Saturday, November 01, 2008

Weekend Beagle Blogging

I got a new camera for my birthday this year. I wanted a digital SLR but couldn't justify the cost, especially for additional lenses. So I got something close: a 10 megapixel Olympus SP-570 ultra-zoom. It has the longest superzoom lens on a compact camera, covering the 35mm equivalent range of 26-520mm.

I've dabbled in 35mm photography since high school, even had my own black and white dark room for awhile. But I could no longer afford it as a true hobby. But since my new camera is digital and includes a 2gb memory card, I can "waste" as many shots as I want without spending any money except on batteries. I'm still figuring out all the settings and getting used to a fully automatic camera. I haven't grown out of the habit of wanting to manually focus, manually adjust the aperture and manually setting shutter speed. I CAN do all of that with this camera, but for now am just having fun composing and viewing the results on the 2.7-inch LCD screen.

All the above is to set up a Baxter photo of the boy looking intently out at the Finley River in Ozark.

Here's what he's looking at:

I've dubbed it the Finley River Monster, or Fermie. It raised up out of the water for only a few seconds and I hurriedly snapped a couple shots. Here's one a bit closer:

Fermie startled me so much I didn't really take time to compose or focus or adjust anything, hence the shaky, blurry photos. Could this be photographic evidence of some ancient elusive creature inhabiting the Finley River? You think anyone would give me a grant for further exploration?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Belated Beagle Blogging

I know, I know. I keep saying I'll have more to say more regularly and then don't follow through. Yes, I annoy me, too.

Chez DocLarryManor is a bit lonely this weekend. Mrs. DocLarry is up north visiting family, Baxter is at summer camp. So, here are a couple photos of the boy to tide you and me over until Wednesday.

Baxter enjoying the lush green grass of someone else's lawn. I can't ever get mine to look this good. Sigh.

Beagle on a mission...finished his patrol of the yard, now it's kibble time!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Et tu, Populus Quero?

I'll leave chastising John Edwards for having an adulterous affair with Rielle Hunter to others. Personally, I don't care that much. I think he did a very dumb thing while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination and am disappointed for that reason. For everything else, it's none of my business.

But I do want to draw attention to the role of the National Enquirer in this, ahem, affair.

During the 1996 campaign, the National Enquirer broke the story that presidential candidate Bob Dole had a long-ago affair that began in 1968.

In 1999, Steve Coz, the National Enquirer's editor, said

any future extramarital exposé "depends a lot on the stance of that politician. If that politician is backed by Jerry Falwell and takes the family-values route, that gets pretty legitimate. But I don't see us pot-shotting extramarital affairs just because it's juicy copy."

Guess that policy must have died when Falwell did.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vicarious Travel Fun

Kids of all ages enjoy watching an odometer turn to a bunch of zeros all in a row. That can be a fun part of summer travel. But with skyrocketing gas prices and an economy in the tank, many families won't be making those long trips.

Never fear...thanks to YouTube you can enjoy an odometer turning over to 200,000 miles (hell, it might be the only time you EVER get to see that!) without leaving home.

But wait! There's more! You'll also see the trip odometer simultaneously turn over to 200!

So gather the kids around the screen and click the play button:

Disappointing Democrat

I helped elect Claire McCaskill in 2006 because I thought she would better represent Missourians. Now, I'm not so sure. Two recent actions are feeding my disappointment in the first-term senator.

McCaskill Urges Anheuser-Busch Board to Reject Offer in which the senator informs us she "sent [a] letter to the Anheuser-Busch board of directors urging them to reject InBev’s offer to purchase the company."

Anheuser-Busch is a big company and can easily make its own business decisions. A U.S. Senator has more important issues to tackle than whether a Belgium brewer is able to buy an American brewer.

Should the government really be involved in this at all?

Then there's this:

Senate passes Bill to educate public on the transition to digital televsion
McCaskill co-sponsors legislation to increase funding for consumer education efforts
With the end of the transition to digital television (DTV) less than eight months away, the United States Senate unanimously passed legislation to invest as much as $9 million on consumer education. The bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, would ensure that more Missourians are prepared for the switch to DTV by providing funding for consumer education and assistance, as well as technological upgrades for smaller television stations.


