Monday, April 30, 2012

Hello, PayPal?

Click on photo for higher resolution

Yay! It's mine! Mine! All mine!

Dude, I'll PayPal you the $95 grand in a sec . . . just as soon as I take another hit off of my crack pipe.

Thank God for that. The crystal meth is starting to wear off.


I'll bet the little bitty Mexicans hanging auto parts in my hackberry tree
don't have one of these!

F***in' A, they don't!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hi-fi fries self in line of duty, once played the hits


This just in to the newsroom:

OMAHA, Neb. (INS) -- Harmon/Kardon 330C, the vintage stereo receiver deep into a second career as a monitor amp in a home production studio in this Midwestern metropolis, died in a cloud of ozone Saturday, with its right channel humming and the room stinking of toasted electronic components.

Harmon/Kardon 330C was 36 years old.

"Well, you had to figure this would happen sooner or later, using an old, second-hand receiver hours on end every day," said 3 Chords & the Truth host Mighty Favog. "I can't get mad about it; I think I got more than my $35 worth out of it over the past few years."

The dead receiver will be interred later in the week somewhere in a basement closet and will be exhumed for spare parts at a later date.

In a related development Saturday, 3 Chords & the Truth management announced that Crown 75-A -- a broadcast-industry standard monitor amplifier -- has been purchased as Harmon/Kardon's successor. Favog said it was time to call on pro equipment to do a real studio amp's job.

"Crown is the Cadillac of monitor amps," the aging program host slurred. "Those things were (unintelligible) built to go 24/7 in radio air studios, so it ought to (unintelligible) work here with no . . . problem."

The new 75-A, which Crown is discontinuing after decades of pro-audio popularity, was obtained from Broadcast Supply Worldwide for $399 -- a $622 discount from the list price as the merchant closes out its stock. Favog, somewhat distracted by the absence of Early Times from his coffee, added that he wanted to pay tribute to Harmon/Kardon for kicking the bucket at such an opportune moment.

Crown 75-A is slated to begin its studio duties sometime during the next two weeks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: It's all wet; it's all good


Rain, rain go away . . . or not. I really don't care.

On 3 Chords & the Truth, the music is all good, and the company is all good, and that's all we need. The end.

What do you mean I have to write more than that?

It's cold and rainy. The music isn't. You can stay out of the bad weather and listen. We're having a fine time here in the studio. What the hell else is there to say?

What do you mean by "That sounds a little thin?"


IT'S MISERABLE outside here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska. It's all right inside . . . with the Big Show and with all the cool tunes.

It's all good. We're having fun. End of story. Leave me alone. I've got music to play.

What do you mean you don't like my attitude?

Quit being such a party pooper and a spoilsport. It's all wet -- outside -- and it's all good inside . . . except for Mr. It-Sounds-a-Little-Thin. Go. Get outside in the rain. Serves you right.

Now, my children, where were we? Oh, right. . . .

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Camelot vs. Camenot


Some states are kind of like Camelot. Others might make Borat feel right at home.

As far as I can tell, that's what the Camelot Index boils down to. It's the mother of all rankings, measuring the state of states' economies, public health, education, crime rates, "government prudence," and societal health -- encompassing things like home ownership, incarceration, out-of-wedlock births and the like. Then the staff at Federal Funds Information for States averages all the rankings to create the composite ranking.

This year, you'll need a warm winter coast if it's Camelot you're seeking. Apparently, King Arthur has moved Queen Guinevere, the knights and the round table to . . . North Dakota. New Hampshire's second, South Dakota third, Nebraska fourth, while Wyoming rounds out the top five.

Borat, meantime, hearts Louisiana. Word is he's been spotted in a Bourbon Street gutter. And it's likely he'll come down with a social disease while a New Orleans cop picks his pocket.

WHEN YOU live in a top-five kind of place -- Nebraska, for example -- the response to lists like the Camelot Index is pretty uncomplicated. Basically, it's "YAY!"

On the other hand, people in, say, Louisiana have lots of options. One is shame, but nobody likes feeling ashamed all the time, so one might look for other emotional and intellectual options. For instance, you could get good and mad.

Denial is another option, unless you might prefer its cousin, dismissiveness. Then again, you might prefer paranoia . . . because all them eggheads and snobs are out to get you, you know. That's definitely disturbing, until at long last you wearily give in to resignation.

