Category Archives: Blogosphere

Open Thread for Monday, March 2, 2015

In five days, I’ll be on the way to Thailand, so I’ve got a lot on my plate, but will try to keep the blog going. That’s going to be tough while I’m gone, because I’m not taking my laptop.

So let’s make the most of what we’ve got now:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham heads to New Hampshire next week to test 2016 waters — I can tell him right now, any water up there is likely to be solid.

Iraq ‘seizes districts from IS’ — While the U.S. sits back and watches. Forget the Chinese. Maybe this will end up being the Iranian Century…

Gov. Nikki Haley on economic trip to undisclosed location — Maybe she can say hey to Dick Cheney for us. Seriously, I hope the trip goes well for SC.

Obviously, it’s blue and BROWN

I was rather puzzled reading this story in The Washington Post this morning, about some huge social media controversy over whether this dress is white and gold, or blue and black.

When, of course, it’s obviously blue and a particularly muddled sort of brown.

Here’s the only explanation the story offered:

The answer involves how light enters the eye and the split-second decisions your brain makes upon discerning that information — without your even noticing. When confronted by an ambiguous situation like this dress, your brain may eliminate one color and focus on another. “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information,” University of Washington neuroscientist Jay Neitz told Wired.

And for whatever reason, whether it’s a skewed white balance or the lighting behind the dress, this image hits people in different ways. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black,” Bevil Conway of Wellesley College told Wired….

Open Thread for Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You ever go to type “2015,” and think, “What happened? How did I get transported so far into the future all of a sudden?” Drat that Doc Brown

Anyway, here are some possible topics. You may have some others in mind:

DHEC board chair defends Kitzman hiring process as new search begins — Talk about defending the indefensible. Yet, “In an email Tuesday evening to The State, board chairman Allen Amsler answered ‘no’ when asked if the eight-member panel made any mistakes in the process of choosing Kitzman as director….” Wowee.

Haley: SC should not borrow $500 million — And as is her wont, she’s talking about Brian White as though he were some wild-eyed, free-spending liberal or something (as if we’d seen anyone like that in leadership positions in the Legislature in the past decade or two): “We got an issue of a chairman of Ways and Means who wants to … run up the credit card debt just because he can.”

Marijuana set to be legalized in D.C. at midnight — You mean, those people up there weren’t already stoned the last few years? Their judgment is going to be further impaired? Maybe it’s a good thing I’m about to leave the country for awhile. Speaking of which…

DHS shutdown: Boehner says House in ‘wait-and-see mode’ as deadline looms — Yeah, they would go messing with the agency that handles airport security right when I’m about to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Far East. Sheesh.

Y’all have anything better to bring up?

Steve Benjamin’s new look

Since relatively few of y’all follow me on Twitter (which you should, because that’s kind of where I’m blogging when I’m not here), I thought I’d share this Tweet from last night:

This was taken as the mayor was leaving a reception honoring local attorney and former city councilman Luther Battiste, upon the addition of his papers to the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library at USC. Luther is a notorious packrat. Like me. But unlike me, he has managed to save some pretty interesting stuff from over the years.

And truth be told, this isn’t really a “new look.” He hasn’t turned a sartorial page, as it were. The mayor explained that he’d been home all day, and this was his first event outside of the house, so he just didn’t bother to get all gussied up.

His second event of the day was the Solomon-Tenenbaum lecture, which I also attended.

Open Thread for Thursday, February 19, 2015

Some possible conversation-starters:

The Kitzman confirmation hearings begin — It will be interesting to see whether the Senate really holds the governor accountable on this one. The story at doesn’t say much so far, but you might want to peruse Jamie Self’s Twitter feed. Here are some items that interested me:

On to other topics:

Senate bill calls for ousting SC State trustees — The lurid saga continues. By the way, I saw an interesting headline in the NYT this morning, but haven’t had time to read it: “How to Hold Colleges Accountable.”