The DTV Transition Assistance Act, which McCaskill co-sponsored, would allow the National Telecommunication and Information Agency (NTIA) to partner with, and provide grants to, non-profit organizations or public interests groups, for consumer education and technical assistance efforts that target vulnerable populations such as senior citizens, individuals residing in rural areas, and minorities. The legislation has been sent to the House of Representatives where McCaskill hopes it will be quickly approved and sent to the President for his signature. In 2006, Congress dedicated $5 million for consumer education about the DTV transition converter box coupon program.

(I'd love to provide a link, but McCaskill doesn't have this news release on her web site yet.)

Nine million dollars is a drop in the bucket of the U.S. budget. But this $9 million is a complete waste.

In February, Reuters reported:
Consumer awareness of the transition to digital television (DTV) grew 80 percent since 2006, according to new market research released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA(R)).

The event featured Commerce Secretary Carols M. Gutierrez, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin, and executives from CEA, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and Best Buy, each discussing their efforts to educate consumers about the transition.

"The digital television transition is on time, on track and consumers understand that it is coming next year," said Jason Oxman, vice president, communications and member relations, CEA. "Our survey results show the joint educational efforts of government and the private sector are working, and the digital television transition will be a success. CEA's research revealed that the top sources consumers are using to learn about the transition include television (72%), family and friends (39%) and the Internet (26%)."

Note the above group includes two government agencies, three industry trade groups, and a big box retailer, all saying consumer awareness of the digital transition is way up. So why does McCaskill want to spend another $9 million of taxpayer dollars to solve a problem two government agencies, three trade groups and a big box retailer all say doesn't exist?

The National Association of Broadcasters released its own survey results in January (pdf):
Consumer awareness of the federally-mandated transition to digital television (DTV) has grown substantially over the past year, reaching 79 percent according to a survey commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

The survey, which was conducted in January 2008, includes a national sample of television households including those that rely solely on over-the-air television signals. Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported that they have “seen, read or heard something about the February 17, 2009 transition to digital television.”

Awareness was even greater among exclusively over-the-air households, where 83 percent of respondents reported they are aware of the transition. Overall, consumer awareness has more than doubled since January 2007 when an NAB survey asking the same question found that only 38 percent of consumers were aware of the transition.

At its annual convention, NAB's president said "every household in America would be hit with 642 messages on the digital TV transition and what it means, by the time Feb. 18 of next year arrives."

Broadcasters, cable operators, and consumer electronics retailers all have an incentive to make sure every television user is aware of the transition to digital television. Additional taxpayer funding isn't necessary, no matter how much or how little the amount.

With these two actions, Claire McCaskill has confirmed the stereotype conservatives like to place upon Democrats: they want to tax and spend, and have the government insert itself into everything.

Missouri, and America, deserves better.

[cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We Don't Know How Well-Off We Are

Found this over at Watching Those We Chose:
Conservative columnist George Will claims average Americans “are better off today than they were in 2000-2001.” This despite all evidence to the contrary.

Since Will is never wrong, this homeless veteran must be better off:

And so are these laid-off workers.

And the family who used to live in this house.

And certainly those in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward are better off.

Every average American is certainly better off at the pump today than they were in 2000-2001.
So, quitchyerbitchin.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summer Plans?

I'm sure the massive increase in the price of gas is having an impact on summer travel.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - More than half of Americans will not be taking a summer holiday this year, opting instead to stay home and save money as the US economy slumps, a survey published Wednesday showed.
What about you? How has the high price of fuel affected your plans? A certain news operation wants to know.

He's Not Dead Yet

I'm sorry Sen. Ted Kennedy has brain cancer. And yes, the story IS news. But the man is NOT dead yet. So could the media please stop eulogizing him?

BOSTON - After the Boston Red Sox's 86-year span without a World Series championship, perhaps the most familiar streak in Massachusetts is the half-century that a Kennedy has represented the state in the U.S. Senate.

Now, the news that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has a cancerous brain tumor is forcing people to contemplate the day when he will no longer be there.
It can't be helping his morale.

Blue Girl has more.

More and Better Democrats

This is just...oh, I don't know. Embarrassing is too tame. Frustrating, certainly. Disgusting? Still not strong enough. Aggravating...

WASHINGTON - The House overwhelmingly rejected President Bush's veto Wednesday of a $290 billion farm bill, but what should have been a stinging defeat for the president became an embarrassment for Democrats.

Only hours before the House's 316-108 vote, Bush had vetoed the five-year measure, saying it was too expensive and gave too much money to wealthy farmers when farm incomes are high. The Senate then was expected to follow suit quickly.

