Category Archives: Blogosphere

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.

We very much enjoyed Phillip’s performance Wednesday night


The wife and I had a treat Wednesday evening. At the last minute, one of our daughters obtained tickets for chamber music at the Columbia Museum of Art.

And one of the featured performers was our own Phillip Bush!

It was the first time I’ve actually heard Phillip in concert, and it was awesome. (I’m not counting this impromptu performance in Kathryn’s salon.) Although he would have been even more entertaining had he given us some of the extremely intense facial expressions offered by the lovely visiting violinist. That was worth paying extra for.

But seriously, folks, Phillip is an amazing talent.

My favorite part of the program was the Haydn piece. The Brahms was wonderful as well, but I’m more of a classical-period guy, I guess.

I apologize for the low quality of the photo below. I shot it as the musicians were taking their positions as the intermission ended. I wanted a shot of Phillip and also of the violinist, so we could tell the Twins that if they really practice hard on their cellos, they, too, will be able to wear such a shiny dress.

That’s Phillip behind the grand. The guy whose head you can see, not the guy in the khaki pants — that’s his page turner. Talk about having a great seat! I was pretty envious of that guy…



Open Thread for Thursday, December 11, 2014

Some possible topics:

1. Kappa Sigma eviction put on hold at USC — So as I understand it, this fraternity, which just came off a three-year double-secret probation, has been banned for five years because of “hazing, alcohol abuse and controlled-substance violations.” So, my big question is this: Isn’t that kinda what fraternities do? I don’t know; back in my college days Greek life was considered so monumentally uncool that I never considered it, and ran the other way the couple of times I was invited to a rush party. Followup question — if this isn’t what fraternities are for, then what are they for?

2. CIA boss defends post-9/11 tactics — To continue the conversation on our big topic of the week. DCI Brennan does acknowledge that some of the CIA’s methods were “abhorrent.” So, you know, mistakes were made…

3. Leaders scramble for support for spending bill — And if they don’t git ‘er done by midnight, the government will, once again turn into a pumpkin. We should have had a pool, after the election, on how long it would take the new GOP majority to shut down the government. The winning prediction would have been “before the new majority even takes office.”

4. U.S. Oil Prices Drop Below $60 a Barrel — A shot in the arm for the economy, perhaps, but I’m not looking forward to sharing the road with even more SUVs. Neither is the planet…

What do you want to talk about?

Open Thread for Monday, December 8, 2014

I couldn’t suppress a yawn when I saw this Tweet:

Taylor Swift? Did no news happen at all this year? I mean, I think I saw that name, Taylor Swift, in some headlines. But I don’t remember what they were about — except for one story I saw that was about people body-shaming her for being skinny. Folks, that ain’t news. The only way weight constitutes news (other than as a national health trend story) is when it appears as part of “throw-weight.” Right, ladies?

Well… maybe she’s as good a choice as any, judging by the available news today. But here are a couple of possible topics (nothing local; sorry):

  1. G.O.P. Donors Seek to Anoint Establishment Favorite Early — Hey, the Democrats have one; why shouldn’t the Republicans? Who should be the GOP Hillary? Jeb Bush? Chris Christie? Mitt Romney again? This makes me all nostalgic — the smoke-filled room! It sure would help the party to avoid the embarrassing spectacle of last time around, in which each of the more extreme options had a turn as Front-Runner of the Week…
  2. 5 questions about the CIA interrogation report — This hasn’t even happened yet, and The Guardian (being the Guardian, and therefore kneejerk-tiresome on security issues) is already leading with it. Basically, this is expected to find what we already knew: Torture’s not such a great interrogation technique.
  3. Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying? — This is relative. They’re still getting 100 new cases a week. Can you imagine the state we’d be in in this country if we were experiencing 100 new cases of Ebola each week?

Or whatever y’all want to talk about…

Another reason I like Facebook less and less all the time

So last night, I was leafing through my tattered and musty-smelling copy of The Name of the Rose, and ran across this Thomas à Kempis quote at the end of the foreword:

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.

