December 31, 2005

Made-up Word of the Day: Transferbangle

Ars Technica defined transferbangle as the Australian verb for copying music from CDs to portable music players. What most people in the U.S. would call ripping.

It sounded too Australian to be Australian, so I Googledy-Woogled transferbangle and found that no one but Ars Technica had used it. But what an excellent made-up word.

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December 30, 2005

Any Other Fiestaware Collectors Out There?

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Melissa and I got married in our thirties, so we already had all of the usual housekeeping stuff. Some was better than others, so we kept whichever was best and gifted and yardsaled the rest. When it came to dishes, it was no contest. I had bachelor dishes from K-mart, and she had Fiestaware.

I had seen Fiestaware at antique stores at high prices and assumed it was some ancient stuff that wasn't made any more. Melissa explained that it's still made, but every six months or a year the maker (The Homer Laughlin China Company) retires an old color and introduces a new color. Also, the entire line was discontinued in 1973, with production resuming in 1986. Here's a Fiestaware color chronology. There are currently 15 colors in production.

fiestaware-colors.jpg

Like Melissa, most people buy each place setting in a different color. You can buy everything in one color, but eventually it will be discontinued. Then if you break a piece you'll have to buy replacements on the collector's market, which today is eBay. A current place setting is about $20 on sale. Discontinued place settings can run $150 or more for rare colors like Lilac, which was only made in 1993-95, or for the pre-1974 pieces.

Most of our pieces are current, though Fiesta Yellow was discontinued a few years ago and Sea Mist Green and Rose are being discontinued effective the end of this month. We also have some antique Rose (1951-59) pieces passed down from Melissa's relatives. When someone asks what we want for Christmas we ask for a place setting in the new color. This year for Christmas we received Peacock Blue, which is what made me write this post. The last three years we've picked up Tangerine Orange, Shamrock Green, and Scarlet Red.

In our area Proffitt's carries Fiestaware. For online shopping, try Fiestaware Fiesta. If you live in East Tennessee or are travelling to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, visit the Rebel Dish Barn on Highway 66 in Sevierville. They have a huge collection of Fiestaware, with discontinued colors and unusual pieces like butter dishes, candlestick holders, and trivets that aren't carried in most department stores.

Incidentally, Fiestaware is dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and oven safe to about 350 degrees. Also, I'm picky about the shape of soup/cereal bowls, and for me the bowls are perfect. Fiestaware is tough, too. In four years we've never broken or chipped any of ours.

The best reason to have it, though, is that it's fun. I had boring dishes as a bachelor, but now opening the cupboard and seeing all of those colors makes me happy.

Trivia Bonus! The current Fiestaware glaze is lead-free, though older, pre-1974 reds weren't. The original Red (1936-1943) contained uranium oxide, believe it or not. Cecil Adams has the scoop. Homer Laughlin discontinued the color not necessarily because of safety concerns (according to Cecil, the radiation didn't exceed background levels), but because the government wanted all of the uranium it could get for the Manhattan Project.

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December 29, 2005

Purported Upton Sinclair Letter Claims Sacco and Vanzetti Guilty

From LA Times via Megan McCardle"

The story was "Boston," Sinclair's 1920s novelized condemnation of the trial and execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrants accused of killing two men in the robbery of a Massachusetts shoe factory.

Prosecutors characterized the anarchists as ruthless killers who had used the money to bankroll antigovernment bombings and deserved to die. Sinclair thought the pair were innocent and being railroaded because of their political views.

Soon Sinclair would learn something that filled him with doubt. During his research for "Boston," Sinclair met with Fred Moore, the men's attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore "sent me into a panic," Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago.

"Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth," Sinclair wrote. " … He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them."

Here's a Crimelibrary.com article on Sacco and Vanzetti. The two were anarchists, and their cause was embraced by socialists of the era.

"My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book," Sinclair wrote Robert Minor, a confidant at the Socialist Daily Worker in New York, in 1927.

"Of course," he added, "the next big case may be a frame-up, and my telling the truth about the Sacco-Vanzetti case will make things harder for the victims."

He also worried that revealing what he had been told would cost him readers. "It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public," he wrote to Minor.

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December 28, 2005

Governor Adds $25,000 to Reward in Johnia Berry Murder

From The Knoxville News-Sentinel. Thanks to Michael Silence for the heads up.

Gov. Phil Bredesen announced today that the state is offering a $25,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed Johnia Berry.

"It is my hope that this addition to the reward will spark new leads in this investigation and bring this case to resolution for Johnia's family and the law enforcement officials working the case," Bredesen said in a release.

The state's contribution raises the total amount in the reward fund for in resolving the Dec. 6, 2004, slaying of Berry at her West Knox County apartment complex to more than $60,000.

Tennessee state law authorizes the governor to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people who have committed certain crimes.

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Saddam Hussein on Saddam Hussein

"I am not here to defend Saddam Hussein. As I've said before, Saddam Hussein is too great to be defended by Saddam Hussein himself."
 -- Saddam Hussein

(I had always wanted to do something like this for Bob Dole. See also John Ross on John Ross.)

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Nancy Grace to Feature Johnia Berry This Thursday

The Nancy Grace Show will feature Johnia's story this Thursday, December 29 on CNN Headline News.

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Schedule This Week

I'm on vacation the whole week through next Tuesday. This week I'm doing Katie stuff, Melissa stuff, house stuff, and movie watching stuff. Blogging will be fairly light, but I'll be doing some daytime posts, so there's that.

I don't plan on blogging at Find Johnia Berry's Killer during my vacation, but Kelly has posted some items, and next week I'll have new information about the Plan A CDs found at the crime scene.

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A Solution for Symantec's Norton Internet Security and Gmail's "Arrgh! The page has been corrupted. If you are running security or firewall software, you may have to disable it" Error

(Apologies for the obnoxiously long title. I'm trying to make this post friendly to search engine users who are searching for a solution to this problem.)

I've occasionally gotten the following error in Gmail: "Arrgh! The page has been corrupted. If you are running security or firewall software, you may have to disable it." That error prevents me from seeing all or part of the email message.

The error includes a link to a suggestion to contact Symantec, the company that makes Norton Internet Security, which I use on my home laptop. Symantec's support area didn't have any information about the problem, so I experimented on my own. It turns out that Norton Internet Security's ad blocking feature was the cause of the problem. If it's turned on I get the error. If it's turned off I don't.