Finally, we have my favorite two reactions -- and, trust me, they're about to be yours, too -- a whacked-out, bad-is-good kind of defiance, which invites the very best kind of black humor. That's what we saw just today in back-to-back comments on the New Orleans Times-Picayune's story about how the Gret Stet, in virtually every meaningful statistical way, still sucks:


LOL doesn't even begin to cover it. Well played, "whodat-70816."

This says nothing good about anybody


There's one hapless hog hunter in Florida who has some 'splainin' to do on, oh, so many levels.

I think I'd best leave it at that. The story is here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No one needs to fly this badly


That's one question answered, a million or so to go.

OK. So . . . huh?

It's like this: Let me tell you about what I want to know and what I just found out. Actually, come to think of it, let me do a 180 on my approach here. That first thing about going over what I want to know isn
't going to work.

To avoid taking up
waaaaaaay too much of your time -- and likely the rest of my life -- I'll just tell you the question of mine just answered. Here it is:

Q. "What happens to all of the most brain-dead and morally retarded non-political, non-incarcerated pieces of human excrement in the United States of America?"

A. They all become airport screeners for the TSA.
Before today, I only suspected this was the case. Then The Daily provided the last bit of evidence that erased all doubt.
Four months after the Transportation Security Administration launched a program to help airline passengers with disabilities, a New York family found out just how little “TSA Cares.”

Traveling from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Florida, the Frank family was yanked out of line as it boarded the plane in a dispute over how 7-year-old Dina had been screened. The little girl, who has cerebral palsy, walks with crutches and leg braces.

“They make our lives completely difficult,” said her father, Dr. Joshua Frank, a Long Island pediatrician. “She’s not a threat to national security.”

Flying is always difficult for the family, but this week was particularly dreadful, Frank and his wife, Marcy, said.

With her crutches and orthotics, Dina cannot walk through metal detectors and instead is patted down by security agents. The girl, who is also developmentally disabled, is often frightened by the procedure, her father said.

Marcy Frank usually asks the agents to introduce themselves to her daughter, but those on duty on Monday were exceptionally aggressive, Joshua Frank said, and he began to videotape them with his iPhone.

“And the woman started screaming at me and cursing me and threatening me,” he said.

Eventually, a supervisor decided it was sufficient to inspect Dina’s crutches and allowed the family to leave for the gate.

They were there for an hour before the agents reappeared with a manager to tell them that proper protocol had not been followed, and that Dina had to be screened after all, the Franks said. After initially offering to pat her down at the gate, they insisted she return to the security area, Joshua Frank said.

I CAN'T SAY
enough bad things about those who engage in cruelty toward the old, the sick, the disabled . . . and children.

When you have someone engaging in cavalier cruelty toward a disabled child, you have someone who deserves a beating. Right there. Right now.

When you have someone doing that in the name of the federal government -- and when putting a decisive end to the rough manhandling of your child means you would go to a federal prison for a long time -- you have a situation that calls for administering the beating to the government that gives such goons such unfettered authority.


UNTIL
that day comes -- if that day comes -- when our authoritarian security state shapes up and flies right, I don't think you need to fly that badly. Better to walk (or row . . . or swim) than to submit to being treated as if you were what those goonish TSA agents are.

The algorithm made me do it


The motto of Google is a simple one: "Don't be evil."

That's why the folks there had to come up with algorithms to do the dirty work for them. That way, it's not you, exactly, who's screwing start-up companies over, it's the algorithm.

Those damned algorithms. Somebody ought to do something . . .
later.

HEY, don't look at me, O Google algorithm! I'm just repeating what was in Silicon Prairie News:

After nearly a year of unreturned phone calls and emails from its Google AdSense account manager, it took a tell-all blog post and an appearance on the front page of Hacker News for Des Moines startup Hatchlings to get Google on the phone.

"The (Google employee) who called me made a comment on the Hacker News post," Hatchlings CEO Brad Dwyer (left) said in an interview on Monday, "and that was one of the things that really struck me about this whole ordeal."

Though Dwyer's post on April 5 encouraged people to "share, tweet, and reblog," he said he didn't expect it to blow up like it did, getting the attention of tech blogs, The Economist and notable investor Paul Graham, among others. But from his business interests – understanding why his company's AdSense account was shut down in 2011 resulting to an estimated loss of $40,000 – and his personal interests – warning others of dependence on platforms like AdSense – he hoped that would be the outcome.

However, Dwyer did not learn specifically why Hatchlings' AdSense account was disabled. During phone calls with Google employees on April 7 and April 20, Dwyer was not told what Hatchlings did that led to the disabling of its AdSense account.

