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October 2006 Archives

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Up 22% Since July 1, 2006

October 31, 2006 12:50 PM

... that's what 401K plans at NBS's employer are looking like these days  Have you checked your 401K lately?  Do you think you should do so before November 7?

"An awful lot of time down by the pond in our backyard"

October 29, 2006 10:51 AM

NPR's Laura Mirsch shares her family's story,

Lady "was really perky, and happy, and generally excited to see you when you came in the door every day," recalls Andrew Mirsch.

But that was before the Mirsch family moved into a new house.

"We noticed Lady spending an awful lot of time down by the pond in our backyard," Laura Mirsch recalls.

But why?

"Then, late one night after I'd put the dogs out, Lady wouldn't come in," Laura Mirsch says. "She finally staggered over to me from the cattails. She looked up at me, leaned her head over and opened her mouth like she was going to throw up, and out plopped this disgusting toad."

Yes, Lady the cocker spaniel was addicted to hallucinogenic toads.

Lady's Addiction: Coming to terms with self-medication.

Sucking on them made her high as a kite.

You can listen to her story, here.

Too often we forget Lynne Cheney...

October 27, 2006 09:47 PM

We don't know if it is the bizarre role that a "second lady" has to play in our body politic, or because Lynne Cheney downplays her own accomplishments to suit the position she is in.  But the point is, we too often we forget the formidable talents of the current Vice President's wife.  She is extremely intelligent, and she knows what she is doing.  And here, she is creaming Wolf Blitzer for CNN's appalling news coverage.  As she says, "there is a difference between news and terrorist propaganda."

It is a pity CNN doesn't recognize the difference.

The Worst Campaign Websites of the Silly Season...

... have been announced.  Thank God no one local has done anything embarrassing, for once.

Like Indiana Republican Dan Burton has.  Check it:

burtonin

Yes, he's photoshopped his own head onto the body of Indiana Jones.  And rechristened the movie "The Adventures of Indiana Dan In the City of Lost Liberals."  But he looks like Mark Foley at a leather bar.  Not a good look for this season, Dan.

But there's one campaign we want to work, even more than Congressman Burton's swooshbuckling re-election attempt.  And that's for Kay Granger.  She's a woman with a plan.  She knows what's right about America.

And, she shares our priorities: 

Sure, lunatic, put beer in a margarita - Wonkette

Woooo, hooooo!  We have never tried beer margaritas before!  One part tequila, one part beer and one part limeade.  Yummy!  It's 5:00 somewhere, and that somewhere must be TX-12.  Party on, Granger campaign!

We do have nice things to say, though...

...about some people's writing ability.  Check out blogger Dr. Mabuse's description of what it's like to discover that mice have taken up residence.

Aarrrghh - we have mice. I knew they were in the garage (they come in there during the winter, and who can blame them? It's cold in Ottawa) but now they've made it into the house. I'm not a hard-hearted person, but I know mice; they're like liberals, you try to reach an accommodation, live and let live, but they just won't stop. Let them have a few crumbs on the floor, and soon you're starting each morning checking your coffee cup for droppings.

Doesn't that just perfectly describe what it would be like to discover mice? 

Worst lede lit crit

From Jessica Canterbury, writing for CityBeat,

Why is it that regional pride and familial closeness are considered primarily to be a Southern thing, or more unfortunately, Hillbilly? This was the singular thought that kept popping into my head Wednesday night as I listened to famed Kentucky author Silas House read one of his transporting essays for NKU’s Friends of Steely Library 2006-07 literary series.

Can't you imagine that thought (which isn't even "singular") pop, pop, popping into young Jessica's head, as she sits through a mind-numbingly dull reading?  Pop.  Pop.  Pop!

Schmidt campaign takes their eyes off the prize

October 26, 2006 08:16 PM

We are at a pivotal moment in this election, and we have no room for asinine mistakes.  And yet, asinine mistakes are precisely what we have gotten in the past 48 hours from the Schmidt campaign.  This is extremely disconcerting and frustrating for Republicans, who are only left to ask:

What the hell is the Schmidt Campaign thinking?

First, we get word that the Schmidt campaign has threatened the Wulsin campaign, and asked that they stop airing video of Jean's "cut and run" speech.  Apparently, it is a violation of the House Rules for members to use the video of floor speeches for political purposes.  [And shame on them, for a perfectly ridiculous rule].

We begin with first things,

(1) It is readily apparent to anyone remotely political that invoking this rule in the political context is a dumb, dumb move.  Of course floor speeches should be used in the political context.  What is said on the floor of the House is the most important part of a Congressperson's job.

(2) It is also readily apparent from a legal perspective that this rule would not pass constitution muster in any Court.  A candidate will be permitted to use and criticize her opponent's statements on the floor of the House, and the Courts will not care what the House Rules say.  Political speech is the most highly protected form of free speech, and this, clearly, is it.

(3) It is also readily apparent that it was Jean who first violated the House Rules by calling Congressman Murtha a coward, and looks awful by accusing someone else of violating a rule, just because they don't know it exists.  That's exactly what happened to you, Jean!

(4) It is readily apparent that the House Rules do NOT apply to non-incumbents.  House rules only apply to House Members.  So the Wulsin campaign is free to use whatever floor speeches they want.  Yes, this creates a double standard for incumbents and non-incumbents, but that's just the way it is.

(5) It is readily apparent that Jean's "cut and run" comments are winning issues in the 2nd District.  The politically astute thing to do is to say that you meant what you said.  It is wrong to cut and run in Iraq.  And, you should ask your opponent what her plan is.

So that's the political, legal and practical background.  The Schmidt campaign should have known to stay away from this from the very beginning.  But instead, they're on this like a dog who won't let go of a chew toy.

First, we have Schmidt's Campaign Manager, Matt Perin, producing an extremely obnoxious press release, arrogantly boasting that (among other things),

"Clearly Ms. Wulsin's campaign is being run by a bunch of amateurs and now she’s stooped to just making things up.”

Okay.  When you are attacking the other side's operatives, something is clearly, clearly wrong with the thinking inside the campaign.  The focus needs to be on getting your candidate elected.  Not on juvenile insults directed at the other side's staffers.  The focus needs to be on the other side's candidate, Matt. 

The rest of the Matt Perin press release is similarly obnoxious--and most importantly, politically rudderless.  It scores nothing, gains nothing, and does more harm than good.  Again, what the hell is the Schmidt campaign thinking?  NBS has been involved in political campaigns for years, including working on statewide campaigns as a media consultant.  If Matt Perin had been on our staff and issued a press release like this, he would have been terminated. 

So, that was the mood NBS was in when we left the office today: Ready to fire someone at a campaign we are not even running.  Why the passion?  Because too much is a stake to indulge personalities and to suffer fools.  Control of Congress will be determined by results in each individual district.  We are on the verge of electing a Congress that will cut and run in Iraq.  We are in the verge of electing a Congress that will raise taxes.  We are on the verge of electing a Congress that will pursue an unimaginable social agenda.  We cannot afford stupid mistakes. 

So we came home, took a few deep breaths, and walked the dog.  Then we got back on line to check the news.  Perhaps the Schmidt campaign had taken our advice and backed off? 

No.  

We find that not only has the Schmidt campaign not backed off, they've ratcheted things up.  They have again written to the Wulsin campaign, repeated their demands, and attempted to respond to the House-Rules-Don't-Apply-To-Wulsin argument by claiming it is hypocritical of Wulsin not to abide by the rules of the body she wants to join.  Which is just ludicrous.  The House rules don't apply to Wulsin.

And, we get another ridiculous press release from Matt Perin,

Dr. Vicky either doesn’t realize that she’s broken a promise, or is intentionally misleading voters,” said Matt Perin, Schmidt Campaign Manager. “She’s broken one, how can anybody trust that she’s going to keep any of her other promises or not blatantly violate House Rules again?”

The entire paragraph doesn't even make sense.  It is not grammatically correct, and one thought does not logically lead into the next.  And, what promise are you talking about, Matt?  It would be helpful to say what exactly the promise was, before you proclaim that she's broken it.   You are, after all, trying to write a press release that the press can actually use.  Why make them figure out what promise you're talking about?