To fix the problem:

1. Go to Start -> Programs -> Norton Internet Security -> Norton Internet Security.
2. Select "Ad Blocking."
3. Click the yellow Configure button.
4. Uncheck "Turn on Ad Blocking."
5. Click OK to save changes.

norton-security-ad-blocking2.jpg

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More About the Camp Montvale Final Reunion

From an email:

Yes, the reunion officially begins at 5 pm on [December] 30th. We're going to try to have a campfire going then so everyone can gather around it. If you want to get a chance to look around the camp before the sun sets (5:32) then come on down a little early. The address is 4901 Montvale Road in case you need it. I made a website www.savecampmontvale.org with more information.

-Greta Schmoyer

The history page on the Web site has some great historical photos plus photos of the new cabins and renovated dining hall. Jay and I are going to be there on Friday for the reunion.

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December 27, 2005

Windows Bleg: Photo Downloader, File/Folder Renamer

So for Christmas I bought a Panasonic FZ5 to replace our Canon PowerShot SD400 digital camera. (Quick review: I like it. The 12X zoom is wonderful, and the download speeds are much faster than my old camera.)

The photo transfer software that comes with the Panasonic is just OK. I actually prefer the Canon software. It asks for a folder name and file prefix. So if the picture file is P1000040.JPG, P1000041.JPG, etc., once I add the prefix it saves the file as 2005-12-25-Christmas-P1000040.JPG and so on, which makes finding photos easier. I liked that. Unfortunately, the Canon software bombs out when I use it to download files from the Panasonic.

Question 1- Is there a program for downloading photos from the camera that will let me control the filenames the way the Canon software did? Free is good. I like free.

LATER: Microsoft's Scanner and Camera Wizard pretty much does the trick. PhotoBase does it perfectly. PhotoBase was one of the programs installed with the camera, but for some reason it didn't appear on the list of autoplay options when I connected the camera to the laptop.

Question 2 - Is there a good Windows utility for doing search and replace operations on foldernames and filenames? As a ferinstance, I have some picture folders that look like 2004_09_11 and some that look like 2004-09-11, and I'd like to get everything in the same format, since Windows Explorer sorts dashes and underscores differently.

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December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas (Observed)

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December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas from the Joneses


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How time flies. Here's Katie's Santa picture from last year.

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December 24, 2005

Laurel and Hardy Wish You a Merry Christmas Eve

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December 23, 2005

Jim Hawkins

I saw on Instapundit that Jim Hawkins passed away. I didn't know him, but I noticed he had played with Sara Jordan. I knew my wife used to be friends with Sara, who passed away a few years ago. I mentioned it to her, and she knew Jim and Glenn Reynold's brother, Jonathan, who used to host the Blues Jam. It was the first she had heard about Jim, so she's calling other friends who may not have heard.

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Blockbuster Rewards Program

A few weeks ago I signed up for Blockbuster Rewards, and now I'm buying some of the cards to give as stocking stuffers. You buy the card for about $10 ("prices may vary", says the blurb) and it's good for one year.

In return, here's what you get:

  • Your first movie or game rental free.
  • One free non-new movie or game rental every month.
  • One free non-new movie or game rental for every rental made Monday through Wednesday.
  • One free (new or non-new) movie or game rental when you rent five movies or games in the same month, up to two free rentals.

If you rent from Blockbuster, you'd have to be crazy not to get the rewards card. It pays for itself in no time.

I'm pretty sure we've got Netflix to thank for this. I have Netflix, too, and like it for getting old movies and obscure titles, but it's nice to zip down to the video store and get something on the spur of the moment. Right now Melissa and I are plowing through dozens of episodes of The Shield. We're getting caught up on the old episodes via TiVo and Blockbuster so we'll be ready for the new season that starts in January.

If you're renting tons of movies every month, you might also like the Blockbuster Movie Pass, which is an in-store unlimited rental plan. It's like Netflix, but without the shipping time (hooray!) or selection (boo!). I signed up for it last Christmas and got a lot of use out of it for about six months. Once I ran through all of the old movies I wanted to watch in the store I cancelled Movie Pass and signed up for Netflix so I could rent from a bigger catalog of movies.

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Blinker Fluid

SayUncle is having his Festivus airing of grievances and one of them is people not using their blinkers. Just yesterday Glenda at work explained why some people don't use their blinkers - they run out of blinker fluid.

Like me, you probably thought your car's blinkers were solid state. Not true! It turns out that they require blinker fluid. Most people don't realize that, so once their cars run out of blinker fluid they can turn their blinkers on, but nothing will happen on the outside of the car. (The little arrows on the dashboard still flash, because they don't use blinker fluid.)

This definitely explains why you see so few cars using their blinkers, doesn't it? Otherwise, you'd have to believe that lots of people don't know how to drive.

UPDATE: Troubleshooting

Blinkers don't work - No blinker fluid

Blinkers stay on for hours after use -Too much blinker fluid. Very common with cars driven by old people and farmers.

Blinkers come on just as the person turns or changes lanes - An air bubble in the blinker line is preventing adequate hydraulic pressure from building up until the last second.

Other problems - Older cars, especially foreign makes, require special blinker fluid. Using regular DOT 3 fluid will eat out the seals and require a blinker cylinder rebuild.

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If Jonah Goldberg's Ranting About Kay Jewellers, It Must Be Christmas

Or Valentine's Day. He likes pushing this on Valentine's Day, too.

It's his standard rant about the Kay Jewellers jingle: "Every Kiss Begins with Kay." The implication? You can't get a kiss without ponying up jewelry. Your wife? A whore. You? A filthy John.

You know those Kay Jewellers commercials? The tagline is: "Every Kiss Begins with Kay."

So, once again: If every kiss begins with a diamond or other bauble from Kay, then you're either dating, or married to, a whore.

You know those Miracle Whip commercials? The tagline is: "A sandwich just isn't a sandwich without the tangy zip of Miracle Whip."

So, once again: If a sandwich isn't a sandwich without Miracle Whip, they're saying the sliced turkey and cheese surrounded by two pieces of bread you're eating is soup.

You soup-eating whore.

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December 22, 2005

Berettashotgun

That rifle is dog turd ugly. It's hideous. Compared to a sack full of cat rectums, it loses by virtue of ugliness. I want one.
 -- Berettashotgun

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The Next Time You See a Protest on TV, Remember This

"No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."
 -- Lily Tomlin

Did you know protests in DC are carefully coordinated between the protestors, law enforcement/park service authorities, and the media? The whole thing is theater for the camera.

From David Hardy via SayUncle. Uncle excerpted one story, so I'll excerpt a different one:

I remembered reading a WashPo article on an AIDS protest where the police wore rubber gloves in picking up the protestors, and the protestors were angry because that wasn't part of the deal, leaving me wondering what was the "deal." That was it -- the negotiations hadn't mentioned gloves, and the protestors thought it spoiled the photos' intended impact. (I seem to recall that the police objected in turn that the protestors were not supposed to lie down and require carrying, as they did).

