Category Archives: Blogosphere

Open Thread for Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Yeah, I know I’ve used the above cartoon at this time of year before, but it’s a holiday favorite by my old friend Richard Crowson. Richard and I go way back.

Some possible topics:

  1. Russian foreign minister calls plane downing ‘planned provocation’ — Kinda scary. Or, as John Wayne said to Kirk Douglas in “In Harm’s Way,” “A lousy situation, Commander Eddington.”
  2. Tense but Peaceful Protests in Chicago After Video Release — I would certainly think the protests would be peaceful. If I’m a protester, I’m like, “I was really mad that the cops initially lied, but now the cop’s been charged and this video’s been released, so the system worked. I think I’ll go home and see what’s new on Netlix.” But then, that’s me. When I’m mad, I don’t take to the streets; I write.
  3. Black Friday Falters as Consumer Behaviors Change — One of those end-of-an-era-type stories.
  4. US activists to launch Guantánamo protest along camp’s perimeter — Again, we have my failure to get protesters. I mean, POTUS is trying like fun to close Gitmo, and has not succeeded because of very obvious obstacles, but will continue to try. So the protest expects to accomplish… what?
  5. Midlands family says home was targeted by people assuming members are Muslim — Sheesh. Like we need this. Someone in the story refers to the racist perps as “gentlemen.” Yeah. Like the “gentlemen” who frequent “gentlemen’s clubs?”

Or whatever y’all have…


Open Thread for Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Some possible topics:

  1. At the Citadel, Bush calls for US ground forces to fight Islamic State — OK, now we have the basis for a political discussion about options. And it appears that Bush has decided a bold proposal will get him some traction, and if it doesn’t — well, he’s finished anyway.
  2. Alleged ringleader in Paris attacks killed in raid, officials say — He didn’t get far. He was right outside Paris.
  3. Richland 2 postpones trips to Washington, D.C., after Paris attacks — This sort of surprises me. Does it surprise you? First Bartlet hides his M.S.; now this.
  4. Martin Sheen salutes ‘courage’ of son Charlie after HIV announcement — Well, you’ve gotta support your kid. But this has to be causing headaches for C.J. Cregg.

Or whatever you’d like to bring up…


Open Thread for Monday, November 16, 2015

President Barack Obama welcomes Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France before meeting with European leaders on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, to discuss the terrorist attacks in Paris, Nov. 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama welcomes Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France before meeting with European leaders on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, to discuss the terrorist attacks in Paris, Nov. 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A quick once-over of today’s news:

  1. Obama rules out Syria ground invasion in passionate defence of Isis strategy — Yeah, that’s from The Guardian, hence the British spelling. Meanwhile, Hollande vows to destroy ISIS, saying “France is at war” and “They are not out of our reach.” So remind me, because I’m getting confused: Which of them leads France, and which the United States? I mean, it’s like he’s taunting Obama, saying such things as “It is not about containing, but about destroying that organization.”
  2. Governors bar Syrian refugees — This morning, it was Alabama, Michigan and Texas moving to bar the furriners on account a them all being terrorists. Now, it’s up to 16 governors — all Republican. Please don’t say South Carolina will be next… Please don’t say South Carolina will be next… Actually, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t think Nikki Haley would do something like that. And not just because she’s my girl since her leadership on the flag. I think that, as the child of nonChristian immigrants, she knows better… POTUS is right when he reacts to some GOP candidates’ demagoguery by saying a religious test for immigrants would be “shameful.”
  3. USC students protest inequalities — The group “did not provide complete details of all the incidents that led to the protest Monday.” So, just because, I guess. Get back to me when the football team threatens to boycott the next game. Come to think of it, a move like that could help the team’s win percentage this year…

That’s enough. If y’all want to talk about other stuff be my guest, but that’s a plateful…

Live-Tweeting the Democratic debate

dem debate

Missed most of the first half-hour because I lost BOTH TV signal and my wi-fi. Up and running now, though.

