the non-truthful-truthiness way that has now become the preferred method of certain people in determining reality versus fiction, namely whether something is true on some indeterminate "higher level," one that promotes a particular point of view, whether or not the microscopic version of events unfolded as it did. (As when Bluto rallied the Delta House with his stirring and heroic monologue which referenced the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor. "Don't stop him--he's on a roll.")

If this is the case--and again, it's not clear yet that it is or isn't--but if it is, again what does that say about TNR? Were they so willing to believe something that fit their preconceived notion (aided by years of wholesome and uplifting Hollywood depictions of military-grade sociopaths) that they simply could not be bothered to fully check the source and his stories before they were printed? Did they not care whether it was true or not? Did they not learn anything from all the broken Glass on the floor? Or is making a buck just that important? Or is it even about the money? Is it about pridefulness, and hubris, and the desire to be seen as the holder of some special insight others are unable to possess?

I have no idea.

All I know is that no matter what, it's not one of journalism's finer performances.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (5)

July 24, 2007

Oh, come on, now!

You know, for a smart guy, that Dr. Weevil (brother of famed NASA rocket scientist Steevil) sure is out of touch with history. He says this:

InstaPundit links to a story from the Knoxville News about Tina, a Shire breed horse claimed to be the worlds tallest. The dubious historical claim is half a sentence: Shires date to the Trojan War . . . . What possible evidence could support that claim?

Evidence? EVIDENCE!? Come now, Doctor--it was in the newspaper! What more sort of proof do you need!? And you have to admit, the Greeks didn't go and build a giant wooden badger to hide in, now did they? Of course not.

Now, there are some sites, such as this one, that aren't very inventive and creative, and say that the breed can be traced back only to the Norman Conquest, but obviously, the site isn't written by a journalist, and therefore can't be trusted to provide high quality information.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:44 AM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2007

Not to be cruel, but...

Rowling angered as NYT reviews last Potter

By Mike Collett-White and Robert MacMillan

28 minutes ago

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun published reviews of the final Harry Potter book on Thursday before it went on sale, drawing a stinging response from author J.K. Rowling.

The New York Times review, which appeared overnight, said its copy was purchased from a New York City store on Wednesday, while the Baltimore Sun said it obtained a hard copy of the book "through legal and ordinary means."

The official release of the eagerly awaited "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is not until 0001 British Summer Time on Saturday or 2301 GMT on Friday night.

Rowling, whose first six Potter books have sold 325 million copies worldwide, responded with a terse statement.

"I am staggered that some American newspapers have decided to publish purported spoilers in the form of reviews in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children," she said.

"I am incredibly grateful to all those newspapers, booksellers and others who have chosen not to attempt to spoil Harry's last adventure for fans," the 41-year-old added. [...]

Sugar, you do realize one of the rags we're talking about here is the New York Times, right? Do you really think that a paper that has a long and rich history of blithely and continually seeking to subvert American interests and giving editorial aid and comfort to various terrorist groups around the world for the sake of a political grudge against the sitting Administration really gives a fat rat's tail if it messes up your precious book launch? What sort of fantasy world do you live in?

Anyway, on a related note, I think after reading some more in the book, I am also shocked about the death of....


...Floyd as he sat in his barber chair, and his demise coming by the hand of a razor-wielding Earnest T. Bass. A rock I could have guessed, but not this!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

July 18, 2007

You can't keep a good man down.

Steevil, in conjunction with the post yesterday about the press' fascination with stories of a stinky nature, sent me a link to an article about an archaeology team excavating some 19th century privies in California. Interesting finds, indeed:

[...] They uncovered a pistol, a buoy knife, whisky flasks, a set of false teeth, two dog skulls and a blade from a set of sheep shears. [...]

Ah, yes, the buoy knife, named after famed Alamo fighter and cork-filled channel marker, Jim Buoy.

Danged homophones.

Now, in fairness to the AP, subsequent versions of the story were updated (without noting the correction) to remove the word "buoy," and then even later versions had gotten around to substituting "bowie." Maybe later follow-up subsequent updated versions will get around to capitalizing Bowie. (Ah--indeed they have! Although, again to be fair, bowie can be something of a generic term.) Anyway, the article above from USATODAY is one of the few versions floating around with the original humorous version of verbiage.

Now if people could only figure out what a Bowie knife actually looks like--one version of the AP story came with pictures, and the knife shown looks nothing like a Bowie knife. Maybe there's another knife they're talking about, but the general level of expertise of the writing team kinda makes me doubt anyone knows much of anything about anything.

Anyway, if you read the whole story, you also get to run across this corker:

[...] "It might be an early crime scene," project archaeologist John Foster said. "It looks like the two dogs were decapitated. Then whoever did it dumped the skulls and the blade, thinking the women probably wouldn't be looking too hard into the bottom of the privy." [...]

Uh, not so fast, there Sparky. "Crime scene"? Look, doof, just finding a knife in a privy doesn't mean it was used to kill anything, and moreover, even if it was used for killing two dogs, killing a dog wasn't a crime back then. Second, if someone was up to mischief, why dump the dogs' heads in the privy? What about the bodies? Are you telling me the womenfolk back then would not be so indelicate as to note two headless dogs roaming the streets? If they were going to do anything, they would've just buried the animals and not gone to the trouble of cutting off their heads. What, do you think the "perps" were afraid someone would check dental records!? And why would he assume the dogs belonged to women? And why would he assume it wasn't women who did the killing?

Archaeology can tell you a lot about the way people lived in the past, but it works better if you can resist the urge to play like some cut-rate investigator from CSI-Ventura. People threw all sorts of stuff down the privy, as well as dropped things by accident, as well as disposed of various offal and viscera and every other thing. Best not to read too much into what you find until after you've done a bit more lab work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:43 AM | Comments (12)

July 17, 2007

Well, it makes perfect sense to me!

Famed NASA rocket scientist and man about town Steevil sends along a link to an article from one of his local papers, which Steevil says is called by locals the "Crab Wrapper" for printing such phrases as this--"[...] actually based on a real-life 19th-century legend. [...]"

Tsk-tsk--Steevil is obviously not aware of just how important reality is when it comes to legends.

(Oh, and by way of full disclosure, Possumblog is actually based on a real-life 17th century fable.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

I realize it's not really planned.

But still, it's a bit off-putting when you peruse your local online news aggregator's home page, and you see this lineup of headlines:

ENTERTAINMENT
NBC News denies money offer to Hilton 6/22/2007, 10:19 a.m. CDT
Iran cleric: Rushdie fatwa still stands 6/22/2007, 10:18 a.m. CDT
Smashing Pumpkins to perform in N.C. 6/22/2007, 10:15 a.m. CDT
More Stories

Then again, maybe the second story is in there as a tie-in to that new hit show, Iran's Wackiest Fatwas. Or maybe there's some sort of a Hilton-Richie The Simple Life-type show shot on location in Teheran. If only we had some word from the Persian counterpart of that great band Smashing Pumpkins, "Smashing The Heads of Demonic Infidels." I hear their concerts are really cool.

Anyway, it's a very odd world.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2007

Talk about burying the lede.

There's probably already been some comment about this, but it's new to me.

This is the headline: Bush plunges to new low in poll .

An approval rating of 29% isn't that hot. Eleven paragraphs in (and admittedly, these are the new-media style, single sentence paragraphs, so it's not like they're real literary type paragraphs), we finally see something to compare that to: "[...] the poll was not all good news for Democrats: at just 23 percent, the approval rating for the Democrat-led Congress is lower than Bush's. [...]"

And the press wonders why no one trusts it anymore. The headline could just as easily have been written "Bush trounces Congress' popularity by 6%!" or "Congress' Approval Rating Plunges Even Further, Faster, Than President's" or any number of other things.

Let's face it--no one really believed a Democratically-controlled Congress would be better than the one that preceded it, and no one really believes the press is non-partisan. So good to see both presumptions so neatly confirmed in one story.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2007

Just in case you wanted to know.

Just got this CNN breaking news update: "A judge orders Paris Hilton back to jail, CNN confirms. She was taken from court screaming, The Associated Press reports."

Look, if CNN and AP want you to know these things, who am I to question their priorities!? Obviously, it's important, and you need to know about it, whether you want to or not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2007

Some stories defy parody.

By being self-parodying. Segways give N.Y. police a PR boost

By Chris Reiter
2 hours, 22 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City police have found a public relations boost in a two-wheeled scooter, welcome relief to a department criticized for suspected racism and excessive force.

The nation's largest police force added the electric scooter known as the Segway to its means of locomotion two weeks ago, joining some 300 other police departments that use them. The attempt to combat crime has also helped police connect with the public.

"People love it. A lot of tourists take pictures," said Officer Rafael Valerio, who zipped through Central Park on Wednesday, prompting cheers from school children.

"It's a police Segway. That's why it's awesome," said one of the kids.

Police suffered public backlash when an off-duty officer shot and killed an unarmed Honduran immigrant Fermin Arzu, 41 earlier this month. The shooting recalled a November incident in which four officers fired 50 shots at three unarmed black men, killing Sean Bell, 23, on his wedding day. [...]

One is inexorably led to assume by the article that now that the force is deployed in force on frisky happy smiley two-wheeled scooters, the public will love it when they happen to shoot unarmed Hondurans. Because let's face it--there's nothing like a grown man wearing a gunbelt swishing around on an electic scooter to make public criticism of racism and excessive force simply vanish away!

"That's why IT'S AWESOME!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:27 PM | Comments (5)

May 24, 2007

"Elminated."

What a fine verbification! Even if it was a typo. Saw it in the Bleat this morning, used to describe how the Star-Tribune's science section had been cut a few years back.

As I said--it's a fine new verb. You get the sense of something like Dutch Elm Disease, the process being elmification, used to describe the slow withering away of the dead-tree media product.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2007

I bet Rosie would invest.

It defies the laws of physics, and the guy is convinced there's a government and oil-company conspiracy afoot to keep him silent!

Yes, what we used to call "crackpots" are now running loose through the asylum, and so you get stories like this: Energy machine pitch renewed

By DAN MURTAUGH
Staff Reporter


At 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds, Joseph Newman tinkered with a contraption hidden beneath a gray tarp painted with purple flowers and pink lightning bolts.

Dressed in a purple shirt and a silver tie, his white hair dangling around his shoulders, Newman spoke of God, gyroscopes and government conspiracies, while telling the 100 or so people gathered there that his invention would rid the world of pollution and oil dependency.

This device, he said, harnessed energy from matter at a 100 percent conversion rate, allowing it to produce more energy than was put into it. [...]

Newman sued the patent office, and a federal judge ruled that the government had to test it to see if it worked. The National Bureau of Standards said the device put out only 27 to 67 percent of the energy that was put into it, and Newman lost his court case.

Newman said Wednesday what he has said so many times since his suit was thrown out: that the government improperly used his device by grounding it, which caused it to lose energy. [...]

After the demonstration, Newman said he will need between $25 million to $100 million to obtain worldwide patents and manufacture the device. [...]

I bet it can't melt steel with fire, though.

Anyway, sounds like a great way for wealthy stupid people to invest money.