So the next time you see a DC protest (a non-rowdy one, anyway), remember it may have been negotiated out down to how many get arrested and the precise time at which it occurs.

And I thought Hollywood was phony. The news factory is even phonier.

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About Gasoline Price Increases During Shortages

Markos discusses gas prices, and why they increase when supply is disrupted even before gas stations get the new, more expensive gas. He links to a discussion on The High Road, where someone put it succinctly:

For simplicity sake, a gas station is selling gas that cost the owner $1 a gallon. He gets the word that next week it will cost him $3 to buy gas. Where does he get the money to buy the $3 gas? Do you think he is going to the bank and borrow the money? No, he is going to raise the sales price of his existing supplies to more than $3 a gallon so he can stay in business. If you insist he keep his prices low and limit his markup, then guess what? There will be no gas at the pumps next week.

In general a buyer's only concern is what the merchandise is worth to them. How much the seller paid for the merchandise is of no consequence.

Imagine that you inherited a coin collection from a relative. It holds no sentimental value and you have bills to pay, so you decide to sell it. An appraisal reveals that the coins are worth $5,000 on the retail market, but your cost was $0. Would it be fair for a buyer to expect you to sell him the coins for $1 since you didn't pay anything for them? Of course not. Likewise, when you sell your house you expect to sell it for the full market value without regard to what you originally paid for it.

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Thomas "Zoo Man" Huskey's Conviction Overturned

So this is old news (the link below is from November 1), but somehow I totally missed it and just discovered it today when Ace of Spades linked it. The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that threw out almost all of the evidence against alleged serial killer Thomas "Zoo Man" Huskey. One of the key questions was whether a confession was admissable because it came from "Kyle," one of Huskey's alleged multiple personalities.

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December 21, 2005

Germany's Attitudes Towards Terrorism and Crime

Last week Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to give clemency to quadruple murderer and gang founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Some people in Schwarzenegger's hometown of Graz, Austria proposed removing his name from the local stadium. (He has since asked that his name be removed.)

German politicians and European politicians in general are generally against the death penalty, though it still has popular support in many European countries. They presumably prefer life imprisonment for serious offenses. At the same time politicians in Germany were arguing that life sentences were sufficient punishment other German politicians released a terrorist serving a life sentence for murder.

A Hezbollah militant sentenced to life in Germany for murdering a U.S. Navy diver during the 1985 hijacking of a U.S. jetliner has been freed, officials said.

The German government denied on Tuesday the release was related to the freeing of a German hostage in Iraq.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi was released Thursday and allowed to return to his native Lebanon on the next day, after qualifying for parole after 19 years in prison, said Ulrich Hermanski, spokesman for the North Rhine Wesphalia state justice ministry.

This is exactly why many people don't trust the approach to terrorism advocated by European and American liberals. They want to treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem, yet their soft stance on punishment doesn't inspire confidence. American liberals in particular want to treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem and treat law enforcement as a social justice program.

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A Note on Re-importation of Canadian Drugs

Megan McCardle dismissed the argument that drugs shouldn't be re-imported from Canada because they might not be safe, but she now has second thoughts:

But according to this WSJ piece (subscription required), I may have been wrong . . . not because Canadian drugs are substandard third-world counterfeits, but because many of the drugs being represented as "Canadian" are coming from somewhere else:
The agency looked at packages suspected of containing pharmaceuticals sent from India, Israel, Costa Rica and Vanuatu -- four countries the FDA said appeared to be sources of drugs that were ordered from pharmacies alleged to be Canadian in origin.

Out of nearly 4,000 parcels examined, almost 1,700, or 43%, had been ordered from "Canadian" Internet pharmacies and were represented as being of Canadian origin. Of the 1,700 packages, 85% of the drugs weren't manufactured in Canada and came from 27 different countries.

"This operation suggests that drugs ordered from so-called Canadian Internet sites are not drugs of known safety and efficacy," Andrew von Eschenbach, the FDA's acting commissioner, said in a statement Friday. "These results make clear there are Internet sites that claim to be 'Canadian' that, in fact, are peddling drugs of dubious origin, safety and efficacy."

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December 20, 2005

NAA .32 Mini-Revolver Officially in the Works

There's been a long-standing rumor in the gun world that North American Arms was developing a .32 version of the .22 Mini, one of the world's smallest revolvers. Now North American Arms has officially announced that a .32 mini-revolver based on a new design is in development.

It is a single-action configuration, like the minis, but will sport a full trigger guard.

It is a break-top design.

With a barrel of 1 5/8", overall length is approx. 5 1/4"; different barrel lengths will doubtless be available. As a point of reference, this is approx. the same length as a 22WMR mini (with the same size barrel).

Overall height is approx. 3 5/8" allowing for at least a three finger grip. As a point of reference, this is approx. ¾" higher than a 22WMR mini.

The width of the piece is slightly greater than 1 1/8". This dimension is driven entirely by the geometry of a 5-shot configuration and the material properties of 17-4ph stainless steel. Otherwise, the frame width is approx. ½", which will be increased by the girth of the grips, likely to the 1 1/8" dimension (above).

At this point, we're unable to determine the weight of the piece. Both the designer and those few who have monitored its progress describe it as "very innovative"; as such, we may find opportunities to use exotic (titanium) materials to reduce the weight of certain components.

Release may come as early as summer of ought six. They're withholding pictures and even sketches until the design is complete.

I bought a NAA .22 Magnum Black Widow a few years ago, thinking it would be so small that I could carry it when another gun would be too big. What I found is that with my usual carry method a snub-nosed .38 will go just about anywhere the Black Widow will. Since the .38 is more powerful, more accurate, and easier to shoot I seldom use the NAA. I still like it enough to keep it, but if I ever get a tempting trade offer it's gone.

A .32 mini would be just slightly more concealable than a .38, but would suffer from being single action only, less powerful, and with fewer choices for ammunition. I'd guess most people who want a very small gun for CCW would be better off with a .38 or a .380.

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Ernie the Attorney on New Orleans Wi-Fi

Ernie the Attorney (who's lucky his parents didn't name him Brocktologist or else he could have had a very different career) looks at the Louisiana law that prohibits municipalities from providing Internet access faster than 144 Kilobytes/second. New Orleans is avoiding the limitation now because they're in a state of emergency. The city plans on eventually turning over operation of their wireless network to a private company. Via Philip Greenspun.

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Kim and Connie du Toit Explain All

The events of the last few months explained. They were deep in debt after their last business failed, a promising job fell through once the company discovered Kim's site. He's given up his previous career and is starting a non-profit to encourage the shooting sports. Best of luck to the whole family.

