Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

Evel Knievel’s last, great jump

In Culture on November 30, 2007 at 11:12 pm

From our Myspace friends at the Fresno Bee:Daredevil Evel Knievel jumps over a long row of vehicles with ease in an arena in Toronto, in this Aug. 20, 1974, file photo.
Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69
Evel Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over crazy obstacles including Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho’s Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

That guy just peed into a towel

In Smartness on November 30, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Bill walker pees into a towel on the sidelines during overtime.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
I dunno if this qualifies as smartness or unfettered stupidity. Kansas State lost anyway.


Is anyone really buying the latest Mideast peace thing?

In Politics, Unfettered stupidity on November 27, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Every so often, the United States tries to make Israelis and Palestinians sit down together and play nice. And then someone shoots, bombs and/or gives the finger to someone else, and it’s back to business as usual. I don’t know whether these attempts at peacemaking are sincere, if it’s a matter of each president wanting to be the one who’s known for finally pulling it off (In your face, Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter!) or if it’s just a show of decency while we happily prop up the bitter status quo.

Solution to the problem: Most people talk in terms of two full-fledged, autonomous states, one Israeli and Jewish, the other Arab and (presumably) Islamic. One of these states thrives (albeit with massive, massive military aid from us.) But many Israelis will be damned before they see a true Palestinian state emerge. Meanwhile, Israel has been building a wall around Palestinian territories — to keep out the suicide bombers, but also to turn Arab territories into a giant internment camp.

What both sides really need is a fat dollop of representative democracy — one state solution. Alas, neither side can tolerate the other long enough to just vote their differences into abeyance.

Anyway, the mainstream press is really into it. I think the conflict in Israel gets more attention from the U.S. press than it deserves (great, now I’m a contributor), and the story of failure there has been repeated too many times for most Americans to give a damn. Meanwhile, here are some links:

BBC: New Mid-East peace drive launched

Nothing more exciting than what politicians have to say at the outset of a meeting: Bush, Abbas, Olmert quotes at Annapolis conference

“Our region stands at a crossroads.” Your region has stood at a crossroads since 1948, Mahmoud.

‘We would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly.’

In Culture, Smartness on November 27, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Took me awhile, but I finally found a news item that just plain made me laugh. Too bad about the woman losing her gig, though.

End of the line for the voice of London’s Tube

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The woman known as the ‘voice of the Tube’ in London has had her contract terminated for criticising the underground rail service. But the city’s commuters are apparently siding with Emma Clarke, whose website, which hosted the criticism as well as a number of spoof announcements, has crashed due to heavy traffic.

What got her in hot water was an interview; evidently, the thought of riding The Tube with a bunch of strangers and hearing her recorded messages over and over fills her with “horror.”
But she’s got a sense of fun about the subway; on her now-crashed Web site could, until recently, be found these, eh, alternate voiceover alerts:

  • “We would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly.”
  • “Would the passenger in the red shirt pretending to read the paper but who is actually staring at that woman’s chest please stop. You are not fooling anyone, you filthy pervert.”
  • “Would passengers filling in answers on their Sudokus please accept that they are just crosswords for the unimaginative and are not in any way more impressive just because they contain numbers.”
  • “Here we are crammed again into a sweaty Tube carriage … If you’re female smile at the bloke next to you and make his day. He’s probably not had sex for months.”

    Even the subway PR flack has a sense of humor: ‘London Underground is sorry to have to announce that further contracts for Ms Clarke are experiencing severe delays,’ he said.

  • Bridge players somewhat reluctantly uphold freedom of speech

    In Politics on November 24, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    The United States Bridge Federation has dropped its effort to punish six members of the women’s championship bridge team for holding up a sign that said “We did not vote for Bush” during an awards ceremony last month in Shanghai.


    Read about this in a post by Femblogger. Thanks, Feoshia. Who knew those wacky bridge players were so passionate about their politics? Couldn’t find any mention of this story whatsoever on Associated Press, by the way.

    Flash! Aa-aaahh — savior of the university

    In Culture, Smartness on November 21, 2007 at 1:57 am

    Queen’s Brian May has been appointed chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University

    Dr. May

    LONDON — Brian May, rock star and astrophysicist, has been appointed chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

    May will be installed as the university’s figurehead leader early next year, it was announced Monday. The 60-year-old Queen guitarist said the appointment was “a great honor and a great new challenge.”
    He is an honorary fellow of Liverpool John Moores University, which has a well-known astrophysics research institute.

    He was an astrophysics student at Imperial College when he joined Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor to form Queen in 1970, but dropped his doctorate as the glam rock band became more successful.
    May is the co-author of “Bang! The Complete History of the Universe,” which was published last year.


    Obama goes after the stoner vote

    In Politics on November 20, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Hey, it beats “I didn’t inhale.”

    Presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday told high school students that when he was their age he was hardly a model student, experimenting with illegal drugs and drinking alcohol. Obama stopped by a study hall at Manchester Central High School and answered students’ questions about the war in Iraq and his education plan. But when an adult asked about his time as a student, Obama spoke bluntly.

    And this shocking revelation — I think we all know what this is a euphemism for:

    He then added: “I thought about girls a lot, I won’t lie.”

    There’s still precious little in the mainstream press that’ll help you make a decision in the primaries.

    So, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?

    In Culture, Fayetteville, N.C. on November 20, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    This isn’t a particularly snarky entry. I’m just curious what folks are up to for T-Day. I’ll be finishing up Friday’s edition of SmartNews. I’ll probably cook something, but it won’t be anything as time-consuming as a turkey. Football will be on in the background. I’ll try to get done early, but I’m glad — thankful, even — to have the work to occupy my mind. It will be a good day.

    What’re you doing Thursday?

    This may be as much sports reporting as you’ll ever see from me

    In Fayetteville, N.C., Sports on November 19, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Congrats to the Rogue Rollergirls who won 104 – 68 over Columbia, S.C., on Sunday. At least, that’s what rollergirl Evergrace says.


    I don’t claim to be much of a sports reporter.

    When I was a cub in Raeford, I was the only newsroom peon on the little weekly there, the News-Journal — or, as it was fondly known, the Hoke Joke. I had the great fortune to drop in just when the high school baseball team was starting its run to the state championship. After my first visit to watch the team training (they were ranked nationally by USA Today in the preseason, as I recall), I vaulted a 4-foot fence between me and my car. My left foot made it over fine, but my right foot caught on the fence. My left foot hit the ground, dug in real good and I pivoted over it and plopped to the turf. I knew something was wrong when I looked down and saw my left foot bending around to look back at me.

    It took a raised voice and some piquant French to get the attention of some kids who were watching practice from the bleachers. The coach had one of the team members drive me to the urgent care in the coach’s hatchback. Emergency surgery and some time on crutches put my foot back where it belonged. I was known as Broke Foot from then on to the baseball team.

    Apart from that, I enjoyed going to the games and trying to figure out how to write gamers and getting quotes from the kids and such. I had no idea what I was doing and certainly was at no risk of being elevated to the bigs as a sports reporter.


    So I really apprecate Evergrace letting me know the score. I hope more folks will do that, and I’ll cheerfully pass it on. There’s an awful lot of rec league, pool tournaments, roller derby, karate and middle school basketball going on out there, and we can’t even pretend to be able to send reporters out to cover all that. Maybe someone out there, for fun, will want to try his or her hand at a little sports reporting — on their kids’ team, on their bowling league, whatever.

    Internships ‘n’ suchlike foolishness

    In Fayetteville, N.C., The news biz on November 14, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    So my friend Charles Apple, the coolest graphic artist in the biz, is doing an article on internships and recruiting. He had some questions and I always try to oblige, cos he’s good people and, quite frankly, it keeps the SmartNews name out there in the industry when we get a mention. However, Charles has a TON of connections and there’s NO WAY he can use all the blather that I send him. So I’m gonna jump the gun and post my response here. It won’t detract one whit from what he comes up with.

    I love small papers, and, not only are they where I’m comfortable, but I believe they’re the future. But one of the downsides to being small is not being able to get in on the internship game. Seems like there’s never any money, or you don’t know if there’ll be money six months out — you know more like a week or two out. That’s not enough time to make arrangements with the professors and university bureaucrats, not to mention a prospective intern.

    I hate to see big papers vacuuming up all the fresh collegiate talent. Don’t get me wrong, you can do great work in a big paper internship; I’m mainly just envious. But I think small papers offer a different set of opportunities. You’re probably apt to be thrown into the fire sooner and do more than just a narrow set of tasks.

    So, yeah, I don’t have a budget or a form to fill out or a deadline. Just an e-mail address and a cell phone. Here’s what I’d be excited to talk with someone about:

    – An illustrator who wants to cover ordinary, everyday news (cops, courts, business, sports, Fort Bragg, all of it) with a sketchpad

    – A writer who’s trying to master chunky text — maybe someone who plans on breaking into magazines

    – A natural born networker who thinks s/he can beef up our online-ness — not so much through mulitmedia but by making contact with actual humans and getting them involved

    If that’s you or you have some other big, cool idea about perpetrating journalism that no one will listen to, drop me a line. Maybe we can figure something out for this summer.