But what I'm more miffed about is the way in which stories like this are covered, with that affectless reportorial "balance" that pretends to be the same thing as objectivity. Objectively, the guy's machine cannot work in any way as it's described, and to give him any more credit than that is idiotic and a waste of ink. Acting as though his claim is of exactly equal weight with the scientific counterclaim (scientist say perpetual motion can't work, but inventor says it can) does no one any good, most especially the people who read the newspaper. (Not that anyone does anymore, but still.)

The real story in the article is not the machinery being shilled--it's the fact that the only thing perpetual is the desire of suckers to be parted with their money--

"I'm definitely going to invest," said Paul Headley, 71, of Pine Hill. "Anything to get us off our dependency on Arab oil."

One wonders if Mr. Headley also has a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge.

In any event, if you want a way to while away several hours, take a look at the Museum of Unworkable Devices, and a column from James Randi that has some additional information on our intrepid white-haired "inventor."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:42 AM | Comments (2)

May 07, 2007

In other news...

...Tiger Woods will now become a caddy for John Daly.

...Jeff Gordon will be in charge of holding the catch can.

...And Alex Rodriguez will be selling peanuts and other fine snack foods in Section 32.

Yes, it's a crazy mixed up world out there, but thankfully, there are people out there with good sense--such as, the fine management of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who knew a good thing when they saw that coupon in the paper for a free lobotomy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:47 PM | Comments (6)

May 03, 2007

Our long national nightmare has ended.

Belgian newspapers return to Google

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:49 PM | Comments (4)

May 01, 2007

What liberal media!?

Women candidates face high standards

By COLLEEN LONG
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) For the first time in history, a woman has the visibility, the reputation and the cash to make a serious run at the presidency. [...]

I only scanned the rest of the article, which was, as I suspected, as fatuous as the first sentence, but aside from that, it was interesting there was no mention anywhere of Elizabeth Dole, a wealthy, reputable, not invisible woman who ran, seriously, for the Presidency in 2000. Of course, since she was a Republican, she apparently doesn't count.

However, oddly enough, Geraldine Ferraro does get a fawning nod, for having been selected to run as Vice-President in '84, which is almost as good as your boyfriend giving you his class ring on prom night. If your boyfriend was Fritz Mondale.

The bad thing is, even though the article has a sort of passive-aggressive leftward slant toward Hillary!, the general lack of historical perspective is such that the truly groundbreaking effort by Shirley Chisholm to receive the Democratic nomination is ignored as well. And the fact that there have been a heaping wad of minor party female candidates, too.

Go figure.


(And hey there, Instapundit readers! Thanks for dropping by, and thanks to Doc Reynolds for the link. Sorry the place is a sty, but that's actually an improvement.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (16)

April 27, 2007

Gloom, Doom, and the Almighty Dollar

Never fails to amuse me. The press pretty much says anything economic is bad news. Not sure why. Stock market up? Well, they'll fuss about plunging bond rates.

EVERYthing is bad, for EVERYone.

One of the ones that never fails to tickle me is when they put out breathless, hyper-scared stories with headlines like this: Dollar slumps; euro hits record high

Sounds awful, right? WEAK DOLLAR! WEAK AMERICA!!

Well, forgive me, and remember that I only had micro- and macroeconomics in college so I'm handicapped, but a weak dollar isn't necessarily bad. Except maybe for Europe.

See, when our dollars are cheaper versus other currencies, it means American goods are less expensive in those countries than they might be otherwise. Which means that American goods--absent any obstructionist legislation from them danged foreigners--are much more attractive to consumers. Foreigners buying more of our goods does a good thing--it shrinks the trade deficit that we run with other countries, and provides jobs for American workers. Remember when the yen was so low a few years back, and everyone was complaining about being flooded with cheap Japanese goods, and it was upping our trade deficit (more goods coming in versus fewer American goods going out) with Japan?

Same deal with the dollar and Europe.

The one thing it does do is make it harder for people travelling to Europe to spend as much as they thought they would (yeah, I know--the heart bleeds) and does make it more difficult for industries that might rely upon European raw materials or products used in the manufacture of other goods.

ANYway, here's an article from the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta that provides a much more comprehensive look at what the fluctuating value of the dollar can do for consumers and the economy.

As it is, don't expect me to drop to my knees screaming in horror if the dollar slips a bit more, or goes up, or stays the same. It's not nearly the big story the media have us believe.

Yeah, I know--imagine that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

As Heard on TV!

Now, I love Jeh Jeh (pronounced "Jay Jay") Pruitt, but his happy-go-lucky exhuberance can sometimes cause him to blither in a comically incoherent manner as if he were the male version of Sarah Verser.

This morning's example? He's at Talladega covering the race this weekend, and was talking about some kind of a Dale Earnhardt tribute by Little E. Best as I remember it (since I was preoccupied doing something else while listening to the TV), he got rushed and said something like, 'a tribute from Dale Earnhardt Junior to his late father, the late Dale Earnhardt Junior Senior.'

I'm sorry, but it was very difficult to stop laughing.

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

April 26, 2007

Of all the things you might have guessed...

...the Paradise Along the Pinchgut might contain, how many of you would ever have thought it would be home to a new Spanish-language radio station, broadcasting from right there on Main Street?

From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., visit 235 Main Street, Suite 202, in Trussville, Alabama to join in the festivities, Tu Ritmo Donde Estes.

Media Advisory

TRUSSVILLE, AL/EWORLDWIRE/April 26, 2007 --- The ribbon-cutting and Grand Opening Celebration of Latino Mix 1480 AM Radio Station, WRLM, will take place on Friday, April 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Post-ceremony refreshments will be served.

With Jefferson and surrounding counties home to most of the state's Latin community - numbered at more than a quarter of a million people in 2005 according to a University of Alabama study - Latino Mix 1480 AM broadcasting by long-time area residents and newspaper publisher, the Vargas family, serves the largest Hispanic population in Alabama.

From studios in Trussville, the radio station's live, 24-hour on-air personalities mix a variety of music formats - from Mexican regional to contemporary, oldies, tropical and Tejano, covers popular artists such as Shakira, Nelly Hurtado, Alejandro Saenz, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. A Spanish version of CNN Headline News is complemented by Latino Mix's own local news, weather and traffic. [...]

Well, I don't think I would have ever guessed such a thing was likely, and I live there. But nonetheless, I think it's pretty neat to have them in town. Even if I can't understand all them weird words they keep saying.

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

April 05, 2007

I was puzzled, until I saw it was from Reuters.

Southern U.S. cities top poll as worst for allergies

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - For allergy sufferers, the arrival of spring is always unpleasant, but if you live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this could be a particularly miserable season.

Tulsa was listed as the most challenging place to live with spring allergies in the United States, according to a new ranking by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

The study looked at data from 320 metro areas across the country. The south ruled the top spots with Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, Fort Myers in Florida, San Antonio in Texas, and Tucson in Arizona rounding up the top five. [...]

Now I realize that Tulsa, Dallas, San Antonio, and Tucson are all south of the North Pole, but I don't think anyone who lives in any of those places think of them as being part of the South. Or south. I mean, if they WANT to be part of the South, that's fine--they share a lot more with us than they do with folks in Yankeeland--but I think they much prefer to think of themselves as Westerners.

Of course, I suppose such subtle nuances don't matter so much to Reuters, considering that all those places are in that amorphous little region between New York and California that's full of filthy gun-toting conservative God-bothers who've ruined Mother Earth with their beef-eating and SUV driving. So, you know, the allergy thing they had coming to them.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2007

Apparently CBS needs to review their pay scale for freelancers.

CBS free-lancer on Masters arrested in bank robbery

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) A freelance editor from Alabama who was hired by CBS to help cover the Masters golf tournament this week was one of three people arrested Monday and charged in a bank robbery, authorities said.

A man wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and an Atlanta Braves sun visor entered a Wachovia bank branch on Gordon Highway shortly after 9 a.m. and handed a teller a note demanding money, said Sgt. Richard Roundtree of the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

A red dye pack mixed in the money exploded in the parking lot, he said.

After an anonymous tip, investigators arrested Michael Alan Crane, 31, at a nearby Holiday Inn and found clothing stained with red dye in his room, along with an undisclosed amount of money taken in the robbery, Roundtree said in a news release.

Two alleged accomplices from the area, Jawone Reginald Bennett, 31, and Shelby Lee Wills, 28, were arrested a short time later at a lounge, he said. All three were charged with robbery by intimidation and held in the Richmond County Jail.

Roundtree said both Crane's hotel room and the rental car used in the robbery were registered to CBS.

Leslie Anne Wade, vice president of communications for CBS Sports, confirmed Crane's employment.

"He was hired as a freelance technician for this event," Wade told The Augusta Chronicle.

Idiot. Didn't take out the dye pack, room and rental car registered to CBS, left evidence all over the place--looks like CBS is still hiring the best and brightest.

Anyway, my prediction of how he'll try to wiggle out of this? He'll show the court several memos "signed" by "Les Moonves" ordering him to rob a bank in order to expose how poorly protected they are.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2007

If you have to explain something like that...

This story about a story makes me laugh. Okay, it sorta made me smile. Or grimace. Hard to tell.

But, no matter. I think it's pretty sad that the AP, or any news organization, for that matter, deems it necessary to once more do an obligatory explanation at the bottom of an article about what this "blogging" is all about. I thought these news-type people took pride that their material was an essential read for bright, intelligent people.

Frankly, if your idea of bright, intelligent people are those people who in the year 2007 have no idea what a blog is, you're pretty much announcing your own irrelevance. (Even more so if you can't do a better job of it than what was quoted in the article. Even more moreso in that the electronic version is absolutely worthless for wrapping fish OR lining a bird cage.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:08 PM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2007

Oh, now this might be pretty fun.

In reading The Birmingham News yesterday I saw that they had decided to glom onto this whole March Madness thing AND this whole Internet thing and come up with an online contest of sorts in which they have come up with a gigantic bracket full of people who are Alabama natives (full bracket here as a .pdf), and pit them against each other in a playoff of sorts to determine...something. I'm not quite sure what. I mean, some of these people are dead, which would make it exceedingly difficult for them to come and cut down a net or kiss a big trophy if they should win.

But it still looks like an interesting way to waste time, nonetheless.

My first round picks are below:

Courteney Cox (1)

Jim Nabors (2)

Kate Jackson (3)

Rush Propst (13)

Sela Ward (5)

Amber Benson (11)

George Lindsey (7)

Alan Hunter (9)

Hank Williams (1)

Alabama (2)

Nat "King" Cole (3)

Emmylou Harris (4)

W.C. Handy (12)

Eddie Kendricks/Temptations (6)

Jimmy Buffett (7)

Tammy Wynette (9)

Harper Lee (1)

Truman Capote (2)

Homer Hickam (14)

Kathryn Tucker Windham (13)

Gay Talese (5)

Fannie Flagg (6)

William Bradford Huie (7)

Rick Bragg (8)

John Badham (1)

Louise Fletcher (2)

Tallulah Bankhead (3)

Johnny Mack Brown (4)

Michael Biehn (5)

Dean Jones (6)

Rebecca Luker (7)

Phillip Alford and Mary Badham (8)

And who do I think will go all the way? Capote and Alabama. Give it to Alabama in the final, again simply because they are still alive and able to accept the trophy.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:18 PM | Comments (2)

February 20, 2007

Oh, THAT liberal media.

