Category Archives: Blogosphere

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 2, 2015

North to Alaska: POTUS checks out some fjords.

North to Alaska: POTUS checks out some fjords.

It’s been a busy day for me, but here are some topics to discuss amongst yourselves:

  1. Obama secures votes to clinch Iran victory in Congress — We’ve seen this coming for a couple of days, but before that, it would have surprised me. How did we get here? It seemed like all Republicans and some Democrats were against it, so… what happened? ‘Splain the math to me…
  2. Chinese Navy Ships Operating in Bering Sea Off Alaska Coast — Fascinating development. I heard a story on the radio yesterday about how the Russians are using their icebreaker fleet to open shipping routes to Europe through the Arctic (the Northwest Passage!), and now this. All this as Obama becomes first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle. It’s “Ice Station Zebra” time.
  3. U.S. Stocks Regain Footing — Now that’s more like. This is the kind of story I want to read, if forced to read financial news. Don’t give me any more of that junk like yesterday. Got that?
  4. Draft Biden super PAC hires SC staff — Meanwhile, Inez Tenenbaum and Gerald Malloy will be state co-chairs of the effort.
  5. Trump: Jeb Bush Should Be ‘Speaking English’ — Because he hadn’t said anything truly outrageous all week, so he was due.


Virtual Front Page for Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A few topics to chew over:

  1. Stocks Tumble on China Worries — WSJ— Looks like the WSJ got confused and posted a headline from last week.
  2. U.S. using secret drone campaign to hunt ISIS leaders — WashPost — This kind of warfare is more Obama’s style. Washington Post exclusive.

  3. 13 USC fraternities suspended from recruitment — — Speaking, as we were earlier, about people who have odd priorities when it comes to higher education… I’m curious: Were any of y’all in fraternities or sororities? Why?
  4. Special Report: How U.S. police turn drivers into moving targetsThe Guardian — British news outlets find American gun violence endlessly fascinating. Oh, speaking of which…
  5. Columbia policeman fired after off-duty shooting incident — — They say he managed to shoot himself as well, which is at least a new wrinkle.
  6. Idris Elba, Daniel Craig and Bond: Can the Man, and Franchise, Change? — WSJ — Before I can picture this, I need to see him play someone other than Stringer Bell.
He's cool, but is he, specifically, BOND cool?

He’s cool, but is he, specifically, BOND cool?

Check my back, OK? I think there’s a Russian following me…


OK, yeah, I know; I shouldn’t make jokes about people’s nationalities.

It’s just that this guy started following me sometime in the last 24 hours, and I tend to click on new followers to see who they are, and I was intrigued by (what I take to be) the Cyrillic text on his feed. (In fact, he may not be Russian at all. I’m too ignorant to tell. Can you tell?)

Then I tapped on his avatar (this was on my iPad), and got this super grainy, black-and-white image that immediately reminded me of the blurry surveillance image of Karla that George Smiley kept on the wall of his office.

And then, the image moved. It stretched and distorted itself to become more blurry, then popped back into shape, then did it all again. I checked; it wasn’t a GIF. It was a PNG. Can PNG’s do that?

I’m not making this up. Look at his feed and watch the avatar on one of his Tweets, just for a few seconds. See it jump? Roll your mouse pointer over it. Does it do it now?

So who is this guy? According to Facebook, he’s a cipher, a complete question mark — unless I ask to be his “friend.” Yeah, right — I do that, and next thing you know I show up on his expense reports to Moscow Centre as a new agent. Then, the next defector we get tells the boys at Langley or MI6 that they’ve turned me, and I’ve got a permanent cloud over me. I’m not falling for that.

And what’s that background image on Twitter? Is that a raven? Is it saying, “никогда больше?”

Again, sorry. I’ve just started reading The Art of Betrayal: The Secret History of MI6, by Gordon Corera, and I’m in the chapter about Vienna right after the war, when everybody was trying to recruit everybody else, and so I’m, well, I’ve got this sort of thing on the brain.

Sorry. (If I say “sorry” a couple more times, I think I’ll have established my cover as a Brit.)…


A trip through the Wayback Machine


While working on a presentation later this week on the subject of blogging, I went back and looked at some of my early efforts.

Specifically, I went back to January 2008, my peak blogging month ever.

