Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Goodbye to 405

When Great Britain introduced the world's first public television service in 1936, its "high definition" broadcasts were all-electronic at an amazing 405 lines of definition.

By the 1960s, though, a newer 625-line color system began to supplant the original British scheme of transmitting TV programs, and 405's days were numbered. Above, we see the end of 405-line transmissions as viewed on a 1938 receiver dusted off by the BBC for the occasion.

It's Jan. 3, 1985.

AND HERE, we see how it looked to folks with "newfangled" 625-line color sets.

Below, meantime, we see a news story on the oldest working TV set in Britain -- a 1936 model.

YOU THINK your brand-new high-def widescreen set will be "kickin' it old school" in 2083?

Not waiting for locusts, exactly

"You talk to relatives and friends who aren't from here and the first thing they ask you -- they give you that special look -- is, 'Are y'all going to be OK?'

"You know what they're really thinking, they're just too polite to say it. What they're really thinking is, 'What's wrong with you people? Are y'all waiting for locusts?'"

-- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
Oct. 29, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Rock the late night

The Clash + Tom Snyder + Tomorrow = I miss 1981.

Is what I'm saying.

3 Chords & the Truth: You can call me Boris

You can call me Favog, or you can call me Mighty, or you can call me DJ . . . or you can call me Boris.

It's Halloween. Its 3 Chords & the Truth. It's . . . well . . . you know.

I mean, when it gets Spooky like this, you find You're a Whole Different Person When You're Scared. And if the Werewolves of London show up, you may well end up in the Monster Hospital.

THAT'S IF you're lucky.

You could, if one thing or another goes badly, end up in the City of the Dead. A Little Ghost, as it were.

Then again, maybe you'd just end up undead. Then the whole neighborhood would be running around in a COMPLETE panic.

Men and women -- children and dogs -- would be out in the streets screaming. Screaming things like "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!!"

You don't want that to happen. Trust me.

So tie a few heads of garlic around your neck, settle in with the Big Show and experience Halloween vicariously. Or you can go out there on your own and roll the dice with the Real Thing.

And don't be telling people that I Put A Spell on You. That would be untrue.

Unless you're talking musical spells. That would be true.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Dance Fever!

One question about Lita Ford's appearance on this 1983 episode of
Dance Fever.

If you're going to have Lita lip-sync into a dead wireless microphone,
would it have been too much to plug a cable to nowhere into her electric guitar?

AND HERE'S a Dance Fever promo from 1985.

You know, new host Adrian Zmed was no Deney Terrio. That's not necessarily saying much about anything.

Now, if
Dance Fever had had William Shatner (Zmed's old T.J. Hooker co-star) on the show to reprise his spoken-word version of "Rocket Man," that would have been somethin'.

Oh, look. I happen to have a copy.

from the '80s (it's from the 1978 Science Fiction Awards show), but who cares?
I'm not proud.

Probably can't remember plays, either

Apparently, there are confused people on the LSU campus -- apart from those trying to figure out what the hell the Death Star (a.k.a. Gov. Bobby Jindal) is going to zap them with next.

And these confused people happen to reside in the Tiger football program (not to mention the sports section of Baton Rouge's daily newspaper).

Interestingly, none of them are Coach Les Miles.

Nebraska's athletic quarterback is "Zach Martinez"? Who dat?

The Huskers have a Zac Lee at quarterback, and they also have a Taylor Martinez. I assume Rueben Shepard was talking about (and the Advocate scribe was writing about) the Husker starter, Martinez.

Whose jock strap the LSU quarterbacks are not fit to hold.

The chains 'businessmen' forge in life. . . .

Halliburton and BP knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.

In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.

The result of at least one of those tests was given on March 8 to BP, which failed to act upon it, the panel’s lead investigator, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., said in a letter delivered to the commissioners on Thursday.

Another Halliburton cement test, carried out about a week before the blowout of the well on April 20, also found the mixture to be unstable, yet those findings were never sent to BP, Mr. Bartlit found.

Although Mr. Bartlit does not specifically identify the cement failure as the sole or even primary cause of the blowout, he makes clear in his letter that if the cement had done its job and kept the highly pressured oil and gas out of the well bore, there would not have been an accident.

“We have known for some time that the cement used to secure the production casing and isolate the hydrocarbon zone at the bottom of the Macondo well must have failed in some manner,” he said in his letter to the seven members of the presidential commission. “The cement should have prevented hydrocarbons from entering the well.”

The failure of the cement set off a complex and ultimately deadly cascade of events as oil and gas exploded upward from the 18,000-foot-deep well. The blowout preventer, which sits on the ocean floor atop the well and is supposed to contain a well bore blowout, also failed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Your Daily '80s: 'Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy'

This being the political silly season, I thought it would be appropriate that today's look at the '80s feature the time Dan Quayle walked into a rhetorical right cross.

Or left hook, as the case may be.