"They made it very clear before I even talked to them," Dwyer said, "they told me to set expectations for the call that they really weren't going to be able to tell me anything in regard to my specific case or tell me why I got banned or tell me what happened or what we think we did."

(snip)

"They weren't ready to talk about specifics, but they kind of expressed a little bit of sympathy and we had a pretty lengthy conversation," Dwyer said. "I think in talking to me they understood that we're not black hat SEO people, we're not trying to scam anybody out of money, we're just trying to figure out what happened."

Dwyer added: "They said that they're continually working on their algorithms and that my case in particular might be one – they couldn't make any promises – but it might be one in particular that they re-visit later when they have different tools to instead of just taking out, work with people to change."
IT'S JUST LIKE Google to pull a stunt like th

Back when cassettes ate their peas


"Who wants a tape-cartridge recorder?"

Not enough people, obviously, since I'll bet you've never seen one of these things. This RCA tape-cartridge recorder is a 1959 model, and it's kind of like a cassette deck, only bigger. With better fidelity, too, because it's basically a reel-to-reel machine with the reels in a great big cassette . . . er,
cartridge.

It never stood a chance when little cassettes came along in the mid-1960s.


The world is filled with Philistines! Any idiot knows that Beta the RCA tape-cartridge system is better, but noooooooo!


HEY! You can't argue with "four and one-half years of research."

Well, you can, but that just makes you an audiophobe. Philistine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

America's Caucasian problem

(Photo//Paul M. Walsh)

Apparently, the United States has a major Caucasian crime problem.

I mean, get a load of these alarming statistics in an opinion piece by
MSNBC political analyst Edward Wyckoff Williams, recently reprinted in the Louisiana Weekly, New Orleans' African-American newspaper:
The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led Blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led Blacks, again, more than 2-1.

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they’ll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman’s defenders should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?


(snip)

It seems that the media in general and white American society in particular prefer to focus on crime perpetrated by African Americans because it serves as a way to absolve them from the violence, prejudice and institutionalized discrimination engendered for generations against Blacks. It offers a buffer against responsibility, a way to shift blame and deflect cause and effect. But the truth, and numbers, tell a different story.
NO DOUBT about it, this "mathematical truth" certainly gives one pause.

I cannot conceive of any rationale that possibly
could justify arresting any black American who did any damn thing to a dangerous Caucasian, the raw crime numbers being what they are. I mean, when you have a white population 5.74 times as large as the U.S. black population raping and committing larceny TWICE as much as blacks -- hell, getting arrested period twice as much as blacks -- I don't see how the government just doesn't lock up every last damn cracker on the probabilities alone.

Naturally, some people may be scratching their heads at what they see as a crazy and illogical notion, but that's just because their math is racist.

Oh . . . and as Walker Percy once famously wrote, "The center did not hold."

Help! Help! The mobs are being repressed!


Whatever the Trayvon Martin shooting was in February, chances are it wasn't a hate crime.

Whatever the Trayvon Martin killing was that cold and rainy night, it wasn't premeditated. Prosecutors admitted that much by not filing first-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman.

But a lot of things being done in the young "martyr's" name absolutely have been premeditated. And they absolutely were hate crimes.


ONE OF the latest happened Saturday in Mobile, Ala. The story comes from WKRG television there:
According to police, Owens fussed at some kids playing basketball in the middle of Delmar Drive about 8:30 Saturday night. They say the kids left and a group of adults returned, armed with everything but the kitchen sink.

Police tell News 5 the suspects used chairs, pipes and paint cans to beat Owens.

Owens' sister, Ashley Parker, saw the attack. "It was the scariest thing I have ever witnessed." Parker says 20 people, all African American, attacked her brother on the front porch of his home, using "brass buckles, paint cans and anything they could get their hands on."

Police will only say "multiple people" are involved.

What Parker says happened next could make the fallout from the brutal beating even worse. As the attackers walked away, leaving Owen bleeding on the ground, Parker says one of them said "Now that's justice for Trayvon." Trayvon Martin is the unarmed teenager police say was shot and killed February 26 by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.
BACK IN FLORIDA this past winter, it's probably true that Zimmerman profiled Martin because of his age, gender . . . and race.

Given what's happened since that day in February -- not to mention the daily diet of violent-crime reports on TV and in the newspaper -- why do you think that might have been? It doesn't make profiling any less sad. Nor does it make profiling any less regrettable.

