Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
Click here to email.

Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his day job where he works the education beat and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.

Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest. Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.

Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out the on-line journal of Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.

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On the Third Hand
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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Monday, June 30, 2003
Seller Beware. I've never used Ebay. And given the company's privacy practices, I'm not going to.

If you are a law-enforcement officer, all you have to do is send us a fax with a request for information, and ask about the person behind the seller's identity number, and we will provide you with his name, address, sales history and other details--all without having to produce a court order....

Tell us what you want to ask the bad guys. We'll send them a form, signed by us, and ask them your questions. We will send their answers directly to your e-mail.

Notice several things about this. The company will rely on e-mail and faxes from "law enforcement" to release information. Nowhere does it say it will confirm that e-mail or fax actually came from law enforcement or that it's part of a legitimate criminal investigation. (LEOs have been caught using police databanks to spy on ex-girlfriends, neighbors, political rivals, etc. Why not enlist the helpful folks at Ebay?)

Second, the company assumes that anyone targeted by law enforcement is a "bad guy." Nope, law enforcement is never wrong, and it never acts maliciously.

Third, Ebay will not only turn over any information it has already gotten on you, it will act as an agent of law enforcement and try to entice you into giving it more information to pass on.

Link via Hit & Run.

posted by Charles at 11:06 PM

Sunday, June 29, 2003
Weekend Update. Dennis Miller is now stumping for George W. Bush. For those of us who think Miller is pretty funny, this is bad news. Generally, once a comedian starts to publicly identify himself with one party or one movement, he ceases to be funny.

Just take a look at the stuff Al Franken did on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s and compare it to his work of the past 15 years. Or remember what happened to Bob Hope in the mid-1960s.

posted by Charles at 11:35 PM

Where Are They Now? Does Melissa Etheridge actually do anything these days besides appear on VH-1 and CMT specials talking about other artists?

posted by Charles at 11:30 PM

Saturday, June 28, 2003
Congratulations, Ron. My co-blogger Ron Campbell has gotten married. Best wishes to him and his bride.

posted by Charles at 7:33 PM

Thursday, June 26, 2003
Who Has the Baseball Bat? Strom Thurmond is dead.

posted by Charles at 11:34 PM

Lester Maddox. Here's a piece I did on the local reaction to the death of Lester Maddox. .

posted by Charles at 10:48 AM

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
I'm Not a Nascar Fan. And things like this do nothing to make me one.

A board member of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition says auto-racing organizations such as NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) are "the last bastion of white supremacy" in professional sports.

Speaking Tuesday at the 32nd annual Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference in Chicago, Bill Shack said, "I want you to know that this is this last bastion of white supremacy in a particular sport. This is the last bastion."

He made the comments at a workshop called "Motor Sports: Increasing Minority Participation," and the criticism came despite NASCAR's six-figure support of Jackson's organization.

Shack suggested that race-car organizations don't reach out to minorities because they "don't particularly...want you out there, no more than they wanted Tiger [golfer Tiger Woods] out there."

This has "nothing to do with a moral response -- nothing at all, because they don't have very much of that. If they did, they would have done something before now," Shack said, referring to outreach efforts by auto racing organizations.

Ironically, NASCAR was a "platinum" sponsor of Jackson's 2002 Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's annual conference, and it reportedly has donated at least $250,000 to Jackson's group in recent years. It remained unclear whether NASCAR served as a sponsor of this year's conference.

posted by Charles at 7:50 AM

Monday, June 23, 2003
Natalie Maines Isn't Backing Down. And now she has the other Dixie Chicks doing it. No, I'm not talking about their continued political statements. I'm talking about their lousy hair.

Apparently, professional stylists are among those boycotting the Chicks.

posted by Charles at 10:02 PM

A Note to Readers. Yes, we know that the "Shout Back" feature isn't registering it on the main page when you make a comment. But you can actually still make a comment, so please do.