Open Thread for Thursday, November 12, 2015

James Flowers, who will run against Leon Lott. Nice campaign picture, huh?

James Flowers, who will run against Leon Lott. Nice campaign picture, huh?

Here are some conversation-starters:

  1. GM to Import Chinese-Made Buick — So now American cars have to compete with American cars from abroad? WSJ notes that this is right after GM agreed to a new labor contract expected to drive up it’s cost of making cars in this country.
  2. Leon Lott to have primary opposition in 2016 — That’s his picture above. As you can see, unlike Leon, he is not my twin. Too young.
  3. Mobster, 80, Cleared on All Counts in ‘Goodfellas’ Case — So they made a whole frickin’ movie about it, and he didn’t even do it? That’s funny! What do you mean, funny? What’s funny about it? You think I’m a clown, that I’m here to amuse you…?
  4. Russia reveals giant nuclear torpedo in state TV ‘leak’ — And I thought the Russkies were supposed to be good at keeping secrets. Or did they leak this on purpose so everybody would think they had a “giant nuclear torpedo?”

Or whatever y’all want to talk about…

Thoughts on last night’s debate(s)?

Above and below you see two of my most popular Tweets (out of 39) from during the GOP debate last night. This is the kind of incisive commentary you won’t find elsewhere.

OK, truth be told, I later saw that Nicholas Kristof had the same idea I did re William Jennings Bryan, but that’s OK. Great minds and all that.

But I’m putting up this post to ask what y’all thought of the debate.

Just some quick overall impressions from me:

    • I was struck a number of times at how this sounded like a debate featuring candidates of some party other than the Republican, such as Rand Paul’s opposition to a strong defense, Ted Cruz’ criticism of corporate fat cats, and Marco Rubio’s tax credit for child care.
    • Meanwhile, the most perfect embodiment of traditional Republicanism, Jeb Bush, continued to fail to pull away from the pack.
    • Trump was marginally more buffoonish than in past events, I thought. Will his supporters notice. My fave LOL Trump moment — when he asked with regard to Carly Fiorina, “Why does she keep interrupting?” Yeah, Donald! Doesn’t she know men are talking?
    • Actually, I’m serious about the West Coast thing (below). It’s ridiculous for debates to start that late at night.
    • I think Cruz had the best night, followed by either Rubio or Kasich.


Open Thread for Monday, November 9, 2015


I’m posting this mostly to find out whether y’all know of anything interesting to talk about today. The well seems pretty dry to me, but here are some possibilities:

  1. University of Missouri president resigns amid racial tensions — Was this a story before the guy resigned? If so, I missed it, and I thought I was pretty much up on major racial flashpoints. Everybody seems to be leading with it on this slow news day… Oh, wait — it seems to have had something to do with football. No wonder I missed it.
  2. Russia Engaged in Sports Doping, Commission Finds — It looks like I have a sports fixation today (there’s another coming below), but this was state-sponsored cheating by Putin’s Russia, and that seemed worth talking about…
  3. Susan Brill to run for Lourie seat — A contest between Brill and Mia McLeod will definitely be worth watching, starting with the fact that the Lourie family seems less than enchanted with the Democratic candidate. Joel’s brother Neal is on Ms. Brill’s campaign committee.
  4. Isn’t it bad enough that BOYS want to play football? — Just to take another slap at the only game we’re hearing about now that the Series is over (all too soon). The NYT ran brief essays from five people about the “problem” that some boys don’t think girls should play football. Each took a distinctive position, but not one challenged the premise that boys should want girls to play football. The pieces were all about how to make sure those boys get their minds right. Huh. Personally, I don’t think we should encourage boys to play football, and extending the insanity to the other half of the population strikes me as beyond absurd. But I  know I’m unusual.

That’s it. That’s all I’m seeing. Your suggestions are even more welcome than usual…



McCartney’s enthusiasm for Guy Fawkes Day creeps me out a bit

I say that on account of my being Catholic and all.

