Category Archives: Blogosphere

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

Forest Acres officer shot, killed at Richland Mall

The fallen officer, Greg Alia.

The fallen officer, Greg Alia.

Horrible news travels so fast these days.

By the time I got a news alert from WACH telling me that a Forest Acres officer had been shot and killed at Richland Mall this morning, the flags at City Hall were already at half-mast:

And more astoundingly, my friend Mary Pat Baldauf had already contributed to a memorial fund for him:

It’s like we don’t even get a moment anymore to absorb the news, to say, “Oh, my God. How terrible…”

So consider that to have been said by me. Perhaps I’ll have more to say later.

What a busy Friday: Stuff going on right now (more or less)

pope UN

Lot of stuff going on for a Friday morning. Not here in Columbia — here it’s just raining. But we have these things of national and global significance happening more or less as I type:

  1. Pope speaks to U.N. — OK, this just ended before I could finish the post. That’s OK, you might have had trouble following the feed; during the part I caught he was speaking Spanish (with an unusual accent to my ear; I guess I haven’t heard that many Argentines). He’s talked so far about saving the planet, has endorsed the Iran deal and has said nations need to remove barriers to the education of girls.
  2. John Boehner resigns — My first reaction was, “Was it something the Pope said?” After all, Boehner invited him, much to the chagrin of some of the crazies in his party. But I think it’s just the accumulated stress of trying to lead said crazies. Why would he want to quit? Well, just for instance, when his resignation was announced at the “Values Voters Summit,” the news got a standing ovation.
  3. Chinese leader visits Obama — Technically, this hasn’t happened yet, but the White House is poised to roll out “pomp-filled arrival ceremony,” then a state dinner tonight. These guys should have a lot to talk about. Mr. President, can you say, “Stop the hacking?” Not to mention the weight Xi has been throwing around in the East and South China Sea.

And… dang it, there was something else. What am I forgetting?

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 23, 2015


A few things to chew on…

  1. In D.C., pope weighs in on climate, poverty, immigration — He also gave POTUS a bit of a homily on respecting religious liberty, so it wasn’t all hugs and kisses.
  2. Volkswagen CEO Resigns, Saying He’s ‘Shocked’ By Emissions Scandal — He was also distressed to learn that there was gambling going on at Rick’s.
  3. Carly Fiorina in Columbia — There’s video at The State’s site.
  4. Yankees Catcher With a Wit All His Own — Yogi Berra’s dead! Oh, say it ain’t so…

These aren’t great talkers, not that I look back over the list. Maybe y’all have some better ideas…


See, that’s what I dislike about the “like” button

I’ve been enjoying Alexandra Petri’s stuff since I discovered her very recently.

But I must take issue with her piece last week, “A DISLIKE button, on Facebook? DISLIKE.” I don’t disagree with her on that. I don’t like the idea of a dislike button, either. And she argues her point ably:

A badly kept secret of human beings is that we never quite have the right words for delicate situations. We love “Like” for this reason — better than “Congratulations!” by a mile — but what is awkward in Facebook is not that there is no button for framing your compassionate response to loss. It is that grief and condolences are inherently unwieldy. Even the right button would not quite be the right button. The act of pressing a button in response to that news would feel wrong no matter how compassionate the word was. “Like” feels wrong. But I’m not sure “Dislike” would be much better.FBDislike

And any negative word presents the possibility of abuse.

Look, being considerate takes work. Communication takes work. Correspondence takes work. Finding words takes work.

I always find striking the rare Facebook status that has more Comments than Likes — usually, this comes when someone has suffered a loss. And then, in our fumbling way, we struggle for words. “I’m so sorry,” we say. “Sending thoughts,” we say. These responses are never very many words, but they feel infinitely difficult.

And they always have.

But here’s where I disagree: I have the same problem with the “like” button. It’s a cheap way out from doing the hard work of expressing what you really mean: Look, being considerate takes work. Communication takes work. Correspondence takes work. Finding words takes work.

I’ll admit that the harm done by hitting a “like” button is minimal compared to being misunderstood when you hit something just as simplistic with negative connotation (and I’ll confess I’ve made use of it, when I feel the tiny urge of social pressure to say something, and the like button is a sufficiently inadequate social gesture to meet that need). Seldom will anyone angrily confront you to demand, “What do you MEAN, ‘like’?” Although some people would. OK, I might. One can only take so much unfocused affirmation.