We are trying to correct the problem. Okay, Ron is trying to correct the problem.

posted by Charles at 9:21 PM

A Perfect Storm. Long-time readers of this blog know that I have three great loves: professional wrestling, racial politics and urban violence. We hit a perfect trifecta this weekend when Jesse Jackson went to Benton Harbor, Michigan. That's the city with all of the rioting.

How does this relate to pro wrestling you ask. Well, he spoke at the Bobo Brazil Center. Brazil, real name Houston Harris, was a professional wrestler and was from Benton Harbor.

posted by Charles at 9:18 PM

Trade Secrets. Dave Barry's giving them away.

Q. How come when I read a newspaper story on a topic I'm familiar with, it always contains errors?

A. This requires a complex team effort, which I will explain by putting key terms in capital letters: First, the REPORTER gathers information by interviewing PEOPLE and trying to write down what they say, getting approximately 35 percent of it right. The REPORTER then writes a STORY, which goes to an EDITOR, who bitterly resents the REPORTER because the REPORTER gets to go outside sometimes, whereas the EDITOR is stuck in the building eating NEWSPAPER CAFETERIA ''FOOD'' that was originally developed by construction-industry researchers as a substitute for PLYWOOD.

The EDITOR, following journalism tradition, decides that the REPORTER has put the real point of the story in the 14th paragraph, which the EDITOR then attempts to move using the ''cut and paste command,'' which results in the story disappearing into ANOTHER DIMENSION, partly because the EDITOR, like most journalists, has the mechanical aptitude of a RUTABAGA, but also because the NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM has a few ''bugs'' as a result of being installed by a low-bid VENDOR whose information-technology experience consists of servicing WHACK-A-MOLE GAMES.

So the REPORTER and the EDITOR, who now hate each other even more than they already did, hastily slap a story together from memory, then turn it over to a GRAPHIC DESIGN PERSON who cannot actually read but is a wizard on the APPLE MACINTOSH, and who will cut any remaining accurate sentences out of the story to make room on the page for a colorful, ''reader-friendly'' CHART, which was actually supposed to illustrate a story in an entirely different SECTION.

Actually, I think Barry overestimates the technological capabilities of most reporters.

posted by Charles at 9:15 PM

Sunday, June 22, 2003
What Myth? USA Today spins a new study on domestic violence as being one that overturns common wisdom.

The study found that

It is not just men who hit women. Women hit men, too. ... There is little doubt that women get hurt more than men. She may slap him. But then he may hit her harder or more often.

The problem is that just about every scientific study of domestic violence has found the same thing. Women strike their partners just as often as men do, and they initiate spats as often, too. Domestic abuse occurs at about the same rate in lesbian and gay couples as it does in heterosexual ones.

The myth that men abuse more is just that, a myth. But it's apparently taken as gospel in certain circles, including some newsrooms.

I did an article about 10 years ago for Investor's Business Daily on just this very matter. When the article appeared, several of the women on the non-editorial side of the paper, and at least one female reporter, complained to the publisher about the article, calling it inaccuate and unfair. (No, none of them said anything to me about it.) The publisher referred it to the editor who said the said the story was fair and accurate, and that was the end of it. The first I heard of this is when my editor told me about it afterwards.

I wonder what sort of reaction Karen Peterson will face in her newsroom.

But back to the report itself. Murray Straus, one of the experts mentioned in the USA Today piece, is someone I talked to, and he then categorized much domestic violence as mutual combat. One of the things that many people don't understand about abusive relationships is why many women keep returning to them. The feminist answer is that the women are afraid, or their self-esteem has been destroyed by abuse and they are psychologically dependent upon the male. That may be true in some cases, but it also seems to be true that another factor may be at work. Some women, just like some men, might like to fight. To help those women, you've first got to understand that fact.

posted by Charles at 10:46 PM

Hey, Ron. If you are still out there, take a look and tell me what you think of this.