McCain suffers in polls despite criticism of Iraq

"Despite"? Yeah, I mean, it's almost as if there might be another side to the debate or something.

Nah.

Couldn't be.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2007

Forget Saban.

THIS is REALLY big news--Rick and Bubba changing stations.

They've been on their current station for seven years, which is a very long run for any program, but apparently Cox anted up with some serious biscuit and gravy money. Shouldn't be too big of a change for most fans, but for those of us without any country music stations on the preset buttons, it will certainly be different.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2006

And he also enjoys a hearty cup of rich, warm irony!

Andy Rooney is Internet hoax victim

Yes, he's still around. And whining about someone attributing something to him that he didn't write.

Didja ever notice people who whine? They're whiners.

Anyway, at the bottom of the article, there's this:

[...] The CBS News commentator said he recognized there's a danger in giving attention to whoever is doing these things.

"My tendency, from having been a newsman for so many years, is if all the truth about everything came out, things are better."

Well, let's just say they were probably fake, but accurate.

Didja ever notice how newsguys all run around with their big ugly bushy eyebrows trying to convince everyone the only thing they want is the truth? That's stupid--if you were trustworthy, people wouldn't have to be told all the time that they can trust you. And didja ever notice how people who work at CBS seem to still not understand what all the fuss was about? That's just silly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2006

Which raises the question...

Report sparks changes at pharmacy chains

By ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 5 minutes ago

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The nation's largest drugstore chains say they are working to better protect patient privacy after an investigative TV report turned up sensitive information about hundreds of customers in trash bins in cities around the country. [...]

...that being, "What are hundreds of drug store customers doing in trash bins in cities around the country!?"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)

November 07, 2006

I PITY THE FOOL!

Or, if you prefer, what a pitiful fool.

But, on the brighter side, I do have a shocking new memo from Noah that confirms he did NOT build the Ark by himself, but, in fact, had assistance from aliens.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:35 PM | Comments (3)

November 03, 2006

Well, there's ardor, and then there's ardor for self.

Tim Blair notes that a particular person has a rather expansive self-image.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, and The Media

Yet more evidence of the pernicious nature of leftward media bias is this little headline-- Productivity slows to a standstill

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON - The productivity of American workers slowed to a standstill in the summer while wage pressures were rising at the fastest clip in more than two decades, a combination likely to raise inflation concerns at the Federal Reserve.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, showed no change in the July-September quarter while labor costs rose by 3.8 percent. For the past year, labor costs are up by 5.3 percent, the fastest increase since 1982. [...]

HORRORS!! WE'RE DOOMED!! ECONOMY IN THE TOILET!! FACTORIES SHUTTERED!! WORKERS NO LONGER WORKING!!

Except.

Productivity is a meaure of how much stuff gets done in an hour. The fact that there was no increase over last quarter DOES NOT MEAN THAT PRODUCTION HAS STOPPED, despite the implication of the headline. Productivity rate gains and losses are cyclical, and over the last ten years have generally fluctuated in a window of zero to five percent--up and down, up and down. Here's the chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows the phenomenon.

The fact that the rate of productivity did not increase from one quarter to the next is, in and of itself, not remarkable.

Second of all, we continue to hear from some quarters about how low wages are and how a certain political party will make sure wages go up. Well, according to the story, labor costs (which includes wages) is up. Good? NO! BAAAADDDD!!

I took a micro- and a macroeconomics class in college, and generally understand the way markets and the economy work, but I'm obviously not an expert in this stuff. But even still, I can see that the intent of this story--and especially its misleading headline--has very little to do with reporting routine economic data, and much more about looking at everything through a prism of tearing down the current Administration. NO economic news--no matter how good, no matter how innocuous, seems to be fed through a screen to gather as much chaff together and throw away as much wheat as possible.

Why?

I'm not sure, but I think back a few years ago to the last election when so much of the old-line media took a black eye for its thinly-disguised loyalty to the Left. The refrain from many on the Right was, "Look, it's not that you guys are biased--we KNOW you are--at least be honest about it." I think this was said by many with the hope that through shame and denigration, the media would decide that maybe it had NOT been dispassionate enough, and begin to make efforts to be more careful, more cognizant of the way in which stories are framed, and actually work toward being as unbiased in fact as they always proclaimed themselves to be in word.

What happened, however, is that the media took an unexpected tack of becoming nakedly partisan, for the most part dropping any pretense of reason or logic and settling comfortably in the role of being a petty, partisan organ. (Corroborating story here.)

Thankfully, they managed to secure their irrelevancy several years before such a decision would have a greater impact.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:32 AM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2006

Well, what do you know about THAT!!

I was trying to get out the door this morning and the teevee was on and the local NBC affiliate's Today show clone was on and WHO did they have on as a special guest?

WENDY GARNER! Well, Ken Lass was on there, too, but I don't enjoy looking at him nearly so much. It was quite a pleasant shock to see that the NBC drones thought they might bring them back (in their radio DJ guise) for a guest segment, seeing as how they dumped Wendy and Ken to bring in a new clutch of anchors.

Which I'm still angry about.

Not that you can tell.

ANYway, it was so nice to see Miss Wendy on the tube again--one of these days when PossumblogTV is finally on the air, I'm going to hire her to be the news anchor.

I sure hope she'll work for free.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2006

In the immortal words...

...of Tim Blair, "CBS knows all about deliberate manipulation intended to effect elections."

(In reference to this story from the Fake But Accurate Factory.)

You know, one of the things that has made blogging so tiresome in the past few years is the hardheadedness of the old-line media types. This is a perfectly legitimate story--the idea that people might think that HallibushitlerRoveCo have a magic X-Box console where they play with oil prices is out there. It is espoused out of ignorance, and occasionally malice. In the latter case, it's best ignored, but in the former case it is the result of a pitiable lack of understanding of even the most basic ideas of economics. And logic. Why not frame the story in such a way that addresses these myths and dispels them, rather than further clouding the matter with tactics such as using unscientific polling results, along with a barely concealed politically-driven agenda? I keep hearing lofty words from the press type folks who say they only have the Truth at heart; well, why not put that into practice and attempt--at least every once in a while--to actually give readers something worthwhile?

Either that, or start giving the Flat Earth people some more time to talk.

In the end, it comes down to the fact you've got the ignorant interviewing the ignorant.

My suggestion?

I think it's high time that this country devotes its abundance of resources to developing schools where people can go who want to become journalists. And not just any schools, but maybe even something on a college level, where they'll have to take other classes with other students in subjects such as mathematics and history and ethics and economics and language and science!

We could call them "journalism schools."

Nice ring to it, eh?

And just think of the promise offered by such an education if newspapers and electronic media organizations would actually start hiring people like this--people who know the difference between "deficit" and "debt," people who know what a "fallacy" is. I know, it boggles the mind to think of such things, but I promise you, it's not nearly as crazy as half the conspiracy theories you read about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:30 AM | Comments (11)

September 07, 2006

It's Mr. Language Pedant!

Okay, with this one we have to start out with a disclaimer--yes, I KNOW I'm the last person who should be taking others to task for homophonic abuse, but this one jumped out at me like a flag-stealing squirrel. So to speak.

Anyway, this article--Cemetery's flags found in squirrel nest--details the great sleuthing work by a cemetery groundskeeper who figured out who was stealing the small American flags from graves. Turns out it wasn't snot-nosed kids, but Varmint Cong. Okay, fine. But here is what caught my eye:

[...] "I was mowing, looked up out into the distance, and something caught my eye," said Dave Ender, a groundskeeper employed by the Eau Claire Parks and Recreation Department.

He drove his riding lawnmower to a nearby street intersection and looked up a tree.

"Low and behold, I found the missing flags," Ender said. [...]

::sigh::

Although we now know it only if prefixed by the capital letter J, the word we're actually looking for here is "LO and behold." Just a silly irksome thing, right up there with people who write "toe TOW the line," or "tough roe to hoe."

Thank goodness the news media have editors to catch stuff like this. (I wish I had one to catch formatting errors.)

UPDATE: Thankfully, I DO have Steevil, who noticed that I got MYSELF in trouble with toe/tow. I keep reading "tow the line" but the reference is supposed to be everyone standing straight in a line, with their toes all aligned on a line marked on the ground, the allusion meant to convey bringing order and discipline to a situation. BUT I STILL MANAGED TO MESS UP the spelling when I did it. Silly non-edited blogger! A more thorough telling of the usage can be found here.

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

August 25, 2006

Y'know, not everything is a tragedy.

Now how will students learn the planets?

It's just a silly little fluff piece on the reclassification of Pluto that, had it been written by a blogger, would have been used in a hard-hitting, 12 part series as an example of how dangerous blogging is when compared to Real Journalism. But what makes it even sillier is that after the silliness of the new mnemonic suggestions to remember the planets, the article actually goes to great pains (relatively speaking--it's only a few sentences long) to note how much of a problem this is going to be for museums. And it actually seems like they're trying to be serious about it.

Now, maybe the reporter is doing spoof of a spoof--one of those stories like "World to End Tomorrow--Women, Minorities Hardest Hit," since he does pick up on two of the Great Thematic Elements of Modern Reportage: The Childrentm, and Endangered Public Institutionstm. But I really have to believe that there is actually someone somewhere who really does see this as some kind of calamity that must be documented. I can only guess how long it will be before a way is found to blame George Bush for, for--well, for SOMETHING.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (6)

August 24, 2006

Speaking of vilification...

Survey: Couric better known than rivals

[...] While 40 percent of all respondents' one-word impressions of Couric had a positive tone (compared with 36 percent for [ABC's Charlie] Gibson and 34 percent for [NBC's Brian] Williams), she also scored higher in words deemed negative (including liberal, biased, bad, annoying and overrated), with 14 percent. This compared with 4 percent for Gibson and 5 percent for Williams.

Color me shocked.

While the word most often associated with all three journalists was good, the list of adjectives for Couric included perky, cute, nice, energetic, bubbly and fluffy — words no one raised for Gibson or Williams.

And I am willing to bet they were exceedingly glad.

Other words Couric inspired were informed, knowledgeable and smart. But her personality and style were foremost on the minds of the respondents, as opposed to their words describing Gibson and Williams. [...]

One gets the sense that all this has become something of a search for the world's most perfect booger.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:00 PM | Comments (7)

Today's Object of Intense Vilification!

Pretty much the usual thing. I've posted about this before, "this" being the seeming necessity of newspaperpersons to work in some sort of gratuitous reference to something perceived as evil by the members who sit within their little coffee klatch, even if it really doesn't have much of a relationship to the actual story. The one that always seem to catch my eye are the stories about SUVs.