No, it doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton is a woman — I just thought I’d take a second to argue with this piece in the WashPost this morning headlined, “Why it matters that Hillary Clinton is a woman.” The writer notes that three-fourths of voters say it doesn’t matter, and goes on to explain why they’re wrong and don’t even know their own motivations. Well, I’m a pretty introspective guy, and I can say with confidence that it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll neither vote for her (if I vote in the Democratic primary, which seems unlikely this time, since the only contest in doubt will be on the other side) nor against her because she is a woman (if I vote against her in the general, it will be because the Republicans have nominated someone I like better; if they don’t, I’ll vote for her). And if anyone else is going to vote for or against her because she’s a woman, then I wish they’d stay home. Choosing the president of the United States calls for deeper thinking than that.

Or, whatever y’all want to talk about…

Robbery this morning at Sylvan’s


I was deciding whether I should start following the Columbia PD’s Twitter feed, and checking to see if they were posting readily, and bang! Within the past hour, they’d been on the scene of a robbery at Sylvan’s.

So I decided to start following…

No details yet on the robbery. Except that no one was hurt, and they apparently got some good stuff off the surveillance cameras.

S.C. lawmakers discuss U.S. Constitutional convention

When I saw this this morning:

I had nothing to go on, so I facetiously responded, “Here we go again. Tell the boys at The Citadel to break out the red flag…”

But based on the reporter’s subsequent Tweets, I’m guessing this is what it’s about:

Amending the U.S. Constitution to make marriage between only a man and woman. (Main sponsor: Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley)

That one kinda snuck up on me. I missed that story when it ran. Or maybe I saw it, and missed the thing about Grooms wanting a U.S. con-con, which was only mentioned in a bulleted sidebar, not the main story.

I’ll let you know if it turns out I’m wrong and its about something else.

A U.S. Constitutional convention, eh? If we do that, can we straighten out the language in the 2nd Amendment this time, do something about that oddly placed comma? Not this one, the first one.

Open Thread for Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Just so I can say I posted something new today:

  1. Obama Seeks Congressional Authorization for ISIS Fight — Which includes, ahem, boots on the ground. Which was inevitable.
  2. SC House votes to ban abortions at 20 weeks — I’m going to make a sad prediction: We can debate this as long as we like, and no one’s mind will be changed, and no common ground will be found. I’d like to be wrong about that, though.
  3. SC Senator: Women Are “A Lesser Cut Of Meat” — When Will Folks reported that via Twitter, I supposed he must be bucking for Jon Stewart’s job. But perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Sen. Corbin is bucking for Jake Knotts’ old role as the Senate’s chief Sayer of Cringe-worthy Things.

Or whatever y’all want to talk about…

The social media talk went well, I think (ask Bryan; he was there)

B9lPyTPIAAACK2jWell, I survived my lecture on social media at the Capital City Club today. It was a nice-sized group for that sort of thing — about 15 people — and those who gave me feedback seemed to have gotten something out of it. I hope so.

And hey — Bryan Caskey was there! He took the picture above, of me being all professorial. Don’t I look like I’m expounding upon the Great Questions of the Age, instead of just telling people how not to look stupid on Twitter?

Below is a slide from my PowerPoint. Yes, I did it myself — what’s your point?…



Join me for a conversation about social media

Just thought I’d let you know about this event tomorrow at the Capital City Club, in case you’d like to attend:

Distinguished Speaker Series Presents: 
Brad Warthen and “A Conversation About Social Media”
Brad Warthen — former old-media editor, now a consultant in the brave new world of multidirectional communications — will share what he has learned about social media, both good and bad. A blogger since 2005, and a Twitter fiend since 2009, he still feels greatly honored that “Free Times” dubbed him one of the “Twitterati” of the Midlands awhile back. He’ll also share observations about Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ — the whole gamut. He’s counting on questions, and wants to hear about YOUR experiences with social media, because he doesn’t plan on doing all the talking.
Tomorrow, February 11 at Noon | $25++ for members and guests
Lunch Club can be applied

Now that it’s looming, I guess I’d better get serious and put that Powerpoint together. No, don’t let that scare you off. There won’t be too many words, just a way of creating a semblance of order and keeping me from rambling too much.

By the way, I think I’ll be focusing mostly on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, since the time is limited — and since I’m hoping my audience will have stuff to share, so that maybe I’ll learn something.