He goes on, 

Wulsin claims that since she’s not a Member of the House of Representatives, the rules do not apply to her. “It’s disturbing that Dr. Vicky refuses to abide by the rules of the body she wishes to join,” said Perin.

What is with the "Dr. Vicky" crap?  If is extremely disrespectful and it serves no valid purpose.  Political press releases are supposed to be written in a newspaper story style.  This is because the smaller papers often just reprint press releases, without editing.  And because lazy reporters at larger papers won't have to change your word choice.  This helps ensure you get the message out, precisely as you want it.  No newspaper, regardless of size, is going to run a quote from you if it refers to the opposition candidate as "Dr. Vicky."  This renders the press release virtually unusable--except when it can be used to make the campaign look bad.  Why does a blogger, like NBS, have to teach the Campaign Manager how to write press releases less than two weeks before the election?

And, Matt Perin goes on,

“Since she is seeking public office, Ms. Wulsin ought to know that it is dangerous when political figures decide for themselves which rules and laws they will honor. After all, democracy hinges on all of us living under the same set of rules,” said Perin.

Yes, that's right. He's bringing up the rule of law, and arguing about equal justice under law.  What over the top rhetoric!  About a ridiculous House Rule!  It's like the Campaign Manager doesn't even know what the phrase "Rule of Law" even means.  Again.  Schmidt campaign, what the hell are you thinking?  Victoria Wulsin is an extremely liberal candidate, who's views do not jibe at all with the Second District's.  There's ample material there.  Run with that.

So what can we look forward to tomorrow, as a result of all this?  Another round of bad press that make the candidate look very, very bad. 

Jean.  Please.  Bring your campaign back into focus.  Keep you eyes on the prize.  Victoria Wulsin is liberal.  You are not.  Neither is the district.  That should be your focus.  And, after the election is over (God knows you don't need the bad P.R. now) it is time to fire Matt Perin.

We can't leave out Victoria Wulsin...

...so we have to ask: What's up with this graphic on her campaign website?

 ring pic.jpg

Who wears their wedding ring on the middle finger of their right hand?

We can't believe how lucky we are, noticing this in the same week that ads are running about how Victoria Wulsin would like to give the middle finger to traditional marriage. 

Dude. Jean. Let it Go.

We're supporters of you and everything, but seriously.  If Victoria Wells Wulsin wants to run tv commercials that show your "cowards cut and run speech," let her

The Enquirer reports,

Rep. Jean Schmidt blasted Democrat Victoria Wulsin on Wednesday for allegedly breaking a U.S. House rule that prohibits using the broadcast of House floor proceedings in campaign ads.

"Her continued violation will land her in serious trouble with the House Ethics Committee," Schmidt's spokesman Matt Perin said in a release, referring to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which the release mistakenly referred to elsewhere as the "House Committee on Official Standards and Conduct."

Jean, complaining about your opponent's use of your own House floor speech is a political loser.  It looks like you're trying to play hide the ball with your constituents, and trap your opponent in technicalities--technicalities that the public will see as anti-free speech.  If a House member's own floor speeches aren't fair game, nothing is.  Drop it.

What if you threw a protest, and nobody came?

October 25, 2006 09:49 PM

That's what the editors and staff at CityBeat must be asking themselves today, following the visit from Vice President Cheney.  The VP's speech was at the Phoenix, which is right across from CityBeat's offices.  CityBeat invited us all to welcome the VP, by giving him "a message about the shameful U.S. war in Iraq or about the brazen assault on civil liberties by the Bush regime." 

Prior to, one cheeky correspondent asked it was okay to attend if he wanted to come out to support the Vice President:

anonymous Says:
October 24th, 2006 at 2:14 pm

Am I still invited if I want to write a supportive message?

Gregory Flannery [ed. Greg Flannery is CityBeat's News Director Organize-feeble-attempt-to-make-News Director] Says:
October 24th, 2006 at 2:21 pm

No, but thanks for asking.

Turns out, they could have used the numbers--because it looks like about 4 or 5 people showed up. One protester (aptly named "Pathetic") put it thusly:

Pathetic Says:
October 25th, 2006 at 2:17 pm

Well I appreciate the City Beat Crews efforts but tht was the most pathetic protest I have ever been to. As Arlo said, “Ya gotta sing loud if you want to end war and stuff”, Ya got to show up first.

I was harrassed trying to even get near the area from the north. Myself and one guy holding a Cheney Lies sign were the only two vocal protester on Race north the City Beat building that I could see. I tried to walk around the building to the south thinking there may be protesters in the parking lot or park but saw little action. Including the banner on the City Beat building I saw a total of three signs. Pathetic and sad.

Pathetic and sad, indeed.  But not as pathetic and sad as Melodie and Kelly, two of the protesters who had to seek "sanctuary" in CityBeat's lobby from a mounted patrolman.  They had to watch the goings-on with their noses--and their anti-war signs--pressed up against the glass. 

Naturally, they blame the President,

“Under this administration, there have been no protest rights,” Kelly said.

“If this administration had their way, they’d want it to be a fascist dictatorship,” Melodie said.

Maybe they should blame the people who organized the protest?  Or the public, for not feeling sufficiently supportive of their cause?

The phrase: "Never underestimate the Democrats' ability to lose elections"...

...has become something of a political truism.  It's not quite up there with "rain on election day bodes well with the GOP," but it is developing quite the ring of truth.  ABC News's Political Radar blog runs with the theme

Democrats just concluded a conference call responding to the president's press conference this morning.  Unfortunately for anyone hoping for a usable soundbite, the call was a comedy of errors from a technological standpoint -- since reporters' phones were not automatically muted, the call featured, at various points, some guy talking to his car dealer, elevator music from someone's phone being on hold, continuous loud beeping, and odd heavy breathing.  Between all the various interruptions, the participants -- who included Sens. Carl Levin and Jack Reed, and Reps. Ike Skelton and, briefly, Jack Murtha (although Murtha's phone cut out every time he attempted to speak, and he eventually gave up) -- managed to make a few points, though no big headlines.

How can they be ready for election day when they can't even arrange a conference call?

Whether to call a spade a spade?

That is the choice the New Jersey Supreme Court has given the state legislature.  The NJ Supremes have ordered the state legislature to either amend the state's marriage statutes to allow for same sex "marriage," or create a separate civil unions scheme.  The Court gives the legislature their options:

The equal protection requirement of Article I, Paragraph 1 leaves the Legislature with two apparent options. The Legislature could simply amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples, or it could create a separate statutory structure, such as a civil union. Because this State has no experience with a civil union construct, the Court will not speculate that identical schemes offering equal rights and benefits would create a distinction that would offend Article I, Paragraph 1, and will not presume that a difference in name is of constitutional magnitude. New language is developing to describe new social and familial relationships, and in time will find a place in our common vocabulary. However the Legislature may act, same-sex couples will be free to call their relationships by the name they choose and to sanctify their relationships in religious ceremonies in houses of worship.

But if the substance has to be the same, what does it matter what the legislature chooses to call it?  Does anyone actually think there is a difference between a same sex marriage and a same sex civil union?

Why oh why...

...does CNN.com think it is a good idea to run this headline,

Next to this photo?

Shiite raids, Sunni bodies and a disturbing book

Mainstream Media Time v. Blog Time

There is a fascinating article in today's New York Post about how the mainstream media may be behind the curve on political news.  If you look to them, the election is in the bag for the Democrats.  Bloggers were on board with that conventional wisdom up until late last week.

Now they're (we're?) not so sure,

At some point last week, Republicans and conservatives on Blog Time began to cheer up, and Democrats and liberals on Blog Time began to worry. The head man at the hard-Left dailykos.com expressed his fear that Democrats had peaked too early, while the folks at the conservative redstate.com seemed sure that their team was saving itself from certain disaster.

Whose political ear is more finely tuned?   The paid media?  Or the bloggers?

Fun with local blog headlines...