The general bias of folks in the nattering trades seems to be that anything SUV related is automatically suspect, and more likely than not the source of evil, what with their gas-guzzling [evil--Bush Oil Halliburton] and ponderousness [evil, like obesity] in hauling [evil--should be using public transport instead of hauling your own stuff like some rustic rube, unless he's a rube who is a union cabbage picker] suburban [evil--surburan sprawl] soccer moms [evil--implies subservience to a bygone lifestyle of feminine unliberation, although this one is slightly less obnoxious to them because it involves soccer, which is popular in socialist dictatorships] to nail appointments [evil--product of tax cuts for wealthy]. All this despite the fact that the definition of an SUV includes even such tiny and relatively fuel-efficient things as Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV-4s, and despite the fact that as a type, SUVs have become every other vehicle on the road. It's really not a big deal to see one. Never has been, as a matter of fact. (Until it was decided they were evil.)

ANYWAY, I was looking through the news and saw another example: 9 hurt when SUV plows into N.Y. market

Ooooh. Evil plowing SUVs. "Plowing" no--that's not a loaded term, is it? [Rubes plow, you know. Unless they've been bought out by an evil Big Farm conglomerate. Which are actually okay if they make ethanol.] And, as we mention, SUV hasn't become a code word at all. (He wrote sarcastically.) We now read the story, which is scant:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A sport utility vehicle driven by an 83-year-old man plowed into pedestrians and vendors at a public market on Thursday, injuring eight people.

The driver lost control when his foot apparently slipped off the brake and hit the accelerator, and the vehicle rammed through at least eight food stalls at the Rochester Public Market, police Chief David Moore said.

At least one person suffered serious injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

The car ended up in a shed, and firefighters had to extract the driver, the police chief said. He said the driver's injuries appeared to be minor.

That's it.

Now what purpose did it serve to say he was driving an SUV? In this story, there is nothing to indicate the type of vehicle had anything at all to do with the incident. In fact, a more telling proximate cause might be the age of the driver, and the fact that his foot slipped off the brake. Older drivers seem to be more prone to this, but even then, it's not outside the realm of possibility for ANYone to have this happen. Even if the person is NOT driving an SUV. To further point out the utter unseriousness of this tactic is the fact that the story itself calls the vehicle as both a sport utility vehicle AND a car.

What's the story here, journalism grads?

The fact that several people at a market got injured when a driver lost control of his vehicle and hit them.

Accidents like this can happen to anyone driving anything, so to continue to refer to the type of vehicle in a way that implies it is somehow pertinent to why the event happened, WITHOUT GIVING ANY FURTHER details, smacks of simply playing to emotionalism and fear about an inanimate object. It MIGHT be interesting if he was driving something that wasn't as ubiquitous as an SUV--a fire truck or ambulance he'd stolen, perhaps--but in this case it appears the type of vehicle is meaningless.

So quit trying to score brownie points in whatever little I-wanna-win-a-Pulitzer clique you've got going on there, and quit offering up prejudicial references that serve no other purpose than to provide a way for the reporter to passively state his opinion diguised as news.

Better headline: "Driver loses control, injures self and 8 others at NY market." If you simply cannot resist specifying the type of vehicle in the story, give all the information--make, model and year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:51 PM | Comments (4)

August 15, 2006

One for the stupid people.

You know, when I first saw the headline of this article this morning--X-rays won't detect liquid or gel bombs--all I could think of was, "Well, duh."

Expecting it to be one of those silly mangled headlines that had only a slight relationship to the actual meat of the story, I went on to read the article, and it actually is a report in which the reporter seems to think she has discovered some sort of incredible thing that The Government Is Covering Up.

Hey, guess what, feeb? Airport metal detectors won't detect brain waves of terrorists plotters. Searching hand luggage won't detect a missile fired from the ground. And the deal with X-raying shoes has nothing to do with detecting the presence of chemicals.

The "reporter" hints at this later on, noting that the idea is to scan shoes to see if they might have been messed with. As if someone might have hollowed out a place in the heels or sole to make a place to hide something. But lest we be unclear, once more, X-rays are magical invisible radiation waves that you can use to see through stuff--they DON'T DETECT CHEMICALS.

It's not a coverup or a government conspiracy or anything else. No one in charge has ever said that they COULD detect liquid explosives. And this screening has been going on ever since dipwad shoebomber Richard Reid tried his stunt back in 2001. The only person who seems to have been so gullible and uninformed about this seems to be the reporter.

Imagine my surprise.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2006

Truer words...

[...] News may be transmitted via e-mail, but not everything transmitted via e-mail is news. And evidently, not everything reported in the news is news, either.

...were never spoken.

I blame global warming.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2006

Worty Dirds

Well, the delicate sensibilities of the press corps and the closely allied pundit corps have been smitten, and the collected Fourth Estate has gotten their skirts all up in a bunch about evil President Hitler McShruburton launching forth with a vile stream of letters that when strung together form the word s***. Or, at least that’s what I read--they can’t seem to bring themselves to write it out fully, for fear of causing even MORE terrorists to suffer loss of self-esteem.

For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t use *h*t (or its closely related cousin, **it) in a regular conversation with anyone, because the need doesn’t usually come up unless we’re talking about what’s best to use as fertilizer, the cow variety or the bat variety. Oh, and of course, there was the time I nearly cut my finger off. But I also am aware that there are some people really would be offended by the more vulgar (i.e., common) s-term, so in a social setting I might rather use something more presentable, such as ordure, or manure, or dross, or dreck, or poo, or scat, or droppings, or dung, or compost, or feces, or poop, or muck, or doo-doo, or crap, or poopy, or number two, or turd, or caca, or tedkennedy. ‘A rose is a rose,’ and all.

Anyway, given the nature of the remark and its clarity of intent, I think it wasn’t that big of a deal. So, I would like to ask everyone in the press who have nearly suffered apoplexy from this indelicacy to please climb down off of your stools (so to speak) and try--even though I know you can’t really do it--to cover the news.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:55 PM | Comments (2)

July 13, 2006

Imagine that!

Diplomacy in tatters as two Koreas spar

I hate to break it to everyone, but diplomacy only works when both parties want it to work. If one party happens to be a poofy-haired, disco eyeglasses and coverall-wearing megalomaniacal dictator intent on having the ability to slling nukes all over the place at will, your chances of getting very far with diplomacy are more scarce than finding good kimchi at the Pyongyang Wal-Mart.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

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)

June 23, 2006

Geographic Illiteracy

Not kids, this time. Local news.

I really don't want to seem like I take great joy in pointing this stuff out, but it is a pet peeve of mine--that being the ability of local television reporters to misspeak. Not once, but seemingly on a continual basis.

What brought this on? Well, there has been a recent case where an elderly family and their grandson has turned up missing, and although there is a suspect, he has not been charged in their disappearance. Yet.

In any event, the couple lived in a pretty, older section of town called College Hills, over near Birmingham-Southern College. When the story first broke, even though the video showed the obligatory "College Hills" neighborhood signs, the reporters and anchors of whichever station I was watching at the time kept calling the neighborhood "Collegeville."

Now, it might not seem like a big deal, but Collegeville is a completely different place, over to the northeast by several miles, hard up by the CSX yard and Sloss Industries. College Hills it ain't. The error might be one to be expected of a stranger, but the whole thing the local stations talk about is how connected they are to the community, and such a gaffe--repeated ENDLESSLY--tends to make that claim suspect.

What's worse is the lack of self-correction--I KNOW there are people that work at the stations who know the right names of these communities, and to let the slip continue to be repeated on air--no matter if it seems minor (and no, I don't mean Minor, or Minor Heights)--just reeks of unprofessionalism.

Another case in point--a breaking news alert last night on the FOX affiliate in which a police officer was shot while breaking up a robbery at an AutoZone. The anchor said it was in north Birmingham. Which, to my ears, sounds like "North Birmingham," an actual section of the city which, in fact. once was an incorporated town. Then he gave the address--6600 1st Avenue, North. Which is in the Wahouma/East Lake area, nowhere NEAR where North Birmingham is.

Look, TV people--just because an address around here has NORTH in it, doesn't mean it's in NORTH Birmingham. And again, there are plenty of Birmingham natives in these stations to correct such nonsense, and to let it go on and on makes you wonder just exactly how many other things get reported with such disregard for minor details.

And too, in the end, if you don't care enough about the details, it makes you wonder just how accurate the rest of your stories are.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (6)

June 15, 2006

One wonders if he will be allowed--

--one final mawkish maudlin preening MacArthuresque "old reporters never die" (or Nixonian "I am not a forger") farewell speech before he rides into the sunset...Source says Dan Rather nearing CBS exit

By DAVID BAUDER
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Dan Rather, who has been working at "60 Minutes" since leaving as "CBS Evening News" anchor last year, apparently is in his final days at CBS News.

CBS executives and Rather's representatives appear close to a deal that will end Rather's association with CBS News after more than 40 years, according to an executive knowledgeable about the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Thursday.

Rather, 74, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he has had no conversations about continuing at "60 Minutes" beyond the television season that ended last month. Another story published Thursday in The Washington Post quotes CBS executives who declined to be identified that network bosses have concluded there is no future role at CBS for Rather. [...]

Rather told the Inquirer that he has had no conversation with McManus — other than twice saying hello when they saw each other at functions — since McManus took over in October.

"We've had no conversations about carrying on at `60 Minutes,'" Rather said. "My position is, I want to work. Maybe it's my hubris, but I still think there are things I can contribute, and I want an opportunity to do that."

Dan Rather? HUBRIS? Oh, perish the thought, dearie! Why, I have a letter right here written by Aristotle himself that says you are the single most humble man ever to live!

He told the newspaper that while he would like to stay at CBS News, "the question is whether they have anything for me to do that I think is meaningful." [...]

Yes, that is quite a question there, Dan, quite a question, indeed. "Courage," old fellow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:28 PM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2006

What liberal media bias?

Well, obviously the big news this morning is the death of al-Zarqawi. I had the news turned to NBC when the President gave his statement this morning at 6:30 Central time, and what I heard from him was serious, measured, and cautiously optimistic. Mr. Bush did not lean over on the podium, did not hunch his shoulders and gesture with his hands, did not really show much overt emotion at all. Which is just as it should be.

Well, they cut back to Matt Lauer in the studio, who nearly peed on himself as he said, paraphrasing, 'The President is CLEARLY elated at this news...'

Clearly elated?

I'm sure he is glad the guy's gone on to his just reward, but his statement had no sense of elation, as such. Then Matt pitched over to Jim Miklasewski at the Pentagon. I've never been that enamored of Mr. Miklasewski, but he plumbed new depths in unobjectivity this morning.

As was Matt, Jim seemed to be vibrating at about 120 Hz and very nearly ready to soil himself he was so wound up--or so it appeared to this objective viewer.

First, Miklasewski took issue with the President's assertion that al-Zarqawi was the target of the strike, quoting "sources" that said the task force assigned to killing or capturing al-Zarqawi were actually tracking his spiritual advisor, and only later was it determined al-Zarqawi was among the dead. Whatever, Jim--tracking al-Zarqawi means tracking everyone who might have contact with him.

The second is the one that very nearly made me take off my shoe and beat upon the image of Jim Miklasewski as it fidgeted on my screen. For in this, he lost all illusion of trying to be dispassionate, and veered way off into Tinfoilistani punditry. Regarding the assertion by the President that Iraqis offered assistance in the raid, Miklasewski blustered and said (paraphasing again) that this was simply impossible, in that the task force assigned to al-Zarqawi didn't even share intelligence with OTHER army intelligence units, and therefore couldn't possible have gotten any information from Iraqis.

Jim, you ignorant slut.

It is beyond comprehension how you can sit there and be so cock-sure of what the task force knew, and how it came by its information. At worst, maybe Mr. Bush was merely trying to give some credit to the Iraqi people to keep them from feeling left out, or ignored, in this important event. But it is a far more likely scenario that this task force, even though it might NOT share information with other forces, itself operated on a wide variety of information, MAYBE even including IRAQI INFORMANTS. It's really not THAT difficult to believe, is it, Jim? Especially when it's obvious that you've decided to switch from straight reporting to commentator, right in the middle of a "news" report?

Objectively, the only thing you can say is that you don't know exactly who knew what, and how that information actually came to them, because objectively, that is the extent of your knowledge on the matter. And since this group's methods of necessity must remain secret, you might not EVER know the full story. Anything else is pure speculation, and is NOT fact, no matter how much Vitalis you smear on your hair, and how long you've been standing in front of the camera. No matter how hard you strain to keep from wetting your pants, there is simply no way you will ever be able to establish the truth of what you've just implied. To get up in front of everyone and act as though the President is somehow willfully being misleading or is dissembling in this instance does nothing but give objective and dispassionate truth-seeking reality-based persons such as myself the idea that there's not an honest reporter in all of the media.

Twits.

Update: 9:17 a.m. More frustration here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

That's nice.

Charles Gibson Named New ABC Anchor

Given that the relevance of being a network evening news anchor nowadays is about on par with being a saber-toothed tiger lookout, you sorta have to wonder why Mr. Gibson would take this gig. But, he's nice enough, I suppose, and I guess they'll give him bunches of money.

Eh.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

You're welcome, Chitown.

Mai Martinez leaves FOX 6 for Chicago

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bye-bye, Mai.

FOX 6 reporter Mai Martinez has left the station to go to work at a station in Chicago, the third-biggest TV market in the country.

Martinez did not return requests for an interview before leaving FOX 6 this past week.

However, she told other reporters around town that she was going to Chicago but could not say which station because of a confidentiality agreement. She also told them she would make about $500,000 over four years. [...]

125K a year. As they say, nice gig if you can get it.

I'm still holding out hope that one day all of these media types will give up on hiring shockingly beautiful young single women, and realize that grouchy, chubby old guys who are unwilling to relocate are just as valuable to their organizations. I'm not sure exactly how we are just as valuable, but I am certainly willing to accept $125,000 a year and let someone runs some experiments on it and see what they can come up with.

Anyway, good luck to Ms. Martinez in her new assignment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:10 AM | Comments (6)

April 20, 2006

Somehow, someway...

U.S. records drastic decline in death rate

...there will crop up a news report that sees this as a failure, and in it George Bush will be blamed. Probably for the loss of income in the funeral business.

I also imagine somehow it will be figured out how to add the subhead, "Women, Minorities, Children Hardest Hit."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:54 AM | Comments (3)

April 06, 2006

And in other news...

Vieira To Replace Couric On 'Today' Show I think I have just figured out why for the past few days my referrer logs have been filled with search requests for pictures of her. Especially this one--

vieira

Rrowll.

Anyway, as for Katie moving to CBS--eh. All the talk about her being the first solo female anchor of a major network newscast is okay, I suppose, although Elizabeth Vargas (rrowwl) has been doing just that since her partner got wounded in Iraq and no one has been doing backflips about it.

And the sad fact is that given the precipitous fall from grace that has bedevilled the once vaunted (and once trusted) genre of network newscasts, it's just not the job it once was. Unless something substantive is done to the way in which national television news organizations go about their work, they're going to be about as influential as the world's largest manufacturers of buggy whips and whale oil lamps.

The crap NBC's been trying to pull to provoke news simply won't work anymore.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:55 AM | Comments (3)

Local Media Shakeup

In a follow up to an entry from back in January about the sale of the local NBC affiliate, this seems to be sorta nteresting, at least to me--Media General to buy four NBC television stations

By STEPHANIE STOUGHTON
The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Media General Inc. plans to buy four television stations from NBC Universal in an all-cash deal estimated at $600 million, the companies announced Thursday.

Media General, owner of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will purchase WNCN in Raleigh, N.C.; WCMH in Columbus, Ohio; WVTM in Birmingham, Ala.; and WJAR in Providence, R.I.

Marshall N. Morton, chief executive officer of Richmond-based Media General, said the new stations will build on the company's strengths in the Southeast and will allow the firm to capitalize on growing big markets outside its stronghold.

"The NBC properties we are purchasing are strong stations in cities with attractive growth prospects," Morton said in a statement. [...]

To abide by FCC regulations, Media General must sell its CBS affiliate in Birmingham. To help pay for the acquisitions, the company also plans to sell CBS affiliates WDEF in Chattanooga, Tenn.; KWCH in Wichita, Kan.; and KIMT in Mason City, Iowa.

Those affiliates will likely be sold by the year's end. [...]

Interesting, in that the local CBS affiliate here in town, WIAT, has been a perennial ratings bottom-dweller, especially in the local news market dominated by the NBC and Fox affiliates.

I'm curious to see who might be interested in buying it--you never know, there might be a disgraced former CEO who might decide he needs a bigger signal to reach more lost souls.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2006

Yet another instance of MSM incompetence.

From eminent academician Dr. James Smith, a sound thrashing of ABC and Reuters for their (not unsurprising) ineptitude.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:09 PM | Comments (4)

March 02, 2006

In a blatant rip-off of James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today"--

my own nomination for Bottom Story of the Day: AP newswoman Samira Jafari named Pikeville, Ky., correspondent

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

February 09, 2006

Well, nice to know that for every dark cloud...

...of flaming embassies, there is a silver lining-- European Papers Benefit in Cartoon Uproar

Well, you know, when you've got to burn stuff, newspaper does a good job.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

Gatekeepers Need Not Apply.

You know, when even fifth graders pick up on your weaknesses, you've REALLY got some problems to work on.

Fifth-Graders Use Internet To Communicate With Soldiers In Iraq
Students, Soldiers Use Blogs To Send Text, Pictures

POSTED: 8:51 pm CST January 26, 2006
UPDATED: 9:18 pm CST January 26, 2006

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. -- Some students in Trussville are using the latest technology to learn about the war in Iraq straight from soldiers on the front lines.

Students at Paine Intermediate School are sending text, pictures and audio to troops in Iraq via their blogs.

"It's a Web log. It's kind of like a journal, except it's online and you get to talk to other people," said Whitney Webster, one of Paine Intermediate School's bloggers.

Technology teacher April Chamberlain saw blogs that U.S. troops publish while they are fighting in Iraq, so she contacted a soldier nicknamed "Grey Eagle" and asked her to correspond with her class. [...]

"We asked how were Iraqis different from us here, and what did it look like there and how it's different from America," Paine blogger Jordan Capps said. [...]

The Paine bloggers said they have learned more about Iraq, U.S. troops and the war from their new friend "Grey Eagle" than any newspaper or TV show could ever teach. [...]

Emphasis mine, obviously.

The point highlighted being that even little kids can understand when they aren't getting the full story about something, and the idea that they don't have to rely on someone else to filter and frame information for them is something they will not see as revolutionary (as some of us old folks do), but as an expectation.

And, when it comes to that other group of putative information gatekeepers--educators--the problem schools face is going to be not so much teaching the use of the technology, but of equipping children to be open-minded and critical thinkers in order to understand what they are reading and to be able to apply it. (And this does not mean adopting the rigid "progressive" orthodoxy currently exhibited in education in which being "open-minded" is nothing more than slavish adherence to the peculiar socialistic ideals of an antitheistic, relativistic moral outlook and the rise of anticompetitiveness ostensibly for the sake of not damaging anyone's self-esteem.)

Teachers said incorporating new technology improves students' course work in other areas.

"I'm starting to see their writing is a little better. They still have some of the codes they use for the Internet, but I'm starting to see better writing," Chamberlain said.

The students seem to be getting a lot out of their 21st-century pen pals and hope their new friends are, too.

"It's really hard over there and they like to hear from everyone from home sometimes," Paine blogger Sydney Hansard said.

The bloggers at Paine Intermediate School hope to meet "Grey Eagle" someday. She is scheduled to train at Fort Rucker when she comes back from Iraq.

To check out "Grey Eagle's" blog, visit A Female Soldier's Story. To read the Paine Intermediate School fifth-graders' blog, visit their Communication With Grey Eagle And Fellow Soldiers.


UPDATE: A tangentially related post from Hugh Hewitt.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:32 AM | Comments (9)

January 24, 2006

And in other television news...

UPN, WB to Combine to Form New Network

NEW YORK - Two small, struggling television networks, UPN and WB, will merge to form a new network called The CW, executives from the companies that own them said Tuesday. [...]

No other word in the article about what exactly "The CW" is an abbreviation for. Probably would be better to call it The RMS Titanic.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:48 AM | Comments (12)

January 10, 2006

Whoa--big news on the news!

NBC Universal to sell WJAR, three other stations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — NBC Universal is seeking to sell off four of its owned-and-operated stations, including the Rhode Island affiliate WJAR-TV, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The company also is trying to sell WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Ala., WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio and WNCN-TV in Raleigh, N.C., NBC Universal spokeswoman Liz Fischer said. She declined to comment further. [...]

Wow--I have no idea how much the revolving door for on-air talent at WVTM (the former Wendy Garner station) during the past couple of years might have played in this decision, but I have a feeling it must have played some part in it.

It will be interesting to see who finally winds up with it.

UPDATE: Oops--that's what I get for being tired yesterday--the story was in the Birmingham Business Journal, but I missed it. It says the reason is the company wants to be rid of the small-market stations, which is as good an excuse as any, I suppose, but the Raleigh-Durham market is 29th overall in size, which seems kinda big for a small market, but what do I know?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:23 PM | Comments (2)

January 04, 2006

Another'un

I'm not really surprised, shocked, outraged, or anything else. Steevil (famous sailor and NASA rocket scientist) sent me a link to this story on the WBAL radio website up there in Baldymore, in which a local reporter is gigged and sacked for plagiarism.

More than anything else, it's just sad, and even sadder is the seeming inability of reporters caught in this type of situation to either 1) come clean and admit it, or 2) deny it with enough forcefulness to be believable. However, the quote that best illustrated this point, which (paraphrased) said it was basically no big deal and only a few paragraphs, seems to have been changed in the time that it took for me to read the article, and the version of the article now in place.

The earlier version read like this, which I had to go and find on the 11:00 am version still carried on the ABC 7 affiliate's website:

[...] "I made mistakes," Olesker said as he cleaned out his desk.

Olesker wrote a twice-a-week column in the Maryland section for 27 years, having served in other capacities for two years. His most recent column appeared Tuesday, his last day.

"I am sorry to say that in the course of doing those columns, I unintentionally screwed up a handful of paragraphs. I am embarrassed by my sloppiness," he said. [...]

Now, why the updated article didn't carry that, I don't know. It now reads much more sympathetically toward Olesker, at least to me, but it does seem strange that the whole article would be rewritten so thoroughly.