But it sure as hell makes it quite understandable.

In the real world, thugs don't get to complain about brutality. And unjust, violent mobs don't get to whine about injustice. That dog won't hunt.

Monday, April 23, 2012

They shoot franchises, don't they?


If any shred of the latest Saints scandal talk is true, given the trouble the team already is in, the NFL may need to exercise the nuclear option.

No, the real nuclear option. Not the kinda nuclear option it unleashed against New Orleans over Bountygate.

Is what I'm saying. Because if you're Commissioner Roger Goodell, you only need to take so much of this s*** -- if you know what's good for your league.

That's right,
ladies and germs, ESPN has broken yet another sordid story involving the National Football League's rags-to-riches-to-cautionary-tale poster children:

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana was told Friday that New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis had an electronic device in his Superdome suite that had been secretly re-wired to enable him to eavesdrop on visiting coaching staffs for nearly three NFL seasons, "Outside the Lines" has learned.

Sources familiar with Saints game-day operations told "Outside the Lines" that Loomis, who faces an eight-game suspension from the NFL for his role in the recent bounty scandal, had the ability to secretly listen for most of the 2002 season, his first as general manager of the Saints, and all of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The sources spoke with "Outside the Lines" under the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from members of the Saints organization.

Jim Letten, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, acknowledged being told of the allegations Friday. Sources said he has briefed the FBI in New Orleans about Loomis' alleged activity. If proved, the allegations could be both a violation of NFL rules and potentially a federal crime, according to legal sources. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 prohibits any person from intercepting communications from another person using an electronic or mechanical device.

"I can say that we were just made aware of that on Friday, at least of these allegations," Letten said. "Anything beyond that I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to comment."

Greg Bensel, Saints vice president of communications, said Monday afternoon on behalf of the Saints and Loomis: "This is 1,000 percent false. This is 1,000 percent inaccurate."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was unaware of the allegations.

Sources told "Outside the Lines" the listening device was first installed in the general manager's suite in 2000, when Loomis' predecessor, Randy Mueller, served as Saints GM. At that time, according to sources, Mueller had the ability to use the device to monitor only the game-day communications of the Saints' coaching staff, not the opposing coaches. Mueller, now a senior executive with the San Diego Chargers (he also was an ESPN.com NFL analyst from 2002 to '05), declined to comment when contacted by "Outside the Lines."

After the transition from Mueller to Loomis, the electronic device was re-wired to listen only to opposing coaches and could no longer be used to listen to any game-day communications between members of the Saints' coaching staff, one source said.

"There was a switch, and the switch accessed offense and defense," said the source. "When Randy was there, it was the Saints offense or defense, and when Mickey was there it changed over so it was the visiting offense or defense," the source said.
NEW ORLEANS should be so proud. Then again, knowing the Crescent City, it probably is.

Friday, April 20, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Rock, roll and remember


What is the Big Show about this week?

This week, we rock, roll and remember. That should give you a great big clue right there -- at least if you are of a certain age.

That's what 3 Chords & the Truth is about this week.

Thing is, I've already said about everything I have to say about it while this week's program was still a twinkle in your Mighty Favog's eye. So, with your indulgence, I'll just quote myself from a Thursday blog post:

I am old enough to remember when there was only one "day the music died."

This, by God, has been the week the music died.

First, we learned Levon Helm -- of The Band, Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars and his later years of "Midnight Rambles" -- was near death. Then Dick Clark died suddenly Wednesday at 82.

And now, just a day later, Helm has died, too.

The music dies more and more often these days, at least if you're someone my age. But like the savior of the world from a garden tomb, it always rises again, so long as we have our records and our CDs and a decent radio station here and there.
IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm, 1940-2012


I am old enough to remember when there was only one "day the music died."

This, by God, has been the week the music died.

First, we learned Levon Helm -- of The Band, Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars and his later years of "Midnight Rambles" -- was near death. Then Dick Clark died suddenly Wednesday at 82.

And now, just a day later, Helm has died, too.

The music dies more and more often these days, at least if you're someone my age. But like the savior of the world from a garden tomb, it always rises again, so long as we have our records and our CDs and a decent radio station here and there.

Levon Helm has found his release from this vail of tears, which he once brightened with his music. And which he brightens still.
Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Eyeless shrimp, mutant crabs, oozing fish


If you live on the Gulf Coast -- and if you care to know how screwed you are -- you might want to listen more to Al Jazeera and less to local ostriches who can't see the blind shrimp for the sandy tar balls in their eyes.