And I immediately loved it and wanted to add it as one of my favorite quotes on Facebook.

But since Facebook has been reconfigured about 47 times (I think it’s competing with the number of times the U.S. House has tried to repeal Obamacare) since the last time I added a quote, I couldn’t find my quotes.

Which really ticked me off. If it had been a button for inviting people to play Candy Crush Saga, you can bet it wouldn’t have disappeared. But since quotes have to do with the written word, and might provoke actual thought

But thanks to Google, I found a way to get to my quotes. Actually, the instructions I found were out of date (a couple more Facebook configurations since they were written, apparently), but they helped me enough that I could intuit my way to my quotes.

Here’s how: Click on your name to get your home page. Click on About. Over on the left, click on “Details About You.” At the bottom of the box, you’ll find your quotes. Which is counterintuitive. You’d expect to find them on the page with your favorite books, movies, music, etc. But they’re not there…

Here are mine. Maybe they aren’t all the epitome of profundity, but I like them:

“I wouldn’t want to live without strong misgivings. Right, Chaplain?”
— Yossarian, in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

“Stand in the place where you live.”
— R.E.M.

“I invested my life in institutions — he thought without rancour — and all I am left with is myself.”
— Smiley’s People

“In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.”
— Thomas à Kempis

Doug reports from London: He didn’t have the time to wait in the queue…

Doug Tube

The queue at Oxford Circus, 6 p.m., Nov. 25, 2014. Photo by Doug Ross

Yes, that’s a paraphrase from a song written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison

Anyway, you remember our discussion of mass transit back at the end of October, when Doug Ross mentioned he would be in London for a week in November, and would report on whether he thought the London Underground was as awesome as I say it is?

Well, he checked in via text last week (sorry, I failed to pass it on, what with trying to get my work decks cleared for Thanksgiving).

He sent the above photo, with this caption:

This is the line to get to the steps to get to the entry to the tube at 6 p.m. in Oxford circus. When it is not crowded it’s fine. Otherwise it’s a nightmare.

So there you have it; the opposite position from my own.

I never ran into anything that bad in London. I was in some crowded trains, and waited on some crowded platforms. But I never had to wait up on street level to get into the Tube. Maybe that’s because I was there between Christmas and two days after New Years Day, so normal commuter traffic was lighter than usual. Or else Doug has just had phenomenally back luck.

I will quote this from Wikipedia: “At the end of the 2000s, Oxford Circus had the highest pedestrian volumes recorded anywhere in London.” So, you know, it might be a place to avoid if you haven’t got the time to wait in the queue.

But I’ve shared Doug’s report, in the interest of fairness. Perhaps he would like to elaborate…

White people rioting over stupid… stuff


سلطان سعود القاسمي, a.k.a., @SultanAlQassemi, brings this to my attention:

This in no way, shape or form excuses the behavior of those engaged in mindless destruction in Ferguson, MO. But it does provide an interesting side note, a bit of perspective lest we leap to erroneous, ugly conclusions.

Stupid is stupid.

Open Thread for Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It’s been another busy day for me, allowing little time for blogging.

But here are some possible topics:

  1. Lawmakers getting “creative” on paying for roads — Robert’s cartoon above reminds me of what I have been meaning to write about, but hadn’t gotten to. Lawmakers continue to contort themselves in trying to figure a way to pay for roads in this state (when we HAVE a way to pay for roads, the gasoline tax — which should have been raised long before now). The most bizarre nonsolution I’ve heard is this shell game in which the same inadequate amount of money would simply be divvied up to the counties and let THEM take the blame for crumbling roads. I am somewhat intrigued, though, at the idea of simply applying the sales tax to gasoline — which addresses one of the greatest weaknesses in the gas tax, which is that it’s per-gallon and doesn’t rise with the price of fuel.
  2. POTUS about to announce executive action on immigration — I couldn’t figure out a way to embed the president’s video on this subject, but if you click on the picture below, it will take you there. It’s showdown time. For my part, I await what the president is specifically proposing to do, and I hope that he reaction to it will be, you know, rational. You know what would be the BEST, most constructive, reaction? For the House to pre-empt the president’s executive action by passing the comprehensive immigration reform that the Senate sent over to it.
  3. SC Supremes say probate judges can issue same-sex marriage licenses — This came down at about 4 today, lifting the court’s own Oct. 9 injunction pending a decision in a federal court case, which has since been decided at the trial court level. Interestingly, the case in question wasn’t about whether a couple could get married, but about the related issue of whether SC would have to recognize a marriage granted elsewhere — the very same scenario that prompted conservatives to push for their constitutional amendment on marriage several years ago.
  4. NBC pulls Bill Cosby sitcom amid renewed sexual assault allegations — It’s fascinating to watch the way public consensus develops. For years, the world ignored the young women making these accusations, refusing to believe such of “the Cos.” Then, a tipping point was reached, and suddenly this much loved media figure falls, hitting every branch on the way down. It’s got to seem pretty weird to the women who’ve been trying to get us to listen for years.

Or… you can talk about whatever you want to talk about…

Obama immigration


How did LinkedIn manage THIS?


Yesterday, I received an email urging me to “ADD PERSONALITY TO YOUR PROFILE:”

Now you can make your profile pop by adding a custom background. Just upload an image that reflects your passions, projects, or inspiration and show people what you’re about.

But that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is that LinkedIn provided the above suggestion for how such a new custom background might look.side

And the coffee cup in the picture is a dead-ringer for one of our branded ADCO coffee mugs. Not only that, but the notepad in the shot looks for all the world like one of our ADCO-branded notepads. OK, it’s a little bigger, but that’s about the only difference.

Below is a shot I staged using our own official ADCO items.

How weird is that?

It was like an invitation to the Twilight Zone. Cue the weird music: Doo-doo-DOO-doo, Doo-doo-DOO-doo, Doo-doo-DOO-doo


Open Thread for Monday, November 17, 2014

Not a lot of news today, which is why I haven’t posted. Well, that, and I’ve had a lot of work to do.

Here are some possible topics:

  1. Obama and insurers now allies on health law — Because he needs them, and they’re making money from it.
  2. Kassig’s conversion to Islam didn’t protect him — Latest Westerner beheaded by the monsters of ISIL.
  3. Doctor’s false Ebola test result proves tragic — When he tested negative, his friends threw off their protective gear and embraced him. But he had Ebola. He died of it today.

  4. Nikki Haley in India — She seems to be having a great time, except for a row over a sword. Maybe she should go back to automatic weapons.

Or whatever interests you…

The Haleys and staffers Rob Godfrey and Katherine Veldran have been having a great time with the selfies. The one on top made the front page of the Sunday Times of India.

The Haleys and staffers Rob Godfrey and Katherine Veldran have been having a great time with the selfies. The one on top made the front page of the Sunday Times of India.


Yet another reminder politicians are people

Two quick contact reports:

  • Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed a cup of coffee with Mike Cakora, who recently returned to the blog as a regular commenter after a five-year absence. It was great to have him back, and I was happy to get to catch up with him. I knew Mike from before I started blogging. He was one of the guest columnists we recruited at The State, back in the days when we had the money and staff time for such things. We’d have these column-writing contests, and I was always gratified to see the hundreds of entries that would come in (considering that the rules required submitting three columns with little hope of their being published). Then we’d pick 8 for a year, and they’d each write a column a month, and we’d pay them a nominal amount for the columns. Mike was one of our winners one year. Anyway, we had a wide-ranging conversation about politics, working for a living in the New Normal, espionage (specifically, the TV show “The Assets”), and the social alienation that forms people like Edward Snowden. Mike and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but not everything.
  • Earlier, I’d had breakfast with Rep. James Smith. We talked about a number of things, too, such as whether he might run for governor in four years (he doesn’t know) and if he did, what lessons he might have learned from his friend Vincent Sheheen’s failed campaigns. (As it happened, Sheheen texted James while we were eating. He was in a deposition, and trying to adjust to getting back to earning a living with the campaign over.) At one point in the meal, Attorney General Alan Wilson came over to say hey. Any casual observer could see he and James get along well. But then, I’ve noticed Alan gets along well with a lot of Democrats, and James does so with a lot of Republicans. Alan turned to me, pointed to James and said, “This is my lawyer!” Rep. Smith represented his re-election campaign. After Wilson left, James said he has a lot of clients in the Legislature, including a number of Republicans. (So obviously, Kevin Hall and Butch Bowers don’t have all of them.) I noted that if he did run for governor, he might find a formidable opponent in his client Alan Wilson. He agreed. He said the same might be true of Tommy Pope (whose Twitter feed says he’s “working toward sc governor in 2018“).

Anyway, it was a perfectly ordinary slice of life, illustrating gently the point I try to make so often, because so many voters don’t seem to understand. Politicians aren’t just Democrats or Republicans. They’re not monolithic. At least, the good ones aren’t. They’re many-faceted. They’re actual, complete, three-dimensional people, who are capable of interacting with each other in normal, human ways, instead of as partisan automatons.

But y’all probably get tired of me making that point. Which I know sounds like such a stupid point: Of course they’re people, right? Well… I often think we don’t get that, going by what I see written and hear said about politics.

And maybe I do it in part because, after another election season in which most elections are foregone conclusions because of the way we’re separated into districts in which one or the other party dominates, I need to remind myself…


Open Thread for Thursday, November 13, 2014

I realize it’s kind of late in the day for this, but I figure some of y’all might still want to discuss these things, even if you don’t get to them until the morning.

I only have a couple or three proposed topics:

  1. Obama Said to Plan Moves to Shield 5 Million Immigrants — Looks like he’s going to get in the GOP’s faces over this. Will this endanger his ability to find common ground on other things? Maybe. Should he do it anyway? Maybe…
  2. US military considers sending combat troops to battle Isis forces in Iraq — That headline, from The Guardian, perhaps goes a bit far. But Gen. Dempsey was floating the idea today.
  3. Secret Service Blunders Eased Way for White House Intruder — This just in. Report details failures by the protective detail.

Sorry I didn’t see anything good local. Mostly crime news, it seems, and that tends not to catch my eye. I mean, we’re all against crime, right? So what would we discuss?

But maybe y’all have a good local topic in mind…

Open Thread for Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I’ve got a lot to do — I’m feeling rather overwhelmed by it all, in fact — and haven’t felt particularly inspired today. So maybe y’all can keep the plates spinning for me. For us all…

Some possible topics:

  1. Judge rules in favor of same-sex marriage in SC — The judge in question is Richard Gergel, who signaled this intention a week or two back.
  2. Rosetta mission makes history, lands on comet 300 million miles away — Very cool stuff. It’s been so long since we’ve had a space milestone like this. Too long… Of course, “we,” as Americans, didn’t accomplish this. But “we,” as a species, did.
  3. US and China strike deal on carbon cuts in push for global climate change pact — I wonder what, if any, will be the practical effect of this. Will the Chinese, with the phenomenal rate at which they’ve been building coal-fired power plants, uphold their end? Will this country, given the president’s lack of political capital, uphold our end? I don’t know enough to answer that, but I’m not optimistic.

Or bring up your own topic; see if I care…

Open Thread for Veterans Day, November 11, 2014


Members of the Royal Irish Rifles, first day on the Somme. Look at them staring at us from a century ago…

It’s been a century now since the badly labeled War to End All Wars began, and 96 years to the day (to the hour, as I write this) since it ended in an unsatisfactory manner that helped lead inexorably to the next conflagration.

If you’d like to reflect on that, this would be a good day for it.