It happened here in Omaha at the 1988 vice-presidential debate, and I probably was about four blocks away at the time.
Let's step into our time machine -- the pastel one with the little alligator on the fender -- and travel back to Wednesday, Oct. 5, 1988:
Dan Quayle made a promise to the American people before the vice-presidential debate: "You're going to see the real Dan Quayle. " Until Wednesday night, many Americans thought the real Dan Quayle was a sunny, overconfident, high-spirited young man who had spent more time on the golf links than in the library. But the Dan Quayle at the debate was a different person: a grim, wooden, frightened fellow who had stayed up late memorizing answers for the big test. So nervous were Bush's handlers that they denied Quayle any chance to be spontaneous, transforming him instead into an automaton searching for prepackaged answers that he could drone out safely.

The central issue of the Omaha debate was whether the 41-year-old Senator from Indiana had the intellect, temperament and judgment necessary to move into the presidency. Three times Quayle was thrown off balance when asked what he would do if he had to take over from George Bush. Quayle could only sputter bland inanities before falling back on his script about his congressional accomplishments. On his third try, he compared the length of his experience with that of John Kennedy in 1960. It proved a fatal flirtation with one of America's most enduring myths. With precision and rhetorical balance, Bentsen uttered four terse sentences. "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

"That remark was uncalled for, Senator," Quayle interjected. Replied Bentsen: "You're the one that was making the comparison, Senator . . . Frankly, I think you're so far apart in the objectives you choose for your country that I did not think the comparison was well taken." It was as though a respected uncle had reprimanded his young charge for cheekiness.

Afterward, few seemed to care or remember that Bentsen had been evasive in answering questions about his policy differences with Dukakis. Or that many of his responses too were recited verbatim from his stump speech. But never mind. Lloyd Bentsen looked and acted presidential -- indeed, to many he seemed more presidential than either George Bush or Michael Dukakis.

Bentsen also pressed the hot populist buttons that ignite Democratic voters. He played on nationalist sentiments by criticizing the trade practices of foreign countries and by ominously warning of their taking over American businesses. He raised the specter that Republicans are out to slash Social Security -- never acknowledging that he, like Bush and Quayle, had voted for a freeze in cost of living increases. And dusting off a line he had used at the convention, Bentsen articulated the Democratic case against the apparent success of the U.S. economy: "You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you the illusion of prosperity too."

Though Bentsen claimed that his J.F.K. line was spontaneous, it had been germinating for days. The weekend before the debate, the Bentsen camp descended on Austin for practice sessions. In a vacant basement bar adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel, they set up a mock debate stage. Congressman Dennis Eckart, a golf tee stuck jauntily behind one ear, played Quayle. But Bentsen was nervous; he was not having fun. (They did not realize it at the time, but Bentsen aides mistakenly positioned him at the wrong lectern.) Then at one point Eckart, playing Quayle, compared himself to Kennedy. Bentsen became irritated. According to press spokesman Mike McCurry, he responded, "You're no more like Jack Kennedy than George Bush is like Ronald Reagan." No one commented on the line, and Bentsen's handlers did not even review it on the videotape. But when Quayle cited Kennedy in Omaha, Bentsen was primed.

-- Time magazine,
Oct., 17, 1988

I was . . . 11th on the depth chart.
Yeah . . . yeah, THAT'S the ticket!

Here's a lot of what you need to know about Nebraska.

In the rest of the United States, many politicians get caught faking their military-service record to enhance their chances at winning public office. Not so in Nebraska.

In the Cornhusker State, politicians get caught faking their football-service record at the University of Nebraska. The funny thing is, the Huskers had such a massive walk-on program for so many years, faking your status as an ex-player is as easy to try as it is easy to get ratted out by a legit ex-NU player who says "Wait a minute. I don't remember that guy."

AND REMEMBER, boys and girls, I don't make this stuff up. I just leave it to the Omaha World-Herald to report the facts . . . which, alas, are stranger than fiction:
A candidate for Washington County sheriff pulled down his Facebook page Tuesday after he was questioned about his claim of being a University of Nebraska football player from 1978 through 1980.

Nick Thallas, an investigator for the Blair Police Department, used Facebook to promote his campaign against Republican Sheriff Mike Robinson.

The site included a statement that he had been a kicker for the Huskers while enrolled as an agribusiness student. Thallas, also a Republican, earned a place on next Tuesday's ballot by petition.

A search of Nebraska varsity football rosters from 1978, 1979 and 1980 did not find Thallas' name. His name also did not appear in the school's football media guides for those years.

In an interview, Thallas said he played on Nebraska's freshman football team in 1978.

A spokesman for the NU sports information department confirmed that Thallas lettered as a freshman, but he said there was no indication he was a member of the Husker team in 1979 or 1980.

“I was a student and I played freshman football down there,” Thallas said. “Apparently, someone bent this all out of shape.”

A few minutes later, Thallas' Facebook page was taken down.

More politics today

To be scrupulously fair, it ain't just the teabaggers behaving very badly.

Above, in a St. Louis incident quickly picked up by Fox News Channel a year ago and capitalized on by tea partiers as an example of Barack Obama's "goon squads," we are shown an incident that put the "thugs" in the term "union thugs."

And, a year later, that Missouri "town hall beatdown" is being dragged out as an example that the mainstream media is playing up the Rand Paul incident while ignoring liberal violence. Guess who's saying "Well . . . they do it, too!"

You get three guesses. The first two don't count.

WHILE I'M at it, here's another video of what seems to be an SEIU organizer attacking a supporter of a rival union at a California hospital last February:

WHY IS IT the more everyone bleats about "tolerance," the more intolerance we get of . . . well, everything.