Link via Brian Micklethwait.

posted by Charles at 7:58 PM

Friday, June 20, 2003
Bubbling Up. Is the economy on the path to recovery? Or is it simply another unstable bubble starting to inflate?

posted by Charles at 8:41 PM

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
More on War. Slate has a very good article on the Bush administration's lack of an endgame for Iraq. I'd add only that, unfortunately, just about everything this article says about Iraq it seems can be said about Afghanistan, too. But the administration can be forgiven for that. It had to take action and quickly Afghanistan. The war in Iraq was not only unnecessary, they had plenty of time to prepare for it.

On a bizarre note, a Vietnam vet lashed out at Pamela Anderson aboard an airplane, reducing her to tears, because he apparently thought she opposed the Iraq war. Anderson actually took no public position on the war. Via Fark.

posted by Charles at 11:00 PM

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Misplaced Priorities? Bloggers have been up in arms about Bill O'Reilly's rant about web sites that have criticized him. But I haven't seen anyone talking about this.

posted by Charles at 8:07 PM

Sunday, June 15, 2003
Migrant Blues. Victor Davis Hanson takes on illegal immigration. But truth be told, what he's really talking about is the immigration of unskilled labor, legal and illegal.

Hanson sees the bleak side of life for unskilled immigrants, and his assessment of their impact on the U.S. is pessimistic.

There's more than a kernel of truth to his essay. But life has always been hard on those who toil with their hands and their backs, whether native born or immigrant.

posted by Charles at 8:37 PM

Economic Literacy Test. Thanks to Domenic for point out this test from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve. I have a few quibbles with it. As is often the case with these sorts of quizes, the questions are rather broad and the answers it tries to force on you don't always capture the complexity of some issues (See the question on lighthouses.) Still, it isn't bad.

posted by Charles at 9:51 AM

Thursday, June 12, 2003
Enter Sandman. Lars Ulrich is upset that the U.S. military is reportedly forcing Iraqi prisoners to list to old Metallicasongs to break their will. Tust me, if the U.S. was truly intent on hammering these guys, they'd force them to listen to "St. Anger."

posted by Charles at 10:50 PM

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Big City Blues. Dalton is now officially a metropolitan statistical area. In fact, the 10th largest in the state. I'm not sure that such a good thing. But all of the local politicians, most of who are conservative Republicans, are happy with the designation because it heralds more money from the federal government.

posted by Charles at 10:30 PM

Monday, June 09, 2003
That's Blassie. If you've read any of the mainstream obits of Fred Blassie you may have read that his real family name was Blassman and that his funeral services were held in a Presbyterian church is his hometown in New York. Only one of those facts is actually true.

To the surprise of many of Fred's friends, it's the church thing. It was long believed that he was Jewish. It turns out that Blassie's real name was Blassie and that he wasn't Jewish. In fact, he was a raised a Catholic. Apparently, when he first broke in back in the 1930s, Blassie made up the name Blassman and told people he was Jewish because a lot of promoters were Jewish, and he thought it would give him a leg up. He may have been right. Lou Thesz was another German from St. Louis who broke in around the same time. In his autobiography, he recalls that early in his career Los Angeles promoter Lou Daro brought him in with the promise of a big push. But when Lou got to L.A. he found that Daro had brought him in because he thought he, like Daro, was Hungarian and Jewish. When Daro found Thesz was only half Hungarian and Catholic, he lost interest in him, and Lou wound up working opening matches for little money.

Both men eventually made it to the top, of course.

posted by Charles at 11:52 PM

Sunday, June 08, 2003
More On Arafat. Here’s another interesting passage on Arafat’s link to Islamic fundamentalism from Robert Baer:

Eventually, Arafat flew a little too close to the Islamic flame. Not only had he started recruiting young Palestinian and Lebanese believers into Fatah’s ranks, he also began providing important support to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. After the Hama insurrection in 1982, when the Syrian army began sifting through the rubble, it came across American military communications equipment. Syrian president Hafiz Al-Asad at first suspected the CIA, but then he realized the equipment had come from Fatah, which had been training and supplying the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood with the purpose of brining down Asad. Asad considered going after Arafat right away, then decided to wait and take his revenge at a time of his choosing. Asad understood that revenge is a dish best served cold.