Here are some other possible topics:

  1. I see Cindi Scoppe has written my usual post-election column on our endorsees and how they fared. As I did after each election, she does it to deep-six the nonsense about our endorsement being the “kiss of death.” This time, the board went 9-2, slightly better than the usual 75 percent or so winners. Of course, endorsements are not predictions of who will win, but statements about who should win, and more importantly, why they should win. But one does get tired of people saying untrue things about one, hence this tradition that I started about a decade ago.
  2. Haley picks the dollar-a-year guy to run $7 billion agency — The career of Christian Soura, since he first came to SC to work for the governor, has mystified me. He started work here at a dollar a year, explaining that he was living in part off his government pension from Pennsylvania — even though he was only 32. Later, he became deputy chief of staff at the somewhat more substantial compensation of $128,698. Now, he’ll be making $154,879. And no, he has no experience running a Medicaid agency. Tony Keck, whom he replaces, had. Guess we know who just won an election. Note the picture at the link. Keck looks like he could be Soura’s father. (He even looks like a baby next to Nikki, as youthful as she is.)
  3. The Hummer is back. Blame falling oil prices. Sheesh.

Or, whatever you’d like to bring up.



Doug’s out shooting today. Stay indoors; hide behind something solid

Apparently, they survived. After the expedition, Bryan emailed this shot of Doug holding the 20 gauge over-and-under Beretta in a safe manner.

Apparently, they survived. Bryan emailed this shot of Doug holding the 20 gauge in a safe manner.

Bryan Caskey, who so kindly took me out shooting clays a couple of weekends ago (and I had a great time), has Doug Ross out there as I type this.

Doug professes to have never held a gun before. Or a rifle, either, I believe. Today he is armed, with several boxes of ammo.

Pray for their safety. And your own…

TOTALLY Open Thread for Thursday, November 6, 2014

This is wide open, because I have ZERO time for blogging today.

OK, one suggestion: Does anyone think there is a Unified Field Theory explanation for election results Tuesday? I don’t; I never do. I believe voters have brains, and every box they checked on their ballots was for a separate set of reasons. That’s how the world actually works.

But that doesn’t stop the “It’s either one thing or the other” binary crowd from trying to offer simplistic explanations, especially when it’s to their advantage to do so. So we have the idiotic headline on an inside page of The State that says, “This election was all about Obama.” (It had a different headline online.)

That in the same edition that also reports, “Preliminary exit polls found that 33 percent of voters were registering displeasure with Obama.” Which means the rest of the voters had other things on their minds. And, just a wild thought here, even the 33 percent probably had some additional factors acting on them.

Karl Rove, of course, is going the simplistic route: “How big was Tuesday’s devastating repudiation of President Obama, his policies and his party?”

Anyway, what do you think?

Open Thread for Friday, October 24, 2014

Some possible topics:

  1. Good news, bad news on Ebola — The good is that nurse Nina Pham has been released. The bad is the doctor in New York (which will be more intensely covered because it happened in New York rather than flyover land). Meanwhile, the WashPost reports how the Russkies once planned to use the disease as a weapon.
  2. Shooting In Washington School Leaves Shooter, One Other Dead — And so we’re reminded that Canada is not where you usually find this sort of thing. As though we needed such.
  3. The Russians Have Us Over a Rocket — You won’t be able to read this because of the pay wall — I couldn’t. But I got the point, and it’s a good one: It’s bad to be dependent on Putin’s Russia for our access to space.

    Or, whatever you want to talk about…

Bus passengers in an alternative universe

on the bus

Today, I got one of those emails trying to get me to engage more with Pinterest, and one of the pins it offered me was this one, which I thought was cool, because it’s one of my fave flicks of all time.

So I repinned it.

But then I noticed something… you ever take a good look at the passengers on the bus who turn back to stare at Benjamin and Elaine.

It’s like Mike Nichols deliberately filled the bus with People Who Will Never Be Seen Riding a Bus. At least, that would be the case in Columbia in 2014. And I’m even thinking it would be the case in California in 1967.

Dig the guys in suits. Especially the guy wearing cufflinks.

This is such a glaring anomaly that I find myself wondering whether it’s intentional, and it means something. Like maybe Nichols wanted a painfully bourgeois set of people to be staring at our lovebirds, or something.

Anyway, I’d never noticed it before, and I found it interesting…

Your Virtual Front Page, Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just because you haven’t had one in awhile, and I felt like it would do you good:

  1. Harrell pleads guilty, looks toward future as informant ( — Yeah, this has already been covered, but it’s still today’s lede story.
  2. Both Ebola nurses now doing much better (People, Yahoo) — Some of this is a day or two old, but I haven’t seen it on any front pages, and it seems like high-interest news to me. Nina Pham’s condition has been upgraded from “fair” to “good,” while Amber Vinson has actually been declared free of the disease! Seems like this isn’t getting the play that their initial infection got. Meanwhile, a doctor has been hospitalized in New York with Ebola-like symptoms.
  3. Evidence shows Islamic State used chlorine gas (WashPost) — Until now, this was one atrocity that they apparently had not yet committed.
  4. Canadian Police Say Ottawa Attack Was by Lone Gunman (NYT) — We’re used to “lone gunmen” in this country, but it seems like that’s one American cultural import Canada could have done without.
  5. Dogs helped stop White House jumper (WashPost) — Maybe they should put a dog in charge of the Secret Service.
  6. Dreher, Camden banned from football playoffs ( — Not Earth-shattering, perhaps, but it seemed like a good local talker. This is because of a postgame fight between the two schools last Friday.
Hurricane, left, and Jordan -- the dogs who got the job done, protecting the White House.

Hurricane, left, and Jordan — the dogs who got the job done, protecting the White House.

Open Thread for Tuesday, October 21, 2014 — Ennui Edition


Ferris: Cameron, what have you seen today?
Cameron: Nothing good.
Ferris: Nothing – wha – what do you mean nothing good? We’ve seen everything good. We’ve seen the whole city! We went to a museum, we saw priceless works of art! We ate pancreas!

I thought about doing a Virtual Front Page. It’s been awhile. But I looked around, and it just didn’t seem like there was enough going on out there to warrant one.

I’m not exactly flush with suggestions for an Open Thread, either. Perhaps y’all will be. I seem afflicted with a certain ennui regarding the news, especially on the local level. I try to put my finger on just why that is, and the first thing that occurs to me is this: We’re about to have an election — an important one, in which we will choose this state’s leadership for the next four years.

And… there’s nothing in it to get enthusiastic about, even slightly. It continues to appear, as it has appeared all year (so nothing new there), that we will have another four years of Nikki Haley. Not the end of the world, but not the beginning of one, either. Nothing changes. After eight years of one governor who didn’t believe government should do anything, we’re about to repeat the experience. And I find it very hard to believe that anyone, including Ms. Haley’s most stalwart supporters, is enthusiastic about the prospect.

Things will stay the same. As they always do in South Carolina. One is hard-pressed to think of anything that has happened to dramatically affect our lives in this state since Gov. Fritz Hollings persuaded Sen. Edgar Brown to institute our technical college system over a bottle of bourbon. Oh, wait — I’m forgetting the eventual integration of our schools in 1970, 16 years after Brown v. Board. That has had a gradual, but dramatic, effect  on our state. It has, for instance, led to the long, slow strangulation of support for public education among the white middle class, with such byproducts as the “school choice” movement.

But we have nothing as good as good as the tech schools and integration, or as dramatically devastating as white flight, on our horizon. Just… more of the same. So many things that need to change if we’re to catch up to the rest of the country, but we’re looking at more of the same.

But hey… as I said… maybe y’all can think of something good to talk about…

And maybe I’ll snap out of my Cameron Frye mood. Let’s hope so, because this makes for dismal blogging…