CityBeat Blogs rolls out the welcome mat for the Clinton visit:

"Sex Offenders Need Homes, Too."

What is the New Jersey Supreme Court thinking?

And we say that before they have even issued their gay marriage decision, which is they say they will announce today at 3:00 EST.  It's less that 2 weeks before a major election.  The Courts are not supposed to toy around with the political process.  Surely they know that no matter what the decision is, it will impact the election.

So why in the heck aren't they holding it?  They are under no obligation to issue it today.

"We are teaching respect on a case-by-case basis, not on arbitrary parameters having to do with social position or age."

...so says Jan Falk, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, writing to her local paper to extol her 11 year-old son's contribution to political discourse.

 "I have never been more proud of my son," Mrs. Falk wrote the Centre View in Centreville, citing the eloquence in which her son greeted Susan Allen, wife of Viriginia GOP Senate candidate George Allen.

Guess what the little charmer said to Mrs. Allen?

"You suck."

Nooooooooooo!

October 24, 2006 02:44 PM

Bill Clinton has desecrated NBS's Starbucks.  Politics Extra reports,

President Clinton stopped at a Starbucks in Columbia Tusculum after his speech to fill up on a grande decaf Verona - black, no sugar or cream - according to barista David Lyman.

"Everyone was kind of, 'Oh my God it’s Bill Clinton," he said. "They stopped one lane of traffic on Columbia. He did a little bit of handshaking, stood outside. Very civilized."

He's in town to campaign for Chabby's opponent.

Doomsday Cult Leader's Execution to Go Forward

The Sixth Circuit has cleared the way for the execution of Jeffrey Lundgren, the doomsday cult leader who had argued he was too fat to execute--and who had gotten a district court judge to buy into his argument.  The 6th Circuit ruled 2-1 to lift the stay of execution.

The 2-1 vote was split down party lines, which happens frequently, but is rarely reported in the press.  NBS is not sure if it is the media who fails to report this, or if it is because the federal courts themselves want to foster faith in the judiciary.  In either event, do not be deceived: judicial appointments matter.

But will they matter enough to get conservative Republicans to turn out for Mike DeWine this fall?

Welcome, "Above the Law" Readers...

October 23, 2006 01:06 PM

... did you know the Naked Prosecutor was "found naked in public before"?

Sources tell 9News that Scott Blauvelt was naked when he was involved in a single-car crash a year-and-a-half ago in Union County, Indiana.

The investigation shows he missed a curve, over-corrected and hit a pole.

He was not charged.

Blauvelt's lawyer says his client's actions were a side affect of medication.

We thought you'd want to know.

Monday Morning Enquirer Outrage

The Enquirer's Kimball Perry runs today with a slathering story about David Pepper, who is running for county commissioner.  The headline sums up the whole Pepper candidacy pretty well, "Pepper: Raised By Prominent Locals."  Gee, now that's a reason to vote for somebody!

It's supposedly a human interest story, that focuses on David Pepper's family history in Cincinnati.  Yes, his maternal grandfather was a prominent ob-gyn who delivered 30,000 babies here, including NBS's mom (that last part doesn't make the paper).  Yes, David's maternal family history is actually more important to the city, even though his dad became C.E.O. of P&G.  And yes, Kimball Perry reports all of this in such hushed tones, it's like he thinks David is our own local JFK, Jr.  And, Kimball buys into the Pepper family spin on wealth: that it hasn't affect David's world view in the slightest!

To get the straight-skinny on this, Kimball turned to two unbiased sources: David himself, and David's mom,

Despite the perception that they grew up rich, the Pepper siblings weren't pampered and always had to work for their money, he said.

"We're just very down-to-earth people," Francie Pepper said. "We came from zero. John's family and my family inherited not one dime."

"We came from zero?"  Zero?  It is incredible that Kimball Perry reports this as fact, despite every bit of evidence to the contrary.  How did he verify this?  Aren't reporters supposed to verify what people tell them?  Does anyone think that Kimball asked Mrs. Pepper if he could look over the family finances, or check out the terms of her parents' estate planning documents?  Did he ask her how she managed to inherit her parents' summer home (on a private island in Canada), if she did not inherit "one dime"?  Of course not!

But it gets worse,

Growing up in Hyde Park and Wyoming, David Pepper did odd jobs clearing brush, mowing lawns and painting houses during summers.

It turns out, NBS knows who did the yard work at the Pepper household, and it certainly wasn't David Pepper.  They had a landscape crew and a mowing service.  Trust us, we can tell you with absolute certainty: David Pepper didn't do any yard work.

Meanwhile compare, Kimball Perry's lovey-dovey piece on David Pepper, with his tacky companion article about David's opponent:

Phil Heimlich's dad is a world-renowned doctor, his mother the daughter of famous dancers Kathryn and Arthur Murray.

The family pariah is the commissioner's brother, Peter Heimlich. Family members think he is doing all he can to ruin his father's reputation and sabotage his brother's political career as the Republican Hamilton County commissioner is embroiled in a fierce election race.

Way to focus on the Heimlich family black sheep, Kimball.  Perhaps you should also have mentioned that Peter Heimlich is completely unhinged?  He launched a crazy attack on his own father, by assuming a woman's name and writing to the Business Courier anonymously, trying to out his Dad for faking the discovery of the Heimlich maneover.  Don't you think that's worth either explaining--or not mentioning at all?  How about a slathering article about the Heimlich family that focuses on how difficult it is to deal with a family member who is mentally ill?

Kimball, it's like you actually believe the spin from the left-wing blogosphere that argues that you are pro-Heimlich.  You don't have to try to prove them wrong by failing to do your job.

Sleeeeepy. Sleeeeeepy. Are you getting sleeeeeeepy?

October 20, 2006 03:18 PM

clintoncross3.JPG

Hillary Clinton has begun her attempts to hypnotize us before 2008.

"Whut? I din't plant dat storee. I got my lawyers workin' on it"

So said 700 WLW Radio Personality Andy Furman at the Izzy's on Main Street this afternoon.  And yes, what he couldn't confirm for the Enquirer, he was happy to confirm for the guy working the cash register: he has definitely been suspended.

NBS would not have recognized him, but that voice is so distinctive.

Holy Innocents Irony

Check out this truly disturbing story about a student at Holy Innocents Episcopal School in Atlanta...

Louise Egan Brunstad, 16, was charged Thursday with felony murder. Prosecutors said they intend to try her as an adult. If convicted, she faces an automatic life sentence.

"She was actually counting down her imminent threat: 'Nine, eight, seven, six ... I'm going to do it,' " said Paul Howard, Fulton County district attorney.

Authorities said Brunstad rammed her family's Mercedes-Benz head-on into a smaller Daewoo driven by 30-year-old Nancy Salado-Mayo, who was killed. Salado-Mayo's middle child, Lesly, 6, was in a child safety seat and was treated for fractured ribs and other injuries.

Brunstad, who was treated for an ankle injury, had told friends she planned to kill herself after another female student at Holy Innocents Episcopal School refused to have sex with her, Howard said.

And people on the left wonder why there is a culture war going on.

Horrific Reporting from the Enquirer

October 19, 2006 08:11 PM

NBS just got back from the Blackwell/Cunningham/Hannity rally in Blue Ash, where we happily observed the Enquirer's Howard Wilkinson standing in the back, taking sporadic notes, and looking unkempt and disheveled.

The next time we see him at a political event, we are going to help him with his crowd count.  We are also going to help him make sure he waits until an event actually starts, before he reports on the as-yet-unhappened news.  Howard reports over at Politics Extra that there were about 100 Blackwell supporters, and 30-40 protesters.  Something is wrong with Howard's thick, thick glasses.

There were far more than 100 Blackwell supporters.  In fact, it was almost impossible to find a place to park.  On the stage alone, there at least 30 Blackwell supporters--enough for them to spell out B-L-A-C-K-W-E-L-L in t-shirts in the front row, and there were about 4 rows of people.  That was all on stage left.  It's not counting stage right, where the dignitaries were sitting.  Or the crowd, where there were about 200-250 people.  As for the protesters, there were 2 or 3 on one side in the rear (including Ray, the protester who goes to everything).  There were 20 more at the opposite side.