Somehow, someway Americans will learn to live up to what we like to tell foreigners about the United States, or we are going to make Bosnia in the mid-'90s look like a walk in the park.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Your Daily '80s: 1987 . . . the apex of Letterman

Sometimes, greatness catches you unawares. Sometimes, you hit your peak, and you have no idea what has happened.

Sometimes, this happens to you, and you have precious little to do with it.

This happened to David Letterman on July 28, 1987. It caught him unawares.

Hell, at the time, most of us in the viewing audience were with Dave. We just figured Crispin Glover was stoned out of his gourd.
And weird.

A stoned weirdo.

After watching Andy Kaufman for years by then, we should have recognized greatness.

But now we know the deal.

Politics today

Don't listen to them lib'ruls in the lamestream media -- it wasn't as bad as it looks.

Oh, OK.

The volunteer with Rand Paul's Republican U.S. Senate campaign who stepped on the head of a liberal activist and pinned her face to the concrete said Tuesday the scuffle was not as bad as it looked on video and blamed police for not intervening.

"I'm sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand's safety," Tim Profitt told The Associated Press.

A judge will decide whether Profitt should face criminal charges.
YOU HEARD the Rand Paul militia. Everybody move along; nothing to see here.

By January, we'll probably witness the caning of lawmakers on the Senate floor. Again.

Even a cracked pot can cook your goose

Every country has its national mythology.

The national myth is how a people explains itself. It's how a people comes to understand itself as a whole -- what it believes, who it is, what is expected of it -- and that collective "authorized" biography, that national portrait shot in the most flattering light, is more about what a people wishes to believe about itself than what actually is the truth.

The United States' national mythology perhaps is one of the world's most all-pervasive, potent and uncritically accepted by its people. We Americans are always John Wayne in our national biopic, except when we prefer to be Jimmy Stewart or, on occasion, Cary Grant or James Dean.

Never are we Lee Marvin, villain of
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and many other films.

And being that the first casualty of war is the truth, our national mythology states Americans always go to war because there's no other recourse, then always conduct themselves as Audie Murphy -- never William Calley.

That's why a Fox News "opinion contributor," former State Department senior adviser Christian Whiton, thinks the United States ought to "explore opportunities for the president to designate WikiLeaks and its officers as enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions against them."

Whiton wants us to attack Europe looking for where Julian Assange, founder and chief of WikiLeaks, is hiding out? Or perhaps he just wants us to send the CIA to assassinate him and his inner circle.

Funny how the release of the classified truth that belies the national myth causes some to just drop all the pretense, allowing our dark side to show its true face.

this service to Americans -- in addition to showing us what our government, and military, was (and wasn't) doing in our name in the Iraq War, acts for which we all ultimately are responsible -- Assange becomes something of a problematic prophet. Perhaps even a mad prophet.

Frankly, the man seems rather insufferable. He was reckless in his handling of the previous "document dump" concerning the Afghan War, and imperiousness coupled with an apparent messiah complex seems to be driving some of the WikiLeaks staff away.

Still, without such a seriously flawed messenger, would we know anything about this, for example? From The New York Times:
The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians — at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.

The archive contains reports on at least four cases of lethal shooting
s from helicopters. In the bloodiest, on July 16, 2007, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of them civilians. However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice.

In another case, in February 2007, an Apache helicopter shot and killed two Iraqi men believed to have been firing mortars, even though they made surrendering motions, because, according to a military lawyer cited in the report, “they cannot surrender to aircraft, and are still valid targets.”

The shooting was unusual. In at least three other instances reported in the archive, Iraqis surrendered to helicopter crews without being shot. The Pentagon did not respond to questions from The Times about the rules of engagement for the helicopter strike.

The pace of civilian deaths served as a kind of pulse, whose steady beat told of the success, or failure, of America’s war effort. Americans on both sides of the war debate argued bitterly over facts that grew hazier as the war deepened.

The archive does not put that argument to rest by giving a precise count. As a 2008 report to Congress on the topic makes clear, the figures serve as “guideposts,’ not hard totals. But it does seem to suggest numbers tha
t are roughly in line with those compiled by several sources, including Iraq Body Count, an organization that tracked civilian deaths using press reports, a method the Bush administration repeatedly derided as unreliable and producing inflated numbers. In all, the five-year archive lists more than 100,000 dead from 2004 to 2009, though some deaths are reported more than once, and some reports have inconsistent casualty figures. A 2008 Congressional report warned that record keeping in the war had been so problematic that such statistics should be looked at only as “guideposts.”

In a statement on Friday, Iraq Body Count, which did a preliminary analysis of the archive, estimated that it listed 15,000 deaths that had not been previously disclosed anywhere.

The archive tells thousands of individual stories of loss whose consequences are still being felt in Iraqi families today.

Misunderstandings at checkpoints were often lethal. At one Marine checkpoint, sunlight glinting off a windshield of a car that did not slow down led to the shooting death of a mother and the wounding of three of her daughters and her husband. Hand signals flashed to stop vehicles were often not understood, and soldiers and Marines, who without interpreters were unable to speak to the survivors, were left to wonder why.

