Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tales from the Road(way Inn)

(Rodeway Inn Central, Charlotte, NC)

Traveling is an adventure for me because I do just enough of it to appreciate coming home after a few days. Case in point, tonight I am writing to you from a hotel room near downtown Charlotte, N.C.

Normally I stay at the finest Five-Star establishments, of course, but I thought I would “rough it” this trip, save the company a little expense money, and remember how the other-half lives.

I am in Charlotte for the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters, or “bros-casters,” as the little kid used to mis-pronounce it on the old TV ads in the ‘60’s. Going to see what’s in, what’s new, what’s hip and what’s happenin’ on the professional Radio scene. Hope to see some old friends here, too.

The trip did not begin well.
I lived one of those airline horror stories you’ve heard ab
out lately. Not nearly as severe as Jet Blue’s Valentine’s Day meltdown, but enough of an issue to share with you.

The original flight out of Houston was delayed 15-minutes, and then another five.
No biggie.
I am one of the most laid-back travelers you’ll ever meet. I am generally asleep by the time we make the take-off run and rotation of the nose into the sky. It just doesn’t bug me.

A malfunctioning aircraft, however, does get my attention, and when the Gate Attendant announced we were changing planes because of an “equipment failure” on our jet, I simply shrugged and thanked the Lord they discovered the problem before the nose of the plane was in the air.

So they herded us like cattle across the terminal, down a pair of escalators, into a part of the airport I’d never see before. I had to look around and make sure I was still at Bush International, because we were suddenly in this third-world looking steel and aluminum corridor with exposed beams and raw air conditioning ducts, and we’re walking on the ground level of the airport.

We’re looking up at the planes, and there are none of those automated gateways that roll out to meet an aircraft at flight deck level.
We’re on the ground.

We walked up the steps into the plane, just like on Air Force One.
(I did not turn and wave to the crowd. There wasn’t one.)

And it was a tiny, commuter jet.

At least it got us to Charlotte.
Unfortunately, it did not bring our luggage with us.

So I arrived in Charlotte with nothing by the shirt on my back (which sounds like a great opening line for a novel)…and my laptop, the bag for which I would never check on an airline. All of my other clothes and "needful things" were somewhere in that great baggage claim in the sky, or perhaps behind those mysterious plastic flaps in the claim terminal.

Anyway, the airline promised to have my bag delivered to my hotel by 10pm.
We’ll see.

The cabbie I hired to take me to the hotel stopped at a drugstore along the way for a box of Prilosec and some post-op necessities.
I may sleep in my street clothes tonight, but I won’t have indigestion.

I like to explore when I visit different cities.
This drives my Bride crazy when she reads about it, so don’t tell her that I walked down the road a few blocks, past an old WW1 training camp memorial, to a vintage, 1946 Dairy Queen that was humming with
business. (Don't worry, Babe, it was next door to a Fire Station full of Paramedics.)

I had noticed it when the cab drove past enroute to the hotel. A classic piece of Americana: Blue and white checkerboard ceramic tiles on the front of the store, with polished aluminum sills, and a rounded-corner wrap-around awning across the front and sides.
And up on top, that grinning Eskimo girl...

As I walked up to the serving window, a family of seven spilled out of a mini-van in the parking lot and ambled up to the menu for an after-church snack on a moonlit Wednesday evening in their neighborhood. Another customer walked up, still wearing exercise clothes from a workout at the gym.

When I asked how long the Dairy Queen had been here, she said she couldn’t remember when it wasn’t—that it had always been a fixture in the area.

It was worth the walk up the hill to see, and the milkshake I bought almost lasted all the way back to the hotel.
Where the baggage had still not arrived…

Texas and The Big Beat

Drummer Liberty DeVitto was my special guest on this morning’s show, with talk about the music business and a project in which he’s involved to promote music education above and beyond what’s available in public schools.

DeVitto wanted to be a drummer the moment he saw The Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan's show. I was similarly moved, but had already been bitten by the beat-bug at an earlier age through exposure to music by my father, a high school band director.

Our lives took different paths:
Liberty DeVitto played gigs as a teenager all over his region, eventually running into a singing piano player by the name of Billy Joel. The rest is musical history.
I drummed my way through the public school music programs, but set my sights on becoming a Radio broadcaster.
In both of our lives, the beat goes on.

Despite pooh-pooh’s from jocks and the more physically adroit, music provides some very direct, demonstrable benefits to participants in organized band, orchestra and choir performance programs. (By the way, jocks, strap a bass-drum to your carcass and briskly walk up and down a football field with that extra weight for 12-minutes, and then let’s talk about being physically adroit. And staying on the beat. And keeping in step with the rest of the group. Seriously. It’s harder than it looks.)

Arts students outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT, according to reports by the College Entrance Examination Board. The National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts noted that in 2005, SAT takers experienced in music performance scored 56 points higher on the verbal portion of the test, and 39 points higher on the math portion, than students with no exposure or participation in the arts.

Teachers know that Music is one of the seven intelligences identified in the brain, and the only one that utilizes all of them simultaneously. Music participants, therefore, exercise more of their brain than in any other course they take in school.

You can boil-down the benefits from music education into four key areas:

Greater success in school
Greater success in society
Greater success in developing intelligence
Greater success in life

I have three corollaries for life from my humble experiences in the school band programs:

The Show Must Go On
This has applied directly to my career in broadcasting.
When an ensemble is rehearsed, and the audience is in place, the show must go on.
If you’re sick, suck it up.
If you’re delayed, hurry it up.
Once the commitment to perform has been made, nothing should come between you and your contract with the public.

We run a Radio network.
We attract listeners with the content we produce and provide, and there is a reasonable expectation on the part of that audience that we will deliver each day, without fail. Showing up for shifts is essential. The Show must go on.

The Beat goes on
Regardless of your role in any organization, you make a mark.
It can be a good mark, or a not so good one. But which ever way you pass, it will be forever changed by you having been there.
People will remember.

The High School bands in which I participated were amazing little subcultures; social microcosms with function, and purpose, and whether we knew it or not, a heritage. Over three decades later, that heritage of excellence in performance, of belonging to a whole, and genuine appreciation for group effort, still exists in that high school band program.

Part of the credit goes to the wonderful music educators who worked their labors of love with those band kids over the years. The other half of the equation consists of the students themselves, who even as teenagers recognized the importance of being a part of that organization.The beat is alive and pounding mightily in that band program even today, and thousands of kids are better citizens in their communities because they were part of that rich experience.

You’re only as Good as Your Last Performance
In my Freshman year of High School, our marching band completely lost it on the field during a half time performance. It was a mess. The films we watched the following Monday were even worse than we feared: lines and columns and diagonals crisply lined up, in an instant disintegrated into chaos and embarrassment. We tracked it back to one horn player, missing a counter-march by one beat, and the domino effect took over. For the Seniors in the band, it was particularly humiliating. Underclassmen had another chance to redeem their reputations.

In Radio, each day is another opportunity to prove we’ve got the chops to present quality content to you. It’s also another chance to fail. I’m sure it’s that way in your profession, too, regardless of what you do. You’re only as good as your last sale, your most recent presentation, the latest deal you closed.

That’s why the Show Must Go On.
That’s why the Beat Goes On.
And that is why music education was such an important part of my life.

Coda: Special thanks to my son, Adam Clanton, for preparing the stellar music beds for this morning's interview with Liberty DeVitto. Adam is an accomplished drummer, as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Coming to America

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday challenged the audience at Columbia University to look into "who was truly involved" in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, while defending his right to question established Holocaust history, and denying the existence of gay Iranians.

He must also believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and have friends renting space in Area 51.

The Iranian head of state was chagrinned over his treatment on campus, which he considered disrespectful. That comes with the territory, and he's not getting any better or worse treatment than President Bush receives from 70% of the American public on any given day.

Get over it.
This is what freedom of speech is all about--and why Ahmadinejad was able to speak from the stage of the University in the first place. What was hoped by the Iranian government to be a political coup in fact became an occasion for international embarassment of its leader.

Today California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign legislation prohibiting that state's investments in companies doing business with Iran because of its support of terrorists.
Say what you want; actions speak louder than words.
On both sides of the ocean.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dancing with the Devil

There is a lot of criticism being heaped upon Columbia University for inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad to speak on campus. University Dean John Coatsworth has defended the invitation by remarking he’d have invited Adolph Hitler to speak, where at least the architect of The Holocaust would’ve been put up for rational scrutiny.


Hitler’s position on world affairs of the time have been pretty soundly scrutinized. Neville Chamberlain’s hollow “peace in our time” statement is now an epitaph for the failures of diplomacy and reasoned discourse with unreasonable men.

How ironic that Dean Coatsworth would mention Hitler and Ahmadinejad in the same breath; The Iranian President denies The Holocaust ever took place. Depending upon how the next few days go in New York City, Ahmadinejad may deny this visit ever took place, as well.

Marcel Marceau

One of the greatest artists of our time now belongs to the ages. Marcel Marceau, the genius mime artist, has passed. He was 80.

His face was an enigma, even though his mask was infamous. He could express a full range of human emotions without uttering a word—an impossibility for Radio folks.

I hope that we will learn more about his life in coming weeks: his work with the French Resistance in WW-II, and how he used the experiences of that time in his life to prepare for his role as the world’s best ambassador for humanity.

All the world’s a stage, but it’s a little emptier tonight with his passing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Face of Evil

Watching Ken Burns’ new production, “The War,” on PBS Sunday night, I was struck with a few thoughts. The ambitions of Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito were to rule the world in their own way: Hitler’s purge of “lesser races,” Mussolini’s dream to resurrect the Roman Empire, and the covetous Emperor worship of the Japanese, all combined into a perfect storm of destruction on every continent, save the Americas.

Ironic, don’t you think, that the very world these megalomaniacs wished to rule was methodically destroyed by their zeal for domination?

Just an hour before, I watched as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad danced around Scott Pelle’s intense questioning about motives and ambitions for Iran. He shrugged off direct questions about Iran’s supply of weapons to Iraqi insurgents, the implements of war that are claiming US military lives. Ahmadenijad’s cold, dark eyes that peered into the camera mirrored the same, manic gaze seen in Hitler’s face in the newsreels. The Iranian president’s smirk seemed to mimic the impudent expression on the face of Il Duce. And the Facist mantra echoes the chants captured in the soundtracks of Burns’ documentary on the evil architects of the Second World War.

Ahmadenijad cannot understand why the American people would be offended by his visit to the World Trade Center in New York this week, the site of the 21st Century equivalent of Pearl Harbor.

Wonder if Pelle was aware of the irony, seated across from a man who embodied the characteristics of all three Axis leaders, rolled into one.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Road Test Reprise: '07 Toyota Avalon

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to test-drive the 2007 Toyota Avalon for a week.
My Bride and I took it on a weekend trip to Central Texas, during which we put the car through the kind of paces you and I would normally expect: keeping up with traffic on the highway, trying not to get hit by drunks, and dealing with the stop and go routine in the smaller towns along the way.

The Avalon performed flawlessly, and we were sorry to turn it back in after only a week.

This weekend we had another shot at the '07 Avalon, and this is where my job sometimes becomes dangerous. The warning signs are when other members of the family begin to bond with the automobile. (The last time this happened, when I tested a Scion Xb, my son capped off the weekend by buying a Scion Tc.)

My wife has taken command of the Avalon this weekend. You know it’s serious when she moves all three purses from one car to another, along with sunglasses and make up accoutrements. Her vehicle was relegated to the off-site parking garage, and she directed the comings and goings of the Avalon all weekend long.

Can’t say I blame her.
The second time around with this vehicle has been delightful. The Avalon’s silky-smooth 8-speed automatic transmission is married to a 3.5-litre V-6. It is sleek, silent and agile, and shatters the old convention that Toyota’s are austere getabouts for the proletariat classes.

The Limited edition of the Avalon seems limitless—with plush leather seats, a voice-command navigation system, and specially-coated glass to resisted solar radiation.

The Avalon is also a fine rebuttal that Toyota is a foreign-made car: This model was conceived, designed, and engineered in Newport Beach, California, and assembled at Toyota's production facility in Georgetown, Kentucky.
It's made in America, baby!

My Bride fell in love with the pearly paint.
I was impressed that this luxurious Toyota looks great, drives crisply, and still gets 30mph.
She wants to buy it.
The very car I am testing, complete with 8,900-miles on it.
This is a year-old car, and it’s still exciting to drive.

Can’t wait for the ‘08’s to hit the street.
Hope my bride can.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I really don’t consider myself much of a whiner.
Don’t like to complain, although you will agree, if you’ve been visiting here for very long, when I see a problem worth honking about, it will receive a work-over.

So I’ve just spent the better part of this week wrestling with an on-going issue with my cellphone. Frankly, my life would be much more serene without cellphones. Not necessarily more productive, or better, or worse…but assuredly more serene.

My cellphone is pretty amazing, actually.
It’s a Blackberry Pearl (not the more obtrusive “crackberry” that VIP’s and politicians have had surgically attached to their hands). It was a gift from my Bride on our 27th Wedding Anniversary last year, intended to replace my bulky, cantankerous Sprint-Nextel phone and less relevant Palm Pilot. Two lumps of plastic combined into one.

Unfortunately, there were twice as many challenges in getting both communicators’ modes and databases to synch smoothly into the new device. Only took a month to work it out…which brings us to the past few days’ adventures with the Blackberry (which I’ve seriously considered renaming “raspberry.”)

The fool phone wouldn’t synch with my Outlook Contacts.
We tried everything.
Called in the techies we use at the office to help diagnose the source of the problem…to no avail. Finally ended up getting a replacement phone and SIM card, as well as reloading desktop software for the Blackberry on my laptop.
I spent so much time in front of that screen, I’ve gotten a tan.

In all fairness to AT&T, they’ve been terrific, once I got in front of someone who could help me. (Note to The New AT&T: your in-store customer pre-screening routine leaves much room for improvement.) I walked out the door with a new SIM card, phone, and Bluetooth ear piece…and finally solved the synch problem.

It was an issue with Outlook all along.
Thanks, Bill Gates. Richest guy on the planet, but his software causes untold losses in time and energy each week worth millions of dollars in lost productivity…

The final straw for me last night came when I was finalizing all the re-sets on the Blackberry. Personalizing ring tones, adding contact photos, and setting up alarms and alerts. Could not “pair” the Bluetooth headset to the phone after repeated tries. Got all the way to the point of getting the phone to recognize the earpiece, and discovered my replacement had not been issued with a key number for final activation.

I nearly chucked the whole thing into the duck pond behind the house...which would have qualified it for "quackberry" status. No wonder my life would be more serene with out my cellphone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Political Star Wars

Today is the second day of congressional hearings on the very high levels of lead found in some toys.

Watch for additional recalls of toys with lead-contaminated paint in "the coming weeks…" and lawmakers are shocked to learn some sets sold separately, not in all stores, batteries not included.

The pre-presidential races continue to degrade…the name-calling phase has now begun, with Hillary Clinton calling Vice President Dick Cheney “Darth Vader.”

Careful, there, saddle-bags, you’re not exactly Princess Leia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Newtonian Economics 101

Yesterday afternoon, I swear I heard Martha and The Vandella’s singing “Dancing in the Streets” as the Fed dropped interest rates a half-percent, bowing to the howls of the Wall Street crowd. The S&P 500 closed with a nearly 3% gain, and the Dow rocketed over 300-points, landing somewhere north of 13,700. Hope you’re happy.

Six and a half years ago, the Fed began to cut rates, dropping from 6.5% to 1% by the middle of 2003. The S&P 500 lost half of its value as a result. I’m not going to be a nattering naybob of negativity here, but just telling it like it is.

Anytime you have a 332-point rally in the Dow in one day, there is going to be a corresponding dive. Has to happen. Newtonian economics dictate what goes up, must come down, and there is a proportionality involved in the rate of climb and descent. So, be careful what you ask for.

Several really smart people with whom we talk regularly believe yesterday’s adjustment is a short term victory at best. The lower rates may assuage the effects of any recessionary inclinations, but hand in hand with the dropping of rates is the loss of value in the Dollar.

This is disconcerting because as the value of the Dollar declines, the cost of things important to you and me, like, say, oil for example, is going to go up. While commodities traders and Exxon stock holders love it when oil runs at $80+ a barrel, such pricing is fueling the flames of inflation (apologies for the pun-ish metaphor)…and wasn’t that what the Fed was allegedly trying to avoid with its Monetary Policy?

Interestingly, when oil was in the $70’s, and gasoline was $3/gal, the US economy still managed to hum right along. Perhaps that elusive pain threshold may be crossed at $85-bbl and $3.50/gal. Then again, maybe not. Even OPEC last week admitted $80 oil is an unsustainable price point.

Another fear being expressed is that as the Dollar’s value diminishes, holders of US debt may be tempted to cash-out. True enough, but to which other currency might they flee? Trading Dollars for Euros or Dollars for Yen or Rupees is not too sexy.

Might a weaker Dollar make it more difficult for the Government to fund its debts (which are really our debt), thus causing bonds yields to go up? What do you think will happen if yesterday’s cuts don’t work, and Ben and the Boys and Girls have to adjust rates downward? ‘Tis a slippery slope…

Maybe it was the bond traders that were dancing with Martha yesterday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CNN Gets it Half-Right

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
--Thomas H. Huxley

Dick Uliano on CNN this morning, first rattle out of the box, said the Fed lowering interest rates would lower credit card rates. Sounds like Dick had a brain uliano.

Overnight rates will NOT adjust credit card payments…and it’s not going to lower mortgage rates, either. This whole scenario is so bizarre…the news media just blathers nonsense, and no one catches it.

To be fair, Dick ran a re-write later in the morning, noting that credit card rates might come down as the banks which issue those credit cards generally follow the Fed's lead, and drop their rates when the Fed does. Then he said mortgage rates would fall when the Fed cut rates...Wrong-o.

Very few mortages are tied to the Prime rate. It's the LIBOR that really is the one to watch for those rates, and the Fed has nothing to do with LIBOR--the London Interbank Offering Rate, which is a filtered average of inter-bank deposit rates offered by contributor banks. LIBOR loans have maturities ranging from overnight to one year. The 6-monnth LIBOR, for example, is used as an index for some US mortgages, especially those with less-than-stellar credit.

Here’s an AP story that ran just moments ago on the wires:
"Oil prices climbed to a new high, above $81 a barrel, on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut a key interest rate later today, a measure that has the potential to bolster the economy and strengthen petroleum demand in the world’s largest energy consumer."

That’s really just a shade of grey.
Does lowering the overnight funds rate have the potential to bolster the economy? I don’t think so, Tim. Even if the Fed drops interest a half-percent, to 4.75%, what’s it going to do to your life? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

The Fed lowering rates is only going to pander to the weak in spirit and fragile of faith on Wall Street, where the greed factor has been dialed up to 11 for the past several years, and the quest for higher earnings obliterated the common sense issues.

Things like not lending money to people who can’t pay it back...
Not giving a mortgage to someone who cannot verify income...
Lending 100% on a house, when it’s value continues to diminish...
Lending money to someone with zero down—no skin in the game, and no incentive to stick when the going gets a little rocky...

All the Fed is going to do today—if it decides to lower interest rates—is salve the nerves of bankers who knew they were making skanky loans when they cut the deals, and now they’re in trouble. There is a degree of irony here that the same banks that forced through tougher bankruptcy laws last year, making it more difficult for debtors to discharge their debts, now have their banks against the wall (due to an unprecedented level of stupidity in their underwriting) and are squirming for relief.

As my friend Randy Tumlinson likes to tell his high school classes, "Irony, irony, better than macaroni."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stuff This: Thwarting Credit Card Offers

I've been keeping score lately of all the crap that's mailed to me from various points around the country, and dutifully delivered to my mailbox out by the street. The Direct Marketing industry must be really flush this year, because there is a bumper crop of this stuff being stuffed into my box.

Offers from credit cards are particular irritants to me. They come flaunting zero-percent interest (read the fine-print) and fee-free cash transers (read it again), and they include some handy, pre-printed checks you could write out on the spot for some instant cash to spend on what ever you want (ibid, the fine print).

I find these irritating because in addition to being addressed to me and every other member of my family, they're also coming addressed to people who used to live at this address, as well as non-humans who live here, a.k.a, my dog.
Sophie Clanton.
Sounds realistic enough.
Maybe even a little exotic.
She might look a little like that fetching Sophie Marceau in that James Bond movie a few years back.

The reality is Sophie Clanton is a dog, literally, and as for fetching, she doesn't understand the word, much less the concept. Certainly doesn't understand the terms and conditions of credit cards that are coming in her name, fine print and all.

Stupid banks.
They'll give a credit card to anyone, no questions asked.
College Students.
Dead people.
They did it so much, and to so many people, some of which were deadbeats and took advantage of the offers, that the banks began to sustain some losses (NO!) and had to rein-in the problem.
Did they stop issuing offers? No.
Did they start charging more interest to make up the difference on their losses? No.
They engineered new bankruptcy laws so that people couldn't as easily welch on their debt.
And they continue to paper mailboxes with their clever offers.

You must destroy those offers when they arrive.
I prefer to open and shred them on the spot, standing over the kitchen garbage.
No better place for a credit card offer than nestled snuggly between watermelon rinds and a package of hotdog buns that went moldy before their exporation date.

There is also a way to stop these before they even reach your mailbox. Before they even print up the address lables. Yes, you, too, can thwart the most persistent, blood-sucking mass-mail marketer by simply adding your name to the list of folks who'd rather not receive this stuff.

Here's how: is a website set up by the Consumer Credit Reporting industry to enable folks like you and me to lighten the load of our postal carriers, and reduce the mass of mailed-in offers to your box.

And think of the trees you'll save...doggone it.

Weekend Recap

Is there a screw loose somewhere in O.J.Simpson’s head? He’s in jail in Las Vegas in connection with an alleged armed robbery involving sports memorabilia at a casino-hotel.

Simpson is being held without bail on robbery and assault charges. Saturday night, he was captured on video, whistling "If I Only Had a Brain," as he entered a limo following a wedding in 'Vegas.
How prophetic.

Maybe he’ll use the jail time wisely… perhaps to work on a second book, “If I Stole It…”

Caught the new Jodie Foster film, "The Brave One," over the weekend. Hope John Hinkley, Jr. gets to see it; might make him think twice about ever trying to impress her again.

This is a very disturbing movie on a lot of levels.

First, it's quite violent. I don't recommend it for young teens (I know, I know, they see worse on network TV and some video games). The portrayal of the violence, and the premeditation that is depicted, however, is really intense.

Secondly, the metamorphosis of the character Foster portrays is creepy. You can see her sheding layers of civility and self-restraint with each sequential act of revenge. The director of the film, Neil Jordan, reportedly said working with Ms. Foster on this movie was eery because she was able to tap into a true, dark side of herself in her portrayal.

The third aspect of "The Brave One" that I find deeply troubling is how many people are resonating with its message. There was actual applause at one point during the screening I attended, as the audience connected with the character's need to avenge the death of her fiancee. We can all relate to that emotion.

No one wants to see a loved one harmed, certainly not bludgeoned to death, as was the case in this film. There is a line of thought that asks, however, whether we become no better than the attackers when we seek to avenge a murder (or any other wrongs against us.)

But deep within us there is also a place that even subconsciously judges between right and wrong. We know the difference between good and evil, and keep a tally of the points between us and everyone else. Some of us can withstand more abuse than others. I am not sure how I would respond in the same situation.

I do know this--if thugs knew there was a chance of such retribution--an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a bullet for a mugging and a crowbar in the skull for bruising society with criminal activity--there'd be fewer inmates in our prisons, and a lot less crime to deal with by police.

I am not advocating vigilante justice or circumventing the courts. But if the bad guys knew more citizens were packing heat and willing to use it, I'm guessing a lot less stealing and robbing, raping and devilment would occur in the first place.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bolshevik Bombs Away

Russia says it has built the "dad of all bombs,” after successfully testing what the Ruskies boast to be the "world's most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb."

The military claims the bomb is as efficient and effective as a nuclear weapon, but doesn't harm the environment as a nuke would.

Glad to hear that.
Heaven forbid someone bomb an enemy back to the Stone Age and harm the environment.

Rhetorical Question: If you blow away a country, is there anyone left to care about the ecosystem there?

Of course, if the Russian’s are just full of hot Vodka, this thing could be the dud of all bombs…

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nine-Eleven Plus Six

You’re going to see and hear and read a lot about 9/11 today.
I want you to soak it all in.

Six years after the cowardly attacks on civilized society by Al Qaida in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, the rawness is beginning to scab over. It seems some Americans with thicker skin, shorter memories, and harder skulls, have taken to bashing our politicians for the horrific events on that fateful day.
They need to be fitted with tin hats, too.

The reality is that our nation was attacked by a fanatical enemy that observes no rules of war, is fearless in his execution of all plans, and remorseless of innocents caught in the crossfire.

For my friends, Greg and Lauren Manning, the date is a distant one on the calendar, but fresh as yesterday in their minds. Lauren is still mending from unimaginable burns sustained when a fireball of jet fuel blew out of an elevator shaft in WTC-1, engulfing her in flames. Their love for one another is what sustained her through the months of agony and pain…plus the prayers and cares of friends, and some pretty amazing doctors, too.

Their ordeal makes the little inconveniences we must deal with in a post-9/11 world pale in comparison. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get incensed over the ridiculous rituals we must endure to get on an airplane these days, or into a public facility, or even attend a high school football game.

The bastards that hit us on 9/11 found the one weakness that they could easily exploit: Our boundless capacity to trust people, befriend strangers, and think the best of our fellow man until proven otherwise. Guess we got plenty of proof that there are people who should not be trusted.

We have learned to doubt, to question, to suspect, to distrust.
We have learned to pack light, dress loosely, and clip our nails before leaving home.

We have endured x-rays, metal detectors, and chemical sniffers at the courthouse, the White House, and in some extreme cases, the school house.

We are not a nation in fear, but in a heightened state of awareness.
In God we still trust, but we lock our cars, carry more mace, and in Texas, are licensed to pack heat.

Like Americans after Pearl Harbor, we are a nation of innocence lost with the innocents lost. Our Day of Infamy came early in the new Century, and will follow us who witnessed it with our eyes to the grave with an unspeakable sense of loss, outrage, and un-avenged abhorrence of those who engineered the strike on our homeland. And I think the next person to says to me “we got what we deserved” will need to move quickly away from my personal space.

How do we heal the scars and the scabs from the horrors of the past six years? Like those war-weary Americans of generations past, we pick ourselves up, flick off the dust of pulverized buildings, and rebuild on the exact spot a lasting memorial to those who died, and an inspiration to those who remain behind.

I ran across a poem a few weeks back, written by Marion Mahoney in 2005, called “A Lament for 9/11.” I tucked it away in a folder to share with you this week:

The unsuspecting went to slaughter.
From a clear September sky.
The day held no forewarning.
Of the way they were to die.

Evil dressed in sunshine
On silver wings emplaned
And with the blood of innocents
The face of Islam stained.

The ugly head of hatred
Unmasked in fiery death.
Bodies falling, souls ascending
Born aloft on angel's breath.

Where for them the promise of today?
Where for them a bright tomorrow?
Vanished like the towers
In smoke and endless sorrow.

Yet from this sacrificial ground
A freedom tower shall arise
Our collective consecration
Of the souls immortalized.

On this, the sixth anniversary of 9/11/2001, let us remember the fallen without despair, respect the men and women who are defending us in foreign lands, and thank God in Heaven that the fight has been taken to them, instead of waging the war against terrorism on American soil.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Smacking bin Laden and Markets

Have you read through the transcript of Osama Bin Laden’s rambling video-rant this weekend?
What a waste of time.

Bin Laden’s take on American history is…er, creative…and his pot shots at the way we live in America are just bizarre--given he’s the one still hiding in caves.
What a twisted, evil man.

The MTV Video Music Awards remind me why I am glad I got out of music radio.

Can we put a moratorium on Brittney Spears?
And a bathrobe?

Today is a big day for Advanced Micro Devices---they're rolling out a new server chip. The new and improved (with enzymes!) Opteron processor boasts four computing engines on a single chip, instead of just one or two.
Does it matter?
Is it too little too late for AMD, the perennial also-ran against Intel?

One thing that's worth noting is that AMD is using a different engineering strategy than its competitot. Intel's four-core chips really are a package of two chips with two cores apiece.

AMD's quad-core chip places all the cores on a single piece of silicon. Other than heat issues, it would seem logical that arrangement will provide a bit more efficiency. Let's see if the public buys it.

There are 6 1/2 trading sessions until the Federal Reserve says for certain what it is doing with interest rates. Is this like counting the number of shopping days before Christmas?

Good thing Football Season has begun…there’ll always be a winning score, and the adjectives seem to be so much more colorful this time of year: Bernie Ebers on Friday wrote, "The broad market was soundly smacked lower..."

Ah, the sound of a fresh-smacked market in the morning...

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Day in the Life...

The morning started out simply enough.
Walk in, turn off the alarms, and get to work.
Spool up the computers in the studio (turn down the obnoxious foreign-language programming shrieking through the studio monitors), and put on some nerve-soothing Steely Dan. That's about as good as it got.

First the log-in sequence for the shared ftp-site resisted access.
Then the satellite audio from the network failed…
My first guest could not be located…

The onsite Producer issued a request for an engineer to go to the transmitter site to reset the satellite transmitter. The facilities manager responded to a plea for technical assistance with a smarmy e-mail about being sure to keep track of expenses when dispatching their rent-a-engineer to the transmitter site…

The notes for my second guest (who did show up) made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
An hour into the show, the shared ftp-site was still inaccessible by our studio engineers…and the network news feed had to be played via a shaky internet access point.

75-minutes into the show, the Rent-a-engineer calls and said he didn’t know what to do, and had to call another contract engineer…despite the fact he performed this function just last month. Selective amnesia on our nickel?

90-minutes along…still no CNN from any source.
Blue adjectives were flying around in the next studio…and the local news and traffic staff were writing generic feeds suitable for both dual market listeners.

By 8am, the satellite snafu was been rectified, but we’re still struggling with ftp sites and access codes. At eight-minutes into the next show, my missing guest called in for her interview. Sadly, I had to break the news she'd missed her 15-minutes of fame by about two-hours.
Sure glad it’s Friday.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Where've You Been?

I've been busy.
Personal stuff you don't really want to know distractions, let's just say. But it gets in the way of doing some of the things I need--and like--to do on a regular basis.

So instead of posting here most every day, I've been focused on just getting through the day.
It's getting better.
Thank goodness.

Thanks for your patience.