We recognize that it is hard to guess how many people are in a crowd.  But getting it wrong by more than half is inexcusable.  The general consensus from the politicos talking amongst themselves (and not trying to spin gullible members of the press) was that turn-out was excellent, given the nasty weather. 

UPDATE: Viking Spirit was there too.  He also reports that Howard Wilkinson's reporting is wrong.

UPDATE No. 2: Bizzyblog summarizes what we and Viking Spirit have been saying--and has some history about Howard Wilkinson's past problems when it comes to math and counting.

UPDATE No. 3: Howard Wilkinson (and Jon Craig, who NBS knows, and who wasn't actually there) are now reporting in the online edition of the Enquirer that there were "about 200" Blackwell supporters at "a rain soaked rally" (closer to true).  They also say that there were about 50 protesters there (definitely not true).  The Enquirer's Politics Extra site still runs with Wilkinson's first report, that there were 100 Blackwell supporters, and 30-40 protesters.  So... according to the Enquirer's online edition, the pro-Blackwell count has now doubled, and the protester count is up by 25%.  Stay tuned.  The numbers in the print edition may be different still!

UPDATE No. 4: Carl Weiser, guru of the Enquirer Politics blog, picks today of all days to try to explain whether the journalist standards are lower on their blog than in the paper.  You know.  On the day when the paper is running with different facts than what is being reported in their blog.  He says,

For the blog entries written by the reporters, the standards are essentially the same - we try to get both sides, we don't opine, we don't use anonymous sources. I try to make sure everything is spelled right, that titles are correct, that everything - everything - is accurate.

This all reminds us of the kertuffle from a few months ago, when NBS (and others) prompted the Enquirer to clarify how they report on polling results.  As we pointed out then,  "[i]t's like they are saying that the information on "Politics Extra" is more dubious than what they put in the print edition."  Apparently Carl's theory is that "Politics Extra" readers eagerly consume more information, and are smart enough to see through any b.s.  Which is true.  But it is also pretty patronizing, because it suggests the print edition readers can't handle too much information, and need to be shielded from anything that might be confusing.

UPDATE No. 5.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was there, and estimates that there were "probably more than 300 people." WTF is much less nasty and brutish to Howard Wilkinson than we have been.  

Troy Ingraham

It was very moving today to hear Laura Ingraham talking about having to put her yellow lab Troy to sleep yesterday.  NBS lost his black lab this spring, at it was not easy.  Troy Ingraham was 13 and his health was failing.  You could tell Laura was not trying to talk about it too much, and she told her staff to keep it upbeat and aggressive to help her get through the show.  But you could tell she was in a lot of pain.  From the tribute on her website:

He was Laura's best friend since she first picked him up in May 1994--long before her television and radio career began, back when Laura was still a lawyer and running marathons. He never left her side during her cancer treatments last year, when she tore her knee skiing, and when she lost her mother to cancer in 1999. While others come and go in our lives, a dog's love remains constant. And yes, our pets' deaths are time markers in our own lives--as we see our own twilight approaching. Troy was a good boy. His job is done. Godspeed.

Breaking Supreme Court News...

...NBS actually agrees with Justice Souter!  The possessive form of a singular noun ending with the letter "s" does require an additional "s" after the apostrophe! 

In Kansas v. Marsh, the high court was split 5-4--not only on the constitutionality of Kansas's death penalty statute--but on the extremely important "s's" issue.  In the opinion,

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the Court (and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia), concluded that the Kansas statute was not unconstitutional. In reaching this conclusion, Thomas repeatedly referred to the relevant law as Kansas' statute.

In response, Justice David Souter wrote a dissent that was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. The dissent revealed Souter's bitter disagreement with both the substantive conclusion of the majority and the grammatical philosophy of the opinion's author. Whereas Thomas apparently believes that whenever a singular noun ends in "s," an additional "s" should never be placed after the apostrophe, Souter has made equally clear his conviction that an "s" should always be added after the apostrophe when forming a singular possessive, regardless of whether the nonpossessive form already ends in "s."

Souter is absolutely correct on this one.  Strunk & White say so, and that is good enough for NBS.*  But as always, we are intrigued by what Justice Scalia has to say,

In Marsh, Scalia wrote a separate opinion that concurred with the substance of the majority opinion but nonetheless revealed a clear ideological discord with Thomas. Unlike his colleague, Scalia appears to believe that most singular nouns ending in "s" still demand an additional "s" after the apostrophe. Thus, in his Marsh concurrence, Scalia repeatedly referred to the relevant law as Kansas's statute. He similarly added an "s" to form the words Ramos's and witness's.

Yet in other parts of the opinion, Scalia added only an apostrophe to form the words Stevens', Adams' and Tibbs'. Based on this, it would seem that he believes the extra "s" should be omitted if the existing "s" is preceded by a hard consonant sound. So, whereas Thomas makes his "s" determination based strictly on spelling, Scalia appears to look beyond the spelling and examine pronunciation as well.

Fascinating!  But, we are torn by Justice Scalia's analysis.  It makes sense, but we also agree with David Lat, over at Above the Law.  It is too wishy-washy, and Sandra Day O'Connorish.  We need more clarity from the High Court on this.

*Strunk and White also say "Do not affect a breezy manner."  So clearly, NBS himself falls short of their rules, sometimes.

Doomsday Cult Death Row Inmate Too Fat to Execute...

... so he gets a stay of execution.  From CNN,

A federal judge on Tuesday delayed next week's execution of cult leader Jeffrey Lundgren to allow him to join a lawsuit by five other death row inmates challenging the state's use of lethal injection.

In his request to join the lawsuit, Lundgren, 56, said he is at even greater risk of experiencing pain and suffering during the procedure than other inmates because he is overweight and diabetic.

Yes, that's right.  He says he's so fat, it would be cruel and unusual punishment to give him the needle.  And District Judge Greg Frost--who we have appeared before on numerous occasions, and who used to be smarter than this--actually bought into it.  So the execution that was originally set for October 24 is now on hold, indefinitely.

You may be asking, what did Jeffrey Lundgren do that got him on death row in the first place?  He ran a doomsday cult, and needed to "prune the vineyard." Apparently, some of his followers weren't buying all of it.  So he told the rest of the group that if they wanted to see God, they'd have to kill the errant family of five.  Here's what happened next:

On April 10, 1989, Lundgren ordered two of his followers to dig a pit in the barn, in anticipation of burying the Averys' bodies there. Lundgren told the rest of his followers, including the Averys, that they would go on a wilderness trip. A week later, on April 17, 1989, he rented a motel room and had dinner with all of his followers. He then called his group's men into his room, handling them the guns and rilfes with which the murders would be committed. Dennis Avery was not invited to the motel room meeting.

According to followers' admissions, Lundgren later went inside the barn, with a church member named Ron Luff luring Dennis Avery into a place where the other men awaited by asking him for help with equipment for the camping trip. Luff attempted to render Avery unconscious with a stun gun; the stun gun had a mechanical failure. A stun bullet struck Avery but did not knock him out.

Avery then was gagged and dragged to the place where Lundgren awaited. He was shot twice in the chest, dying almost instantly. Luff then told Avery's wife, Cheryl, that her husband needed help. She was gagged, like her husband, but also had duct tape put over her eyes, and dragged to Lundgren. She was shot three times, twice in the breasts and once in the abdomen. Her body lay next to her husband's. The Averys' 15-year-old daughter, Trina, was shot twice in the head. The first shot missed, but the second killed her instantly. Thirteen year old Becky Avery was shot twice and left to die, while six-year-old Karen Avery was shot in the chest and head. Both died.

Terry Lundgren has been on death row for 16 years.  Now he is too fat get the death penalty. 