I reTweeted this from Paul McCartney yesterday, which included a picture of him that appears to be from his “Maybe I’m Amazed” period:

But this was a classic case of a reTweet not constituting an endorsement.

Now, y’all know that I’m an Anglophile from way back. I generally love English traditions, including some of those involving fire.

But I’m a bit squeamish about the one that involves burning in effigy a Catholic-rights activist who in reality was tortured by English authorities before being drawn, hung and quartered.

OK, granted, we’re not talking Pope Francis here: Guy Fawkes was a terrorist who intended to blow up the king and Parliament and had the explosives to do it.

But still. The English had already been oppressing Catholics for Fawkes’ entire life and then some, and they used the Gunpowder Plot as an excuse to step that persecution up and continue it for most of the next 400 years. The celebration, unless I mistake, was of a victory over the Pope and papists as much as over a terrorist cell.

Which I kind of resent, because, you know, we’re not all terrorists.

So excuse me if I’m not too thrilled about your bonfire there, Paul…


Open Thread for Friday, November 6, 2015

Sorry about no posts yesterday; I’m trying to get back on track here:

  1. Obama rejects Keystone XL project, citing climate concerns — OK, somebody ‘splain this to me: If you’re concerned about climate change, you want to see us move away from fossil fuels. And I think most rational people want to do that, as soon as we can. But we know that we won’t be able to replace them for decades to come, and will still need fossil fuels in the meantime if we want to have jobs and eat and operate our mobile devices. So… why not do so as efficiently as possible? I don’t get it. But then, I’m an Energy Party guy.
  2. Russia suspends Egypt flights — It would be nice if someone would figure out what actually happened, and how and why.
  3. Editorial: USC shouldn’t pay Spurrier for work he’s not doing — Absolutely. Oh, and I enjoyed the file photo that The State ran with the edit — Spurrier in his office leaning back with his hands behind his head, his golf clubs occupying a prominent space at his right hand…
  4. Friends proud of Chester boy who died saving sister from hit-and-run — Don’t know what else to say about this. Can you be devastated and proud at the same time? I suppose so…
  5. Conjured criminals: A history of imagined perpetrators — I just included this because it features the BBC revisiting the Susan Smith case. See below.


Y’all are all getting ads like this too, right? I said, RIGHT?

The ad at right, generated by Google Adsense to appear in the right-hand rail of the blog for my viewing pleasure, is weird on a number of levels.testosterone

  • What’s the connection between hot women and low testosterone? Is the theory that guys who have need of the product will look at the picture and think, “I feel nothing, so I must have low T”? I would think that most heterosexual males would be persuaded, by looking at a picture like that, that one thing they do not need is more testosterone. I mean, seriously, did Ulysses think he had low T as he was tied to the mast, his naked ears tortured by the sirens sweetly singing?
  • Who are the ad wizards who wrote that copy? You’re saying this is “What Happens When You Take a Testosterone Supplement?” Well, then, no thanks! I don’t want to look like that! (I mean, it might be gratifying to see Bruce/Caitlin Jenner turn green with envy… but not that gratifying.)
  • Finally… why am I seeing this? I promise you that I have not searched for “What do I do about low testosterone?” or “Large-busted young women who wear T shirts that are way too small.” Hey, maybe that’s the problem! Maybe Google assumes that if you’re NOT searching for such pictures, you must have low T….

But of course, it’s not just me, is it? All of you fellas are getting the same ad, right? I said, right?

I don’t know. I just think it’s weird. And what about all those ads about meeting Asian women? Is that just because I’ve written about going to Thailand?…

Lott bypassed SLED to avoid appearance of conflict of interest


When I was paid and paid well to do actual journalism, I would never have done what I did in this earlier post: Raise a question and not bother to call the source and get the question answered before publishing.