It came on March 17, 1983. Syria encouraged two minor Fatah members, Sa’id Muragha (Abu Musa) and Nimr Salih (Abu Salih), to break away from Fatah and form their own organization. Five weeks later, on June 24, Asad formally expelled Arafat from Syria. Arafat was forced to set up in Tripoli, Lebanon, but in less than five months Abu Musa and Abu Salih, backed by Syrian forces, attacked Arafat all over Lebanon. It was all over on December 20, 1983, when, under a steady Syrian bombardment, five Greek chartered ships evacuated Arafat and four thousand followers from Tripoli’s port. The French navy provided an armed escort to protect them from the Israeli air force attack. Arafat ended up in Tunis, isolated and out of the mainstream of Palestinian politics. The less on he learned was that while Islam is a potent force, it’s not always a good idea to show your hand. Arafat would never again get caught in the Hama trap.

posted by Charles at 3:36 PM

Saturday, June 07, 2003
(Some) Canadians See The Light. Here's a worthwhile Canadian proposal. I still prefer my plan to swap Hawaii for Alberta, however.

posted by Charles at 4:15 PM

Deep Ties. I was just re-reading Robert Baer's book See No Evil about his years in the CIA in the Middle East. A couple of passages really caught my eye:

What a lot of people forget about Yasir Arafat, especially since the 1993 Oslo agreement and the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize that he shared with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, is that he started out life as an Islamic fundamentalist. Even after he became chairman of the umbrella Palestine Liberation organization, he never cut his ties with Sunni or Shi’a fundamentalists. They were a reliable source of political strength for him

Arafat was born Mohammad’Abd-al Rauf Arafat al-Qudwa in 1929. The Qudwas were a branch of the prominent Huysayni clan, famous for its religious scholars. One member of the clan, Mufti of Jerusalem, had supported Adolf Hitler during World War II. Arafat grew up in Egypt, studied civil engineering at the University of Cairo, and for a time headed the Palestinian Students’ Union there. After graduation, he served in the Egyptian army as a second lieutenant. It was then that he joined the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Later, he was arrested twice for his Brotherhood activities. Eventually force to leave Egypt, Arafat moved to Kuwait, a country more tolerant of extreme religious views. There he founded Fatah in the late fifties, mainly drawing on members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinians living in the Gulf.

Even after Arafat rose to prominence with Fatah’s first attack on Israel on January 1, 1965, Arab leaders remained suspicious of his fundamentalist ties. When Egyptian President Nasser received Arafat in Egypt for the first time, he insisted that his guest submit to a body search, apparently convinced Arafat was more interested in assassinating him than in liberating Palestine.

Arafat’s interest in Islam remained dormant until 1977, when an Islamic current started to sweep across the Middle East. Always alert to shifting winds, Arafat ordered Abu Jihad, his principal deputy, to harness the Fatah believers into a single organization to be called the Committee of 77. Operational control was given to a convert to Islam, Munir Shafiq Asal. Asal's first task, in turn, was to recruit and indoctrinate young believers, both Palestinian and Lebanese, through an already existing organization called the Student Cells. The most capable members of the Student Cells were inducted into one of Fatah’s intelligence organizations. That is how ‘Imad Mughniyah, Ali Dib and Salah first came to be associated. (Those three are men that Baer says attacked American interests in the Middle East during the 1980s under the direction of Iran.)

posted by Charles at 3:57 PM

Thursday, June 05, 2003
Hah! Hah! If there's one thing I've learned, it's don't draw attention to yourself if you've done wrong.

posted by Charles at 8:25 AM

Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Take This Job and Shove It. In the best news David Allan Coe's career has had in a long time, the NAACP is trying to get a nightclub performance of his stopped.

Okay, it's the Muskegon county branch of the NAACP, but it's probably the first time his name has been in the newspaper since he simultaneously had his biggest hit and did big damage to his street cred by releasing "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile."

Reading the article I linked to and others on the protest is amsuing to us who know exactly what the hell they are talking about, and likely baffling to those who don't have the background that's never provided. The article makes it seem like there's some dispute about whether Coe recorded racist songs. But the one song it does mention is on an album that Coe has never denied releasing and still sells. It's one of two x-tated party albums he recorded in the 1970s. I think the song itself really mocks the sexual insecurity of the man whose viewpoint it's done from.

The reference to other songs done in the 1960s seems to be a reference to a series of singles released by "Johnny Rebel" back in the 1960s. It's impossible to argue those records are subtle parodies of white racism.

Those songs have long been attributed to Coe, but he has always denied recording them, and the timing just seems to be wrong. I think he'd still have been in prison when they were done. More importantly, a quick Google search would have shown the reporter, and the protestors, that cajun rockabilly artist and country songwriter Clifford "Pee Wee" Trahan has apparently claimed credit for them.

posted by Charles at 9:53 PM

Monday, June 02, 2003
Olev ha'shalom. Just heard that Classie Freddie Blassie died earlier today. Blassie became a legend here in Georgia in the 1950s, winning the Southern heavyweight wrestling title numerous times. That Georgia office booked him across the South, including defenses in Louisville, Kentucky. And there's strong evidence that he, not Gorgeous George, was the brash blonde wrestler who showed a young Cassius Clay the value of hyping a match.

Blassie was stabbed for the first time by a fan in a match in Rome, Georgia. He actually finished his match after the fan was arrested, but wound up spending several days in the hospital. Blassie would go on to be stabbed almost two dozen more times by fans. And he lost the sight in one eye after fans in Boston tossed a hard-boiled egg from the cheap seats that hit him in the head. He really knew how to draw heat.

He went to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and won the WWA version of the world title. He traveled all over, though, and became one of the biggest gaijin stars in Japan. After retiring as a wrestler, Blassie became a manager. He even "managed" Muhammad Ali for his ill-fated bout with Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki.

People who aren't wrestling fans may remember him from Andy Kaufman's movie "My Breakfast with Blassie" or his appearance on one of the highest rated Dick Van Dyke episodes of all time or one of his numerous appearances on Regis Philbin's first talk show in San Diego. Blassie also recorded the song "Pencil-Necked Geek," which used to get a lot of airplay on the Dr. Demento show.

Blassie's autobiography just came out. I've leafed through it, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Still, it looks very good.

posted by Charles at 9:55 PM

I'm Available. It seems that 11 Western states, as Matt Drudge puts it, are "experiencing extreme drought or exceptional drought conditions."

I can help.

When I moved to L.A. some 15 years ago, the state was in the midst of a four-year-long drought. That dryspell ended shortly after I arrived. When I returned to Georgia, the state was in the fifth year of a drought. Within four months of my arrival, the drought ended big time. It's my understanding that by the end of the year most lakes in the state were back to their pre-drought levels. And lately north Georgia and southeastern Tennessee have been plagued by flooding.

Now, you may say that this is all coincidence. You may also say that taking credit for ending two straight droughts is committing the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. And you may well be right.

But can these 11 Western states take that chance? For a fee, I'm willing to relocate to a drought-affected state and live there until I break the drought. The fee is open to negotiation, but trust me, it will be a minor fraction of the state budget. That's what makes it such an attractive offer. Even if I have no effect on the weather, each of these states probably spends more on copying official reports on slick paper instead of plain than what they'll pay me.

I propose to start with Nevada. I'd prefer to relocate to Las Vegas or Reno or even Laughlin, but as long as I have air conditioning and satellite TV, I'll move just about anywhere, even to Ely. (I'm both cheap and easy.)

If any Western governor or state house speaker wants to hire me, just drop me a line. Oh, and I won't be held responsible for any flooding.

posted by Charles at 7:44 PM

Sunday, June 01, 2003
Who is the Weasel? The French government says developed nations should help Africa by ending subisidies on farm products that compete with those produced by Afrrican farmers. The Bush administration opposes such a move. When you can embarrass the French and dole out goodies to farm-state voters, who cares about destitute Africans or free market principles?

posted by Charles at 6:02 PM

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