Looking back, I’m fairly impressed.

If you want to go back and explore, just click on the image above, you’ll go back in time, and you’ll find the links work (or at least SOME of them do) and everything.


Open Thread for Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Washington Post unveiled a spiffy new browser interface today. Not sure I like it -- I think I could see more headlines on the screen with the old one.

The Washington Post unveiled a spiffy new browser interface today. Not sure I like it — I think I could see more headlines on the screen with the old one.

A few things to talk about:

  1. U.S. Stocks Close Sharply Higher in Global Rally — That’s the good news. Figured you could use some.
  2. Austria Finds Up to 50 Bodies in Truck Left on Side of Road — And all those Trump supporters think we have an immigration problem in this country. Take a look at this map showing all the ways people are flowing into Europe.
  3. Possible Biden run puts Obama fundraising network on high alert — Here’s the really fascinating fact in this report: Of the 770 fund-raisers who helped Obama’s 2012 campaign, only 52 are working for Hillary. Did you realize how much of the Democratic establishment wasn’t on board with Ms. Inevitable? Neither did I. So James Smith was right in what he told me. And Chris Cillizza kind of has egg on his face for having reported that “It’s too late” for Biden because “virtually every major fundraiser in the party — including many who were once Biden people — is now on Clinton’s team.” Assuming this report is the one that’s right. Very intriguing.
  4. Trump speaks to ‘silent majority’ in SC campaign stop — So now he’s Nixon? Did he bring Checkers with him? From what I’ve read of this report, what he had to say was all the usual stuff.
  5. Virginia shooting sparks renewed calls for gun control but old obstacles remain — In yet another example of how people in other countries just marvel over our tolerance for gun violence, this is leading The Guardian while U.S. media outlets have moved on.

No, seriously, Dude — we would never shift you on this…

A Facebook friend of a Facebook friend, Curtis Rogers, spotted this on the Weather Channel’s page and grabbed it before they could take it down.

Looks like we’re in for some shifty weather. Millions of people are going to be in deep shift. Apparently, the shift is really going to roll downhill here in the Carolinas. And so forth:

shifty weather

Open Thread for Monday, August 24, 2015

Biden at the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting, way back in 2006.

Biden at the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting, way back in 2006.

Some things to chat about if you’re so inclined:

  1. Markets down sharply after chaotic day — What does it all mean, Mr. Natural? I like this advice from the WSJ: Advice After Stock Market Drop: Take Some Deep Breaths, and Don’t Do a Thing
  2. Joe Biden Is Leaning Toward a 2016 Run — He keeps leaning a little more, and a little more… I hope he doesn’t fall over. And how about that meeting with Elizabeth Warren — who was courting whom, and what was being proposed? Don’t know about you, but I’d like to see him run. POTUS may not be too averse to the idea, either.
  3. U.S. train heroes get highest French honor for ‘lesson in courage’ — Enjoying this story. Very proud of these guys. Hollande gave them the Legion d’honneur.
  4. Abuse reports, cases spike at DSS — But the agency is still short-handed.

Or… whatever y’all would like to talk about…

Virtual Front Page for Thursday, August 20, 2015

This is the Bangkok bomb site, the day after. Yes, those are Buddhist monks. I'm watching this with particular attention since three of my kids are about to go there to visit their little sister.

I’m told this is the Bangkok bomb site, the day after. Yes, those are Buddhist monks. I’m watching this with particular attention since three of my kids are about to go there to visit their little sister./photo by Michael Massey

Some headlines at this hour:

  1. Dow Hits 2015 Low on Growth Worries — Worst day in 18 months. Cut it out, Wall Street! I’m sick of y’all’s fits of anxiety and the malaise it causes the rest of us to live in. Give us a break!
  2. Gov. Nikki Haley opposes moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to SC — Interestingly (to me, since I didn’t know it), she’s joined in this by Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott (and Mark Sanford). Not that she wants the problem dumped on Kansas, either — which beyond professional courtesy to Sam Brownback, I don’t understand. Kansas not only has a long history of housing federal prisoners, it’s about as far from the madding crowd (such as Charleston’s tourists) as you can get. It’s the land of eight-man football, after all…
  3. Jimmy Carter Says Doctors Found Cancer on His Brain — He was to begin radiation treatment immediately, like today.
  4. Greek prime minister resigns, calls snap elections to shore up support — They just do not stop having instability over there.
  5. July was the hottest month in Earth’s hottest year on record so far — So, you know, if you thought it was hot last month, you were onto something. And oh, yeah — you can chalk up that drought out West to global warming.
  6. Jenner may face manslaughter charges for car crash — Because this saga wasn’t sensational enough yet. I wonder what the name will be in the charges. No, scratch that: I don’t want to know. In fact, if you have any news about anyone affiliated with the Kardashians, just don’t tell me. In fact, extend that to reality TV in general. Thanks.

Nostalgia interrupta: A brief Boomer rant about sampling

I really have nothing to add beyond what I said on Twitter, reflecting a Boomer’s disappointment at almost, but not quite, hearing and seeing things that bring back fond memories — repeatedly:

Here is the first sampling abomination I spoke of, and here is the second.

OK, I will add one thing: To keep my contemporaries from also experiencing nostalgia interrupta, here are the far-more-satisfying originals, including the theme from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”…

The return of Paul DeMarco: Welcome back, Doc!

Dr. Paul DeMarco in 2006.

Dr. Paul DeMarco in 2006.

One of our regulars from the early days of this blog made an appearance over the weekend in response to this observation from current regular Jeff Mobley:

“Perhaps it is unrealistic of me to absolutely foreclose the possibility that even one person’s lifetime could have been significantly lengthened by the Medicaid expansion.”

Responding, after a long hiatus (six years!), was Dr. Paul DeMarco:

Brother (Jeff}, you can strike the “perhaps” from that sentence. I am a physician who sees patients for HopeHealth, a community health center in Florence. The majority of patients I see are uninsured and I can attest to the difference that insurance makes in their lives. Every time an uninsured patient dies suddenly, we should ask the question, did their lack of access to care contribute to their death? Sometimes the answer is no, but surely you can conceive of a patient with undiagnosed coronary artery disease ignoring it because they don’t have the funds to see a primary care physician and don’t want to run up a bill of thousands at the emergency room. If they ignore it too long, they may suffer sudden cardiac death and be found dead at home.

But helping prevent these kind of dramatic deaths is not the only attribute that Medicaid (or any insurance) provides. It provides access to expensive medications to control diabetes and hypertension to prevent coronary artery disease, stroke and kidney failure; it provides access to imaging, specialty care, and health screening services (e.g., I defy you to find me a single uninsured patient who has paid out of pocket for a screening colonoscopy); and it provides the simple peace of mind knowing that your are spared making decisions about whether to pay your rent or see the doctor.

If you are the Jeff Mobley from Columbia who ran for state senate, your profile says you work as an analyst for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. How ironic.

When you cite the Oregon study, your logic would suggest that Medicaid doesn’t change health outcomes for poor people. Then why would it change outcomes for people of means like you and I? Medicaid is good insurance, in some respects better that private insurance in its coverage (including that there is usually no significant deductible). Could Medicaid be more user-friendly and efficient? Of course. Is it subject to fraud? Certainly. But those critiques are true of BC/BS as well. See this link from 2013
You argument generalizes to “Insurance does not affect health outcomes.” It is interesting to me that every person I’ve ever heard make this argument has health insurance. You’ve added the caveat that “Insurance might work if the government paid private companies (coincidentally enough like the one for which I work) to do the job.”

However, private insurance offers its own set of troubles, including incentives that put profit above patients. See describes the huge profits BC/BC makes and the million dollar salaries their top brass rake in.

If you are really interested in learning the practical effect of insurance on patients’ lives, I’d love for you to spend a day in my office seeing patients. I suspect that time might broaden your perspective.

Welcome back, Doc!

It would be great to have a series of posts from or about fondly-remembered commenters from years past, here in my 10th anniversary year as a blogger (first post, May 17, 2005).

Any nominees?

Open Thread for Saturday, August 15, 2015

If some of these items look old, it’s because I started collecting them yesterday but ran out of time to post a thread. But I don’t want to hear any complaining; y’all should be grateful to get a rare Saturday Open Thread — especially since I’m supposed to be out doing yard work right now:

  1. Pentagon assessing S.C. brig as an option for Guantanamo — Not a new idea, but it’s come back up. Sounds fine to me. We need to keep them somewhere.
  2. Documents confirm Apple is building self-driving car — And exclusive from The Guardian. Cool, huh? But allow me a small complaint: This story says “sooner than expected,” but we were supposed to have self-flying cars by now. The writer must not have been around in the ’60s, when the future was so limitless.
  3. US Marines who lowered embassy flag in 1961 back in Havana — I thought this was kind of a neat angle on the embassy-opening story.
  4. Japan emperor ‘remorseful’ over WW2, as 70th anniversary marked — Going a bit farther than the P.M. did.

Sorry, governor: It wasn’t me; it was Facebook

One of the things I hate about Facebook is the way it will randomly grab an image from my blog to go with a post that has no image.

People think I spend a lot of time on Facebook every day. I don’t. When I post something on my blog, the headline and link automatically post to Twitter. All of those Tweets — plus all of the Tweets I compose directly in Twitter itself — automatically post to Facebook. It’s not me; it’s the (14)

If there was a picture in the post, that also shows up in the Facebook post (which up to a point is cool — I wish Twitter would do that, too).

But when there isn’t a picture in the post, Facebook goes and finds one. As often as not, it grabs one of the scores of header images that are generated randomly from my image library to display at the top of each page on the blog.

This makes for some picture appearing with posts that are wildly unconnected to the subject matter. Which is frustrating.

I particularly hate what it did last night — pairing the header image below, from Nikki Haley’s campaign appearance with Sarah Palin in 2010, with the headline “These are some bad guys. Some really, truly bad guys,” and the link to my post about ISIL.

Please allow me to apologize to Gov. Haley (and to ex-Gov. Palin, although you couldn’t really see her). I know I’ve been critical at times in the past, but I did NOT mean to say that about you.

And I wish to set the record straight with everyone else. I was not saying that about our governor.

The only good news in all this is that to the best of my knowledge, you could only see the governor in the phone version of Facebook (the iPhone app version, anyway). The iPad version and the browser version randomly cropped the image so that you couldn’t see anything but some of the granite steps. Which looks stupid, but at least doesn’t seem to say something I don’t mean to say.

Facebook can be such a pain…


Check out Warren Bolton’s new blog


I was talking to my longtime friend and colleague Warren Bolton today, and learned that he has started a blog himself since he left The State.

He started it right after the Emanuel AME massacre and during the debate on the flag, which makes sense. Like me, Warren wrote a good bit about the flag during our time together at the paper, and I wouldn’t expect him to be able to be silent on this sudden, dramatic turnaround any more than I could.

But he’s written about a number of other things as well, including some thing I wish I’d gotten around to myself. For instance, while I’ve read about developments on the coming race to replace Joel Lourie in the S.C. Senate, I haven’t found time to write about what Joel has meant to South Carolina. Well, Warren did.

Anyway, I wish Warren well in his new enterprise, especially as it does not conflict with my own. So far. Seriously, I’ll be following his new venture with interest.

Open Thread for a s-l-o-w news day, August 11, 2015


The Dog Days are definitely with us. I was looking at a relatively unfamiliar news site this morning and thinking These people have terrible news judgment! Where’s the real news? Then I looked at other respected outlets and saw there just wasn’t any.

No wonder it’s Trump all the time (yesterday, the first four items on my Washington Post app on my iPad were about The Donald). Nothing’s happening.

Anyway, here are some topics you may take an interest in. If you know of anything more interesting, please bring it to our attention:

  1. China Devalues Its Currency Amid Economic Slowdown — See what I mean? This is at least serious news; it’s just excruciatingly dull. News to take a nap by. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to run screaming in the opposite direction.
  2. Demonstrations in Ferguson lead to arrests and potential flash points — So there was a police-involved shooting in Ferguson a couple of nights back — one in which pretty much no one is alleging that cops were at fault. But unlike police-involved shootings in the rest of the country, this one is getting coverage. You know why? Because media are there for the anniversary.
  3. Jeb Bush wants to bring back the Bush doctrine — I’m just including this one to give Bud the heebie-jeebies.
  4. 100,000 people have come to recent Bernie Sanders rallies. How does he do it? — My personal theory? Everyone in America who will consider voting for Sanders has been to at least one, and possibly several, of his rallies. Some may be traveling from city to city, like Deadheads.

Come on, y’all — please come up with something better.

Explaining Donald Trump by looking at Donald Draper — and other fictional ‘mad men’

On this slow news day, The Guardian is giving big play to a fun piece that attempts to explain the appeal of Donald Trump by way of various popular fictional antiheroes:

Last week millions of Americans tuned into a cable program featuring a wealthy white male narcissist with anger management issues, a history of viciousness towards women, and a pervading sense that there’s something amiss in his homeland. But this time the character in question wasn’t Walter White, Don Draper, Tyrion Lannister or Tony Soprano, but instead a real – if strangely orange – human man named Donald Trump. The program Americans so eagerly watched him plow through wasn’t an acclaimed drama, but a presidential debate….

Think about all they have in common – Tyrion’s cynicism and cunning, Don’s scorn for weakness, Tony’s rage, Walter White’s limitless ego. They’re all scoundrels who move through the world with an inordinate amount of swagger, and Americans, going back to 1773, love scoundrels with swagger. We love people who challenge authority and convention and get away with it. Thursday night, when Chris Wallace asked Trump if he thought a man who has declared bankruptcy multiple times was well suited to running the economy of an entire country, Trump’s response was to basically blow a raspberry and brag that he simply exploited the law….

No, I didn’t understand the 1773 reference, either (why not ’75, or ’76?). But never mind.

Interesting. And fun, since I have really, really enjoyed most of those shows.

But here’s the flaw in the idea… I respect all of those fictional characters more than I do Donald Trump. Unlike him, they all have appealing characteristics (WARNING! MULTIPLE-SPOILER ALERT):

"Say my name. And no, it's not Trump!"

“Trump is not the One Who Knocks.”

Walter White at least started out wanting to take care of his family after he was diagnosed with cancer. And he truly, honestly grieved when Hank was killed. So he had some actual human qualities. And he was, you know, smart — his ego was based in something.


I have NO idea why people like Trump.

I have NO idea why people like the guy.

Don Draper has that characteristic that Trump seems to value, although it completely eludes him: class. At least, class as style if not as a moral quality. And occasionally, he is moved to do the right thing, if it doesn’t inconvenience him. He can be virtuous — not all over, but in spots.


Trump on the Iron Throne? Not even I would drink to that.

Trump on the Iron Throne? I need a drink.

Tyrion may be the most virtuous, admirable continuing character on “Game of Thrones,” with the possible exception of Lady Brienne. Admittedly, that’s not a high bar, but he was born into a singularly seamy fictional universe. He is even capable of wit, which distinguishes him rather dramatically from The Donald.


You're comparing me to WHO?

You’re comparing me to WHO?

Tony Soprano, being a brutal, blustering bully, comes closest to Trump. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he demanded that Trump cough up some tribute money for running gambling operations in New Jersey. But Tony is a family man, who cares about his kids and sometimes his wife. He has a human, likable quality — think about it: Would you want to sit and watch Trump’s visits with his shrink (even if she was Dr. Melfi)? I hope not.

No, if you want to find a fictional character who is as thoroughly off-putting as Donald Trump, you have to think Frank Underwood. No, wait: Frank at least is clever, and occasionally borders on being amusing.

I’m afraid the theory doesn’t hold up…

Open Thread for Monday, August 3, 2015


Just a few things to talk over, if you’re so inclined:

  1. Obama Unveils Limits on Power-Plant Emissions — Which is a first for this country.
  2. Gulf Arab States Voice Support for Iran Nuclear Deal — An important diplomatic development for the Obama administration.
  3.  GOP moves to defund Planned Parenthood — Democrats are of course livid, for as George Will wrote over the weekend (“Planned Parenthood and the barbarity of America“), “The nonnegotiable tenet in today’s Democratic Party catechism is not opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline or support for a $15 minimum wage. These are evanescent fevers. As the decades roll by, the single unshakable commitment is opposition to any restriction on the right to inflict violence on pre-born babies.”
  4. Pay-by-phone parking app comes to Columbia — I don’t know about y’all, but I’m pretty excited about this. I’ve already downloaded the app. You?

That’s all I have for now. But perhaps y’all have some topics you’d like to bring up.

Open Thread for Thursday, July 30, 2015

Some stuff for y’all to chew on while I’m doing a bunch of other stuff today:

  1. $1 Million Bail for Officer Held in Killing of Black Driver — And the terrible trend continues.
  2. Columbia’s summer one of hottest in decades — You may have noticed that already.
  3. Slain senator’s widow sets up foundation to honor his causes — The Honorable Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation would support “religious, educational and charitable causes” that the senator supported. Presumably, that would include expanding Medicaid…
  4. As world mourned Cecil the lion, 5 elephants were slain — Just in case animal lovers want something else to obsess over.
  5. Anyone see James Taylor last night? — I’m just curious. How was he? I haven’t seen him since a concert in Memphis in the early ’80s.
  6. MH370: aircraft debris in Réunion almost certainly from a Boeing 777 — Could it be that they’ve finally found it?

Open Thread for Friday, July 24, 2015

Not a lot going on locally today, but here are some potential topics:

  1. Review: Clinton Emailed Classified Information — After this, I’ve got a feeling she’s not going to change her ways and start taking media questions on a regular basis any time soon.
  2. China’s Global Desires, Loans and Strings Attached — This story makes this sound like something new, but I remember writing about this very phenomenon in an editorial in 1994. China has been taking the long view, carefully paving its way toward superpowerdom, for a long, long time. While we, messy democracy that we are, sort of stumble from one ad hoc foreign policy decision to the next.
  3. Americans Are Finally Eating Less — Well, you can’t go by me. I totally broke the paleo rules this morning and had grits with my bacon, my sausage, my plate piled high with fruit. I had to try on three pairs of pants this morning before I found some I could fasten at the waist.
  4. President Obama starts two-day Kenya visit — Any comment from Donald Trump yet?
  5. Louisiana Movie Theater Gunman Hated Feminists, Liberals — So he went out and killed two lovely young women.

‘How to Destroy Your Cell Phone, with Lindsey Graham’

Not to be outdone by Rand Paul’s video showing him destroying the tax code in various ways (including with a chainsaw), Lindsey Graham is capitalizing on Donald Trump’s having given out his cell phone number with the above clip, in which he shows a number of ways to destroy a flip phone.

The video is produced by IJ Review — the same website that used that flag video my son produced and I narrated…

destroy phone


Black cop who helped KKK guy just doing his job

DPS Director Leroy Smith put out this release yesterday in response to the way a picture of him helping a KKK member overcome by the heat Saturday went viral:


COLUMBIA, SC — The South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith issues the following statement regarding the photo that was taken by Rob Godfrey, deputy chief of staff for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, at the July 18 KKK rally on the Statehouse grounds:



Leroy Smith

South Carolina Department of Public Safety ( Director Leroy Smith was working at the rally in uniform, assisting his own troopers and officers and working alongside multiple agencies. He was helping with crowd control when one of the KKK participants asked him to help two men who were participating in the KKK rally and who appeared to be suffering from heat-related illnesses. In the photo: He, along with Columbia Fire Department Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, was helping one of the men up the stairs to the Statehouse so he could be treated by Richland County EMS.

Quote from Director Smith:

“I have been somewhat surprised by how this photo has taken off and gone viral around the world. Even though I serve as the director of this agency, I consider myself like every other officer who was out there braving the heat on Saturday to preserve and protect. The photo that was captured just happened to be of me.

Our men and women in uniform are on the front lines every day helping people – regardless of the person’s skin color, nationality or beliefs. As law enforcement officers, service is at the heart of what we do. I believe this photo captures who we are in South Carolina and represents what law enforcement is all about. I am proud to serve this great State, and I hope this photo will be a catalyst for people to work to overcome some of the hatred and violence we have seen in our country in recent weeks.”

Indeed, he was just going his job.

Which takes me to the point that I frequently make here that shouldn’t have to be made: This is normal. Day in and day out, public employees — the kinds of people that government-haters deride as bureaucrats or feeders at the public trough — do their jobs of serving the public, without it being a big deal.

This is the norm. Which is why a public servant such as Leroy Smith can’t help feeling a bit bemused when people make a big deal over it.