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Last Call for Mr. Roboto

Mr. Roboto has taken down Thursday Night Fever. Dangit. Now I'll never find out what "crunk" means.

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December 19, 2005

Joan and Mike Berry on WNOX, at 3:30 Today

Johnia Berry's parents will be on the Phil Williams Show on 100.3 WNOX in Knoxville today at 3:30 PM to talk about Johnia's murder and the search for her killer.

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Well, if Anyone Should Have One He Should

Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the Web, has a blog.

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The New Rules

From Babalu Blog via James Rummel.

New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

New Rule, and this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or is just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web cam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.

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December 18, 2005

Movie: Walk the Line

No review except to say we just got back from seeing it and thought it was great. Joaquin Phoenix was good as Johnny Cash, but Reese Witherspoon was just amazing as June Carter.

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December 16, 2005

Doug Bandow Resigns from Cato over Controversy

From BusinessWeek via The Corner.

A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients. Doug Bandow, who writes a syndicated column for Copley News Service, told BusinessWeek Online that he had accepted money from Abramoff for writing between 12 and 24 articles over a period of years, beginning in the mid '90s.

Ick. Writing articles for lobbyists for money and not disclosing it. Can't... get... clean... no matter... how much... you scrub.

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What's Scary is, I Once Thought of Posting This as a Joke Myself

DE_MattBlack.jpgWhich gun would be better for CCW? A berreta tomcat in .25 ACP or a desert eagle in .50 AE? Hey, we've had every other caliber argument, why not this one?

If you don't get the joke, this is a Beretta Tomcat. It weighs less than a pound. It's the kind of gun Mata Hari would slip in her garter belt.

This is a Desert Eagle. It weighs four and a half pounds. If they still made Dirty Harry movies, this is what he'd shoot. It's what Agent Smith used in The Matrix.

It's also what Bullet Tooth Tony used in Snatch (dirty word alert!):

"Now, dicks have drive and clarity of vision, but they are not clever. They smell pussy and they want a piece of the action. And you thought you smelled some good old pussy, and have brought your two small mincey faggot balls along for a good old time. But you've got your parties mangled up. There's no pussy here, just a dose that'll make you wish you were born a woman. Like a prick, you are having second thoughts. You are shrinking, and your two little balls are shrinking with ya. The fact that you've got "Replica" written down the side of your gun. (withdraws his gun) And the fact that I've got "Desert Eagle point five O" written on the side of mine, should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence. Now... Fuck off."

Bonus! - Wikipedia has a really great article about the Deagle.

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Update on the New Orleans Wi-Fi Network

New Orleans is going to turn over operation of their wi-fi network to a private company after all. Washington Post:

The wireless network covers the central business district and the French Quarter, and the city plans to expand it as the people return.

The network also is used by law enforcement and other city agencies to help speed recovery. Eventually, the city intends to outsource operation of the network's business and consumer services to a private firm, officials said.

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The LAPD Biggie Smalls Case

Fantastic Randall Sullivan article in Rolling Stone about the murder of Biggie Smalls (the Notorious B.I.G.) and the possible involvement of some corrupt LAPD officers. One in particular, David Mack, is currently in prison for robbing the Bank of America. Among the evidence pointing to Mack is the fact that his car matches the description of the car that that was used in Biggie's murder, he's a long-time friend with another suspect in the case, he took family days off on the day of the bank robbery and the day of the murder, and he was employed by Suge Knight and Death Row Records even while serving on the LAPD.

There are also disturbing allegations that an LA Times reporter, Chuck Philips, wrote intentionally misleading articles that pointed attention away from Suge Knight. The stories relied heavily on anonymous sources that the LAT won't reveal. They did print the street name of a witness in a then-upcoming civil trial surrounding the case. The witness was subsequently beaten and couldn't testify. The article suggests that Philips, like Mack, may have been on the Death Row payroll. Via Patterico.

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December 15, 2005

Arnold Kling on Health Insurance

In his latest TCS column, Arnold Kling argues two interesting points about healthcare and insurance. Hat tip to Instapundit.

First, he provides an effective counter-argument to the idea that healthcare spending under socialized medicine is lower because of lower administrative costs (the icing on the cake, in his analogy):

Or consider the "natural experiment" of Medicare and Medicaid, which is a much thinner layer of icing according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and other advocates of single-payer health care. If the icing really is thinner, and if the icing is a big factor in the total calories of the cake, then total health care spending under Medicare and Medicaid should be noticeably lower than spending under private insurance, after controlling for population characteristics. Instead, if one uses other OECD countries as a control group, our spending on the elderly is as excessive relative to other countries as is our spending on those without private insurance. In fact, Medicaid and Medicare, which together cover less than half the U.S. population, absorb a higher proportion of our GDP than many other countries' single-payer systems that cover their entire population.

Second, most people don't really want health insurance (or more accurately I think, don't want to pay for it with their own money unless required to).

I am willing to claim that no insurance market in history ever arose because of spontaneous demand on the part of consumers. Maritime insurance, which was one of the first forms of insurance, was demanded by creditors as a condition for lending money to shippers. Life insurance also initially arose to meet the needs of creditors who were lending money to pensioners.

Homeowners' insurance is standard because it protects mortgage lenders. Collision insurance for autos is optional if you own yours free and clear, but not if you still owe money to the finance company.

William Tucker is right. For the most part, people buy insurance because it is mandated by others. Insurance does not have a large natural market.

...

Tucker argues that government should mandate a low-premium, high-deductible health care policy. (In the Romney plan for Massachusetts, the only way to avoid such a mandate is to post a $10,000 "bond" that guarantees that you will pay your medical bills.) Ironically, this is a relatively libertarian proposal. It is relatively libertarian because the only realistic alternative is for government to continue to provide and/or subsidize the comprehensive "insurance" that is prevalent today.

Posted by lesjones at 07:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

New Orleans Floodwall Tests

Destructive physical examination of the 17th Street floodwalls finds that they were in fact built to specifications, yet still failed.

Initial testing by sonar had indicated the pilings were only driven to about 10 feet below sea level, even though the design called for the steel reinforcements to be driven down to 17.5 feet below sea level. The discrepancy fueled suspicion of wrongdoing in the building of the failed flood wall, attracting criminal investigators to the work site. The U.S. attorney, the state attorney general and the local district attorney all have launched investigations into the building and maintenance of the levees.

After pulling and measuring the pilings, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressed a measure of relief, since the Corps was responsible for ensuring the construction matched the approved design when the flood wall was built in the early 1990s.

But if the flood wall was built to specifications, as the latest inspection indicated, the next question will be whether the design was faulty.