According to one particularly painful entry from 2006, an Iraqi wearing a tracksuit was killed by an American sniper who later discovered that the victim was the platoon’s interpreter.
IT'S A SAD THING that Assange -- a self-appointed messiah "too busy ending two wars" to answer legitimate inquiries from a reporter -- was the one to give lie to American lies and, yet again, shatter the myth of American moral exceptionalism when it most needed shattering, for truth's sake. From the Guardian in London:
A prisoner was kneeling on the ground, blindfolded and handcuffed, when an Iraqi soldier walked over to him and kicked him in the neck. A US marine sergeant was watching and reported the incident, which was duly recorded and judged to be valid. The outcome: "No investigation required."

That was a relatively minor assault. Another of the leaked Iraqi war logs records the case of a man who was arrested by police on suspicion of preparing a suicide bomb. In the station, an officer shot him in the leg and then, the log continues, this detainee "suffered abuse which amounted to cracked ribs, multiple lacerations and welts and bruises from being whipped with a large rod and hose across his back". This was all recorded and judged to amount to "reasonable suspicion of abuse". The outcome: "No further investigation."

Other logs record not merely assaults but systematic torture. A man who was detained by Iraqi soldiers in an underground bunker reported that he had been subjected to the notoriously painful strappado position: with his hands tied behind his back, he was suspended from the ceiling by his wrists. The soldiers had then whipped him with plastic piping and used electric drills on him. The log records that the man was treated by US medics; the paperwork was sent through the necessary channels; but yet again, no investigation was required.

This is the impact of Frago 242. A frago is a "fragmentary order" which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, "only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ".

Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands. In effect, it means that the regime has been forced to change its political constitution but allowed to retain its use of torture.

The systematic viciousness of the old dictatorship when Saddam Hussein's security agencies enforced order without any regard for law continues, reinforced by the chaotic savagery of the new criminal, political and sectarian groups which have emerged since the invasion in 2003 and which have infiltrated some police and army units, using Iraq's detention cells for their private vendettas.

Hundreds of the leaked war logs reflect the fertile imagination of the torturer faced with the entirely helpless victim – bound, gagged, blindfolded and isolated – who is whipped by men in uniforms using wire cables, metal rods, rubber hoses, wooden stakes, TV antennae, plastic water pipes, engine fan belts or chains. At the torturer's whim, the logs reveal, the victim can be hung by his wrists or by his ankles; knotted up in stress positions; sexually molested or raped; tormented with hot peppers, cigarettes, acid, pliers or boiling water – and always with little fear of retribution since, far more often than not, if the Iraqi official is assaulting an Iraqi civilian, no further investigation will be required.
THE CRITICS, on the right and in the government, are right: Julian Assange seems to be a cracked pot. And a fairly reckless one at that.

That's bad. It's bad that this is the guy upon whose judgment rests the lives of countless people.

It's worse -- immeasurably worse -- that our cracked system, our cracked military and our cracked national mythology combined to leave the likes of Assange as the go-to guy for the truth.

We won't believe Assange, or the documents he procured. We won't even believe Jimmy Stewart.

You see, even after Stewart tries to tell a reporter the truth about who really shot Liberty Valence at the end of the movie, the newspaper's editor won't print the story. He takes a look at the writer's notes, sees the God's honest truth in them . . . and burns them.

"This is the West, sir," he tells the reporter. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Your Daily '80s: The day the music died

May 10, 1982. Noon.

WABC -- Musicradio 77 in New York and one of the biggest Top-40 radio stations ever -- became Talkradio 77. Decades on, radio fans refer to that day as "The day the music died."

At 12:01 p.m., May 10, 1982, there was only one Top-40 AM station standing in New York, 66 WNBC. Top-40 held on there for a time, but then WNBC evolved into more of a talk station with bits of music here and there.

And then, in 1988. . . .

After 66 years on the air,
WNBC was no more.

Was it over when the Vols bombed Pearl Harbor?

The Tennessee football team is like the Germans in Normandy not being able to cope with the Allied invasion on D-Day, Derek Dooley? Really?

Listen, Hoss. Your 2-5 football team couldn't even cope when your offensive coordinator looked through his binoculars and saw LSU's Jordan Jefferson coming.

That's more like surrendering to the Italian Army because you were afraid they'd drop their fearsome cannoli bomb on you.

I think you owe some ancient Wehrmacht veteran an apology. Mach schnell!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Your Daily '80s: You. All. SUUUUUUUCCCK!

tHE GeeZErS anD THE FloWEr chilDReN try To MaKe heaDs OR taILs of thE PUNKS, ciRCA 1983 oN wCCo-TV iN mINNEApoLIS.

liSTen, IT Ain'T BRain SurGEry, faSCISt mATErialISTs! PUNKs HatE yOUr PhonY MiDDLe-CLASS, GrEEDy SoCIeTY, and Then tHEy SAy THEY HAtE yOu, TOO, yOU ConFORMIst PIGS, and You pUt ON ThiS bRaIN-Dead FAKE SmilE, anD yOu sAY, "Oh, AlL RigHT, DEaR. ThAt'S NICe."


Speak American! (wink)

You know how folks are always saying "This is America. Speak English"?

We don't mean it.