Short version of the Arab TV network's report from Louisiana: BP did a real number on the Gulf, the marshes and every form of sea life out there. Longer version: The feds say Gulf seafood is safe to eat -- that is, while there still
is Gulf seafood . . . and if you don't mind eyeless shrimp, mutant crabs that rot from the inside before they're dead and seafood with sores and lesions all over it.

That's not what people want to hear, however, which is making life really easy (not) for the researchers bearing the bad news, being that facts are a bitch.

Here's an excerpt from the print version of the story:

"The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.

"At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these," Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets."

"Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico]," she added, "They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes … they look like they've been burned off by chemicals."


(snip)

Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.

Whitehead's work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP's oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf's food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.

"What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil," Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.

According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.

"That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish," he explained. "So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can't think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish."

But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.

Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a "keystone" species in the food web of the marsh, "Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences."

Back on shore, troubled by what he had been seeing, Keath Ladner met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration and asked them to promise that the government would protect him from litigation if someone was made sick from eating his seafood.

"They wouldn't do it," he said.

"I'm worried about the entire seafood industry of the Gulf being on the way out," he added grimly.
WE NOW return you to our previously scheduled BP propaganda spots and "Remain calm. All is well!" platitudes from state and federal officials.



HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

The smoking lamp is off

Click on ad for a higher resolution view

The black eye the Pillsbury Doughmagogue got Wednesday from the Nebraska Legislature means that babies will live.

That Medicaid money will be saved.

And that, here in this beautiful corner of the Great Plains, the founders' words mean a little more than they did the day before.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Not white men. Not Anglo-Saxon men. Not American men.

All men . . . and women. And children in the womb.

ONCE AGAIN in this state, future American citizens in the wombs of their mothers -- whether those mothers be poor, undocumented or both -- won't be regarded by the state as throwaway stepchildren of a lesser god. No thanks to our petulant and Mexican-baiting governor, Dave Heineman, who consistently has seen feeding on the bottom as a sure path to coming out on top.

God don't sleep, and this time neither did the unicameral, which ended its session with multiple political bitch slaps for the Doughmagogue. The
Omaha World-Herald was there for the festivities:
Teary-eyed supporters predicted Wednesday that the Legislature's decision to restore taxpayer-funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants will result in fewer newborns with birth defects and fewer expenses for intensive care stays and delivery room complications.

“For the women, it means they won't have to worry anymore. They can come and get care,” said Andrea Skolkin of South Omaha's One World Community Health Center.

Lawmakers voted 30-16 to override Gov. Dave Heineman's veto of Legislative Bill 599.

The governor predicted that the 2012 legislative session will be remembered most for providing free health care for illegal residents while allowing cities to raise sales taxes on legal residents — referring to the lawmakers' override of another veto.

“I strongly disagree with their decisions,” Heineman said in a prepared statement. “Providing preferential treatment to illegals while increasing taxes on legal Nebraska citizens is misguided, misplaced and inappropriate.”

The vote on the prenatal care bill came at the end of the session's last day, providing an emotional finale to what has been a rough-and-tumble session.

“I like soft landings,” said State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, the speaker of the Legislature. “We had to foam the runways this year. But any landing you walk away from is a good landing.”


(snip)

A similar prenatal care bill was withdrawn from the agenda two years ago, lacking enough votes to pass. This year, a new estimate of the expected fiscal impact of providing the care placed the state's annual cost at about $560,000.

That was less than the cost to taxpayers and hospitals for just two cases of extended neonatal intensive care for babies born to women lacking prenatal care. One case cost more than $800,000.

Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, a leading supporter of LB 599, said charities and private donations cannot be counted on to finance the care.

Clinics in Omaha and Columbus reported dramatic increases in the number of women seeking free prenatal care, but also several cases of women skipping the care or coming in too late to address early developing problems in their babies. Health professionals have said that for every $1 invested in prenatal care, savings of up to $4 is expected.

“Fiscally, this makes sense,” Flood said. “This is an innocent child in the middle of a red-hot debate about immigration.”

Despite lobbying by Heineman and other foes of the bill, only one previous supporter — Sen. Tom Seiler of Hastings — switched from supporting the measure to opposing the override.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rockin' through the decades with Dick




These are the times of our lives. Lurking around many of them was an ageless man named Dick Clark and a TV touchstone called American Bandstand.

Here's the way we were in 1964.




And in 1967.



1968.