But I have to say, I “like” her suggestion for a “MEH” button…

Virtual Front Page for Thursday, September 17, 2015


Click on the image to view this and more Ariail cartoons at

Just to take a quick run around the bases…

  1. Fed Stands Pat, Wary of Global Tumult — WSJ — As I understand it (from having tortured myself listening to commentary on NPR), this is bad news because the Fed isn’t optimistic about our economy, and it’s good news because businesses are likely to invest more and wages might finally rise a bit. I think.
  2. Girlfriend: Roof friend Joe Meek hauled in by FBI — — I already told you about that. Meanwhile, here’s The Guardian‘s version of this South Carolina story.
  3. Croatian PM says country cannot stop migrants — BBC — 11,000 more have come in since Hungary closed the border.
  4. Fiorina takes subdued victory lap after debate performance — WashPost — Meanwhile, giving with one hand and taking away with the other, the Post also reports that her star could be dimmed if many people see the ad below from when she ran for the Senate five years ago.
  5. Cleveland Sellers stepping down from Voorhees College — — The survivor of the Orangeburg Massacre and father of Bakari cited health problems.
  6. Pope to find renewed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York — NYT — A neat infographic on a pretty awesome church.

Tweets from the debate (Kathryn, look away)

debate stage

I know Kathryn hates it when I do this, and most of the rest of y’all just ignore it. But I’m going to post it anyway, because this is how I commented on the debate, and I’m not going to type all this stuff all over again (copying the embed codes over is tedious enough).

Some people liked my comments — I got 13 replies, 17 reTweets, two new follows and 37 favorites. (A little disappointed on the follows — usually I get closer to 10 during such an event with so much interaction.) I didn’t bother to count the Facebook responses (my Tweets automatically post there as well), but it was at least a couple of score.

If running these prompts no discussion, so be it. But at least I made it available to those who don’t indulge in Twitter:

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 16, 2015

SCWomenKilledColorAriail (2)

Click on the image to view this and more Ariail cartoons at

Another busy day with a scarcity of posts, but here are some things that caught my eye:

  1. Feds name Dylann Roof friend as target — After reading that piece in the Post, I have to wonder what the charge could be. There must be something that we don’t know — which would not be surprising, I suppose.
  2. Hungarian Riot Police Clash With Migrants at Border Gate — Hungary seems determined to make every other country in Europe seem warm, generous and welcoming by contrast.
  3. Obamacare Enrollment Triggers Drop In The Uninsured Rate — Which is what it was supposed to do, but it’s nice to know it’s working.
  4. Budweiser Owner Woos Miller in Push to Create Beer Giant — Honestly, I don’t care if Bud buys Miller. I just liked the mental image of “Beer Giant.” Reminds me of the scene in “Strange Brew” when Bob McKenzie is trapped in the beer vat and has to drink it all to keep from drowning. Oh, you think that’s stupid? Take off, eh? You hoser…
  5. The GOP debate tonight — I’ll probably be commenting in real time on Twitter, assuming there are no technical difficulties and real life doesn’t distract me too much. I’m not going to watch the JV one.

Open Thread for Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This has nothing to do with anything in the news. I just liked this shot I took down by the river Sunday.

This has nothing to do with anything in the news. I just liked this shot I took down by the river Sunday.

Determined to get something up before the day was out, here are some possible topics:

  1. SC ranks No. 1 for deadly violence against women — Probably the most shameful ranking that our state has. Our rate is more than twice the national average. And of course, most murdered women knew their killer.
  2. N. Korea says it has restarted its nuclear facilities, threatens U.S. — According to Kim Jong “Psycho” Un, we just made the list, buddy
  3. Support of Trump Steady as Clinton’s Slips, Poll Finds — So on the one hand we have bad news for Hillary, on the other, terrible news for the country. In just two months, Hillary’s support has plunged from 71 percent to 42 percent among Democratic women. Yeah, really…
  4. YouTube ‘dancing baby’ case prompts ruling affirming Fair Use — Sounds to me like good news for bloggers. I think. Not sure…

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?