Open Thread for Friday, February 6, 2015

Just in case any of you are actually paying attention at this time on a Friday, which seems doubtful:

The latest on the apparent murder-suicide at USC — I’m a little surprised at the slow pace at which info is coming out. For instance, we still don’t have a name of the second person — the presumed shooter — who died.

The burgeoning Bryan Williams scandal — What makes people say stupid stuff like that? Is there something in their heads that tells them the truth just isn’t impressive enough? I don’t get it. You’d think being the best-known anchor in the nation, or the best-known woman in politics, would be enough. But NOOoooo…

ISIS Claims U.S. Captive Died in Jordanian Airstrike — Don’t know yet whether it’s true.

Hiring, Wages Up; Market Nears Full Health — That’s what the WSJ says the numbers say. But does it feel like “full health” to you? Not to me…

… or whatever else y’all want to talk about…



Open Thread for Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Y’all can probably come up with a better topic than I can, but here are some possibilities:

GOP contenders try to bolster their foreign policy cred — I’m encouraged to see Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker taking trips abroad. Makes me think that maybe the 2016 election won’t be all about domestic issues (which to me are generally secondary with regard to the presidency), as I have feared. Which might undermine the rationale of Lindsey Graham’s campaign…

And what about that vaccination stuff? — Speaking of Christie, is it now a prerequisite for GOP candidates to cater to medical paranoia? On the one hand we have these potential candidates broadening themselves with travel, on the other hand we have this…

What were your favorite Super Bowl ads? — This is entirely self-serving. I need to write a blog item on the subject for the ADCO blog, and I could use some input. (I’m always a bit handicapped in this, since I don’t watch the game and therefore have to find time during the working week to track them down and watch them.)

Below is one of my favorites so far:

Thoughts on the State of the Union?

I didn’t live-blog the State of the Union last night because, frankly, Twitter is a much better medium for sharing stream-of-consciousness thoughts.

Here are a few of my Tweets from last night:

Then, during the GOP response, delivered by newbie Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa:

What did y’all think of it?

One of the more interesting comments I heard after it was over was from my wife, who noted that while POTUS has turned almost completely gray-headed in the last six years, he hasn’t lost his bounce and swagger. He’s still Mr. Untouched. She noted the way he moved through the chamber with a gait like that of a star athlete, the Big Man on Campus.

Chris Cillizza of The Fix said much the same, in a piece headlined, “The remarkable confidence of Barack Obama.” An excerpt:

Seventy seven days ago, Barack Obama’s party lost control of Congress — largely due to his unpopularity nationwide. You’d have never known it watching the president deliver his sixth State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

From start to finish, Obama was supremely confident, challenging — and mocking — Republicans at every turn.  Touting the turnaround of the economy, Obama turned to Republicans, who, in classic State of the Union symbolism, had refused to deliver a standing ovation, and joked “That’s good news, people.” On Cuba, Obama challenged those who disagreed with his Administration policies; “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new,” he said.

But more than the words on the page, it was Obama’s tone and overall demeanor that absolutely oozed confidence. He winked. He laughed at his own jokes. And he ad-libbed….

Anyway… your thoughts?

Your Virtual Front Page for Friday, January 16, 2015

Here you go, since I haven’t given you anything else to chew on today:

1. Belgium charges terror plot suspects (BBC) — This happened last night and all, but it’s huge, with raids across Belgium, France and Germany. Meanwhile, Obama and PM Cameron meet to discuss terror, and to reaffirm the “special relationship.” Presumably, POTUS didn’t use the occasion to return any Churchill busts.

2. 2014 Was the Warmest Year Ever Recorded on Earth (NYT) — Just FYI. Something you might really want to take note of…

3. Supreme Court to hear same-sex marriage cases (WashPost) — This one could decide whether there is a right involved. Which makes me wonder: Has the court ever found a constitutional right to marry for anyone, regardless of gender or orientation? I have no idea. Maybe some of our lawyers would know.

4. Gov. Nikki Haley: Uber ban ‘extremely disappointing’ ( — What? I didn’t know the PSC had enacted an Uber ban. When did THAT happen?

5. Saudis ‘to review’ blogger flogging (BBC) — That would be good, since we don’t want blogger flogging to become a thing. Especially not like this — 1,000 lashes amounts to execution by whip.

6. Police: Teen sweethearts blaze trail of crime across South (AP) — Yeah, I didn’t really think it was a front-page story, either, but the lurid headline reeled me right in. The girl is just 13. The boy, who is 18, supposedly doesn’t know that…


Open Thread for Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Legislature is back this week, so the time has arrived when downtown Columbia comes alive with the original purpose of the city’s founding.

And here are two or three topics y’all might want to talk about:

What did you think of Nikki Haley’s speech? — If you missed it, you can read it here. It garnered some positive reviews from some unlikely quarters, such as from here.

Get ready for a huge fight over DHEC nominee — It sort of blew my mind when I saw that Eleanor Kitzman was nominated to take over our state health and environment agency. We’re talking about a woman whose main qualification for the position is her ferocious loyalty to Nikki Haley. Remember this? But you know what? Aside from this one nominee, it would probably be a good development if SC senators would start raising some questions about executive branch nominees, in the name of transparency. We definitely don’t need it to be like inside the Beltway, where nominees get blocked because they’re from the opposite party. But some germane questioning and challenging of credentials would be nice. And then, of course, if their credentials stand up, they should be promptly confirmed. Anyway, senators are indicating they’re going to start advising some before consenting. We’ll see how good a job they do.

How “free-range” should kids be today? — Here’s something you should definitely check out:

But don’t just take Lenore’s word on what happened — we know where she’d be coming from (these parents are devotees of her movement) . Here’s the story in The Washington Post today. An excerpt:

It was a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. But what the parents saw as a moment of independence for their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they say authorities viewed much differently.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say they are being investigated for neglect for the Dec. 20 trek — in a case they say reflects a clash of ideas about how safe the world is and whether parents are free to make their own choices about raising their children.

“We wouldn’t have let them do it if we didn’t think they were ready for it,” Danielle said….

Or, we could talk about what you want to talk about…

The 6,000-word, apparently random spam poem

helen and paris

Helen’s world/Sea son, that night you at virtuous make to admire/Disappear aforetime light in/Light subtle fragrance


Spam is getting more creative all the time.

Today, waiting among the pending comments in the bowels of this blog, hoping for approval, was an opus the like of which I have not seen before. It’s a 6,046-word random poem, which actually at times verges on the beautiful, or at least the evocative.

An excerpt:

Destine a meeting by chance of beauty
The stone stairs of Mount Taishan
The passing years
The passing years, at etc. whose mutually Ru with Mo
The quicksand will also stop
Wander about a person
Wander about an animal
Flow breeze to recall¡«to the min
Zhejiang on the seventh-study
Wave Tao sand ¡¤the greatly clear lake feeling keep in mind
Bathe fire rebirth
Helen’s world
Sea son, that night you at virtuous make to admire
Disappear aforetime light in
Light subtle fragrance
The light day floats joss-stick
Light deep feeling
Light handwriting, very sweet sadness
Dead hour with think
Deep autumn, the dance of end treads
Pure clear seasonal changes rain is in succession
In the morning affairs
Pure song
Clear water she
Very pure tears
Pleasant breeze from come to spend proper open
Visit zoo in Guangzhou
Visit a river the beam son lake scenic area is for summer
The somniloquy of the river
Billowing world of mortals, our everybody is the trip person who drifts on water all the way
A full sky of snowflakes that see float to spread again
The time in the driftage bottle
The Xiao Xiao rain Xie
Under the hot sun of lotus pond
The smoke flower is easily cold, heart as well such
Cook a pot of heart for month, Chi one a life time the passing years
Sleep soundly

If you’d like to read the whole thing, I found it on this odd, possibly-randomly generated page, the purpose of which I can’t discern. Scroll down to this line — “101.The life is shallow to talk-return to Mou things of the past(is original)” — and the entire thing follows.