In any event, I'm sure it's easy to be caught up in such things in an environment where there seems to be a sort of general understanding of just how much you can steal before it's called stealing. The problem seems to be much more one of transparency--no one seems willing to let the readership in on the secret handshake or high-sign, and at least for me, it leads to a profound sense of mistrust over what gets reported. Much like the updated version of the story, with no mention of earlier versions that might have colored things differently, it's difficult to feel comfortable that you've received factual information.

As for embarrassment and sloppiness, sorry, but there are a lot more media types out there who pump out embarrassing handfuls of slop on a daily basis--either take it like a man and admit it went beyond mere sloppiness, or just shut up about it. If it really was just a matter of slop, no one would be asking you to pack up a paper box with your belongings, and I think you'd probably be having a bigger fit about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:50 PM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2005

Radio Secret

I generally don't listen to the radio with any tremendous enthusiasm--I only listen to it at home if there's a football game on, or if we're crammed into the laundry room waiting on a tornado. The drive-time usage of Mr. Marconi's miracle isn't any more special--I listen in mainly for something to keep me awake. I can tolerate the occasional dose of NPR, and I do like Whaddya Know and The Tappet Brothers. I like old-timey hillbilly music, which doesn't come on a lot, but not country music, which does come on a lot. I will occasionally listen to the talk radio guys, especially if I'm out at lunch. Mornings I've been listening to the Two Sexiest Fat Men Alive (present company excluded), although not with any really tremendous enthusiasm. I think they're funny sometimes, but sometimes not. But they haven't done anything to make me just turn the radio completely off.

One thing I've never listened to, though, are any of the religious stations in town. But I will say this right now--on January 3, I'm gonna start. And that's ALL I can say about it until later.

Now then--that was an awfully big build-up for nothing, wasn't it! Well, just be patient, and my reasoning will become clear very soon.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:01 PM | Comments (6)

December 13, 2005

News? Commentary? Like it really matters.

It's interesting in a time when news organizations seem to sweat a great deal what to call terrorists, and make great howling noises when anyone dares question their self-proclaimed neutrality, it seems you still can't help but see stuff like this on a regular basis:

12/13/2005, 6:11 a.m. CT
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush says racial issues had nothing to do with the federal government's appalling reaction to Hurricane Katrina.

"Appalling" being entirely a judgment call. Sure, the government could have done better--because it is an organization run by fallible humans, who, despite the mantle of power, are still human and still subject to human error. But appalling? Compared to what? From the few stories that have dared to compare the results of this versus the reaction time in past disasters, it was about the same.

It gets better--

Bush said -- quote -- "You can call me anything you want, but do not call me a racist."

The sentence is IN quote marks--you don't have to SAY "quote" unless you're on the television or radio where people can't see the quote marks themselves. It almost seems as though the "writer" is doing his best to wink and nod and make air quotes with his fingers to indicate he thinks Bush is the reincarnation of Simon Legree.

It gets better, though, when we see that the "reporter" isn't doing much more than reporting on watching the teevee.

In an interview with "NBC Nightly News," Bush said he saw televised pictures showing the government's faltering response to Katrina.

He says his first thought was that there was a breakdown of communications between all levels of government after the August 29th hurricane.

This is when I have to ask again about the supposed superiority the professionals tout when they bluster about those silly biased online -- quote -- "bloggers," who dare print something without the aid of an editor. "Bush said" quickly shifts tense to "He says." Then there's the next sentence--

The president says that rumors that Bush didn't respond more quickly because he is racist are "absolutely wrong."

...in which it seems that the President has now taken to speaking of himself in the third person.

Bush spoke with Brian Williams, anchor of "NBC Nightly News," in the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One en route to Pennsylvania and backstage at the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia, where Bush was making a speech on Iraq.

So, about the only sentence where there were no language gaffes or outright commentary is the last one about the actual source of the information in the article.

Now obviously, one silly short article can't tar an entire news organization such as the AP. But still, if I was the AP, and I put myself out there as a paragon of honest reportage free of bias, and went so far as to publish a language usage stylebook with "AP" in big letters on it, then this kind of crap wouldn't be allowed out in decent society.

UPDATE: An updated story is now out (the original was posted at 6:11 a.m., the update at 7:51 a.m.) that is much better written, and much clearer about who is saying what about whom. It is still, however, a report done sitting in front of the teevee--which is fine, I suppose, but I can't really see how such a setup would give the AP a big warm fuzzy feeling inside. I mean, anyone can watch TV.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:33 AM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2005

Yet more from the tiny violin concerto

Woodward explains silence in leak case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward dismissed claims that he should have revealed his role in the CIA leak case when he discussed the investigation on news interview shows.

Woodward said on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night: "Every time somebody appears on your show talking about the news or giving some sort of analysis, there are going to be things that they can't talk about." [...]

But what of the public's right to know, there Bobbo?

"Woodward again acknowledged that he should have told his editor at the Post.

I have a great relationship with Len Downie, the editor of the Post, and I was trying to avoid being subpoenaed," Woodward said. "And I should have, as I have many, many times, taken him into my confidence. And I did not."

Oh, well, you know, as long as you had a good reason and all.

The Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell wrote in Sunday's editions that Woodward erred by publicly commenting on the case on King's show and on National Public Radio without mentioning that a top Bush administration official had told him the name of a covert CIA officer.

Howell wrote that Woodward had committed a "deeply serious sin ... the kind that can get even a very good reporter in the doghouse for a very long time." [...]

Heh. "Sin," huh? Must be using it in the sense of, "It's a sin, but, you know, we don't really BELIEVE in 'sin,' because that's what all those filthy narrow-minded red state Bible-thumpers believe in. But we want to act like we're really angry and mad, and so we'll say he 'sinned' and that he might even get put 'in the doghouse' over it. 'For a very long time.' Stupid bunch o' rubes'll think we actually mean business."

Now you know why they have such high regard for the feckless, dithering United Nations.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Okay, so I really enjoy using the word schadenfreude.

Via Best of the Web, this post from Mediabistro about loose lips on the WaPo ship.

It is simultaneously humorous (unintentionally, of course), instructive, and deeply disturbing. I doubt you could find a more myopic, self-centered, fatuous, and hypocritical bunch outside of Congress or a junior high school. It also serves as handy proof of Twain's aphorism about if you hold your tongue some might think you a fool, but once you speak up, it removes all doubt.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:13 PM | Comments (4)

November 03, 2005

Adventures in Headline Writing!

Top former Auburn RBs coming face-to-face

By JENNA FRYER

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Two of the top runners in Auburn history will come face-to-face for the first time this weekend when Stephen Davis and the Carolina Panthers play Cadillac Williams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. [...]

Well, unless one of them has decided to become a defensive player, the ony time they're going to meet each other face to face is either before or after the game. Or they've decided to make the game into a single-player version where no one but Davis and Williams are let onto the field.

That might actually be sorta fun, but I remember when I played like that when I was little, it was very tiring and you never really could pass the ball to yourself very well.

Silly journalist.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2005

Say what?

Well, bird flu is bad. Not only because it's deadly, but because think how insipid "bird flu" sounds. Now, the Spanish flu--that was scary sounding.

Making the bird flu even more unfashionable sounding is the insistence by several local reporters and news anchors around here pronouncing it as if they're saying Evian flu, like the bottled water brand. Something of an unaccented schwa + Vee sound on the front, then a drawn out and stressed AHHHN sound on the end. It points out something I have often wondered about--do reporters not watch other news reporters, and maybe get some clues on pronouncing common words? I remember one local goob who pronounced "rhinocerous" as "rino-SEHR-us."

But avian? A-vee-'n.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:03 PM | Comments (3)

September 29, 2005

More Media Hijinx

This photo is on Yahoo! News right now, with this as the first part of the caption: "Yuhui, a young orangutan, practises weightlifting in ChongQing Safari Park in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, September 26, 2005. [...]"

Frankly, I don't believe that barbell is that heavy. And second, I really don't think that's an orangutan, unless young orangutans start out as chimpanzees.

Of course, the photo IS from Reuters, so I suppose facts really shouldn't stand in the way of getting to the truth of the matter--i.e., George Bush's refusal to comply with the Kyoto protocols is causing monkeys in China to gain superhuman strength.

And yes, this is just an excuse to have a monkey picture.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2005

If a dead tree falls...

...in the media forest, does anyone really care?

Well, I don't know, but probably they should, if nothing else than for nostalgia's sake. It's taken a while, but the Birmingham Post-Herald has finally decided to throw in the towel. Of course, the news reached the wire before they had even updated their webpage (As of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, it is still Wednesday in P-H-land.)

Here's a version of the story from Editor & Publisher--being part of the legacy media, it seems even in death the Po'-Herald can't help but blame someone else:

NEW YORK The afternoon daily in Birmingham, Ala., will be no more after this Friday, The E. W. Scripps Company, owner of the newspaper, announced today.

The closing of The Post-Herald, a five-day afternoon newspaper, also marks the end of a joint operating agreement between Scripps and Advance Publications Inc., owner of the seven-day morning paper, The Birmingham News, which manages the printing, marketing, and distribution of both Birmingham newspapers. The JOA was scheduled to run until 2015.

According to a Scripps statement, "the economics of publishing The Post-Herald were no longer favorable."

The latest FAS-FAX in April showed the p.m. daily with an average circulation of just 7,544, down from 8,948 the previous year.

“The Post-Herald has a long tradition of journalistic excellence and community service, but Scripps was left with no choice but to face economic realities,” Richard A. Boehne, The E. W. Scripps Company's executive vice president and head of the company's newspaper division, said in his statement. “The Post-Herald's talented and dedicated staff produces an excellent newspaper, but unfortunately the Birmingham market has made it clear that it will no longer support an afternoon edition.” [...]

Oh, cry me a river, boys. The Birmingham market--like markets anywhere else--will respond if you give them something worth buying. The Post-Herald has been struggling valiantly the past couple of years since it swapped its long-running morning news spot with the Birmingham News, and the most noticeable sign of this late struggle was their insistence on publishing EVERY SINGLE ISSUE WITH GIANT 72 POINT HEADLINES!! The quality--such as it is--was no better nor worse than anything else on the market. There was no compelling reason to read it, and thus you have the sad end to a paper that wraps up with only 7600 readers in a metro area with a population of over a million people. The old Scripps-Howard tagline--"Give the people light and they will find their own way"--well, there never really was much light there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (6)

September 16, 2005

Uh-huh--Riiiiiiight.

Reuters "news" service comes at us with this jewel: Power-dressing man leaves trail of destruction

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.

Frank Clewer, who was wearing a woolen shirt and a synthetic nylon jacket, was oblivious to the growing electrical current that was building up as his clothes rubbed together.

When he walked into a building in the country town of Warrnambool in the southern state of Victoria Thursday, the electrical charge ignited the carpet.

"It sounded almost like a firecracker," Clewer told Australian radio Friday.

"Within about five minutes, the carpet started to erupt."

Employees, unsure of the cause of the mysterious burning smell, telephoned firefighters who evacuated the building.