But this is not my day job, and I find myself slacking off in ways I would never have done in my former life. Some days, I don’t even have the time to raise the question for discussion, much less answer it. And I never feel good about that — or about the typos that inevitably crop up because I don’t have an editor. I rationalize that I don’t pretend this is a news blog — I raise questions; I don’t do much in the way of reporting. But there’s some value in raising questions, right? Or so I tell myself.

So I was suitably embarrassed today when Sheriff Leon Lott called me to answer my question. On the other hand, I was gratified to see that the sheriff was keeping up with my blog. (Always look on the bright side.)

The question was, why did the sheriff go straight to the feds to ask for an independent investigation into the Spring Valley High School incident instead of going to the State Law Enforcement Division first?

And as it turns out, the sheriff had a pretty good answer.

To begin with, this incident was a nationwide scandal before the sheriff even knew about it. Given the severity of what the deputy had done, and the national attention, it was particularly important that there not be even the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest in the investigation.

And with SLED, there was the danger of such an appearance. To begin with, “My wife works there — she’s an agent.” I had not realized that.

Moreover, “many of the higher-ups” in the agency once worked at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and are good friends of his.

So while he fully respects SLED and did not mean to diss the agency in any way, he thought it best to avoid any appearance of cronyism.

Besides, he figured it would end up in federal hands eventually, anyway.

I thought that was a pretty good answer. You?

Anyway, the sheriff and I went on to have a pretty good discussion about an issue this incident raises. I’ll write about that tomorrow…

The deputy and the student: That violent Spring Valley video

Again, South Carolina makes national news, and again, it’s in a bad way.

It’s early in the discernment process, and we lack any context (whatever the context may be), but the extremely brief video is a kick in the gut, especially the instant when the desk flips backward in a way that almost seems to defy physical laws. It’s amazing that the student wasn’t injured, a fact we can only chalk up to the resilience of youth.

Here, from The State, are the skimpy facts, which tell us next to nothing:

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an incident between a school resource officer and a female student at Spring Valley High School on Monday, after a video showing a confrontation was posted online.

The female student and a male student were arrested for disturbing the peace, said Richland County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Curtis Wilson. The resource officer, Senior Deputy Ben Fields, has been placed on administrative duties with pay pending the investigation’s results, according to Wilson.

While Fields will work at the Sheriff’s Department, he won’t be performing any duties at area schools. In a statement, the Richland 2 school district said it had “directed the school resource officer not return to any school in the district.”

The video shows Fields approach the female student seated in a desk. The resource officer proceeds to place his left hand on the female student’s left arm, before putting his right arm around her neck. Fields then flips the desk over, with the student still seated, before spinning it around and forcibly removing the student and trying to restrain her at the front of the classroom.

Wilson said no one was injured in the incident – neither the students nor Fields.

Wilson said prior to what is shown in the video, the female student was asked to leave the classroom and refused. Wilson said that was when the resource officer was called in….

The official response to the incident seems appropriately cautious so far. The sheriff is out of town. The mayor wants an independent investigation. The school district’s one response, saying it doesn’t want that officer back in the classroom, seems appropriate under the circumstances.

All we have now is a video that shocks the viewer as much as it seems to have shocked the bystanders, who react not at all — their stillness is almost eerie — except for the one who shot these 15 seconds.




Open Thread for Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is the president seeking intelligent life? I notice the telescope is NOT aimed at the Capitol...

Is the president seeking intelligent life? I notice the telescope is NOT aimed at the Capitol…

A few topics:

  1. County may pay ex-Maj. Gen. Turner $194,000 for flood relief — Abraham Turner was an impressive general officer, who I suspect would have inspired confidence on a battlefield. But while it pales in comparison to what Steve Spurrier is pulling in, I fail to see how he qualifies for this sort of remuneration from a county in need. Richland County Council is apparently discussing this tonight. John Crangle says the proposed contract “doesn’t smell very good.” No kidding.
  2. Jim Webb drops out of 2016 Democratic primary — You know what this means, don’t you? It means he’ll have to wait even longer to be called on in the next Democratic debate. And he’s contemplating an independent bid, which I suppose means we may never hear of him again.
  3. Pierre Trudeau’s kid elected to run Canada — It’s morning again in Canada, as the new Liberal PM touts his “sonny ways.” I mean, “sunny ways.” Well, good luck, Justin. Oh, and Mick Jagger says to say “hi” to your mom. Me, I’ll just be sitting here thinking about our largest trading partner being run by someone who was born the year I graduated from high school.
  4. US and Russia sign deal to avoid Syria air incidents — Here’s hoping our forces stay separated by something more than a “red line.”


Open Thread for Monday, October 12, 2015

Cristóbal Colón before Their Most Catholic Majesties: Hey, you got jewels -- you could hock 'em or somethin'...

Cristóbal Colón before Their Most Catholic Majesties: Hey, you got jewels — you could hock ’em or somethin’…

Today, I’m deliberately going with stories that are a little off the beaten track from the hard news I usually lean toward, “talkers” that wouldn’t normally make a front page:

  1. Should we still celebrate Columbus Day? — Of course we should mark what happened in 1492, and calling it Columbia Day is as good a designation as any. Not because he was some kind of plaster saint, and not because he was some purveyor of genocide. He was neither. But what he accomplished in kicking off the phenomenon of globalization was world-shaking. If you doubt it, I recommend you read 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. It’s fascinating, and eye-opening. Why do people always want to make historical figures into angels or devils? They’re just people, and some of them did extraordinary things. Columbus did. Not exactly on purpose, but he did — in spite of his being very confused about geography.
  2. Confederate flag-wavers charged as street gang — Georgia seems to be having more trouble putting the flag behind it than we have. Not that we have room to be smug — I’ve seen the locals driving around with the flag waving from their pickups (which is not a slur against pickup drivers; I am one). Although not in the last few weeks…
  3. London Police Stop Watching Ecuadorean Embassy For Sign Of Assange — Nice, idea, mates — tell everyone you’ve stopped watching, so you can bag him when he pokes his head out. That is what you’re about, right?
  4. Zimbabwe drops case against lion killer — Apparently, all of the dentist’s “papers were in order.” Oh, well, in that case…
  5. How the pope ended up blessing this boy — Just a heart-warmer about what it meant to this family with a sick child that the pope stopped his car to come over and give him a blessing.

No doubt some of y’all will have some of other ideas for topics.


Open Thread for Thursday, October 8, 2015

President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to express sympathy for families affected by the floods and to offer whatever federal assistance is needed to help families recover, Oct. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to express sympathy for families affected by the floods and to offer whatever federal assistance is needed to help families recover, Oct. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A few topics for your consideration:

  1. Still no drinking water in Columbia — Which is the one lasting effect of the flood for those of us who did not get washed out of our homes. For more, follow the link.
  2.  McCarthy Quits Speaker’s Race, Leaving G.O.P. in Disarray — Because, you know, it was in such great shape before. I have a theory: The only reason the GOP hasn’t split into more than one party before now is that people today have been programmed to think in binary terms, to the point that they can’t imagine new parties. To them, you’re either left or right, Democrat or Republican, and nothing else is conceivable. Back in our pre-1860 politics, new parties would form in response to such disagreement. Which, you know, is how we got the GOP.
  3. Russian Missiles Fired at Syria Struck Iran, U.S. Says — Nice shooting there, Ivan. I mean, go ahead and pull somebody else into the fighting, why don’t you?
  4. Airman who helped stop French train attack is stabbed — Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone’s wounds were significant, but he’s in stable condition.
  5. New Diet Pepsi Leaves Some With a Bad Taste — Some? Some? Was there ever a Diet Pepsi bottled that did not leave a bad taste? I’ve got a suggestion for you, folks: If you don’t want the calories, drink water. (Unless, of course, you’re in Columbia this week.)

The unremarked passing of Tapiture, a.k.a., ‘Pinterest for Dudes’


I say “unremarked” because if you search for “Tapiture” in the Google news feed, all you get is stories about a race horse.

Thus endeth the sad effort to create a Pinterest for men, populated with pictures of steak and guns and hunting dogs and babes in lingerie, instead of decorating ideas and cute shoes.

It was probably meant to fail, but to pass with this little notice? That’s like the social media equivalent of an unmarked grave. Like Mozart in “Amadeus.”

Not that I’ve looked at Tapiture for awhile. I only knew about its demise because I received this release one day this past week:


That’s it. That’s all he wrote.

Sad. But guy sad. Like, Jim Brown getting killed at the end of “The Dirty Dozen” sad.


Yo, Starbucks on Gervais! I’d love to run your Twitter account for you

Y’all know of my unrequited love for Starbucks. “Unrequited” because in order for it to be requited, Starbucks would need to advertise here on my blog. I can hardly think of a better fit, given all the free product placement I’ve already provided over the years.

But now I have a different proposition: Please, Starbucks, let me run your local Twitter feed.

I’m referring here in particular to the Starbucks in the Vista, at Gervais and Lincoln. I follow the store on Twitter, and it has not posted a thing since 2012. Sept. 4, 2012, to be precise. And that one was merely a reTweet.xw38lV2J

I realized this because I went to the Twitter feed to find out whether the store was open today — which, ya know, would have been a really handy bit of info to post on Twitter.

Fortunately, the phone number was included on the feed, so I called them, the way people did in the 20th century, and found out that no, they are not open, on account of the water problem.

I have a proposition: Let me take over your Twitter feed, and I will post at LEAST daily, on the average, in return for the following considerations:

  • An ad on my blog, at the discount rate.
  • Two free cups of coffee a day for the duration of the arrangement.
  • One pound of coffee beans a week.

That’s it. I think you’ll find that this would be far more cost-effective for you than using a significant portion of an FTE to get this job done. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a barista who would be as good at Twitter as I am. I am, after all, one of the Twitterati. I mean, I teach people how to Tweet and everything.

Think about it, @SbuxGervais. This is a sweet deal I’m offering here.

Open Thread for Thursday, October 1, 2015


Topics available out there at the moment:

  1. Multiple Deaths Reported in Shooting at Oregon College — I’ve seen an indication that the shooter is dead; details still coming in.
  2. There’s been no calendar week without a mass shooting during Obama’s 2nd term — Interesting observation from The Fix. Now watch: Some Republican will say, “I told you the country would go to hell if he were re-elected.”
  3. Russia defends Syrian airstrikes as claims mount of blows to U.S.-backed rebels — This situation is just getting more and more dangerous. They’re in-theater, we’re in-theater, and there’s shooting going on…
  4. Man charged in Forest Acres officer’s death waives bond — Yeah, if I were that guy, I don’t think I’d want to be out on the street, either.
  5. Investigating Clinton Email Server, FBI Says It Doesn’t ‘Give A Rip About Politics’ — Well, that’s… good, I suppose.

Oh, and finally, I liked this little slice-of-life anecdote from the night before Boehner made his announcement:

Great idea! Maybe I’ll become a Republican. Or a Democrat.

Had to smile when I saw this a moment ago:

An excerpt from the story:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell joked that he identifies as a Republican to annoy the GOP’s right-wing.

“Yes, I’m still a Republican,” he said about his party affiliation during the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, D.C., according to the Daily Mail.

“I want to continue to be a Republican because it annoys them,” Powell quipped to host Walter Isaacson.

“I think the party has shifted much further right than where the country is and it should be obvious to party leaders that they cannot keep saying and doing the things that they were doing and hope to be successful in national-level election in the future, not just in 2016,” he added.

Powell said a small faction in the GOP is alienating voters with their rhetoric on immigration.

“I think most Republicans understand that we need immigration, we are an immigrant nation [and that] it is in our best interest to do it,” he said….

I think I’ll follow his lead and become a Republican. And a Democrat.

Oh, I know! I’ll become a Libertarian! That would drive them nuts