1976.




1977.



1978.



1983.



1987 . . . the last network show.

The day the music died. Again.




Dick Clark is dead, according to the TMZ website.

The cause apparently was a massive heart attack after undergoing an "outpatient procedure" at a Los Angeles hospital. The man who once seemed ageless before a stroke in 2004, was 82.

Thus, an era truly ends as another piece of 'Boomers' lives slips into the mists of time.

The way we are

"This is not who we are, and it's certainly not who we represent when it comes to the great majority of men and women in uniform who are serving there."

Actually, when this kind of thing -- and worse -- happens often enough, it kind of is who we are.

And we seem to be on a macabre streak in Afghanistan. That's not even getting into the streak of "not who we are" U.S. troops were on in Iraq -- or the official torture that went on at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and at top-secret CIA prisons abroad.

No, I'd say the record indicates this is absolutely who we have become after more than a decade of endless war. It probably is who we were even before almost 11 years of endless war.

Think we have a cultural problem much? Do not delude yourself that it's limited to the young kids in U.S. uniforms. Their "not who we are" behavior didn't just arise out of nowhere.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for pulling back the mask just a little bit more.

The legacy of lead: A heavy weight to bear?


Omaha has one of the poorest black populations in the United States, one unusually bereft of a middle class.

Educational achievement lags in this community, while unemployment and social pathologies soar.

The city's African-American community, centered on the near north side of town, also is the center of violent crime in Omaha.

The near north side of Omaha also happens to lie within an EPA Superfund site, where scores of millions of dollars are being spent to clean up widespread lead contamination, the unwelcome legacy of some 120 years of the area's history. The legacy is that of the ASARCO lead refinery, which called Omaha home for all that time and where several smelters were consolidated at the corner of Fifth and Douglas in 1899.

The combined operation eventually became the largest lead smelter in the world, and it stayed in business until 1997.

It belched massive amounts of toxic lead particles into the Omaha sky. For decades and decades the pollution spewed, and where it landed, we pretty much knew -- the near north side, largely.


THE NEAR north side, the heart of black Omaha. Largely poor black Omaha. Often uneducated black Omaha. Often dysfunctional black Omaha.

Often violent black Omaha.

You think a century or more of lead contamination -- lead ingestion by decades of inner-city children -- might have anything to do with any of the above? After all, we do know of the neurological effects of chronic lead exposure. They're not good, FYI.

You ever wonder -- after accounting for socioeconomic, family and cultural variables -- how much of the intractable majority-minority achievement gap in education might be due to chronic lead exposure? I'm starting to.

AND IT SEEMS, concerning violent crime in America, some Tulane University researchers and others have been wondering, too.

That wondering led to extensive research and number crunching, which led to a just-published paper concluding
"Yes. Yes, lead does play a part." A story about the research appears on the Science Daily website:

Childhood exposure to lead dust has been linked to lasting physical and behavioral effects, and now lead dust from vehicles using leaded gasoline has been linked to instances of aggravated assault two decades after exposure, says Tulane toxicologist Howard W. Mielke.

Vehicles using leaded gasoline that contaminated cities' air decades ago have increased aggravated assault in urban areas, researchers say.

The new findings are published in the journal Environment International by Mielke, a research professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Tulane University School of Medicine, and demographer Sammy Zahran at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University.

The researchers compared the amount of lead released in six cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans and San Diego, during the years 1950-1985. This period saw an increase in airborne lead dust exposure due to the use of leaded gasoline. There were correlating spikes in the rates of aggravated assault approximately two decades later, after the exposed children grew up.

After controlling for other possible causes such as community and household income, education, policing effort and incarceration rates, Mielke and Zahran found that for every one percent increase in tonnages of environmental lead released 22 years earlier, the present rate of aggravated assault was raised by 0.46 percent.
IF CAR EXHAUST can do that, one has to wonder what societal havoc the onetime world's largest lead refinery might have wrought, and to what degree, upon our fair city . . . and its most vulnerable population.

You just have to wonder.

Perhaps it's high time the city's newspaper, the
Omaha World-Herald, started wondering, too. Every little bit of information helps in tackling the most intractable of maladies.

Eveythang's bligger in Taxass Texuss here


Darren Rovell on WhoSay

And Arkansas breathes a deep sigh of blessed relief as Texas A&M enters the Southeastern Conference as only the Aggies could.

Of course, the College Station apparel maker responsible for the above shirt apologized profusely for its error-riddled product, saying that out of all the 57 states, it should have known that Pennsylvania never would have had an SEC school in it. It plans to issue a "corrected" tee adding Nebraska to the conference map.

Meantime, President Obama announced Tuesday that the Pentagon would immediately enhance U.S. security in Asia by assigning all Aggie cadets, upon graduation and commissioning, to the People's Liberation Army in China and the Korean People's Army in North Korea.

Texas A&M administrators have begun working out the logistics of busing the newly minted officers to Taipei and Seoul four times a year -- likely at the end of each semester.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We don't know what we've got till it's gone


It's easy to forget the music

Amid a radio landscape marked by "downsizing" and consultants, generic playlists and stations threatening to sue their listeners, it seems to be about everything but the music. On an Internet fractured into a billion subcultures, interest groups and -- yeah, this is about right -- tribes, it seems to be about nothing other than a virtual Tower of Babel.

It is what it is; we are who we are. And everything -- everybody -- is off key in this world of discordant notes. It's not about the music. And then you see this:

Levon Helm, the revered multi-instrumentalist and singer for the group the Band, is in the final stages of cancer, according to his family.

A heartbreaking note appeared on the musician's website Tuesday announcing that he is terminally ill:

Dear Friends,

Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy


SUDDENLY, we are reminded of the music by its absence. It's the story of life.

As Joni Mitchell put it:
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
OR. . . perhaps you might prefer Don McLean's take:
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play


FRANKLY, I prefer to curse the passage of time and the ravages of cancer and culture. I prefer to not look in the mirror. I prefer to delude myself that I'm still 18 and my future is an endless horizon.

But we can't do that forever, now, can we?

Godspeed, Levon. And thank you.

A confederacy of dunces


Getting between the oil industry's posterior and Louisiana politicians' lips is a tight spot only Rhett Butler could love -- "I've always had a weakness for lost causes once they're really lost."


Odd that it was a Yankee academic and not Capt. Butler embarking on such a quixotic scheme Monday before a joint meeting of state House and Senate natural-resources committees. Either he was making the kind of profit the fictional Butler did from running guns to the Confederates, or the man just had no idea what he was walking into.

The Oregon economics professor's first mistake, sad to say, was in going to Louisiana in the first place. Nothing good could come of it.

His second mistake was in telling Louisianians --
politicians, no less -- what he took to be the truth, instead of what they wanted to hear.

THE THIRD mistake, as reported by The Advocate in Baton Rouge, was a doozy. He told the legislators that an LSU professor was dead wrong (and guilty of sloppy research) in his report arguing that the state was losing beaucoup revenue and jobs by not throttling lawsuits over environmental damage from old oilfields.

W. Ed Whitelaw, a professor of economics at the University of Oregon, said the widely quoted analysis omitted relevant facts, including any mention of two hurricanes.

David Dismukes, an LSU professor who works for the LSU Center for Energy Studies, released an analysis in February that found that during the past eight years, Louisiana missed out on more than 30,000 oil and gas jobs and support positions because of what
are called “legacy lawsuits.”

The lawsuits are over the extent of cleanup of environmental damage caused by oil producers’ drilling practices years ago.

A joint hearing of the Louisiana House and state Senate committees on Natural Resources met Monday to “informally discuss the issues” involving legislation that would change the procedures leading to lawsuits over the environmental damage.

“Legacy lawsuits are strongly and negatively correlated with Louisiana drilling activity,” Dismukes’ report says. “Increases in legacy lawsuits are correlated with reductions in conventional Louisiana oil and gas drilling.”

Whitelaw, founder of ECONorthwest, a Portland, Ore., company that provides financial
analysis for businesses and governments, said Dismukes’ widely quoted analysis has several major flaws.

“Understand that these errors, and there are three or four big ones, any one of which is enough to render his analysis nonsense,” Whitelaw said. “These are rookie errors.”
OOOOOOOOOH. Bad move.

In the Gret Stet, legislators reserve the right to starve Louisiana universities to death, but they'll be damned if some damn Yankee is gonna come down and tell 'em they're getting what they pay for. Or not getting what they refuse to pay for.

At any rate, ancestral hatred, a raging inferiority complex, a genuine lack of intelligence and good old bayou buffoonery combined for a quite predictable display of pique and posturing. Like I said, I hope Whitelaw's making obscene money for his expert testimony.
In the joint committee hearing, state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, came to Dismukes’ defense, asking former U.S. Rep. Chris John, who now heads the Baton Rouge-based industry group Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, how he felt about Whitelaw’s testimony.

“It always chaps my hide when folks come in here from out of state and degrade our universities and our faculty,” Chabert said.

John agreed, saying the oil and gas industry works closely with LSU, his alma mater.

“It is something that we should consider when a person from the Oregon Ducks would actually sit at this table; we’ve had our issues with the Oregon Ducks,” Johns said.
WHAT (expletive deleted) morons. What clowns.

It says nothing good about Louisiana that it's occurred to no one that so many of the state's political maladies could be solved by no longer reminding its politicians to breathe.

It also says nothing good about the place that it's occurred to so few there that the rest of America isn't laughing
with Louisiana, but instead at Louisiana.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The second-to-last refuge of scoundrels


If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, "policy" is the last way station before you get there.

And "policy" is why ditwad administrators at a ditwad school district in Carrollton, Ohio, won't let a high-school senior "walk" with his classmates at graduation this year.

You see, Austin Fisher has 16 unexcused absences this year -- the limit is 14 if you want to go to prom or participate in the graduation ceremony at Carrollton High School. And it doesn't matter why you're inexcusably absent.

For example, missing school to care for your cancer-stricken mother. Your terminally ill cancer-stricken mother. When you're all she's got.

WJW television, Fox 8 in Cleveland, reports:
Let Fish Walk.

The phrase is taking over the small town of Carrollton, from car windows to signs at local businesses. It’s a grassroots effort for 17-year-old Carrollton High School senior Austin Fisher, who has made it clear that his role as ‘student’ comes second to his role as ‘son.’

“He’s been my hero, my rock,” says Fisher’s mother, Teresa, as tears stream down her face.

Teresa has been battling breast cancer for six years. Last year doctors told her it was stage four–terminal. Through months of chemo and radiation, she leaned on Austin.

But being his mom’s lifeline meant sacrificing school.

“I missed a lot of school for that. Running her to cancer treatments, staying home when she was in bed–it’s just me and her at the house,” Austin explains.

The varsity baseball player, who worked two jobs when his mom was too sick to work at all, racked up 16 unexcused absences. That is two more than the Carrollton school policy will allow for a student to attend prom or walk at graduation.

The news was devastating.

“Those are the moments you cherish,” Teresa says. “I said, Austin, hold your head up, don’t be negative about it. I said, they’ll look at this situation, they’ll come around.”

But Austin says a meeting with his principal proved otherwise.

“They can’t change it. They said guidelines are guidelines. It won’t be changed. I can’t walk,” Austin explains.
A COUPLE of millennia ago, longstanding policy dictated that a woman caught in adultery be stoned to death. Jesus Christ thought better of that, stopped "policy" in its tracks and told the woman to "go and sin no more."

Of course, we know where stuff like that got Him.

Policy dictated it. Just like policy in the Carrollton school district is coming down like a ton of bricks on a teenage kid who knows WWJD . . . and then does it. Some things never change in this life.

I have a new strategy for the seniors of Carrollton High School -- "If Fish doesn't walk, none of us do."

Sometimes, life requires that you put your mortarboard and tassel where your mouth is. And, in the process, bring down the full weight of an entire town of enraged parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles down upon the temple of the holier than thou.


UPDATE: You can't make twits smart or scoundrels virtuous -- at least not in a day -- but you can turn the heat up so much on your average bureaucracy that it cries "UNCLE!" as a matter of self-preservation.

Late developments in the story come from The Repository newspaper in Canton, Ohio:
Austin said that although his story exploded in the last three days, he has known since January that he wouldn’t be permitted to walk at the ceremony.

Upon finding out, he said he immediately went to Principal Dave Davis, as did his mother, but Davis told them, “Rules are rules.”

Petitions were circulated in January, but were confiscated, Austin said.

On Monday, as the story went viral, classmates wore “Let Fish Walk” T-shirts to school.

That afternoon, Austin and Teri met with Fogler and the two building principals, Davis and Jason Eddy, along with an attorney for the district.

Teri agreed to not talk with the media as part of the agreement.

According to Austin, the group discussed the negative publicity the school has received.

“I never intended that,” he said emphatically.

He said the administrators argued the number of absences for the first semester to be 17 days, not 16.

In the end, the decision was reversed.
WHEN YOU genuinely scare chickenshits, they rarely go quietly (or penitently) into that good night, but they do go. That's because while they generally don't much care about doing good, they do dread looking bad.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
AMEN.