Sunday, the
Omaha World-Herald gave lie to our dirty little secret with this story:

A small-town Nebraska librarian who won national recognition for teaching immigrants how to read has resigned in a dispute over expanding her literacy work.

Karla Shafer, who was awarded two national grants to teach literacy to immigrants and given an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., resigned her part-time post as director of the Hooper Public Library last month after she was confronted by a City Council member.

Shafer had planned to teach English to immigrants at Nickerson, about nine miles from Hooper, as part of a second $5,000 American Dream grant from the American Library Association.

But she quit her 28-hour-a-week, $10.64-an-hour job, she said, after City Council President Gene Meyer told her she shouldn't do that because it would appear that the village of Hooper approved of the classes.

“I told him, ‘You can't stop me. It's my own vehicle, on my own day off, with my own energy,'” Shafer said. “You can't tell me what I'm doing on my time off.”

When reached, Meyer disputed that description of events.

“I just said it was pretty unusual that we paid the librarian to go to Nickerson,” Meyer said. “She could do that (literacy class) in town.

“She doesn't work there anymore, and I'm not going to go any further on it,” he added.
NO, WHAT WE really mean when we say that if people want to live in America, they ought to learn English is "Get your damn Mexican butt back to Mexico where you belong. America for Americans!"

And if they habla'd that lingo better, towns like Hooper still would be blissfully all-white, and troublesome free-thinking weirdos like Karla Shafer -- what with all her fancy books and pinko ideas -- wouldn't have half the chance to make mischief like she ended up doing with all them socialist "grants" she was getting.

Don't touch
that dial! According to the newspaper, this gets even better.
After she resigned, Shafer said, she went to the library to retrieve her personal items, including many decorations and displays she bought with her own funds.

She said the city clerk and police chief not only blocked her from retrieving her personal items but also began questioning her about how the grant funds were used and whether any went to her personally.

Shafer said she started crying.

“I felt like a criminal,” she said.

Police Chief Matt Schott and Hooper Mayor Larry Klahn said it ultimately was determined that nothing improper had been done with the grant money.

“We had a few questions. She answered them,” Klahn said.

He said city officials had been concerned that city property and Shafer's personal possessions were intermixed.

Shafer was allowed into the library Friday to get her personal belongings. That came after she hired a lawyer, on the advice of friends and library colleagues, to provide help in answering the allegations about the money and in getting back her things.

Shafer said she had to sell a family recreational vehicle to afford the attorney fees. She has suspended teaching English at the library to two Hispanic families that she said are legal residents.
THE MORAL of this tale is a familiar one: Good deeds never go unpunished.

And that goes double in woebegone little burgs like Hooper, Neb.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Your Daily '80s: The ghost of Tigers past

Well, it had to happen. LSU lost for the first time this football season.

And the fans who wanted Coach Les Miles gone when the Tigers were 1-0 . . . 2-0 . . . 3-0 . . . 4-0 . . . 5-0 . . . 6-0 . . . and 7-0, really want him gone at 7-1 after the loss to No. 4 Auburn. For example:
Les you should go to Texas Jerry Jones will love you; PLEASE (Posted on 10/24/10 at 1:17 a.m.)

Mr Miles you will love it there; great place to live We will sell your house for you if you could leave now. Please think about how great it would be living in Texas. Good luck and leave now. :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
WAIT. Where am I? What's happening to me?

Why am I being forced to watch dismal "highlights" from the 1983 LSU-Tennessee game?
What the. . . ?

Didn't they fire Jerry Stovall after he finished that season 4-7? Hey . . .
what's this here?

AND THIS? What is the purpose of subjecting me to this 1980s Tiger-football hell???

OH, DEAR LORD. Thank God this isn't an LSU football installment of Your Daily '90s: LSU . . . the Curley Hallman Years.

I'm at Mass Murder (City Hall).

@tweeples It had to be said. #Fox4DFW #socialmedia #ithadtobesaid #facebookcomments #retweetthisplease #SBuxmacchiatocoupons???!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

3 Chords & the Truth: Wassup, moon?

In a small, darkened studio sits an aging radio guy, playing the music from days gone by.

His show is called 3 Chords & the Truth -- or the Big Show, as it's known in the booth.

The music is loud; the music is soft. The songs make you think; your thoughts go aloft.

And when your thoughts reach high in the sky, it's like 3 Chords & the Truth is a balloon . . . to the moon.

BUT THEN the light starts to wane, and the stars come out. And the music plays on, all through the house.

Good night, house.

Good night, mouse.

Good night, dog.

Good night, fog.

Good night, pillow.

Good night, Big Show.

Good night, spoon.

Good night . . .
bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang,

Ba ba ding a dong ding Blue moon moon blue moon dip di dip di dip,

Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip,

Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang,

Ba ba ding a dong ding,

Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang,

Ba ba ding a dong ding . . .
blue moon.

Your Daily '80s: 1986 looks back on 1969

In the fall of 1986, a new prime-time news program hit the
ABC airwaves -- Our World.

It was a news magazine devoted to the news of days past, with Linda Ellerbee and Ray Gandolf as hosts. I minored in history, so I was a sucker for this show.

Sadly, not so many others were.

Anyway, direct from the fall of '86,
Our World looks at the summer of '69.

Ya think?

I don't know where Angela Manns' attorneys would have gotten such a . . . (ahem) . . . crazy idea.

I'll bet the Omaha World-Herald courts reporter was mystified, too:
There is now no dispute that an Omaha woman killed her young son and left his body to decompose in the family bathtub.

Defense lawyers say they will use an insanity defense for Angela Manns, 47, who is charged in the 2009 death of Michael Belitz, 12.

Her lawyers say she is not responsible for her actions because of a mental illness. Neither the attorneys nor her doctor have revealed her specific condition.

Manns' trial, once scheduled for late this month, is now on indefinite hold. She is charged with first-degree murder.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that relying on an insanity defense is an implicit admission that the charges against the defendant are true.

The defense now must show that Manns had a pre-existing and diagnosable mental condition when she committed the crime. Most important, the defense must show that the condition kept her from knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Another option for Manns would have been to argue that she suffered from temporarily diminished mental capacity when she committed the crime.

The defense strategy was confirmed in a brief Douglas County District Court filing and comes almost exactly one year after a judge ruled she was mentally capable to stand trial.

Manns will rely on the defense of “not responsible by reason of insanity,'' according to the filing by Gary D. Olson, assistant public defender.

Psychiatric experts at the Lincoln Regional Center now will investigate whether Manns was sane when her son's death occurred.

“In Nebraska, you have to show in this condition that she didn't know the difference between right and wrong, or she didn't know the consequences of her actions,” said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.

“We'll see what the doctors say. Now it's in the hands of the experts for their determination as to her state of sanity.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Daily '80s: The year that was almost our last

Somewhere near Moscow.
Sept. 26, 1983.

Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant-colonel in the military intelligence section of the Soviet Union's secret service, reluctantly eased himself into the commander's seat in the underground early warning bunker south of Moscow.

It should have been his night off but another officer had gone sick and he had been summoned at the last minute.

Before him were screens showing photographs of underground missile silos in the Midwest prairies of America, relayed from spy satellites in the sky.

He and his men watched and listened on headphones for any sign of movement - anything unusual that might suggest the U.S. was launching a nuclear attack.

This was the height of the Cold War between the USSR and the U.S. Both sides packed a formidable punch - hundreds of rockets and thousands of nuclear warheads capable of reducing the other to rubble.

It was a game of nerves, of bluff and counterbluff. Who would fire first? Would the other have the chance to retaliate?

The flying time of an inter-continental ballistic missile, from the U.S. to the USSR, and vice-versa, was around 12 minutes. If the Cold War were ever to go 'hot', seconds could make the difference between life and death.

Everything would hinge on snap decisions. For now, though, as far as Petrov was concerned, more hinged on just getting through another boring night in which nothing ever happened.

Except then, suddenly, it did. A warning light flashed up, screaming red letters on a white background - 'LAUNCH. LAUNCH'. Deafening sirens wailed. The computer was telling him that the U.S. had just gone to war.

The blood drained from his face. He broke out in a cold sweat. But he kept his nerve. The computer had detected missiles being fired but the hazy screens were showing nothing untoward at all, no tell-tale flash of an missile roaring out of its silo into the sky. Could this be a computer glitch rather than Armageddon?

Instead of calling an alert that within minutes would have had Soviet missiles launched in a retaliatory strike, Petrov decided to wait.

The warning light flashed again - a second missile was, apparently, in the air. And then a third. Now the computer had stepped up the warning: 'Missile attack imminent!'

But this did not make sense. The computer had supposedly detected three, no, now it was four, and then five rockets, but the numbers were still peculiarly small. It was a basic tenet of Cold War strategy that, if one side ever did make a preemptive strike, it would do so with a mass launch, an overwhelming force, not this dribble.

Petrov stuck to his common-sense reasoning. This had to be a mistake.

The Saddamification of Amerika

The tea party has outdone itself.

In a universe where Nancy Pelosi is the Antichrist in heels, in a political construct where President Obama is a communist Islamic Nazi witch doctor from Kenya who's going to take over health care and force doctors to pull out your fingernails one by one until you retroactively abort your firstborn son and offer his remains to Ted Kennedy . . . it is in this strange, strange world that North Carolinians just might elect to the U.S. House -- with GOP and tea-party blessing
(and cash) -- one Ilario Pantano.

Ilario Pantano, who used to be a Goldman Sachs energy trader, ended up rejoining the Marines after 9/11, then went on to pump some 60 rounds from an M-16 into the backs of two unarmed Iraqi detainees.

Ilario Pantano, whom the Marines charged with murder months later but didn't have enough evidence to court martial.

Ilario Pantano, the subject nevertheless of a Marine leadership-manual scenario aimed at teaching unit leaders how
not to act on the battlefield, whose actions were described by a lance corporal who reported him as "war crimes."

ILARIO PANTANO, whose actions at Mahmudiyah, Iraq, prompted the following discussion questions at the end of "his" leadership-manual chapter:
* How should the Marine Corps investigate and adjudicate incidents such as those that occurred at Mahumadiyah may have occurred?

* Does the Marine Corps have an equal obligation to protect the reputation of a
Marine accused of a crime or dishonorable behavior, someone possessing the
presumption of innocence, and the reputations of those who have honorably
brought forward questions about that Marine’s behavior?

* Can an action be lawful but dishonorable?

* What do we use as measures of honorable behavior and conduct if the Uniform Code of Military Justice is inadequate or unsuited to the task?
THAT'S a hell of a resumé, Hoss.

And it doesn't matter to anyone.
Most notably, the candidate himself.

One might assume that someone who'd gunned down a couple of unarmed prisoners at almost point-blank range might be circumspect about his wartime actions. Especially actions that could have landed him in prison for the rest of his life.

One might think that someone in such a position --
who had been branded by more than one of his own Marines as a war criminal -- might come back home haunted and penitent, and aware that he dodged some bullets that two Iraqi men couldn't.

You know what they say about what happens when you assume.

NO . . . if an alleged war criminal has the nerve to run for Congress, an alleged war criminal has the nerve to have a fund-raiser Sunday at a gun range. And offer campaign-donation refunds to anyone who can outshoot him, reports The StarNews in Wilmington, N.C.:

Republican congressional candidate Ilario Pantano will hold a pistol match Sunday afternoon at the Ant Hill Range in Brunswick County to raise money for his campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-Lumberton.

For $25, “any patriot” who thinks he can outshoot Pantano is invited to show off his marksmanship in a timed target-shooting challenge, according to ads for the event.

Shoot fast and straight enough to beat the former Marine and trained sniper and get your money back.

“Pantano needs your help to fix Washington, so come on out to this fundraiser social for an afternoon of fun, food and guns!” according to an advertisement for the event.

Pantano is advertising the event as a way to protect the Second Amendment and “clear all the anti-gun liberals out of Congress.”

Registration starts at 11 a.m., with the shooting starting shortly after noon. Shooters can sign up at the event and must bring their own gun and ammunition.

ADVENTURESOME "patriots" had better bring their "A" game. The Marines' account (go to Page 49) of Pantano's Iraq adventures indicate he's absolutely deadly at 5 feet:
At this point, the occupants of the white sedan were described as cooperative; no weapons had been found on either their persons or in the vehicle. The women at the target house corroborated their story. The only finds worth mentioning were the coffee cans of nuts and bolts found in the trunk of the car.

The platoon commander directed the corpsman to take charge of the detainees.
The corpsman moved them to the rear of the vehicle, separated them and placed them on their stomachs. He stood security on the detainees while the platoon commander and radio operator went to the target house. It could not be determined whether the platoon commander was informed that the residents had confirmed the two detainees’ story. It was determined, however, that the residents had not been held hostage in their homes by insurgents.

The platoon commander and radio operator returned from the house. Upon his
return, the platoon commander directed the radio operator to get the Iraqis up from the ground and remove the flex cuffs; the radio operator did so using his medical shears. The platoon commander then told the corpsman he wanted the detainees to search the vehicle a second time. The corpsman moved the detainees to the left or west side of the vehicle, placing the older of the two Iraqis in the driver’s door and the younger in the passenger door. The Iraqis had to be told several times to stop talking.

The platoon commander directed the radio operator and corpsman to take up
security positions, leaving him alone with the two Iraqis. The corpsman testified that he heard the platoon commander say “stop” in Arabic and then again in English. He then heard shots being fired. The platoon commander fired two thirty round M-16 magazines into the two Iraqis using burst fire. The corpsman has testified that the platoon commander fired from a distance of four to five feet.

The corpsman turned during the firing and observed the platoon commander’s rounds striking the Iraqis in their backs. He saw the Iraqis slump into the vehicle. The radio operator immediately faced about and saw the platoon commander firing into the vehicle. After the platoon commander ceased firing, the corpsman checked the Iraqis’ vital signs and informed the platoon commander that they were dead.

Prior to this firing, the only other shots that had been fired were the warning shots to stop the white sedan. The corpsman testified that throughout this entire action, the platoon had not received any fire. Elements of 3rd Platoon were established to the east, west, and north of the scene of the incident and others were at the target house.

The corpsman went to the rear of the vehicle. “Don’t worry about it,” he said to
the radio operator, “the blood is not on your hands, it’s on the lieutenant’s.”

The corpsman testified that after shooting the two Iraqis, the platoon commander used his K-bar and rifle to break windows and lights of the white sedan and to flatten its tires.

The radio operator also testified that the platoon commander did this, although he testified that it happened before the shootings.

The platoon commander later said that “I didn’t wait to see if there was a grenade. I didn’t wait to see if there was a knife. And unfortunately, there are a lot of dead soldiers and Marines who have waited too long. And my men weren’t going to be one of those dead soldiers or Marines and neither was I.”

The Intel Bn Marine testified that he heard the shots and went back towards the location of the white sedan. During this time, a second vehicle approached the scene from the north. The platoon commander ordered that vehicle, a brown sedan with several Iraqi laborers, to stop just north of the white sedan.

The Intel Bn Marine and the interpreter jogged north past the white sedan to assist the platoon commander with the Iraqis in the brown sedan. The interpreter described the scene at the white sedan. “They looked like they were on their knees. They were shot in their backs. One was in the front of the vehicle, the other one was in the back of the vehicle, facing the vehicle.”

He later described the scene as “weird.” “The rounds, sir -- there were too many rounds shot into those detainees, sir.”

The interpreter testified that upon arriving at the brown sedan, he observed the
platoon commander using his knife to flatten the tires of the vehicle. The platoon
commander ordered Marines to move the new detainees to the north of their vehicle. (There were five or six Iraqi house painters in the vehicle. Painting equipment was found in their car and in the house where they had been working.) They were probably twenty feet from the two dead Iraqis. Here, the Intel Bn Marine and his interpreter questioned them. The interpreter testified that the platoon commander had him tell the painters that “if any of them want to join the insurgency that same thing was going to happen to them as those bodies” and then they were released. They drove away on flattened tires.

By this point, the platoon commander had placed a sign on the first vehicle, on
the left side, the same side as the deceased Iraqis. It read “No better friend, no worse enemy.” The first vehicle was not searched again. No effort was made to recover the remains of the dead Iraqis.

PERHAPS THAT ought to be Pantano's campaign slogan: "No better friend, no worse enemy." Wink.

Lots of politicians will stab you in the back. The would-be congressman from North Carolina might be the first, though, to empty two clips into it.

How ironic that Ilario Pantano went off to war to --
What was the official reason at the time? -- "to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." That was from President George W. Bush's televised address to the nation at the beginning of hostilities.
"To all the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you. That trust is well placed.

"The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery. The people you liberate will witness the honourable and decent spirit of the American military.

"In this conflict America faces an enemy that has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality."

AS IT turns out, Saddam wasn't alone in that regard.

As it turns out, at least one Marine -- it was alleged -- decided he would employ some Saddam-style deterrence for anyone considering messing with Uncle Sam. What happened in Mahmudiyah was literally, it would seem, out of the Saddam Hussein Handbook for Keeping Troublemakers in Line. This pasaage from Saddam's obit in
The Sunday Times, for example:

The society he grew up in was violent and well armed. Some accounts say Saddam was given his first firearm at the age of eight. Another has him, at the age of ten, threatening to kill a school teacher who wanted to expel him. But, much more than violence, tribal loyalty was the overwhelming characteristic of the society into which he was born. He was to rise to power not by becoming prominent in politics or the military, but by harnessing the ties of kinship. One of the rebel officers who led the 1963 Baathist coup was Ahmed al-Hassan al Bakr, a relative of Saddam's. Bakr became prime minister and it was under his leadership that Saddam's stealthy seizure of power began, beginning with the building of security and intelligence networks answerable - and loyal - not to the state but to Saddam in person. For five years after 1963, Saddam Hussein lived on the fringes of the new political establishment, frequently falling out of favour and ending up in jail. The breakthrough in his political fortunes came in 1968 when a second coup brought the Tikriti clan to power. Bakr became head of state with Saddam as vice-chairman of the Revolution Command Council. he systematic violence and intimidation that was to keep Saddam in power began. Possible opponents were assassinated.

The Kurdish political leader Mahmoud Osman got to know him well during this period. "He told us, 'You have to kill some people, even if they are innocent, in order to frighten others'."

In the 1970s, Saddam Hussein, as Vice President, became head of Iraq's nuclear energy programme. In 1975 he made one of his rare trips abroad - to Paris - to visit the plant that was to supply Iraq with its first nuclear power station. He was welcomed in person by the then French prime minister, Jacques Chirac. Iraq and France signed an agreement which bound Baghdad to the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty; the plant would be for the production of energy only, strictly non-military.

In 1979, Bakr, in poor health, announced his intention to step down and hand power to Saddam. Some members of the RCC objected and demanded a vote. They did not live long. Saddam accused his fellow Ba'athists of conspiring against him, and of plotting with foreign powers. A meeting of the RCC was filmed in which Saddam is shown denouncing the alleged conspirators and being persuaded by terrified acolytes not to be lenient. Between a quarter and half the members of the ruling body were executed. It was at this time, too, that another distinctive feature of the Saddam regime emerged - a willingness to punish not only direct opponents and potential opponents, but members of their families as well.

"NO BETTER friend, no worse enemy."

And now, a tangible symbol of the putridity oozing from an infection America picked up during an unnecessary war is on the cusp of election to Congress. Our Congress. The United States Congress . . .
as opposed to its Iraqi counterpart.

Or the old Communist central committee of Soviet times.

Not so many, according to a
Salon piece, have a problem with this:
But one of the remarkable things about the campaign in North Carolina this year is that the murder charges are not only not an issue, but have barely even been talked about.

David McLennan, a political scientist at North Carolina's Peace College, told Salon that the issue could backfire for McIntyre, the Democratic incumbent, particularly in a district with a large ex-military population.

"There are some people in the district who consider Pantano to be a hero. For McIntyre to raise that issue is just way too delicate," McLennan says.

Some of the only criticism of Pantano's past has ironically come from the man he beat in the GOP primary, fellow Iraq war vet Will Breazeale. He told the Daily Beast after his primary loss that he considers Pantano "dangerous," adding: "I’ve taken prisoners in Iraq and there’s no excuse for what he did."

Asked by Salon if he is surprised that his critics have largely ignored the Iraq incident, Pantano was defiant. "If they want to question my war effort -- if they think that's prudent, they can go ahead ... I've served my country proudly in two wars."

IT WILL be America's great shame if he serves one second in Congress.