Negativity about the 'Nati

It's hard to beat Rick Hines over at The Cincinnati Nation when it comes to negativity about the city, as has been aptly noted by other bloggers before.  Basically, Rick aspires to write an internet daily that reports on local news.  In reality, he just links to news from other sources, and he writes a new, negative headline for the article that makes Cincinnati looks bad.  As an economic model, were not really sure how he gets this to work, but hey, he does have Judge Painter running political ads. 

His latest headline, though, takes the negativity to a whole new level.  Writing about the wannabe terror attacks at NFL games this Sunday, Rick headlines,

 N E W S    H E A D L I N E S
Cincinnati so unimportant it can't even get on stadium terror alert

Yes, it's basically "We suck so much we're not even worth nuking."  Thanks for explaining it all to us, Rick.

UPDATE:  Rick has now re-written the headline.  Is the new one any less asinine?

Cincinnati couldn't even
get on fake terror list
get on fake terror list

NO! 

Reasons for Optimism

October 18, 2006 02:38 PM

As has been much discussed today, Karl Rove says he is confident the Republicans will pull it out.  Ken Mehlman has been saying the same thing for weeks.  And the President himself is reported to be quite confident.  This may be why:

If you're ever read a profile of Ken Mehlman, you know he is obsessed with metrics. For him, one of the most important sources of data is a weekly e-mail his political team prepares called the "Weekly Grassroots Report." It meticulously records the work of tens of thousands of volunteers in targeted states, counties and congressional districts across the country. The data summary allows the RNC to determine which states are meeting goals and which states are falling behind.

The RNC declined to share the most recent report, which was issued Monday. But two independent sources who saw last week's report professed to be surprised: not only was their no drop off last week, 12 states broke new voter contact records.

In a month, the party completed more than a million phone calls and door contacts conbined. Bigger states are putting up big numbers -- even Ohio, which lagged behind its targets all summer, has caught up. The RNC is particularly pleased with their progress in New Jersey, where they've rapidly set up a more aggressive version of their 72 Hour Program in light of the state's more competitive Senate race.

As mentioned previously, NBS himself was making voter calls last night for the Ohio Republican Party.  The set-up is impressive.  Phone banks and voter lists, with an emphasis on personal contact, and detailed information about who to call, who they are going to support on election day, and who needs to be called back.  Of all the people NBS spoke to, only one said she was a Republican who was rethinking her support for the party this year.  Only one. 

This is addition to the stories about party organization out of bellweather Wood County that Rush Limbaugh spoke about earlier this week.  And, our own local FOX 19 reported earlier this week the Hamilton County Board of Elections has been inundated with absentee ballots--which always lean Republican. 

As for the Sean Hannity rally for Ken Blackwell, it is Thursday, October 19 at 6:00 at Blue Ash Veterans Park.  Hannity talks about it all the time on his radio show, and the Blackwell campaign sends out emails constantly.

Update: Nikki Giovanni is Not Sorry...

...surely you didn't expect that she would be?

Peggy O'Farrell from the Enquirer got on the phone, and gave her a call.  Ms. Giovanni said,

"All I have is my voice," she said. "I don't want it silenced. We were on (Fountain Square) where the Klan gathered to speak. I'm not sure as many people called to complain about what the Klan had to say as what I said."

Actually, Ms. Giovanni, quite a few people complain, every time the handful of non-local Klan nuts take up camp on the Square.  There is always a tremendous uproar.  Remember the time local churches reserved all the permits for the Christmas season, just so there wouldn't be one left for the Klan?  Or the vigils and protests everytime they show up, which draw protesters that always far outnumber the Klan?  Or the litigation--which occurs practically every holiday season--when the City tries to get the Klan to shut up, stay of the Square, and go away?

So, yes, Ms. Giovanni, people do complain about the Klan.  Every time they come here.  So you're just as flat out wrong about that, just as you are wrong about Cincinnati cops shooting unarmed black men in the back.  It just isn't true.

But, even though you're classless--and perpetuating lies to further racial discord--we want you to keep talking.  Last night, NBS was voluntering at Republican headquarters, and people were stopping by to pick up yard signs, because they were so outraged over what you said here over the weekend.  These are people who otherwise were planning on sitting the election out.  Yes, it is true.  People specifically said that it was your remarks that brought them in.  And that they plan to vote for Blackwell because of it.  So keep talking, Ms. Giovanni!  Your spiteful words are having an impact!

In Celebrity News...

October 17, 2006 03:35 PM

...Madonna has "adopted" a child from Malawi.  She may have gotten preferential treatment.  She may not have been allowed to fly him to London on her private jet.  The boy's family may not have known what they were agreeing to.

Above: Madonna's husband, film director Guy Ritchie, arrives at the Milawi orphanage to collect their new child.

She may not have expected the backlash she is getting.

Worse than immoral, it was badly written*

Really, really badly written:

I am Cincinnati

I slaughter hogs and make soap

I am the biggest Oktoberfest outside Munich, Germany

Well the literary reviews are in on the "poem" Nikki Giovanni wrote and delivered at the Fountain Square Re-dedication on Saturday.  This was the poem that referred to Cincinnati cops shooting black men in the back, and described gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell as a "son of a bitch."  If you haven't read the full text of her poem check it out, here

Blackwell campaign spokesman Carlo LaPoro responded to the SOB remarks, by stating that they "showed a total lack of class."  Which of course, they did.

But that did not stop some, such as local blogger The Dean of Cincinnati, from--get this--questioning Mr. LaPoro's lit crit cred:

What are Carlo LoParo's credentials in terms of poetry? Is he a poet? Another kind of artist? Does he have a degree in literature?

If not, I find his opinion completely off-topic.

Yes, he's criticizing a campaign spokesman for defending his candidate against an outrageous remark, three weeks before an election.  You have to be pretty blind partisan not to realize the inanity of that.

But in any event, what if The Dean did actually have a point?  What do the real lit crits think?  It turns out, they agree with Mr. LaPoro.

"Historically speaking, poems written for occasions of this sort are almost always forgotten," said Norman Finkelstein, a professor of English at Xavier University.

Finkelstein called Giovanni's poem a "klutzy" piece that seemed to have been dashed out in a few minutes, a poem that reached for "too many easily accessible images of Cincinnati and Cincinnati history." Giovanni might have included her reference to Blackwell to be provocative, he said - but "in doing that, whatever poetic integrity the thing had went down the tubes."

Giovanni "has a good deal of skill and panache in handling a certain kind of public oratory," Finkelstein said. "I don't think she's a particularly strong poet anymore."

James Cummins, a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and curator of the school's Elliston Poetry Collection, agreed that the poem wasn't good - just a string of images, a catalog of facts, a bit of opinion.

Kudos to our local profs for not buying into the Nikki Giovanni political poetess spin machine.

*Paraphrasing Oscar Wilde's famous testimony.  We hope NBS readers are smart enough to know that.

"Hollywood Democrats Watch and Wait, Cautiously"

October 16, 2006 11:02 AM

So headlines the New York Times.

With three weeks remaining before the vote, liberal Hollywood has been watching the Congressional midterm elections with the kind of attention usually reserved for presidential races and Oscar night. Potential donors are fielding invitations to as many as three fund-raisers for a single Democratic candidate. “So many people are doing events that you just can’t go to them all,” said Lawrence Bender, a producer of the global-warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” “There tend to be at least two events every night.”

Still, the dominant note, at least among more than a dozen prominent Hollywood Democrats interviewed in the last several days, stops noticeably short of confidence. Several players, like Ms. Medavoy, pointed toward bitter disappointments in the past, when a politically energized film community found itself flummoxed by the perceived maneuvering of Republican strategists and the tendencies of a complex electorate.

“I’ve learned not to be too optimistic,” said Alan Horn, president of Warner Brothers, though he was quick to add, “I believe the tide has turned.”

What exactly do they think the Democrats will be able to do, even if they win?

Curacao Reprise

October 14, 2006 09:05 AM

As promised, here are some more pictures of the recent NBS trip to Curacao.  Here's a shot of the typical beach in Curacao.  There are not long and sandy stretches, but small coves with spits of sand.  The vacation houses (which are shockingly inexpensive) sit up on coral cliffs, overlooking the sea. 