Action stalled, however, after the discovery that Congress had omitted a 34-page section of the bill when lawmakers sent the massive measure to the White House.

That means Bush vetoed a different bill from the one Congress passed, raising questions that the eventual law would be unconstitutional. Republicans objected when Democrats proposed passing the missing section separately and sending that to Bush.

Bush has only used 10 vetoes, and Congress has only once been able to override a veto. Perhaps it's time to elect some new Democrats.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Circuit City Challenges FCC

This could prove interesting:

Big box electronics retailer, Circuit City, has filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission claiming the agency is working outside its jurisdiction over retail labeling. As part of the upcoming DTV transition next February, the FCC last May, adopted a rule requiring retailers to label TVs with only analog (NTSC) tuners as incompatible with digital television (DTV) broadcasts. Last month the FCC issued nearly $4 billion dollars in fines to various retailers across the US for failing apply the labels to their products. According to the retailer, Circuit City's share of the fines, which amount to $712,000 should be dismissed because the FCC doesn't have any jurisdiction to enforce the rule. According to the filing, "Circuit City made extensive and good faith efforts to comply with this unprecedented regulation despite lack of notice or baseline for compliance." The company claims that errors were made by regulators in assessing the fines. Circuit City also alleges the agency acted improperly by not asking for public comment prior to setting the policy, an area of law typically associated with the Federal Trade Commission. If the claims are rejected by FCC officials, the company could file a lawsuit to have the rule invalidated in federal court.
You don't suppose Circuit City didn't label those analog TVs properly on purpose, do you?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Because We Still Have Free Time

I wonder how long before this appears somewhere in the states?

TWO Belgian beer fans have launched a video game named Place to Pee, which allows players to fly down ski slopes or kill aliens while relieving themselves at urinals.

Werner Dupont, a software developer and Bart Geraets, an electrical engineer, got the idea while drinking beers.

The Place to Pee' booth is designed for two users at a time and offers two games - blowing up aliens in outer space or skiing down a virtual slope.

Gamers hit their target by aiming at sensors positioned on either side of the urinal.

A specially designed paper cone allows women to play too, the inventors say.

Their Place to Pee logo resembles Manneken Pis, the little urinating boy fountain that is among Brussels' top sightseeing attractions.

Piano Playing

I found this several months ago. It's cute.

My Father's Eyes, Part II

My father's Parkinson's has progressed to a point where my mother can no longer take care of him by herself. An infection put him in the hospital for awhile, and then into a long-term care facility. Mrs. DocLarry and I paid a visit to him shortly after he'd been moved to the "facility." He was extremely unhappy, and I can't say as I blame him. Most of the "patients" appeared to be waiting to die. It was not a pleasant place.

My mother, having recognized her inability to care for my father alone, and not wanting to be on her own either, finally decided they should both move in with my brother for a while. He lives nearby and is very willing to take them in. But he lives in a split-level house, which means my father is limited to staying upstairs. It's certainly better than the "facility" he'd been in, but it is also not the ideal place for him.

Still, my father is happier, my mother doesn't have to go it alone, and my brother is being the good son. It's a start.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tube of Plenty (or not)

The TV news producing bidness can be very taxing. One only has a finite amount of time in which to squeeze news of the day. The problem may be exacerbated by the finicky news goddess who seems to prefer feast or famine, but nothing in between.

Tonight is a great example of feast: a sweeps package running nearly 4 minutes, a franchise package running 2:30, a night-side reporter package also running 2:30, a city council meeting, high school graduations, two weekend stabbings, two gubernatorial candidates in town. Typically, I've got about 9 minutes for actual news content. The three packages took all of it. Sports was full, but I could steal a little from weather.

Fortunately, I've learned a bit from Mervin Block, writing and rewriting until the stories were short, sharp, and strong (I hope). The result was a packed, but informative cast. At least I hope so.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Helter Skelter, Gravel-style

Yeah, I know...long time no blog. Trip out on this video featuring Sen. Mike Gravel. Charles Manson stole it from the Beatles. U2 stole it back. I'm not sure WHAT Gravel is doing with it.

Seriously, I'm impressed by the video, especially Gravel's willingness to play-along. Not sure if other candidates could pull this off. Gravel has always marched to his own beat in the campaign. Perhaps this is a sign of campaigns to come?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Beagle Blogging

Baxter enjoys sleeping sideways in his bed. It's not that he shifts around to get into this position. He'll walk over to the bed and purposely lie down this way. Perhaps in this case it was to catch the little bit of sunshine on his head. They say you can keep your feet warm by keeping your head warm. Wise old beagle.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Childhood Memories

I remember when this photo first appeared in newspapers and news magazines. The iconic 1960s photo of a Vietnam War protester placing flowers in soldiers' gun barrels at a rally was taken by Bernie Boston. The retired newspaper photographer has died at age 74.