Keep it up, spammers, and I just might take the time to read them. But I won’t approve them…

Your Virtual Front Page, December 30, 2014

There actually is some news today, which is fairly unusual for this week of the year:

  1. Metts pleads guilty, ends storied career in disgrace ( — The judge accepts the deal this time, since it doesn’t rule out prison time.
  2. Jet Debris and Bodies Found; Little Hope of Any Survivors (NYT) — But we sort of knew that was the case, tragically. FYI, these horrific stories are seeming less distant to me lately, since I have tickets to fly to Southeast Asia myself in a couple of months.
  3. Putin critic among ‘hundred held’ (BBC) — He dared to attend a political rally while under house arrest. Pussy Riot weighs in with a video. As an aside, if this is typical, they’re not a very good band…
  4. Here’s Why Obama Said The U.S. Is ‘Less Racially Divided’ (NPR) — He said we feel worse about race just because we’re talking about it more. I can identify with that explanation. This is from an NPR interview with POTUS. (See video below.)
  5. Boehner Stands By Scalise After Revelations (WSJ) — Revelations that he addressed a white nationalist group in 2002.
  6. Release of Bergdahl Reshaped America’s Talks With Cuba (NYT) — It made the White House hesitate to make a swap deal. I’m glad to hear the Bergdahl mess made someone in the administration rethink something

Open Thread for Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sorry I haven’t had time to blog today. May this post make up for it!

Some possible topics:

The surprise outcome in the Jimmy Metts case — A lot of folks were raising their eyebrows at the sweetness of the deal offered to the ex-sheriff, in light of the charges, but the judge in the case didn’t like the deal one bit, and tossed it out.

The smelly stuff that Bobby Harrell WASN’T charged with — Cindi Scoppe’s column tells a pretty sordid tale of undue legislative influence over state officials.

Sony actually canceling the opening of “The Interview” — My friend Bob McAlister opined on Facebook that this was “far more important than a silly movie. Just imagine what the Muslim world must be thinking as they see a major company relinquishing its constitutional right to free speech.” This was a rare case of Bob agreeing with The Guardian, which called it “North Korea’s stunningly effective fatwah…”

The political ramifications of Obama’s bold move on Cuba — Yesterday, I deliberately resisted giving into one of the more obnoxious habits of pundits — to analyze every policy move not on its merits, but in terms of its likely effect on the next election. As though policy served only as a electoral strategy, instead of the other way around (elections being our way of deciding policy directions). But pretty much no other journalist in America was so fastidious, so you’ve now heard a lot about it. I’d already heard Carl Hiaasen opining that Jeb Bush was the only Republican who could beat Hillary Clinton in Florida (sorry; I couldn’t find a link to that radio interview, for some reason). What, then, is the impact of this? Is Obama right to bet that American attitudes have changed, or is Marco Rubio smart to channel the rage of his elders?

Or, whatever y’all want to talk about.

Your Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You haven’t had one of these lately, and it’s a newsy day locally, so here you go:

1. Metts resigns, agrees to plead guilty ( — Thus ends 42 years as Lexington County sheriff. Here’s a copy of the plea deal, and here’s his resignation letter to Gov. Haley.


2. Taliban attack at Pakistan school kills at least 141 (WashPost) — And Pakistan retaliates by striking at Taliban (which would make the average, naive person ask, Why weren’t they doing that already?)

3. Apple wins $1bn iTunes court case (BBC) — The odd thing is that this is about Apple only allowing music it sells to be played on iPods. And Apple is about to quit making iPods. This case stems from events in 2006. Sort of shows that our court system is ill-equipped to make relevant, timely decisions on fast-changing technology.

4. Jeb Bush says he is ‘actively exploring’ run for presidency in 2016 (The Guardian) — I thought I’d go with the Guardian version because you just know they’ve gotta be thrilled at the idea of another Bush in the White House.

5. Columbia police chemist who was forced out fires back at city ( — She’s sued the city for $3 million, and now she’s speaking out, among other things saying that her departure from her job is “absolutely” “about race.” That, and retribution.

6. Man breaks teacher’s arm in classroom (AP) — This happened in Orangeburg, in front of her 4th-grade pupils.