The is not a lot of fauna on the island (it is pretty much a desert island, not tropical).  So there are a few different types of lizards running around, including some pretty big iguanas.  There are also wild goats, and small, colorful birds.  The aquatic life is incredible.

The lizards are ever-present, which is hard to get used to.  Mrs. NBS didn't want one to scurry over her feet (none did).  They scamper out of your way when you walk down a path.  Some of them come close enough to beg for food at restaurants, like this little gal (the females are brown, the males are green and flashier-looking).  They are much bigger than the Lazarus lizards we have in our neighborhood.

This is a shot of one of the restaurants at our resort.  They all had thatched roofs.  It hardly ever seems to rain in Curacao.  One of the locals told us of a day he remembered when it rained all day, and the locals didn't know what to do.  During the rainy season, it rains for about half an hour a day, and then it stops and is bright and sunny again.  We told him that wasn't much of a rainy season.

Making friends with the locals was one of the best things we did.  Our friend Kamal took us on a tour of an isolated part of the island, and showed us some of the beaches only the locals know about.  Here's a picture of a fisherman and his boat:

The water in Curacao really is the shade of Curacao blue (even though we learned they just dye the liquor that color, for marketing purposes).  Still, though, they get the liquor to match the water color pretty well. 
The sunsets there aren't bad either:
 

Someone, please, defame me on the Internet!

October 11, 2006 01:27 PM

A jury in Florida has awarded a woman $11.3 million after she was called a crook, con-artist and fraud on a message board.  No folks, you really can't say whatever you want on the internet.  Despite what you may have been told. 

The dispute between the two women arose after Bock asked Scheff for help in withdrawing Bock's twin sons from a boarding school in Costa Rica. Bock had disagreed with her ex-husband over how to deal with the boys' behavior problems. Against Bock's wishes, he had sent the boys to the boarding school.

Scheff, who operates a referral service called Parents Universal Resource Experts, says she referred Bock to a consultant who helped Bock retrieve her sons. Afterward, Bock became critical of Scheff and posted negative messages about her on the Internet site Fornits.com, where parents with children in boarding schools for troubled teens confer with one another.

In other words, bloggers, back it up with actual facts.

If Drudge hasn't already gotten you to see it...

October 10, 2006 03:10 PM

... check out the TV ad David Zucker prepared for the congressional elections.

Drudge reports:

One GOP strategist said "jaws dropped" when the ad was first viewed. "Nobody could believe Zucker thought any political organization could use this ad. It makes a point, but it's way over the top."

Good thing we don't need to put the ad on TV these days.  We just need to make sure YouTube gets it.

UPDATE: YouTube now wants you to be 18 to watch it (for no good reason).  If you don't want to bother swearing that you are 18, you can see the video here.

Now we can all sleep better!

From CBSNews.com:

couricnk.jpg

They have their anchorette on the North Korea bomb beat!

Freak v. Loser now pending in Gwinnett County Superior Court

Back in the day when the runaway bride ran away, we thought her fiancé was crazy for taking her back.  A nationwide bride-hunt 4 days before your own wedding would be pretty emasculating.  But he took her back, and seemed happy to work things out with her at the time.  He should have known she'd be trouble.

 Jennifer Wilbanks

Because now they've broken up, and she's suing him for half a mil.

Wilbanks seeks $250,000 as her share of a home Mason purchased through the partnership with proceeds from $500,000 received for selling their story to an agent, plus $250,000 in punitive damages for allegedly abusing the power of attorney she granted for him to handle their financial affairs, according to an Atlanta television station, which reported on the lawsuit Monday night.

She also seeks the return of personal property she claims he has kept.

Do you suppose they ever wonder how they ended up with the lives they are living?

Marketing Higher Ed

The Baltimore Sun is out with a fascinating article about how NBS's alma mater is marketing itself these days:

Sewanee identified Baltimore as a desirable market because it contained a happy confluence of what Lesesne calls "market fundamentals:" a cluster of private schools whose tight-knit networks facilitate word of mouth; an enthusiastic alumnus willing to host receptions for prospective freshmen; and frequent non-stop flights to Nashville.

Apparently Sewanee is out to target what the higher ed crowd calls "full payers," which are students who can afford the indefensibly high $37,000 per year tuition.  When NBS was at Sewanee, he didn't know many people who actually paid full freight, because the scholarship package is quite generous.  The article doesn't mention that, which is a pity.  Instead it focuses on how Sewanee markets itself to private school wasps via word of mouth:

Baltimore is a smaller market compared to D.C.," Lesesne said. "A kid from Potomac doesn't know a kid from Arlington. But kids from Baltimore know each other, so your word of mouth travels a little better."

To expedite that word of mouth, Lesesne enlisted the help of Charles J. Nabit, a health care entrepreneur and irrepressible Sewanee booster who offered the use of his 40-room North Charles Street mansion for receptions where prospective students could meet Sewanee recruiters.

The mansion helps assuage any concerns of Baltimore parents about sending their children to the Deep South, said Lesesne. "They come in and say, 'Well, someone's doing pretty well from that institution.'" ....

The most delicate part of Lesesne's marketing strategy was to finesse the first link in a word-of-mouth chain that would make Baltimore preps feel like they had discovered Sewanee, rather than the other way around.

We're not sure how wild we are about blatant discussions about marketing in the paper--makes the school sound somewhat desperate, when it is not.  But, we suppose all the schools do it, even the Ivy's, and their obsession with the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

We were glad to hear, though, how students handle cell phone talkers, who were not really around when NBS was in college:

Students describe a campus culture that jealously guards its traditions. Members of the Sewanee community call their mountaintop campus "the Domain," and dare not sully its misty air with cell phones or risk incurring the ritual cry from a passer-by: "Save Sewanee!"

Very encouraging to hear that cell phones are not encouraged.  That almost makes the $37,000 worth it, right there.

Only in Hamiltucky*

October 9, 2006 10:49 PM

Well as headlines go, it is hard to get more descriptive than "Prosecutor Accused of Walking Naked Through Government Building."  Yes, it happened in Hamilton, Ohio.  Local 12 had the goods tonight at 11:00.  They reported that Hamilton City Prosecutor Scott Blauvelt was observed on security cameras walking around the government building--riding in the elevators, and everything else--after hours and without a stitch of clothing.   

Local 12's website does not have all the details they reported during the news.  Especially their comical interview with a member of the Hamilton City Council, who assured us that there was a good explanation for the Prosecutor's behavior.  He told the cameras, and seemingly believed it himself, that the Prosecutor was walking around naked because he had been in a horrific car accident last year.  NBS is not a doctor, but he knows of no car accident injury that could trigger the need to walk around an office building naked.  But the city councilman Local 12 interviewed was quite sure that this was the cause.  He assured us that the Prosecutor had been properly vetted before he was hired, and this whole walking-around-naked-thing, well, must be connected to the car accident.

That makes perfect sense, doesn't it? 

*Our apologies to Kentucky for the slur in the post title.  Connecting the beautiful state of Kentucky to the not-so-beautiful City of Hamilton is unconscionable.  The slur did not originate with us.  But it does seem apt here.

For the locals only...

There was so much to write about last week after Chris Finney's insane attack on David Pepper, and it is a pity NBS was too busy with real work to cover it.  For those who don't know, Chris Finney is a conservative local attorney who is very active in local Republican politics.  In other words, he's someone who would, under normal circumstances, be a good friend and ally of NBS.

Except Chris Finney is completely nuts.  That's his reputation in the legal field, and that's his reputation in the political arena.  NBS's sole personal encounter with Chris Finney at a political event did nothing but cement, in our minds, Mr. Finney's reputation as a burn-them-at-the-bridges whack job.

So it came as no surprise last week when we heard that Chris Finney had gone off on an insane, profane tirade at a David Pepper press conference.  David Pepper is the Democratic candidate for county commission.  He is running against the incumbent, Phil Heimlich.  Phil Heimlich is a political ally and business partner of Chris Finney.  To say that many local Republicans are unhappy about Chris Finney's ties to the local political establishment would be an understatement.  If Phil loses, it will be because of his connections to Chris Finney, and Finney type tactics.