Boston's photograph, "Flower Power," was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. He took the picture at a war protest in Washington on Oct. 22, 1967. He covered every president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton.

It's a pity we don't have similar anti-war protests today. The war is out of sight, out of mind for far too many people. Heck, I produce a daily newscast and rarely include war news stories. How dramatically different than previous wars.

Friday, February 01, 2008

News Tip

If you want news media to take you seriously and cover your event, make sure you have correct information in your news release. Received the following just moments ago:

PRESS CALL: Fixing the Housing Crisis
Housing experts and economists to discuss solutions to the current crisis

WHEN: Monday, February 1, 2008 at 12:00 PM EDT

(emphasis added)
So is the event on Monday, or on February 1?

Friday Beagle Blogging

Must keep Granny and Strannix happy!

The boy likes to patrol the yard as part of his daily job, which is to keep the elephants out of the neighborhood.

And no, the photo was not taken this week. Baxter doesn't care for the snow, thankyouverymuch.

The Surge is Working?

News item from the BBC caught my attention:

Two bombs in busy Baghdad animal markets have killed at least 64 people.

An Iraqi official said the devices were attached to two women with learning disabilities, and detonated remotely.

Maybe I've missed it, but the use of "women with learning disabilities" to likely unknowingly carry bombs to be detonated remotely is new to me. If this behavior is what the surge has produced I think the world would be better without it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Few, The Proud, The Gullible

It seems the Nigerian businessman/government official has enlisted in the U.S. Marines and is now serving in Iraq:

From: Lieutenant Colonel William Adams
Subject: Re:From Lieutenant Colonel William Adams{A US MARINE IN IRAQ}

Attention Please!!!

Greetings to you!

I am Lieutenant Colonel William Adams...a US MARINE in Iraq.As you may Know,there areseveral cases of insurgents attacks and suicide bombing going on here.However We managed to move funds belonging to some deceased persons who were attacked and killed through insurgent attacks.The total amount is US$25 Million dollars in cash.

We want to move this money to you so that you may keep our share for us untill when we shall come over to meet You. We will take 70%, my partner and I while you take 30%.No strings attached.Just help us move it out of Iraq as Iraq we all know is a war zone.Note that We plan to use the British Diplomatic courier in shipping the money out in two large metallic Boxes,using diplomatic immunity.If you are interested I will send you the full details.

My job is to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us. Can I trust you? When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick communication and also your contact details. This business is risk free. Get back to me immediately for more directives.

Lieutenant Colonel Williams Adams

I had no idea the Marines used a dot com URL. But this marine is serving under the influence (Lit.Col.William). And this scheme of his doesn't sound very honorable. But at least we're assured the money comes from people attacked and killed through insurgent attacks.

Would accepting this offer be considered supporting the troops?

Holocaust Survivor Stepping Down

The only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress is retiring.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rep. Tom Lantos, who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and is the only Holocaust survivor elected to the Congress, on Wednesday said he has been diagnosed with cancer and will not seek re-election in November.

The 79-year-old California Democrat, who was born in Hungary and twice escaped Nazi labor camps, said he will serve the remainder of his 14th term, which ends in January 2009.

In announcing he has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and would end his House career at the end of his term, Lantos reflected on his life.

"It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress," Lantos said.

Shortly after Lantos came to Congress in 1981, he pushed for legislation granting honorary U.S. citizenship to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. That came nearly four decades after Wallenberg protected Lantos and other occupants of an apartment building from Nazi arrest.

Throughout his congressional career, Lantos was an outspoken critic of international human rights abuses.

Lantos helped win passage in 2002 of a congressional resolution authorizing the U.S. attack on Iraq that unfolded the following year. More recently, Lantos has been critical of the "U.S. involvement in the civil war in Iraq."

When Democrats gained majority control of the House a year ago, Lantos used his new position as chairman of the foreign affairs panel to conduct oversight of the Iraq war, including a high-profile hearing last September on progress from the U.S. troop increase.
Of course, Bradley Smith, David Duke, and Hutton Gibson all deny the existence of of Rep. Lantos, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary.