Category Archives: Blogosphere

Open Thread for Monday, July 28, 2014

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Folks, I’m not going to be sitting at my laptop much the next few days, but hey, that’s no reason for y’all not to have something to talk about. How about these topics?

Europe and U.S. to Sharply Escalate Russia Sanctions – About time.

Central SC Red Cross chapter, United Way end 90-year partnership — The way this is explained, I suppose this was inevitable, with the United Way’s new funding model. Will other major local nonprofits do the same?

John Kerry’s gigantic blunder – David Ignatius says his short-term push for a cease-fire in Gaza has backfired spectacularly. Netanyahu is now warning of a prolonged conflict.

Congrats to Bryan Caskey on a beautiful baby girl!

Left to Right: Henry, Mary, Molly

Left to Right: Henry, Mary, Molly

Ready for her close-up.

Ready for her close-up.

In case you missed the news way down in a comment thread yesterday, Bryan Caskey is the proud papa of a beautiful new baby girl!

Rumors abound, however, that wife Mary actually did all the hard work.

Margaret Lamb Caskey was born at 2:38. 7 lbs. 15 oz. Mom and baby are both doing great!

Word from the Caskey household is that they’re going to call her “Molly.”

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Open Thread for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Let’s see what we have to offer today:

Russians have many theories about the MH17 crash. One involves fake dead people. — You know, the Rodina must be a very interesting place to live. This story compiles some of the wacky alternative explanations of the crash that are given credence by Russian media or influential websites.

Two Ukrainian Warplanes Shot Down . When this broke this morning, the first AP bulletin said:

Which caused me to react, “As opposed to CIVILIAN fighter jets?” Yeah, I know. The AP is being deliberately redundant in order to make sure the reader doesn’t misread it and think it’s another civilian craft. But it still bugs me. Of course, “fighter jet” is pretty redundant without “military” added. Think about it: Here in the 21st century, a fighter is highly unlikely to be a Spitfire or a Sopwith Camel. But maybe some countries still have some prop fighters. If so, I’d like to see them in action…

Israel Faces Rising Pressure to End Conflict in Gaza . And why, pray tell, is the pressure on Israel, instead on on Hamas, which started it, and insists on continuing? I suppose because Israel is more likely to respond favorably.

A Doctor Leading The Fight Against Ebola Has Caught The Virus – All I know about ebola, I learned from Tom Clancy novels. But that’s enough to make me shudder.

DSS: state needs 200 more child-welfare workers. I believe them. You?

Your Virtual Front Page, Friday, July 18, 2014

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Surprise! We haven’t had one of these in a while. Y’all seemed to like Open Threads more, and they were less work, so I went along with you. But lately, you’ve seemed less enchanted with the open threads, and I like VFPs (they appeal more to my compulsion to try to make sense of the news), so here you go:

  1. U.S.: Missile was Russian-made (WashPost) — Now this is a lede story worthy of the term. The WSJ, the NYT and the WashPost are all going multi-column on their headlines on this one. You may of may not have noticed, but normally a lede on those sites is held to one column. Since the headline on this could well include the words “Cold War Redux,” this is heavy news, indeed.
  2. SIDEBAR: Indiana University student athlete killed in crash – She was Dutch. There was one U.S. citizen: Quinn Lucas Schansman.
  3. SIDEBAR: Obama says ‘near 100’ AIDS workers killed. Is it true? – The number remains uncertain, but the NYT has identified at least one top researcher killed in the shootdown.
  4. Netanyahu Warns of Wider Israel Operation in Gaza (NYT) — The story that would be the lede most days. The world is an extraordinarily dangerous place these days, as the U.S. slouches toward greater isolationism.
  5. Obama opens Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration (AP) — A story with implications for SC. The exploration involves something called “sonic cannon,” which lets the women of the world know right off that this is something a guy is responsible for thinking up.
  6. SC jobless rate held steady in June (thestate.com) — The rate has stayed stagnant since April, after a year of sharp declines.

SC, do you REALLY want Joe Manchin for president?

Here’s my latest new follower on Twitter:

Joe Manchin

 

It appears to be nothing more than a feed for reTweeting another called “Draft Joe Manchin.”

I had to follow a couple of the links provided even to find out who Joe Manchin was. From Politico:

IF HILLARY PASSES, MANCHIN FOR PRESIDENT? – Sen. Joe Manchin says a 2016 presidential run is “low on the totem pole,” but he’s not exactly ruling it out.

The West Virginia Democrat, a frequent critic of President Obama and perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the upper chamber, has already endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. But if the former secretary of State takes a pass, expect to hear more about the former Mountain State governor – especially with former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, another possible ‘16 hopeful from a red state, making some off-color remarks about gays and prostitutes.

Some Twitter accounts have popped up in the past week with the handles @NH4JoeManchin and @Iowa4JoeManchin – though he hasn’t made trips to those early primary states. @DraftJoeManchin recently tweeted: “We think that Joe Manchin is the most gifted leader and the most unifying leader we could elect as our next President.”…

Told that Manchin’s politics would probably be too conservative to win his party’s nomination, he replied: “My politics are about as middle of the road and American as you can get. I keep saying I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate, and I think most Americans are.”…

So, in case you, too, run across some of these Tweets, now you know what it’s about…

Open Thread for Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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It’s been a busy day with little time for blogging, but here’s some stuff for y’all to chew on:

  1. Columbia OKs spending $35 million on new stadium – The money will be borrowed, and paid back with meal taxes over the next 30 years.
  2. Israel Agrees to Brief Truce, but Gaza Invasion Is Seen to Loom – The biggest news story in the world today, it would be the lede were this a VFP. WashPost reports that Chance of ground invasion is ‘very high’
  3. Court upholds Assange arrest warrant – This guy, Snowden, still at large. Only one of these we’ve managed to prosecute is Bradley Manning, who says he’s not Bradley Manning any more. So our prosecution track record isn’t great on protecting classified material.
  4. Cursing the lack of darkness – I listened to this report while driving to Aiken this morning, and it occurred to me — I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Milky Way. You?

Or whatever y’all want to discuss…

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Terrorists Got Drones! Open Thread for Monday, July 14, 2014

For years, various folks who question the morality of President Obama’s habit of waging war by drone attack, like Zeus hurling thunderbolts down on terrorists, have frequently asked, “What are we going to do when others, especially our adversaries, also have drones?”

Well, we need to come up with an answer to that pretty quickly, because the day has arrived. In fact, it’s official: Terrorists now have drone technology:

The Israeli military also intercepted an unmanned aircraft flown from Gaza, blowing it apart in midair just offshore from the Israeli port city of Ashdod, a spokesman said. The drone attack by Hamas added a new element to the week-old conflict.

The military wing of Hamas claimed on Monday that it had sent “a number of drones” flying into Israel on “special missions,” saying on its website that the aircraft were one of the “surprises” it had promised over the last week….

So, the future is here, and it’s unsettling.

Meanwhile, in case you’d like to have an open thread today, here are some other topics:

Psychological warfare by text — Not only is Hamas deploying drones, they’re sending out texts to Israeli citizens to sow fear and uncertainty. So they’re getting more sophisticated. Kinda. You can tell it’s Hamas disinformation when it’s really badly spelled, apparently.

World Cup win stirs German patriotism – Fortunately, it’s not of the national socialist kind. In fact, some of the most excited wavers of flags are Turkish rather than Aryan. But it’s an unfamiliar feeling for this generation of Germans. Der Spiegel posed the question this way: “We’re back, but as what?”

Bergdahl returning to active duty – Meanwhile, the investigation into the circumstances of his disappearance in Afghanistan is “ongoing.”

Or whatever y’all want to talk about…

 

Hear me Sunday evening on the Big DM

 

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This Tweet from Will reminds me:

I’m going to be on Cynthia’s show tomorrow evening, at FM 101.3. As I recall, we’re going to be talking about social media vis-à-vis traditional media.

The court’s unanimous ruling in the Harrell/Wilson matter

Dave Crockett points out that we haven’t discussed the SC Supreme Court’s unanimous smackdown of Judge Manning’s bizarre ruling in the matter of Bobby Harrell, and Alan Wilson’s power to investigate him.

Maybe I’ve just been avoiding it, subconsciously, out of petulance over being scooped by that upstart Bryan Caskey:

Bryan didn’t just scoop ME. I happened to read that Tweet while attending the awards ceremony at The State Wednesday afternoon. I followed his link, and passed my phone first to Cindi Scoppe, then to John Monk — two people who have done more than anyone to keep us informed on this case — to give them the heads-up. (To John’s credit, he had told me before we sat down that the ruling was sort of expected, “Even as we stand here.” Fortunately, another reporter from the paper was covering that base while he was occupied.)

What to make of the ruling?

Well, to start with, it affirms what remaining faith we have in the rule of law. The justices unanimously rejected the absurd argument that the trial judge had constructed of whole cloth.

On the other hand, Manning could still rule unfavorably on Wilson’s ability to continue to handle the investigation, as the judge was instructed by the court to consider Harrell’s original motion seeking to remove the attorney general from the case.

So justice is still not out of the woods.

And I’m still a bit worried by that footnote to the ruling: “Due to the secrecy afforded state grand jury proceedings, future arguments regarding jurisdiction, or any other ancillary matter, should be held in camera.” I’m not sure what that means, in terms of what will be cloaked in secrecy and what will not. You’ll recall that our awareness of this power struggle began with John’s story about how the attempt by Harrell to have the court consider whether to toss Wilson off the case secretly.

On that point, I await further elucidation.

There seems little doubt, though, that the justices have been distressed from the start by the splash this case has made on the front pages.

But how could it be otherwise — a struggle between the highest levels of two branches of our government, with the third branch caught uncomfortably between?

Open Thread for Thursday, July 10, 2014

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I’m going to be kind of tied up the rest of the day, so here are some things to discuss amongst yourselves:

  1. Boehner splits with Palin on call for Obama impeachment – You know, things have come to a pretty bad point when all you have to do to look like a statesman is not want to impeach the president.
  2. Germans Order Expulsion of Top U.S. Spy in Espionage Case – So much for that big World Cup win putting the Germans in a good mood so that they forget about this.
  3. Iraq insurgents seize nuclear material – First, AP tells us they’ve found chemical weapons in Iraq (“Iraq says Islamic State militants have control of facility holding 2,500 rockets filled with chemical weapons, then backtracks (“CORRECTION: Iraq: Facility held by extremists holds remnants of degraded chemical rockets (not active weapons)“). Now this. Listen, folks, it doesn’t do us any good to find the WMD now
  4. The girl who has everything — I noticed that Haley ex-Chief of Staff Tim Pearson is rather exercised at The State for having referred to the governor as a “girl.” Or rather, he’s upset with the Post and Courier for not standing up for the governor, since they got so worked up about the “little girl” thing a while back. Below you see the headline as it appeared in the paper; it appeared as “woman” online. Thoughts?

Girl

 

The unofficial Sammy Fretwell ‘Fan Club’

Had a nice time attending the awards ceremony at The State yesterday afternoon. Aside from recognizing the staff that almost won the Pulitzer for Hugo coverage, we saw three former colleagues inducted into the paper’s Hall of Fame, and honored two current staffers with the annual Hampton and Gonzales awards.

Sammy Fretwell received the Gonzales award, which is given each year for superlative reporting. It was an excellent choice. In keeping with theme that was running through a lot of the event about noting ways things have changed in the business, Sammy mentioned that something he’s had to get used to is the flurry of critical Tweets that follow everything he does these days.

When he said it, I thought, well, yeah — that’s something you have to expect today. Goes with the territory.

But when I Tweeted an innocuous picture of Sammy and me together after the reception, I saw what he meant. There does seem to be a rapid-response team on a hair trigger, ready to fire at any mention of Sammy Fretwell in the Twitterverse. Note the following:

Doug Ross claims title of ‘highest commenter’ on blog

Photo by Doug Ross

Photo by Doug Ross

Yesterday, our own Doug Ross texted me the above photo, saying:

Fyi, my last post on your blog came from the top of a mountain in squaw valley… 8900 feet… which makes me your highest commenter

It is the official position of this blog to assume he meant “highest” in terms of physical altitude — even though he is a libertarian, vacationing out West, where smoking dope is legal…

When he gets back, we’ll have to ask him whether there are plans to change the name of the valley…

Ben Hoover’s account of what happened at WIS

For those of you following this ongoing story, Ben Hoover posted this on Facebook last night:

Here’s what I want you to know.

Right now, I don’t have a new job and I need to make sure future employers and my community know why I was led to believe that my place at WIS was secure.

I’ve worked in TV 15 years. I understand and accept that stations have the right to not renew contracts. Especially in situations when ratings might be down or the employee did something wrong, or both sides couldn’t reach a salary agreement. None of those issues applied to me. In fact when I asked why my contract wasn’t being renewed station management assured me I had “done nothing wrong.”brgnP616_400x400

Please allow me to explain what I meant when I said that I was caught off guard. News management had recently slated me to do a follow up to “Hope in Hard Times” this coming November, after my current contract would have expired. They also planned to have a co-anchor with me in the field at Oliver Gospel Mission. The week before I learned my contract would not be renewed I taped station promotions that historically have run for several months. We were far along in the search for a new house. My children were enrolled in school for the fall. That’s why I walked in with a folder with long-term contract options for management to consider. But, I never had the opportunity to open that folder. There were no negotiations. It was made clear that management did not wish to renew early on in that discussion and that I had “done nothing wrong.”

My first contract with WIS was 5 years. My latest contract was one year in length. In both cases, both sides had to agree to terms. Some anchors choose longer contracts. Some choose for even shorter than one year. It’s a personal decision. Never was I told that a one year contract would pave the way for my exit. In fact, we agreed to come back together and discuss longer term options. If I entertained potential advancement within the company, never did management indicate or communicate that it would mean I would not be renewed. I have documented on multiple occasions my happiness with my co-anchors at WIS and my openness to calling Columbia my forever home. And, never in discussions did they indicate that my future at WIS was not an option. In fact, I got a very different response.

I truly appreciate the support from the community. It helps tremendously to keep me going in this short amount of time I have to find a new job. So, from where I sit today, I cannot afford to let vague comments, including those by others outside of the situation and not privy to the details, leave an impression that what happened was something that I did or it was just a parting of ways. That’s simply not true.

My announcement last Thursday was in line with how I was trained, my high standards of journalism, and with what’s been a big part of my career – doing the right thing. Viewers don’t deserve to be caught off guard or wonder for weeks where someone they’ve seen for 6 years has gone. And, nobody deserves to get half of the truth. I’ve always put the viewer first. That’s what I will continue to do. And, it is possible to do that while still being a loyal employee.

I don’t know where my next job will take my family and me. I’ve been put in a position to consider anything and everything. Right now, Columbia is home. And, in order to move on both professionally and personally I needed to fill in some blanks so that there would not be any questions that could negatively impact my family or my pursuit to find another job.

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Some possible topics:

  1. Smallpox vials found in NIH storage closet – Which gets me to thinking… I was vaccinated against smallpox either two or three times as a child (when we lived in South America, we were required to get boosters on top of the one I’d gotten before starting kindergarten back in SC). So… if this gets loose, am I covered? Or has it been far, far too long?
  2. Germany Gives Brazil Das Boot With 7-1 Win; Enters World Cup Final — This morning at breakfast, my friend Wolfgang Buchmaier urged me not to forget to cheer for Germany today. Well, I forgot, but they obviously didn’t need me. Wow. With a score like that, it’s almost like they were playing American football. Oh, and to the NPR headline writer who tried to be cute: “Das Boot” means, “the boat.” I don’t see how that makes sense here.
  3. Israel pounds Gaza Strip with air and naval strikes – That was the headline in The Guardian. The New York Times reported, “Exchanging Attacks, Hamas and Israel Step Up Air War,” acknowledging that both sides were escalating. Israel said Hamas fired 160 rockets into its territory, so Israel responded with 160 air strikes. An eye for an eye, I suppose. Although I’m gathering that the Israeli strikes were more effective, meaning more deadly.
  4. Ben Hoover gratified by fan support – Yesterday, Bryan emailed me to let me know some Hoover fans were picketing WIS. Unfortunately, I was already at home when I got the message. The State got some pictures, though.
  5. Defiant Abdullah claims Afghan win – There are reports he may be setting up a “parallel government.”

Or, whatever interests you, within reason…

Open Thread for Monday, July 7, 2014

Some quick possibilities:

  1. Benjamin leaves law firm – Which I suppose means his only jobby-job right now is the part-time one as mayor.
  2. Pope Is Contrite in First Meeting With Victims of Abuse – It sounds like this meeting was pretty intense. “Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you,” said the pope. “And I humbly ask forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.” He said the abuses had had “a toxic effect on faith and hope in God.”
  3. More Than 50 People Were Shot In Chicago Over The Holiday Weekend — That statistic just kind of startled me. You? (Originally, I wrote, “That statistic just kind of blew me away,” but then I realized that was not the best phrasing.)
  4. Israeli police arrest six over Mohamed Abu Khdeir killing — As the six Jewish suspects were arrested, Netanyahu denounced the act with which they are charged as “terrorism,” and added “We do not distinguish terror from terror.” No doubt a similar statement will be forthcoming from Hamas regarding the murders of the three Israeli boys. Right? Right?

Or… whatever you want to talk about, within the bounds of civility…

Today’s Sarah Palin eruption on Twitter

There are two or three things that you might not know about Sarah Palin, even at this late date:

  1. She still has a lot of fans. Passionate ones.
  2. They don’t have what most of us would call a “sense of humor.”
  3. They really don’t hesitate to leap to conclusions.

It all started when I saw this Tweet:

The title of the show, which I assure you I have never seen, immediately brought to mind Tina Fey’s hilarious sendup of the ex-governor (possibly because I watched several episodes of “30 Rock” on Netflix over the weekend).

So I reTweeted the item with the following addendum:

As in, I can see Russia from my house!

Which I thought might give someone out there a small — very small — laugh.

The first person who responded was very literal-minded, but reasonable:


He was right, of course — it was neither here nor there. It was a joke about a joke. But wishing to be polite I wrote back,


Then, the floodgates opened.


Wow. Anyway, for any of you who’d like to get a kick out of the original skit — the funniest thing Tina Fey has ever done — once again, here it is…

As Orkut fades, Facebook gets so full of itself that it starts using us as lab rats

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Two stories today from the realm of social media.

First, the biggest social media platform that you never heard of is shutting down. That’s Google’s Orkut. Never heard of Orkut. That’s OK; it was sort of the Boxcar Willie of social media — it was huge overseas, if not here:

Google’s oldest social network, Orkut, is finally saying the long goodbye. On Monday the Orkut blog announced that Google will end support for the decade-old service on Sept. 30. If you’ve ever used Orkut, it’s time to trudge to Google Takeout—sometime before September 2016—and get your data out of there….

When Orkut gained Google Plus integration in 2012, it seemed like a sign that the end might be coming. But if you never used Orkut and aren’t feeling a wave of nostalgia, it’s because the service was never that big in the United States. In Brazil and India, on the other hand, it was a most-trafficked website for years. Now YouTube and, of course, Google Plus will be Google’s social focus. At least in death Orkut probably won’t be the butt of everyone’s mid-2000s jokes. Ahem, Myspace.

Orkut was actually started a month before Facebook. But what a different fate! Facebook has now become so big, so sure of itself, that it thought it could get away with conducting psychological experiments on its users without telling them. From The Guardian:

Facebook’s second most powerful executive, Sheryl Sandberg, has apologised for the conduct of secret psychological tests on nearly 700,000 users in 2012, which prompted outrage from users and experts alike.

The experiment, revealed by a scientific paper published in the March issue of Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, hid “a small percentage” of emotional words from peoples’ news feeds, without their knowledge, to test what effect that had on the statuses or “likes” that they then posted or reacted to.

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” said Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer while in New Delhi. “And for that communication we apologise. We never meant to upset you.”

The statement by Sandberg, deputy to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is a marked climbdown from its insistence on Tuesday that the experiment was covered by its terms of service. The secret tests mean that the company faces an inquiry from the UK’s information commissioner, while the publishers of the paper have said they will investigate whether any ethics breach took place. Psychological tests on human subjects have to have “informed consent” from participants – but independent researchers and Facebook have disagreed on whether its terms of service implicitly cover such use…

In case you doubt whether Facebook is really, really sorry, check out this photo of Ms. Sandberg shrugging. Which may or may not reassure you…

Open Thread for Wednesday, June 2, 2014

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Some possible topics:

  1. In 13 days, I get to vote yet again — Yesterday, I went to my polling place for the third time in less than a month — this time for a special primary to elect (I say “elect,” since no Democrats are running) a new Lexington County Coroner. As you may have seen, in 13 days, I get to go back and vote again, in the runoff for that office. Which brings up the question, why am I voting for coroner anyway? It’s a purely ministerial position, not a policy-setting one. I have no idea which of the remaining candidates is the better one, and I sincerely doubt that I’m alone in this. So why are we doing this again?
  2. Clashes erupt in Israel after Arab teen is killed – Could things get more messed up over there? I sincerely hope this was not a revenge killing. If it was, I and the rest of the world will expect Israeli authorities to do everything possible to bring those responsible for justice. Which we should not hold our breath waiting for Hamas to do regarding the killing of the three Israeli boys. But that’s cold comfort if the Palestinian boy was really murdered by Israelis. The violence based on that assumption is already well under way.
  3. Target takes stance against guns – Well, good for Target. It should have that right. But I find myself wondering — was the chain just feeling particularly vulnerable on account of, you know, its name?

Or, pick a topic of your own…

Welcome to my 2,500th Twitter follower

2500

I passed a milestone yesterday:

That’s pretty good, considering that I only follow 597. I passed the 4-to-1 follower-to-following ratio some time back. I’m thinking about trimming those I follow back to 500, so I can boast of 5-to-1. That’s how I measure progress on Twitter — by the ratios.

Careful husbandry is important in the Twitterverse. You have to prune now and then, as those you follow cease to post regularly. That way, you have a vital, relevant feed, and if you post readable Tweets on a regular basis yourself, you have the satisfaction of watching your followership grow in an orderly manner.

Some people garden; I tend my Twitter account…

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some possible topics…

Let’s have some REAL ethics reform — Will Folks, in this Tweet, reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to address since the weekend — the op-ed piece co-authored by Tom Davis and Vincent Sheheen, who are working for real ethics reform, something better than the bill they killed at the end of the session.

Sarkozy busted! – And under the Napoleonic Code, you’re guilty until proved innocent, right? I heard an interesting discussion on NPR this morning about how the judiciary isn’t quite as independent as it oughta be in France, so that it actually isn’t too tough to get a judge to take action against your political opponents. Which, given some of the questions raised about the judiciary here in SC, is interesting…

Japan Moves to Permit Greater Use of Its Military — Yeah, that’s some really good news. ‘Bout time they took up some of the slack for collective security in this world, and so forth and so on. At least, I think this is good news. I mean, uh, nobody’s uncomfortable about this… are they?

Or… whatever y’all want to talk about…

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