[If any non-locals are still reading, yes, the Republican candidate is the son of the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, and the grandson of dance impresarios Arthur and Kathryn Murray; and the Democratic candidate is the son of the former high-profile chairman of Procter and Gamble.  As best as we know, Chris Finney's parents are not famous].

But back to Chris Finney's comments at the Pepper presser.  The Enquirer Politics blog ran with salacious coverage of the incident, as did (no surprise) City Beat.  Not that we particularly blame them, because most press conferences in Cincinnati do not begin like this:

Upon arrival, Pepper saw that Finney also was there. Pepper walked up to Finney, said hello and extended his hand. Finney rejected the offered handshake.

Pepper then started the press conference and was discussing how he believes total transparency and disclosure is vital in government, when Finney shouted “You’re trying to smear my name because you’re a rich f------- ---hole.

“Kiss my a--. Right here,” Finney said, patting his behind.

He then had this exchange with Pepper's press aide, who tried to reign him in:

After Pepper’s press secretary, Bridget Doherty, told Finney he was acting “infantile,” Finney told her, “Kiss my ass.” He then turned around, lifted up his coat jacket, patted his posterior and said, “Bridget, kiss it right here.”

This all turned into the local political story of the week, with non-stop chatter in public and on the political blogosphere.  The legal community noticed too, as reports of the episode were forwarded all around local law firms.  It was the kind of dust-up that keeps bloggers blogging, and the comments flowing, and we are sorry we missed it--if only because we kind of lost our chance to add NBS's voice to the horde of people urging Phil Heimlich to give Chris Finney the heave-ho, and get him out of public life. 

We should note: Chris Finney's apologized a few days later.  If you're like us, though, you're kind of over the whole apology thing.  It seems to be a much abused way of dodging the consequences of bad behavior.

Check back later for why we are posting on this story now.  

"Vanity of vanities; all is vanity"

So begins the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Ruth Glendhill, the religious correspondent for the Times of London has the goods on a rawther vain cleric, Father David Peters.  He is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Oxford.

A priest in the Church of England has apologised to his parish and his bishop after he published a glowing but “fake” review of his “wonderful” singing voice when “officiating” at a service at Wesminster Abbey.

Turns out he was writing fake reviews of the services in which he officiated, and posted those reviews over at The Ship of Fools.  The Ship of Fools is a highly entertaining website where folks write up reviews of church services they have attended, by commenting on the liturgy, sermon, coffee hour, annoying acolytes, etc.  Under the name "Freddy," Father Peters reviewed his own participation in a service at Westminster Abbey:

“I was a bit distracted by the voice of the priest vicar.  His singing voice was so wonderful one wanted to turn round and peer down at him in the way that one always looks at singers doing a solo.”

In another review, this time of an Easter Sunday service, "Freddy" glowingly wrote,

Fr Peters wore a lovely gold cope for the procession and then changed into a gold chasuble for the rest of the Mass, matching the gold dalmatic of the deacon.

I was told beforehand that Father Peters was a good preacher and those people didn’t lie. In fact, he was one of the best preachers I have ever heard. The congregation are lucky to have him so regularly.

"Freddy's" true identity came out after one of his parishioners got suspicious, and wrote to the Ship of Fools website, which conducted an investigation.  It turns out "Freddy's" posts originate from the same computer as another commenter, "Mowll's Disciple."  "Mowll's Disciple" had also posted very favorable comments about Father David Peters.  From there, it wasn't too hard to figure out what was going on.  Father Peters tried to cover his tracks, but the damage was done.  And now, two Bishops, an archdeacon, a bunch of churchwardens and who knows how many parishoners are in a tizzy. 

Very English.  Very amusing.  Very good reminder of the dangers of vanity, and of the computer age.

Who else is blogging?

Once in a while, we like to take a look around the blogosphere, and see what other folks are doing.  We have college friends who blog, and we have fascinating blogger friends who we have never met.  And, every once in a while, we stumble across a blogger who is a complete and total suprise...

Like Ayatolla Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran! 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, current Supreme Leader of Iran

Yes, the Ayatolla has a blog.  No, we are not kidding.  He even has the obligatory "About Me" page:

In 1962 while Ayatullah Khamenei was still in Qom he joined the revolutionary Movement of Imam Khomeini, which opposed the pro-American, anti-Islamic politics of Muhammad Reza Shah. Despite all the ups and downs, persecutions, exiles, and imprisonment Ayatullah Khamenei fearlessly continued on this path for sixteen years.

We just love that "despite all the ups and downs, persecutions and exiles" bit.  Ayatolla Khamenei, you're gonna make it after all!

Entertainment Weekly ranked this opening sequence image of Mary tossing her hat into the air as the #2 Greatest Moment In Television.

But the best part--by far--is when he answers readers' questions.  Sadly, there are no hyperlinks, but if you click here, you can see how he has answered the most frequently asked questions--which range from inquiries as to how many times one should pray while slaughtering chickens with the new machines (one bismillāh is enough), whether it is permissible to swallow mucus while fasting (not permissible, if it is intentional), and whether transactions with "American and Zionist companies" are okay (surely you can guess?).

Also of interest are his views on vasectomies and "tubectomies."  Vasectomies are okay... as long is it doesn't "entail the prohibited (haram) touching of, or looking at, the private parts."  Obviously he hasn't heard about writing "yes" and "no" on specific body parts with magic markers prior to surgery.  If we were going in for a vasectomy, we would want the medical team to take a good look at the area.  Cut here, not there.  Etc., Etc.

As for tubectomies, they are okay, as long as the husband gives his permission.  We think it is so cute he wants to make sure daddies are in on the child-rearing experience!

A la Emily Post, he also gives advice about weddings:

Q: Is it permissible to perform the traditional dancing in wedding parties? What is your view on taking part in such parties? Is it ḥarām for a woman to dance for her husband?
A: If dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a ḥarām act like listening to ḥarām music, or results into a bad consequence; it is not permissible. If a woman dances for her husband without the commission of any ḥarām act, there is no harm in it.

Uh-oh.  He would not have approved of the Big NBS Wedding!

He also gives fashion advice, such as, "It is prohibited to wear a necktie that contributes to the spreading of western culture."  Guess this means every day is casual Friday at the Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami (Islamic Consultative Assembly)!

He also has sound advice on precious metals:

Q: Can a man wear white gold?
A: There are two things called white gold:
a) Platinum, which is permissible for a man to wear;
b) Regular gold alloyed with nickel, etc. which is impermissible for a man to wear and invalidates the prayers, unless the regular gold used in it is so little that it is not called gold (as per common view) anymore.

In other words: Don't bring it, unless you can bling it!  Triple platinum all the way, baby!

We encourage all of NBS's readers to email the Ayatolla, and ask him a question.  And if the revolution ever comes to our shores, we suggest you dispose of that computer, tout de suite.

Sipping and Clicking

The New York Times ran a piece this weekend about the shopping online while drunk.  Apparently, it's a growing trend.

It’s not the sort of thing people like to admit. “You don’t want to sound like a boozehound,” said one woman, who didn’t remember ordering several books from Amazon until the packages started arriving.

Amazingly, this is actually something NBS has never done (as much as we like drinking, and all).  We're more apt to be obsessing about political, cultural, and religious news.  And wondering if we should post on it.

There have been some episodes, though, where we've run to the computer in the morning to see how atrocious the spelling was the night before.  Drunk blogging is okay.  You just don't want to be too obvious about it.

Just in time for North Korea Nuke Test Day...

...Jonah Goldberg over at The Corner has a great post up, with an amusing anecdote from a reader about the naiveté of liberal academics:

My freshman year in college George Schultz came to speak, and discussed
the Korea problem.  He argued that the possibility of a nuclear Japan is
key ("China is as allergic to a nuclear Japan as Russia was to a nuclear
Germany" if memory serves).  The highlight was afterwards, when some
lefty comp-lit professor told him that "no one in Japan wants the bomb.
Everyone in the region wants to end the cycles of hatred that plague
them by embracing cultures of understanding."  Schultz responded simply
with, "Really?  Is that what the Prime Minister of Japan told you?
Because last week he told me differently on the phone."  She promptly
found some hole to crawl into and deconstruct.