"There were several scorch marks in the carpet, and we could hear a cracking noise -- a bit like a whip -- both inside and outside the building," said fire official Henry Barton.

Firefighters cut electricity to the building thinking the burns might have been caused by a power surge.
Clewer, who after leaving the building discovered he had scorched a piece of plastic on the floor of his car, returned to seek help from the firefighters.

"We tested his clothes with a static electricity field meter and measured a current of 40,000 volts, which is one step shy of spontaneous combustion, where his clothes would have self-ignited," Barton said.

"I've been firefighting for over 35 years and I've never come across anything like this," he said.

Firefighters took possession of Clewer's jacket and stored it in the courtyard of the fire station, where it continued to give off a strong electrical current.

David Gosden, a senior lecturer in electrical engineering at Sydney University, told Reuters that for a static electricity charge to ignite a carpet, conditions had to be perfect.

"Static electricity is a similar mechanism to lightning, where you have clouds rubbing together and then a spark generated by very dry air above them," said Gosden.

Geez--and people wonder why no one trusts the media.

A. It says when he walked in the building, he sparked and the carpet caught fire, yet the employees weren't able to determine where the smell was coming from?

B. If he touched a door handle on the way in, it would have dissipated the charge before he even entered the building. Or, you know, if he was walking on the ground or something.

C. A cracking noise inside and OUTSIDE the building? You could hear it in BOTH places? Really!?

D. Scorched a piece of plastic in the floor of his car? Even though the car is grounded?

E. The firefighters tested his clothes with a static electricity field meter? Is this something they carry with them on the truck? And they tested his clothes--after touching them, which would cause any lingering charge to dissipate, and there was still 40,000 volts showing?!

F. And somehow 40,000 volts is somehow equivalent to heat? More volts and cloth catches on fire!? So, like, the rubber insulation on high tension wires that carry hundreds of thousands of volts doesn't catch on fire because....? Maybe it's just me, but I sure thought amperage would come into play here.

G. The jacket was taken and stored in a courtyard, and it somehow managed to CONTINUE to give off current, without any rubbing or other way of inducting a charge, and with no place for current to flow? It switched from a source of static electricity to producing measurable CURRENT!? And this current is measured using volts and not amps?

Ladies and gentlemen, that's one magic jacket.

Thanks, Reuters, for bringing us this amazing story before Weekly World News got ahold of it.

LUCKILY FOR US, The Standard has an alternative version, that is just as illogical, but less fun because it points out that there was no danger from Mr. Clewer's clothing because the amperage level was so low--yet they still managed to burn plastic?

Buncha crazy antipodes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:36 PM | Comments (8)

September 13, 2005

Liberal Media Bias?

Oh, come off it.

It's just a picture of eyes, nothing more. Deeply disturbed, evil whitebread fanatofascist Rovian Chimpy McHitlerburton God-botherer eyes, true, but overall, not the least bit out of place in examining the facts surrounding the confirmation hearings.

I would like to add, however, that Roberts' reaction was probably triggered by seeing Senator Kennedy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:04 PM | Comments (9)

September 12, 2005

And this just in...

Headphone use may worsen hearing loss

In related stories--

Staring at Sun may damage eyesight

Inhaling large quantities of water may promote drowning

Scissors and groin area potentially unsafe mixture

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2005

Cool! The stories write themselves before they even happen!

In what seems to have become an increasingly common occurence, yet another reporter transports into the future to tell us what it will be like later on today.

Bush commemorates end of World War II
8/30/2005, 5:01 a.m. CT

By LIZ SIDOTI

The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Bush, facing a public increasingly uncomfortable with his Iraq policies, is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II while likening that 20th-century conflict to current wars.

With a San Diego naval base as a backdrop Tuesday, the president was to praise World War II veterans in a speech two weeks after the anniversary of the Aug. 14, 1945, surrender by Japan that ended World War II. [...]

After a short blurb by Scotty McClellan, the story shifts to past tense (which is fine for the stuff that happened yesterday) and further, it shifts away from the putative point of the story (commemorating the end of WWII) then back again to future tense, then to a complete and full recitation of the various acts in Cirque du Cindy and a litany of other things that serve no purpose except to let us know nothing except the reporter's opinion of President Bush. Which is just fine, but would be better labeled as commentary rather than actual reportage. Y'know, accuracy and all.

And yes, I realize reporters go ahead and write what they want to ahead of time--just all part of the business, eh? But, hey guys and gals--please just go ahead and drop the "disinterested observer of events" schtick, okay? When you get caught like this, it just looks silly. Or, sillier than usual.

I'm just glad these folks have the benefit of editors. Just think how crappy it would be if they didn't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2005

Pointless specificity.

China, Russia Wrap Up Military Exercise

I quit reading after the first sentence--

BEIJING - Thousands of Chinese and Russian troops wrapped up their historic first joint military exercises Thursday with a mock invasion by paratroopers on China's east coast. [...]

China has a west coast?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2005

Stupid Looking Teevee Shows That I Promise I Will Not Watch, Based Entirely On Their Promos

E-Ring. (NBC) How about Bo-ring. I know I'll be Sno-ring. Quite possibly the stupidest, most vile promos of the whole bunch, the only thing that could make it plausible is if Hopper grabbed an oxygen mask and fondled a scrap of blue velvet.

Invasion. (ABC) Creepy alien things in Florida? NO! WAY! DUDE!

Ghost Whisperer. (CBS) Jennifer Love Hewitt talks to ghosts. One might even be her career.

Thankfully, there will always be Andy Griffith reruns.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:07 PM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2005

Really!?

Million-dollar sales keep Gulf property out of average buyer's reach

And this just in:

"Solid Gold Toilets Pricey, Out of Reach for Most Consumers"

"Learjet Sales to Poor, Middle Class Families Still Not Taking Off"

"Faced With Grim Choice, Many Choose Buying Food Over Luxury Mansions"

"Wealthy People Found to Have More Money Than Poorer People"

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

The News on the News

So, as I was mentioning yesterday afternoon, The Wendy Garner Show in the mornings on our local NBC affiliate only has four more days before the changeover to the new crew of anchors. I had heard rumblings about a potential change from the show's namesake (and for the record, the actual name of the program is "Today in Alabama") a couple of weeks ago, but for obvious reasons she couldn't let on exactly what was happening, until the station released the story to other media outlets. The first was a story in the Birmingham Post-Herald (motto "We're Not The Birmingham News--No, Really, We're Not!) which is where I first heard of who the replacements would be.

Doing a quick bit of Googling directed me to the stories I linked to yesterday, along with this one about the Pittsburgh Pugilist leaving her former place of employ to spend more time with her kids--certainly a noble thing to do, although coming on the heels of her public indelicacies didn't really sound all that plausible. Particularly of note is this quote from the article:

[...] In October 2002, Redmond was sentenced to community service after pleading no contest to slapping a former WPXI producer, Roberta Petterson, girlfriend of former PCNC "NightTalk" host John McIntire.

"That has nothing to do with her departure," Maday said.

"I figured some people would ask this, but really it is about my family and children," Redmond said. "If this was about last year, it would have happened last year."

Regardless, Redmond's departure is probably a boon to the station's image and a relief to executives. Last year's incident and Channel 11's handling of the situation did not sit well with some viewers. [emphasis added] [...]

Now, in the greater scheme of things, this whole tawdry little exercise really doesn't amount to much, but I do find it fascinating how this bit of factual information gets spun by folks in the local market. Obviously, NBC13 wasn't about to mention it, but people ARE able to Google just as well as I can, and the station was starting to get some rumblings from other members of the Fourth Estate about her history.

Enter the knights on shining steeds at the Birmingham News, where this incident is noted thusly (from the article in Sunday's paper):

[...] Since NBC 13 announced last week that it hired Redmond, a spate of e-mails has made the rounds about an incident that happened in August 2002, while she was the late-night news anchor at WPXI in Pittsburgh.

A former WPXI producer accused Redmond of striking her at a party. Redmond pleaded no-contest - which is not an admission of guilt - and agreed to perform three hours of community service.

The station stuck behind Redmond, and when she left to spend more time with her young children, it was her decision, WPXI general manager Ray Carter says.

"People can speculate, but the incident had happened a full year and a half before we parted company," Carter says. "If we were going to get rid of Gina, we probably would have done it right after the incident." [...]

Clever on several levels--first of all, the insinuation that the whole thing is one of those Internet things--just a "spate of e-mails," that "made the rounds."

You KNOW how those INTERNET people are, right? Always spating the rounds.

Again, doing a bit of searching online, you can see very well that the story was covered by actual newspapers--this wasn't just some whispering campaign. Second, if you read those articles, the incident wasn't just one of those "she said/she said" sorts of things--the incident actually happened. Not allegedly, not rumored. Third, the nolo contendre plea itself was disputed, when the defendant decided she didn't understand what she'd plead to. Which is kinda sad for a reporter, because they certainly do put themselves forward as experts on everything. And despite the continuted protestations to the contrary, the controversy did have a deleterious effect on the station.

Again though, what does it really matter? Not really that much, but it does point out a flaw about our beloved news scribes, in that they seem to be quite willing to cover up their own biases and indescretions, yet can't quite seem to extend that to others. How many thousands of words have been typed about that dastardly John Bolton who once made someone uncomfortable by being short and cross with them?! Grind him up! How DARE he raise his voice!

Yet, you turn around and see something like this, and you wonder why it can't be covered without sycophancy. Not that it's necessary to go out of the way to embarrass the woman, (although if this were a local businesswoman, she'd be pilloried), but it would be nice to not so airily dismiss uncomfortable truths for the sake of a happy little paper story that makes the teevee boys happy. The unwillingness of the old-line media to apply the same standards of ethics to itself that it requires of others, and the insistence that its actions are driven by only the purest of motives, is one of the reasons for the rise of alternative media. Not as a replacement for the media, but as a tool to insure what's being reported is accurate. A free press is vital to a democratic nation, but it sure would be nice to have one whose members didn't seem to think they had been granted some sort of magical superiority and freedom from scrutiny themselves.

Oh well.

ANYway, going back to the whole reason for the change in the first place--poor Channel 13 has struggled mightily for years to make some headway against the local Fox station's morning show, which by dint of its ancient history stretching back to the early 1960s when it was "The Tom York Morning Show", has long been the leader in the market. Everyone has tried to knock it off, but it keeps happily, blithely plodding along. That molasses-like pace is one of the reasons I started watching the NBC show--there's more coverage of a greater variety of stories, and I don't have to endure listening to someone read the news and mispronouncing every other word. Basically just a better quality show, even if not as many people watch it.

But, the ratings are what count (what a shock, eh?) and local managers are always under pressure to get the numbers up. Which is fine--it's their job to try stuff, but this doesn't seem like a particularly well-thought-out move. New faces are nice to have, but when the focus is intended to be locally oriented, it seems strange to bring in someone with absolutely no tie to the area (discounting completely any misgivings one might have about her need to wear padded mittens). Sports guy (and a nice guy as well) Jim Dunaway, the guy counterpart in the new anchor mix, is already part of the local scene and the station, and it just seems odd that if the station could promote him, why not one of the other host of folks they have on payroll? Or, why not hire somebody else from outside for the position--I hear Mike Tyson needs a job.

It all just seems like a very odd change, and not one that was given much thought, or with any concern about what viewers might think. But I suppose that's asking too much, isn't it?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:24 AM | Comments (16)

June 22, 2005

"Liberal"?!

I am shocked, SHOCKED, I say!

Just noted this little fidgety blurb from USA Today about the new Hillary book, and the unlikely (to the reporter's mind, at least) instance where some conservatives have said it's trash. What struck me as the funniest thing had nothing to do with the subject itself, but this tortured little paragraph:

[...] Some of the influential, conservative "bloggers" who have used their Internet journals to raise questions about the "liberal" media and to spread damaging information about Democratic politicians said they won't endorse The Truth About Hillary. [...]

Heh. Awful lot of quote marks in there. Instructive is that they are used around "bloggers" and "liberal."

The first instance is somewhat understandable, give that there are probably about twelve people who are still unfamiliar with blogging, and all of them read USA Today, but the second is the corker. Does the writer use the quotes to indicate that the word liberal is as peculiar to his readers as the word blogger? Or does he find the idea of liberal media ironic? Does he believe it wrong for others to attempt to label his profession, while he himself is rather adept at labelling the critics he writes about? I mean, there aren't any quote marks around influential, or conservative.

Oh, who knows. It just comes across to me as him trying to say, "...a tiny group of Rove's lapdogs who are stupid and backwards, and who write things no one ever reads because they're stupid backward BLOGGERS (yet, who somehow manage to get all the glory, while I sit here taking a week to hammer some sort of controversy together that simultaneously exposes these self-righteous goons who DON'T EVEN HAVE AN EDITOR OR A DEADLINE as the Rovian lapdogs they are, while simultaneously defending the media as unbiased paragons of rectitude) THOSE GUYS, well, even THEY think this book is unfair, so vote for Hillary in 2008." Of course, that is rather wordy, so maybe he was right to stick with those very clever quote mark things.

One other thing struck me as sort of comical--this quote down at the end:

[...] Klein does have his supporters. Former representative John LeBoutillier, R-N.Y., wrote Tuesday in a column on NewsMax.com that the book "is a must-read for all of us who want to stop (Sen. Clinton) from being president." He called it "a well-crafted portrayal of Hillary's lifetime plan to get herself to the Oval Office - at all costs."

WHAT!? She wants to be the WHAT!? WHO KNEW!?

Look, if you never realized she had political ambitions and an ego to match LBJ's, then you've been living under a rock. But she's as astute a politician as anyone I've seen, and all this junk has been around for years, and it has hardly fazed her. She did manage to get herself elected as a Senator from New York, after all, which is harder than you might think.

Attacking her for being ambitious, and venal, and morally ambivalent, and thick-ankled, and shrewish, and mendacious, and opportunistic, and somewhat married to Bill--none of that is going to have any more traction this time around than it did in the '90s. There's a large enough segment of the big middle ground of the electorate--even with the rise of conservatism in the past election cycles--who would strongly consider voting for her. If the Republicans are going to mount an effective defense against her, it's going to have to be more than complaining that she's avaricious.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:07 PM | Comments (4)

June 14, 2005

Well, bless his little heart.

Spicoli's in Persia, and asking the tough questions!

[...] On Sunday he tackled Shi'ite Muslim cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who leads opinion polls, about U.S. criticism of the election after hundreds of hopefuls were barred from running by a panel of religious hard-liners.

Rafsanjani, 70, a wily pragmatist who favors better ties with the United States, pointed out that Iran was fielding eight candidates for president -- a larger choice than American voters had at their polls in November.

"If the number of candidates is a proof of democracy, we are ... better than the Americans in this regard," newspapers quoted Rafsanjani as telling Penn. [...]

Now, the problem isn't the question, nor the answer.

The problem is that this little bit of propaganda is presented to us without the least bit of that famed journalistic circumspection our betters in the Fourth Estate keep telling us they possess. I'm sure Mr. Spicoli is probably applauding himself, because the answer Rafsanjani gave more or less replicates his own view of the situation. Although Penn probably thinks we only had one candidate, who through a series of nefarious conspiracies was able to produce a mind beam capable of causing a majority of voters to pull the lever for him instead of anyone who was not a chimp.

BE THAT AS IT MAY, it might be good for everyone to recall that although there are indeed only a few major party candidates, and they get all the media attention, the actual amount of people officially running for Pres during 2004 was at least FIFTY-FIVE. Sure, a lot of them were loons (as you can tell if you read any of the linked information), and some weren't on the ballot in every state, but if we're going to get lectured, let's at least understand that these folks got to run, and try to get votes, and weren't selected by some bunch of guys in bathrobes. Does anyone really think--even Sean--that Marilyn Chambers could have run for Vice (heh) President in Iran? Now, in fairness, Mr. Penn might make this point in his story, although I do rather doubt it, given that willfully ignorant credulity seems to be a rather long suit with him.

Anyway, it's not like the press is there to present a balanced view or anything, so I don't guess I have anything to complain about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

And what of that celebrity birthday I spoke of at the start of the day?

Well, friends, in addition to tomorrow being National Doughnut Day, it also marks the birthday of none other than Wendy Garner!

Happy Birthday to you, Miss Wendy!

Some of you might recall that Wendy and her family go to church with Citizen Captain Frank Myers and his family, and she tells me that Frank's much-anticipated homecoming from Iraq is scheduled for the July 4th weekend. All of you be sure to keep Frank and his wife and kids in your prayers--he works in a dangerous sort of place, and Renee's job as a military wife is a tough one, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

Ouch.

Constitution foes fear for France's soul

By Tom Hundley
Tribune foreign correspondent
Thu May 26, 9:40 AM ET

Such are the depths of Francois Vincent's disdain for the new European constitution that he recently uttered words that have not passed the lips of many Frenchmen.

"I would rather be an American than a European," said Vincent, 63, who owns a vegetable stall in one of Paris' open-air markets. "At least Americans love their country." [...]

Well, maybe the reporter has just been listening to the wrong Frenchmen. But not to worry--he did later find someone to provide the necessary and required contradiction.

For what it's worth, I'd rather M. Vincent were an American instead of a European, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:39 PM | Comments (2)

Now THAT'S a long time to be nekkid.

Mich. inmates sue over being held naked

Aside from the obvious unintended humor of the headline, there is also this sentence from within the story itself:

[...] The county has acknowledged that it held some inmates naked — including [plaintiff Linda] Rose and all 21 of the other plaintiffs — from 1996 through 2001. [...]

Even Ed. nods, apparently.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:11 PM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2005

Fake, But Accurate, Redux

Hard to believe. Well, not really.

Faults found in online reporter's stories

By TED BRIDIS
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — An investigation over the sourcing and accuracy of roughly 160 news stories by a freelance journalist at a leading Internet news site concluded that the existence of more than 40 people quoted in the articles could not be confirmed.

Wired News, which publishes some articles from Wired magazine, disclosed results late Monday of its review into stories by one of its frequent contributors, Michelle Delio, 37, of New York City. The stories covered subjects that ranged from computer viruses to the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The review determined that dozens of people cited in articles by Delio, primarily during the past 18 months, could not be located. Nearly all the people who were cited as sources and who could not be located had common names and occupations and were reported to be living in large metropolitan regions.

Almost none of the information attributed to the disputed sources was considered significant. The disputed quotations typically supported details elsewhere in the articles.

Almost none. I almost feel so much better now that that's been cleared up.

Delio said Monday the investigation "concluded that my stories did not contain fabricated news, that key information in all the stories checked out and that all primary sources were located." She said she regretted not keeping contact information for all her sources.

Well, that's just complete vindication, now ain't it! And nice to see she's not the least bit defensive about all the made-up crap that she didn't consider key information. One wonders, however, why it got in a story in the first place if it wasn't considered key information. Don't these people have editors or something? I mean, if I want made-up piles of useless information, I can do that myself. Anyway--

In a private e-mail Delio sent to Wired News executives last month and obtained by The Associated Press, she said she wanted to "present my side of this sad saga."

"I don't understand why my credibility and career is now hanging solely on finding minor sources that contributed color quotes to stories I filed months and years ago," she wrote. Delio said that among hundreds of articles she wrote for the organization, there "isn't one story that contains fabricated news." [...]

Cry me a river, sister. If you can't understand why anyone might take offense, maybe you need to consider an alternative line of employment. Maybe run for office or something.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon

CLOVIS, N.M. - A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito.

Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High.

The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt.

"I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," school Principal Diana Russell said.

Yeah. Me too.

State police, Clovis police and the Curry County Sheriff's Department arrived at the school shortly after 8:30 a.m. They searched the premises and determined there was no immediate danger.

Immediate danger is right. But I'd say that they'd be prudent to douse any open flames a couple of hours after the kid finishes his burrito, or you'll have a conflagration to rival that of Rome burning.

In the meantime, more than 30 parents, alerted by a radio report, descended on the school. Visibly shaken, they gathered around in a semi-circle, straining their necks, awaiting news.

"There needs to be security before the kids walk through the door," said Heather Black, whose son attends the school.

Yeah. Me too.

After the lockdown was lifted but before the burrito was identified as the culprit, parents pulled 75 students out of school, Russell said.

Russell said the mystery was solved after she brought everyone in the school together in the auditorium to explain what was going on.

"The kid was sitting there as I'm describing this (report of a student with a suspicious package) and he's thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, they're talking about my burrito.'"

Dude, you ever have one of those dreams, where there's like, the whole school, and like, they're all talking about your burrito? Well, it was like that!

Afterward, eighth-grader Michael Morrissey approached her.

Exciting, ain't it!

"He said, 'I think I'm the person they saw,'" Russell said.

The burrito was part of Morrissey's extra-credit assignment to create commercial advertising for a product.

"We had to make up a product and it could have been anything. I made up a restaurant that specialized in oddly large burritos," Morrissey said.

I'd say he needs an A for that one. As long as there are not oddly plastic-headed corporate shills to go along with it.

After students heard the description of what police were looking for, he and his friends began to make the connection. He then took the burrito to the office.

"The police saw it and everyone just started laughing. It was a laughter of relief," Morrissey said.

Again, this whole idea of relief better be matched with some sense of fire safety...

"Oh, and I have a new nickname now. It's Burrito Boy."

Me and Mama is so proud!

ANYway--that's all for today, I promise. All of you be careful with your oddly large burritos, 'kay?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:53 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2005

Adventures in Headline Writing!

Hasidic Reggae Star Not Just a Novelty

No, of course not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:39 AM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2005

From the "Adventures in Headline Writing" File II!

Study: Cloned meat, milk nearly the same

As...?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (5)

From the "Adventures in Headline Writing" File!

Restless Leg Syndrome Runs in Families, Study Says

Heh--those Reuters guys just crack me up!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2005

From the "Adventures in Headline Writing" File!

Young people find political involvement takes commitment

Huh?

It reminds me of the old joke about the chicken and the pig who were hungry for breakfast. The pig asks the chicken, "What would you like to eat?"

"I think I would like a great big plate of ham and eggs," says Chicken.

"Whoa," says Pig, "you'd only be involved. I would be committed!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)