Posted by lesjones at 04:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Joel Sposky: "How to Ship Anything"

How to Ship Anything. OK, the title's a little bit of an exaggeration, but you may get some ideas on integrating your shipping, packaging, and labeling from this piece. That Zebra Z4Mplus label printer looks like it totally rawks the hizzouse, as much as a label printer can rawk the hizzouse.

Posted by lesjones at 03:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Aw, He's Just Doing it to get an Instalanche

Instapundit has started a Carnival of Digital Cameras. There are ever more encouraging things being said about the Panasonic Lumix FZ5, which is what I've got my eye on. It's $330 for a 5MP camera with a large, 12X Leica lens with electronic image stabilization, and all the reviews are glowing.

Posted by lesjones at 01:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Pacifiers May Greatly Reduce SIDS Risk

A study published in the British Medical Journal says pacifier use can reduce the risk of SIDS by 90 percent.

Posted by lesjones at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2005

Five Weird Habits

Andi tagged me with this meme: "Want to know 5 Weird Habits I have?"

  1. I never go through the bank drive-thru unless it's after hours and the inside office is closed. I like going inside better.
  2. I always keep my keys and coins in my left front pocket.
  3. I still change lanes the way I learned in driver's ed. - check mirrors first, then signal, then change lanes. Not exactly weird, but lots of people seem to change lanes at random.
  4. I move my lips when I count.
  5. I play with words in my head, re-arranging them, removing the vowels, or adding re- and de- to the beginning and -er and -ed to the end to make them more repetitive and symmetrical. I also totally kick ass at Wheel of Fortune.

The five people I'm tagging with this: Alston, Chris, Frank, Josh, and Rich. And Andi: I chill my red wine when I'm at home, too.

Posted by lesjones at 08:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good News About Felix the Cat

I mentioned three months ago that our cat Felix had been diagnosed with diabetes. Since then we've been checking his glucose twice a day and giving him insulin, and he's been eating a restricted diet. (At first it was special food from the vet, but that was expensive and inconvenient. Now we feed him meat and gravy baby food from the grocery store, which the vet says is OK.)

So I checked Felix's glucose this morning and for the first time in three months his glucose was normal and he didn't need any insulin.

Posted by lesjones at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Three Simple Signs for Recognizing a Stroke

Via Clayton Cramer and confirmed with Snopes. My mother has had several, fortunately light, strokes. This is good, simple information to know. After a stroke, always go to the hospital. One stroke may lead to another, larger stroke, or cardiac arrest.

How to Recognize a Stroke

This might be a lifesaver if you can remember the following advice, sent by a nurse, whose husband is a medical doctor.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. A stroke victim may suffer permanent brain damage when people fail to recognize what's happening. Now, doctors say any bystander can recognize a stroke, simply by asking three questions:

  • ask the individual to smile.
  • ask him or her to raise both arms.
  • ask the person to speak a simple sentence.

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately, and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. Researchers are urging the general public to learn to ask these three questions quickly, to someone they suspect of having a stroke. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of a stroke, and prevent permanent brain damage.

You may want to pass this along.

From my experience with my mom, the short-term speech impairment is the most obvious sign.

Posted by lesjones at 12:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

New Posts at JohniaBerry.org

UPDATE: JohniaBerry.org was down for a few hours, but is back up now.

Douglas_Loveday.JPGSuspect: Douglas Everett Loveday

A man who was found Wednesday morning near Virtue Road covered in blood has been charged in a separate incident. Twenty-nine year old Douglas Everett Loveday of 912 Campbell Station Road was charged with aggravated burglary and theft. Each charge carries a $20,000 bond. Loveday is accused of breaking into a house on Viking Drive in Knoxville while a female inside slept. He stole a number of items from the house including the woman’s purse and a camera Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. She was not injured during the burglary.

Early Wednesday morning, Loveday was found at the Willow Creek Golf Club covered in blood and confused about his whereabouts. His car was found on Virtue Road with blood in it. Loveday was not injured and the blood is not his.

Glenn Owen's Profile of Johnia Berry's Murderer

The killer is a disorganized killer who knew Johnia in some way. Disorganized killers are usually below average in IQ. They kill in their own neighborhood. Disorganized killers are sloppy and not very smart, they leave a lot of evidence. They get mad and kill. Unlike organized killers they do not try to hide the body, they just leave them where they kill them. The killer is a white male between the age of 18 to 23.
Posted by lesjones at 02:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sitemeter's Location Feature

sitemeter-latlong2.gif

I just discovered two features in Sitemeter. To access either, login to Sitemeter and click on Manager on the top navigation bar.

First, you can set the latitude and longitude of your location (where you are, not necessarily where your Web server is located). Click on Location on the left hand navigation bar. You can click on the map to set your rough coordinates, or you can enter them directly.

If you're like me and don't know, try googling for "mycity mystate latitude longitude". For Knoxville, TN I got 35°58'22" N 83°56'32" W. (There's probably a slicker way to get the answer. If you know one, post in comments.)

Now just translate that into something Sitemeter will accept. It takes degrees and minutes (the first two numbers), but not seconds (the third number). The North reading is the latitude. The West reading is the latitude. For anything in North America, your latitude will be positive and your longitude will be negative. I entered 35°58'22" N 83°56'32" W as 35.58 for latitude and -83.56 for longitude. You can then set what distance from your location you consider local.

Click Save to save your changes. When you view visitors by location you'll now see their distance from you in miles.

Bonus! The default for reports is 20 lines. You can increase that to as many as 1000. Just click on Site Information on the left hand navigation bar, choose from the Results Line Per Page drop-down box, and click Save.

Posted by lesjones at 01:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tempe Plans Universal Wi-Fi

Tempe, AZ wil offer Wi-Fi across its entire 40 square mile area in conjunction with NeoReach. The system will be available for free to city offices and vehicles, and for two hours per day in the vicinity of Arizona State University and the Mill Avenue retail district.

NeoReach will directly sell service to outdoor users for $3.95 per hour or $29.95 per month. The resellers of NeoReach access have not yet announced pricing, but Rockwell said it will be cheaper than DSL or cable Internet access. Cable operator Cox Communications Inc. charges $49.95 per month for customers who don't get Cox phone or TV service. Qwest Communications International Inc. charges $44.99 and $54.99 per month, depending on the speed.

Tempe signed a contract with NeoReach after asking for bids -- which prevented it from having to start its own utility and probably quelled potential objections to the city's involvement in a Wi-Fi network.

Elsewhere in the nation, cities have run into heavy resistance from telecom companies, which argue that the free market should dictate the cost and availability of service.

At least 14 states have passed laws limiting municipal Internet service, and other states are expected to consider similar limits, Leanza said. Arizona does not have such a law.

Didn't know that. The interesting angle here is the free Internet access for municipal vehicles. Knoxville has hotspots for police officers. In an increasingly connected age, the need for city workers to have Internet access everywhere their jobs take them could be a big factor pushing municipal wi-fi.