Bon Bini Curacao

October 3, 2006 09:20 PM

As mentioned, Mrs. NBS and I just returned from Curacao, in the Dutch Antilles.  Curacao is an incredible island, with amazing scenery and extraordinarily friendly locals.  It is one of the few Caribbean Islands that is not tropical and lush.  It is desert-like, with Cacti, and intense heat.

Our first impression of the island was not exactly favorable.  Our plane landed well after dark, and the drive from the airport to the resort took us past some less than charming sights.  There is still quite a bit of poverty in Curacao, though I doubt the locals realize the extent of it.  My first impression was that this was how I had always envisioned Haiti (i.e, not good).  I've since come to realize that Haiti is probably much, much worse than anything in Curacao.

But by American standards, there is a lot of poverty.  From the airport, we had to travel almost the whole lengthy of the island to get to our hotel.  It is almost a 50 minute drive.  We discussed this later, with a native, who was absolutely astounded that we drive over 8 hours each way, on a regular basis, just to get away for the weekend.

The drive out is on a two lane road.  This is the main road that runs the lengthy of Curacao.  Once you a few minutes past the airport, there are no stop lights, no stop signs, and no lines painted on the narrow road.  Along the way, you immediately notice the large number of snacks.  Yes, their bars are called snacks.  A typical snack is a one room concrete block building, in the shape of a rectangle.  The wall that faces the road is all cinder block until about chest level.  The rest of the way up, it's a window, with no glass.  Just bars.  Inside, you can see the liquor lined up on shelves in the back.  Outside, you'd see three or four locals sitting on metal folding chairs, or plastic buckets, drinking as much as they can.  In the populated areas, it looks like there are almost as many snacks as there are homes.  All of the homes have bars on the windows as well, and are usually surrounded by fences.

It's not, in other words, an atmosphere where most Americans would feel safe, though this is probably based on some pretty horrific stereotypes about race, poverty and violence.  We got to be very good friends with some of the locals, and we were reassured that the only violence there (other than drug related incidents, in Willemstad) are alcohol-induced car accidents.  But still, one wonders why they have all the bars in the windows, if this is hardly any crime. 

The resort where we stayed, the Lodge Kura Hulanda, felt incredibly safe at all times.  It was also incredibly beautiful, with fantastically landscaped, with desert plant-life.  It was clear the Lodge is quite fanatical about the landscaping, as they had enormous greenhouses, and extremely complex irrigation systems (watering cacti is actually a lot harder than keeping things green in North America.  Here, we can just turn a sprinkler on for a while and shut it off.  Down there, getting the right amount of water--and no more--is quite a challenge.  Here is a picture of what the landscaped grounds looked like at night:

After arrival (and a flight that was delayed four hours, because Ohio had more rain on our departure date that Curacao sees for months on end), we were exhausted.  Then next morning, we really began exploring.  Here is a view of the terrace off of our suite. 

We had basically the first floor this building, which had kitchen facilities (that we did not use), a living room area, a huge bathroom (with a worthless low-flow toilet.  Apparently the eco-freaks don't realize they do NOT save water if you have to flush it five times), two queen sized beds, a covered porch area, and the terrace you see above, which had lounge chairs and an umbrella.  Here is what it looks like looking towards the water:

We found it quite accommodating.
More to come.

When the roll is called up yonder...

...will it look anything like Ms. Magazine's "We Had Abortions" list?

Yes, Ms. Magazine's fall issue runs with a cover that focuses on abortion and women's lives, "to get the politicians out of the picture."  The list has some C-list celebrity signatories, but what struck me the most was a comment from the woman who decided to abort her son once she found out he would have Down syndrome:

Another signatory, Debbie Findling of San Francisco, described her difficult decision last year to have an abortion after tests showed that she would bear a son with Down syndrome.

"I felt it was my right to make the decision, but having that right doesn't make the decision any easier," she said. "It was the hardest decision I've ever made."

Findling, 42, is married, with a 5-year-old daughter, and has been trying to get pregnant again while pursuing her career as a philanthropic foundation executive.

She says too many of her allies in the abortion-rights movement tend to minimize, at least publicly, the psychological impact of abortion.

"It's emotionally devastating," she said in a phone interview. "I don't regret my decision -- but I regret having been put in the position to have to make that choice. It's something I'll live with for the rest of my life."

But didn't YOU put yourself in the position of having to make that choice," Ms. Findling?  You were TRYING to get pregnant.  You just didn't like what your 42-year old body cooked up.  You didn't like how it would impact your career.  And now, you're trying to put yourself in the exact position all over again.

And, you do regret the decision, Ms. Findling.  That's why you're talking about how your "allies" tend to minimize the psychological impact of abortion.  It's why you're talking about how you'll have to live with it for the rest of your life.  Because you do regret it, Ms. Findling.  You just can't admit it--to yourself, or to anyone else--because of what it means.  It is self-delusion as a coping mechanism for guilt.  To aid in that, you have convinced yourself there will be solace in being listed with many other women who have done the same thing.  Looking after your own needs first, though, is not going to help you out of this.  It is what got you into this situation in the first place.

"There was no security at the school..."

October 2, 2006 10:44 PM

So says our intrepid local news anchorette, Tricia Macke, reporting on the tragedy in Lancaster, PA.  We thought we were done for the night and now this?  It is freaking Amish country, Tricia.  Of course there is no school security.  You think they'd have metal detectors at a one room Amish schoolhouse?  An armed guard?

(Local genius and Fox 19 anchor, Tricia Macke)

On a completely unrelated note, NBS once had to call an Amish farmer to the witness stand to testify in an environmental lawsuit against an egg producing mega-farm.  After he was affirmed in (no swearing in, for the Amish, of course) he proceeded to perjure himself every way from Sunday.  Also, he let fly with a blatantly anti-Semitic statements right there in open court.  The Amish are not the moral purists they are cracked up to be.

Banana Hammocks Required in Paris

Merde allors, this is disgusting.  Paul Greenberg in the New York Times Magazine has detailed his run-ins in Paris with the Speedo police.  Apparently the maillot de bain sportif is required for Paris swimming pools:

“No!”

“Yes, yes!” the attendant answered. “For health reasons.”

“You mean—”

“Yes. It is obligatory. For health reasons you cannot wear your American bathing suit. You must wear the maillot de bain sportif.”

As if one needed yet another reason to dislike the French!  Certainly makes one wonder why they have such a reputation for good taste.  And to blame the rule on "health reasons!"  Truly bizarre.  Especially since the typical frenchie smells disgusting.  We had one as a visiting summer student back when NBS was a kid.  It was supposed to be educational both for him, and for us.  And it certainly turned out to be.  For years afterward, I forbade anyone from speaking the frenchie's name in my presence.

We saw quite a bit of this in Curacao, of course.  Always on unattractive Europeans. 

UPDATE: I guess when your google search terms are "fat man speedo" it is a sign that not every post needs to be accompanied by a photo.  This was enough to put a stop to the googling.  Click on it if you dare.

Why Curacao?

As mentioned in the comments, the picture below is of the Dutch colonial buildings that line the entrance to the harbor in Willemstad, Curacao.  Yes, we just returned from a fantastic honeymoon trip to the Netherland Antilles.  As you may remember, the big NBS wedding was way back in June, but schedules wouldn't allow an extended trip then--and besides, we were already traveling to Florida for it.

So we opted for Curacao in September.  The main reason we chose Curacao was location, location, location.  As in, it is south of the hurricane belt.  The only islands south of the belt are the ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.  Bonaire is too hard to get to from the continental U.S., and Aruba sounded too much like Aruba.  Plus, it felt like we'd already been there with Greta Van Susteren.

So it was off to Curacao.  Stay tuned for pictures (after we figure out the technical details).