Posted by lesjones at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

The Rose Mary Woods Defense

rosemarywoods.jpg

An unlikely series of exonerating actions. Via Politburo Diktat:

Nixon's secretary, she claimed to have accidentally erased a crucial 18 minutes of the Watergate tapes, demonstrated in the photo. While theoretically possible, her "simultaneous stretch, reach, press, and push" actions were extremely unlikely. Any one was "possible," but in combination, they were not believable.
Posted by lesjones at 01:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quick Notes on Movable Type 3.2

Bad news first: the upgrade from 2.6x is more of a pain than it should be.

The rest of the news is all good. Version 3.2 found all of my posts and comments. The new features are nice.

  • Assigning a post to multiple categories is much easier.
  • You can set the date and time on a new post without saving it to draft first.
  • Formatting shortcuts now work in Mozilla and Firefox.
  • Manual trackbacks no longer require a trip to another screen.
  • Trackbacks can be managed without additional software.
  • Spam filtering is built-in (see below).
  • Composition page is roomier, and you can now have Save and Preview buttons at the top and bottom of the page.
  • You can rebuild individual entries.
  • Plug-in management has gone from non-existent to pretty darned good.
  • The new "no-follow" plugin makes it pointless for spammers to post links to your blog in an attempt to increase their Google PageRank.

Spam filtering

Out of the box the spam filtering wasn't all that great. The new software has keyword filtering, blacklist filtering vis spam lookup services, and URL filtering (based on the presence of a certain number of URLs in the post, and whether those URLs have been posted previously). Adjusting the scoring helped some, but what really helped was copying and pasting my old MT-Blacklist entries. I've included them in the extended entry below. That has greatly reduced comment spam, and eliminated trackback spam.

Overall, I'm happy with the ugprade.

LATER: Here's the MT-Blacklist entries as a file

December 11, 2005

Weekly Gun Nuttery

Gullyborg has this week's Carnival of Cordite.

Jeff is getting slammed at work, so no weekly check on the bias.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is out of 1903a3s Springfields I had mentioned a month or two ago that they were getting low. I also noticed that the Greek Garands are now backordered.

Guns of Miller's Crossing. It's an excellent Coen brothers movie starring Gabrielle Byrne. If you haven't seen it and you like gangster movies it's a must.

Sorta, kinda gun related: I've added SouthParkPundit to the blogroll.

Posted by lesjones at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 10, 2005

Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg

innspring2003.jpg

Just saw this on Tennessee Crossroads. The Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg is Tennessee's oldest inn still in operation, and is one of Fodor's top 20 recommended inns in the world. From the video on Tennessee Crossroads the interior and the setting were beautiful. The inn is a mile outside of the boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the Greenbrier/Pittman Center area.

Bonus Yesterday's NY Times real estate section has an article about Gatlinburg. Via Michael Silence.

Posted by lesjones at 05:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2005

Steve Huff Series on Johnia Berry Murder

warrenhouselabeled.jpgNoted crime blogger Steve Huff has written a three part series on Johnia Berry's murder.

A Knoxville Mystery, Part 1
A Knoxville Mystery, Part 2
A Knoxville Mystery, Part 3

I found part 2 especially interesting. Huff dug through online ratings for the apartments where Johnia was killed. Several ratings for the time preceding Johnia's death noted security problems and burglaries. This one was perhaps the most disturbing, since it supports the theory that someone simply walked up the back steps of Johnia's third floor apartment:

SAFETY ALERT: Shared balconies mean that anyone can walk up to your back door and peer in. This happened MANY times. People just come up and stand on your balcony because they are open to the public. THIS SUCKS...

SAFETY ALERT: Warren (aka Crack) House next door. Big problem. Cops every night. Granted, BP can't pick who lives next door. But they could provide roaming security officers at night to prevent cars being broken into and vandalism on their own property from the hoods next door.

Part three contains original photography. Huff's friend, Karns resident Anthony Veach, contributed photos of Brendon Park (where Johnia and her roommate lived) and Warren House apartments (when Johnia's roommate was stabbed he ran out the front door and directly across Rhodora Road to Warren House). While Brendon Park is nice Warren House isn't. Until you visit Warren House or see pictures you can't appreciate how run down it is or why it's nicknamed the Crack House. Many thanks to Huff and Veach for their work, and for permission to use the photos.

Posted by lesjones at 08:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 08, 2005

Man the Internet is a Weird Place

So an anonymous commentor on Johniaberry.org writes:

someone said something about Michael Lowe, well if you look at the initials on the CD its says ML.. which would be a good indicator of a guy named Michael Lowe.

That was the first I recall hearing of Michael Lowe. I couldn't find his name in a search of the site. If anyone knows anything about him, I'd appreciate it if you let me know. (LATER: Guy corrected himself and said it was Michael Howell he was thinking of.)

So I Google for "michael lowe" tennessee and one of the pages I get is this one at Mindcontrolforums.com. It's from someone named Ted Jackson describing his neighbor Michael Lowe (don't know if it's the same guy - there were lots of matches for Michael Lowe) who he thinks was controlling his freakin' mind. You can read the whole thing, but this paragraph gives you the rich, nutty flavor:

3) My upstairs neighbor, a man named Michael Lowe (Apt. A - dark green Accura Legend (license plate #839LEC) with an Emory bumper sticker), who introduced himself as a respiratory therapist, began creaking the floor of his immediate upstairs apartment and making other percussive sounds coincident with lines of dialog and lyrics from television and radio broadcasts in such a way that he could communicate deniable messages to me through them. He did so loudly at first, apparently to get my attention, and then more softly such that he could do so while being unlikely to be heard by others. In that way he would convey all sorts of messages, including death threats (i.e. softly creaking a floorboard coincident with lines of dialog containing words such as 'gonna get you' or 'kill you' and such). To this day I can think of no way to successfully prove the fact of it. He then continued doing so at any (and sometimes all) hours of the day. The content of his communications also made it clear that he was able to observe me within my home, including the content of my computer screen. I tried to ignore it at first, though it was inevitable that I would begin to answer, which I did. I would argue/communicate back to him simply by typing on my keyboard into Windows notepad.

Boy, can I sympathize with that. Turns out I lost years of blogging because I was typing my posts into Windows Notepad instead of entering them into, you know, blogging software.

Yeah, I know. It's not exactly news that there are unmedicated nutcases on the Internet, just like it's not news that it hurts when you hit your thumb with a hammer. Yet somehow it's always a surprise when you re-discover the most basic facts of life.

Posted by lesjones at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light Blogging Here, Notes on the Johnia Berry Case

Home sick today. I'll probably putter around the house and finish the Christmas decorations.

I haven't blogged much here this week. In large part that was due to the demands of working on JohniaBerry.org and helping out with the media and getting Kelly up to speed on Blogger.

In part, too, it was that I didn't have a taste for blogging about current events. Writing about a young girl's death doesn't mix well with writing about the latest stupidity of the current batch of elected political idiots.

It's an old problem in publishing. The gravest thing sits on the page next to the lightest, and it's an embarassment. TV news people are probably reluctant to admit it, but the commercials are sometimes a blessing. They provide two minutes of separation between the earthquake victims and the celebrity wedding and by then most people will have forgotten.

Mostly it's motivated me to revisit some unfinished reviews of old movies, to step out of time.

Posted by lesjones at 08:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WVLT-TV Donates $5,000 to Johnia Berry Reward

WVLT-TV in Knoxville has donated $5,000 to the reward fund to bring Johnia Berry's killer to justice. Many thanks to the owners and staff at WVLT.

Posted by lesjones at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2005

Movie: Capricorn One (1978)

capricorn-one.jpgThe movie starts during the launch sequence of Capricorn One, America's first manned mission to Mars. Just before takeoff the astronauts are hastily pulled from the command module and the launch continues without them. They're told that a critical failure was discovered in the life support system, but if NASA scrubs the launch the entire Mars program could be cancelled forever. The rest of the mission's communications and video are faked from a studio in the desert.

You know, just like they did for the moon landings. This was the perfect post-Vietnam, post-JFK assassination, post-Watergate movie. It thinks nothing of presenting a conspiracy involving dozens or hundreds of people and multiple agencies (the "federal agents" who plant cocaine in a reporter's apartment had to belong to one of them). Naturally, the conspiracy is coordinated so masterfully that it would have fooled myriad reporters and NASA engineers. The one engineer who gets curious is disappeared and his past obliterated with the high level of efficiency and attention to detail we've come to expect from government agencies like the DMV. I kid, but to the director's credit, the movie as presented is plausible if you don't ask too many questions.

The cast includes period stalwarts Hal Holbrook as the mission commander, Elliott Gould as a reporter who smells something fishy, Telly Savalas as an ornery cropduster, and James Brolin, O.J. Simpson, and Sam Waterston as the astronauts.

It's hard to imagine the days when O.J. Simpson had a leading role in a serious movie, and that isn't the only thing that's changed since the seventies. Capricorn One harks back to the days when the United States had a space exploration program, as opposed to a low-orbit package delivery service. It was a time when conference rooms had ashtrays. When a woman would casually ask Elliott Gould to jump her after a few drinks. When mighty men labored in the formica mines and plywood trees stood tall against the sky. It's a good movie that also just happens to encapsulate the ethos of the era.

Posted by lesjones at 08:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Word of the Day: Autarky

Autarky:

The idea that a country should be self-sufficient and not take part in international trade. The experience of countries that have pursued this Utopian ideal by substituting domestic production for imports is an unhappy one. No country has been able to produce the full range of goods demanded by its population at competitive prices. Indeed, those that have tried to do so have condemned themselves to inefficiency and comparative poverty, compared with countries that engage in international trade.

Via Jane Galt.

Posted by lesjones at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2005

Johnia's Mother on CNN Tuesday Night, Brother on 93.1 Wednesday Morning

Joan Berry will be on Nancy Grace's show on CNN Headline News tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern.

The Point 93.1 FM will air its interview with Kelly Burke Wednesday morning between 7:00 and 8:00.

In other news, the reward has been increased from $10,000 to $37,000.

Posted by lesjones at 06:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Developments in the Johnia Berry Case on the First Anniversary of Her Murder

cdsmall.jpgA year ago today Johnia Berry was stabbed to death in her Cedar Bluff apartment. Police and her family are still looking for the killer.

New clues from the crime scene

The Knox Sheriff's office has released photos of the CD wallet and a CD with the initials "ML." Both were found at the crime scene, along with a car stereo. The initials might be the killer's, or they might belong to someone the killer robbed. If that's the case, if that person came forward and gave details of the theft from their car, home (or locker?) that could be a clue.

Reward

The sheriff's office is asking the governor to increase the $10,000 reward to $20,000.

Knoxville radio

Johnia's brother Kelly Burke will be on several Knoxville radio stations Tuesday morning:

  • The Hallerin Hill show on WNOX-FM 100.3 around 7:00
  • The Marc and Kim show on Star 102.1 FM around 8:00
  • Kevin with The Point Morning Show on WMYU-FM 93.1 around 8:45 (I keep saying around because programming schedules are hectic and subject to last-minute change)
  • Mike Blakemore of Love 89, Jennifer Alexander of B97.5, and Jimmy Holt of WIVK-FM 107.7 will mention Johnia's story Tuesday.

johnia-sgitm-small.jpgMany thanks to Star 102.1's Frank Murphy for arranging the appearances and contacting his friends in the Knoxville radio community to get the word out.

Memorial scholarship established at ETSU

The Johnia Hope Berry Memorial Scholarship has been established to help students interested in pursuing a career in child psychology. Donations are appreciated.

Media coverage this week - updated as it comes in


Posted by lesjones at 02:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 05, 2005

Johnia Berry in the News This Week

Tomorrow, December 6, is the one year anniversary of Johnia's murder. Her family is using this occasion to remember Johnia, and to bring her story to as many people as possible in hopes of finding her murderer.

Johnia's mother Joan was on several Knoxville radio stations this weekend, and will be in the media today and tomorrow in Knoxville and the Tri-Cities. More information at JohniaBerry.org.

Johnia's brother Kelly Burke will be on Star 102.1 FM in Knoxville Tuesday morning at 8:00. Thanks to Frank Murphy for arranging the appearance.

Posted by lesjones at 01:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2005

Tonight's Episode: Land of Gilligan &Hutch's MASHed-up Island of the Lost

spencer_04_05.jpgThere's an episode of Gunsmoke on TV Land right now with Jim Backus, Harry Morgan, David Soul, and Spencer Milligan. It's like watching Thurston Howell the third try to outfox Colonel Potter while Hutch drives Rick Marshall around an island in a Gran Torino looking for dinosaurs. Or something. The episode was Brides and Grooms.

Bonus! The same episode co-starred Amanda McBroom, who - besides playing in TV shows from MASH, Starsky &Hutch, and Magnum, PI to Charlie's Angels and Star Trek: Next Generation - wrote the Bette Midler song "The Rose."

Posted by lesjones at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 03, 2005

Katie vs. the Laptop

Katie-Toddler-0007-1.JPG

So the other weekend we heard a thud. I went to investigate and found Katie holding a blue Ethernet cable. Attached to one end of the table was Melissa's laptop.

I say to Melissa, "Uh, by any chance did you leave your laptop in the floor?"

Answer: "Uh, no."

"Well, it's in the floor now."

One restart later it booted up just fine and has been working ever since, despite falling off of a desk onto a Pergo floor. Not bad for the cheapest name-brand laptops I could find two Christmases ago (I got an identical one). And things like this are why I bought cheap laptops.

Posted by lesjones at 08:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

North Knoxville Victorian Holiday Tour of Homes

The annual Christmas homes tour is this weekend, from 4-9 PM Saturday and 1-5 PM Sunday. I'll have to miss it this year, but it's been great in years past to go inside the old homes decorated for the holidays. More info at Historic Old North Knoxville, or call 865-523-HONK.

Posted by lesjones at 08:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AP and Barrett Rifles

SayUncle has a look at the disappointing experience Barrett Rifles had with the AP. The AP approached Barrett about doing a business piece on the company. The resulting article was riddled with inaccuracies and spent half of its word count spreading anti-.50 caliber propaganda.

When I was at UT I was the science editor for the daily student paper. One day we ran a wire story about a survey that asked people to name the least trustworthy professions. Along with used car salesmen and lawyers, journalists made the list. I was shocked, but the other people in the newsroom weren't surprised at all. Unlike me, they were journalism majors, and they had seen surveys like that before. (And you still see them today.) People often don't trust journalists, and it's because of unfortunate incidents like this.

Posted by lesjones at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 02, 2005

Tamara on the Joint Combat Pistol

Tamara offers her thoughts on the Joint Combat Pistol and who the likely winners are. She also explains why you should root for the Para Ordnance LDA.

Posted by lesjones at 03:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Why Don't You Guys Say Nice Things Like This?

Spammers say the nicest things in my comments.

  • I'm asking myself: How can it be that I've never ran through your site before? It's a great one!
  • It's been a long time since i so enjoyed reading posts in the net. Two thumbs up!
  • Very nice! I'm putting you in my favorites.
  • Awesome stuff! Thanks for all the information.
  • Very interesting. Keep up the good work!
  • You have some really cool stuff at your site. I'm sure gonna come back here.

And they're so sincere!

Posted by lesjones at 02:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Does Steven Wright Take Unsolicited Material?

So this guy tells me he's researched his family tree all the way back to 1842. I say, "Wow! That's amazing! 1842?

And he sort of light ups and says "Yeah, 1842!"

And I say, "That's amazing!"

And he's like, "I know!"

And I ask again 'cause I can hardly believe it, "1842?"

And he gets really excited and says "Yeah, 1842!"

And I'm like, "Wait. Do you mean 1842 BC or 1842 AD?"

And he's like, "Um, 1842 AD."

And I look disappointed and say, "Oh. Well, I guess that's still pretty good."

Posted by lesjones at 01:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Murtha Encouraged Clinton's 1993 Withdraw from Somalia

Murtha is portrayed in press releases as a Democratic hawk. For a hawk, he sure is in favor of retreating at the earliest possible date. It turns out he encouraged Clinton to withdraw from Somalia. That, in turn, emboldened Al Qaeda, as Osama bin Laden explained:

“But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the ‘heart’ of every Muslim and a remedy to the ‘chests’ of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.”

If you've read Black Hawk Down the Somali warlords were battered and out of RPGs by the end of that fateful day. Withdrawing was not strategically necessary. It was just a political calculation. Clinton wasn't the only one. Reagan and Bush, Sr. (as the link makes clear) were quick to cut their losses in Beirut and elsewhere. The sum total of those decisions was to teach terrorists that if they attacked the U.S. that we'd run.

After 9/11 Bush the younger was willing to take the defeats with the victories to prove that the U.S. won't be run out of town by terrorists and warlords to appease the tyranny of short-term polls of U.S voters.

It's a long, hard slog militarily and politically, but this is a fight we have to win. The bin Laden quote above proves Donald Rumsfeld's dictum: weakness is a provocation. If they think you'll run if attacked, they're more likely to attack you. Via AlphaPatriot.

Posted by lesjones at 12:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 01, 2005

New Blog: "Find Johnia Berry's Killer"

johnia-sgitm-small.jpgOver the past year I've been posting about Johnia Berry, the 21 year old UT student who was killed in her Cedar Bluff apartment. Last month I read Ellen Mallarnee's article in Metro Pulse and it moved me to contact her family to offer my help.

Since then I've been working with Johnia Berry's brother and mother to create a new site to help find her killer. We're unveiling the site today at JohniaBerry.org.

Next Tuesday, December 6, is the one year anniversary of her death. We're trying to get as much media coverage as possible right now to draw attention to the case. Our hope is that someone who knows something about the crime will come forward, or that someone will recognize the killer from the composite sketch.

If you're in the media, or know someone who is, please contact me. Johnia's brother and mother are available for interviews.

Johnia Berry killer's composite sketch, without hatJohnia Berry killer's composite sketch, with hat

If you have a Web site, I'd really appreciate a link to JohniaBerry.org. You can help even more by including the suspect's composite sketch. Copy and paste the HTML below to include the pictures on your site.

RSS Feed RSS/XML Feed for JohniaBerry.org

Submitted to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Posted by lesjones at 08:07 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

State Report on NO Floodwall Engineering Failures

From The Times-Picayune, via Wizbang:

The floodwall on the 17th Street Canal levee was destined to fail long before it reached its maximum design load of 14 feet of water because the Army Corps of Engineers underestimated the weak soil layers 10 to 25 feet below the levee, the state's forensic levee investigation team concluded in a report to be released this week.

That miscalculation was so obvious and fundamental, investigators said, they "could not fathom" how the design team of engineers from the corps, local firm Eustis Engineering and the national firm Modjeski and Masters could have missed what is being termed the costliest engineering mistake in American history.

But that wasn't the only engineering mistake:

Several high-level academic and professional investigations have found that the sheet piling used in the design to support the floodwalls was too short for the 18.5-foot depth of the canal. In addition to holding up the concrete "cap" on the walls, the sheet piling is supposed to serve as a barrier preventing the migration of water from the canal through the porous soils to the land side of the levee, an event that rapidly weakens the soils supporting a wall and can cause it to shift substantially.

The corps has long claimed the sheet piling was driven to 17.5 feet deep, but Team Louisiana recently used sophisticated ground sonar to prove it was only 10 feet deep.

Van Heerden said Team Louisiana's latest calculations prove investigators' claims that a depth of 17 feet would have made little difference. He said the team ran the calculations for sheet piles at 17 feet and 16 feet deep, and the wall still would have failed at a load of 11 to 12 feet of water.

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