Friday, December 12, 2014

Brave Sir Julian Asschapeau commissioning statue of self.

A monument to self-regard, featuring most prominently himself, flanked by brave Sir Edward the Muscovite, and Brave Madam Manning the Ambiguous.

The campaign comes complete with a pledge drive:

A £5 donation will earn a “public thank you” on Facebook, £50 will buy an autographed picture of Mr Dormino (the sculptor) working on the project and £300 will buy a limited edition t-shirt bearing the statement: “Be courageous because courage is contagious.”

What? No Tote Bags, or 'Best of' CD or DVD?  Maybe Peter Paul and Mary could hold a fundraising concert?  There must be some way to weave homage to the 60s into this effort.
At least PBS and NPR have Tote Bags.

And the clock keeps ticking at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Enhanced Interrogation Reports Flog a Dead Horse


A great deal of information to go over before you can make a good faith effort at a fair appraisal. Most of the coverage will relay details of the first report, and give brief mention to the second and third. The long and short of it, almost all aspects of the report are contested.

First, the Senate (Democrat) Feinstein Report, the 'case for the prosecution,' as it were:

Second, the 'case for the defense,' from the site CIA Saved Lives

Senate Minority (Republican) Report

and from the same site, the CIA’s Rebuttal to the Feinstein Report.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

12/7/41 OTR Pearl Harbor Attack and Aftermath

A good overview from the Modesto Radio Museum

For most Americans, news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came as an interruption to their favorite radio programs on an otherwise tranquil Sunday afternoon on December 7th, 1941. An Associated Press bulletin at 2:22 PM Eastern Standard Time first reported the attack to mainland news organizations and radio networks. After confirming the initial bulletin with the government, the major radio networks interrupted regular programming beginning at 2:30 PM, bringing news of the attack which was still in progress.
In  New York City,  station WOR broke into the local broadcast of the Giants and Dodgers game while CBS informed listeners of the attack at 2:25 PM EST.  NBC broadcast their first bulletin nearly 4 minutes later at 2:29:50 PM . Within minutes the CBS radio network broke into normal programming with more information read by announcer John Daly. 
Honolulu NBC radio affiliate KGU, provided the first and most comprehensive radio coverage of the event. What was not known at the time was that Japanese planes, still swarming overhead in Honolulu, had used the station's signal to guide their planes to Hawaii.
While the attack was still in progress a reporter for KGU radio climbed to the roof of the Advertiser Building in downtown Honolulu with microphone in hand and called the NBC Blue Network on the phone with the first eyewitness account of the attack,  "This battle has been going on for nearly three hours... It's no joke, it's a real war" said the reporter.     Ironically, a Honolulu telephone operator interrupted the broadcast after 2 ½ minutes declaring a need for the line for an emergency call.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Annual Thanksgiving OTR collection

Various radio shows from OTR sources I regularly peruse. The first comes from "Homeschool Radio Shows" excellent source of historically themed OTR. This is a thanksgiving episode of the series Cavalcade of America, entitled:

Path of Praise

A history of how we came to have our holiday.

Also from HRS, we have a gem from the "You are There" series. YAT recreated history as if it were being covered by contemporary radio news. This episode:

The Sailing of the Pilgrims

In a lighter vein, the Life of Riley, a radio sitcom of the 40s presents:

Thanksgiving with the Gillises

And hard boiled private eye Sam Spade is on the..

Terrified Turkey Caper

And the Elgin Watch company sponsored annual Thanksgiving shows in..

1947 and 1948

Found this historically themed show at the always fascinating Internet Archive. It covers a lot of ground about the history of this holiday, but starts where it should FOOTBALL. An interview with Roger the Dodger begins things, then there is a nice discussion of the long relationship that had already existed between the King of All Sports and Turkey Day, well before the NFL got in on it. Then it's on to the origins of that other great spectacle, the Thanksgiving Parade.

Command Performance, Thanksgiving Edition Featuring Lionel Barrymore, Percy Faith, Baby Snooks, Dinah Shore, Harry Von Zell, and Frank Morgan. Command Performance was a show for American forces during WWII. These shows were not broadcast domestically, but over Armed Forces Radio Network, via shortwave.

Winston Churchill on 'America's Thanksgiving'

Get past the goofy 80s retro threads and hairdos, and marvel at Less Nessman's commentary from the Pinedale Shopping Mall. WKRP's Thanksgiving show.

"Oh the humanity!"

"God as my witness; I thought turkeys could fly."

Mr. Carlson

Jack Benny Turkey Day Episode, 1943 Click Here.

Episode info from the host site Old Time Radio Cat(alog):

"Jack Dreams He Is A Turkey" from November 21, 1943
Jack Benny is hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year and needs a turkey for 15, but Turkeys are 55 cents a pound and Jack has a penny pinching dilemma. Jack's indecision makes him ponder about the life of the turkeys and their families in the butcher shop. Jack dreams he is a turkey and tries to catch a train out of town.

Detroit T-Day Parade from 1948

Jean Shepherd trapped with Turkeys 1973

Shep again, Thanksgiving Turkey 1968

Shep yet again Army Thanksgiving 1972

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nice try Salon

This over-wrought story about a recently passed bill on science advisory board sure sounds scary. The House (Republican controlled, natch) doesn't want scientific experts to serve on that board.


The bill looks unobjectionable, if you read it, and don't uncritically rely on the Salon piece.

Consider this section:

  ``(E) Board members may not participate in advisory

        activities that directly or indirectly involve review or

        evaluation of their own work;

  And how that is portrayed by Salon:

In what might be the most ridiculous aspect of the whole thing, the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work. In case that wasn’t clear: experts would be forbidden from sharing their expertise in their own research — the bizarre assumption, apparently, being that having conducted peer-reviewed studies on a topic would constitute a conflict of interest. “In other words,” wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.”

 Emphases mine.

Notice the elided words:

Review or Evaluation.

This does not forbid a scientist from sharing expertise. What it does forbid is that scientist evaluating the scientific status or soundness of his own views on whatever topic may be under consideration.
This is nothing other than a requirement for peer review, as far as I can see.

We don’t usually count it as the best support for a theory or hypothesis if the originator of that same theory or hypothesis judges that his own work is scientifically sound.

That’s self-congratulation, not science.
No, we usually consider better support to come from others versed in the field, carefully evaluating or reviewing the work, attempting to replicate it, putting it to the test, and finding the theory or hypothesis surviving that test.

As to the other main charge:
“The bill is being framed as a play for transparency: Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it  “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.

But the White House, which threatened to veto the bill, said it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”

Consult the text of the bill itself. Is there anything there that supports this charge?

Maybe here (the full context within which section E above appears):

Each member of the Board shall be qualified by education,

training, and experience to evaluate scientific and technical

information on matters referred to the Board under this section. The

Administrator shall ensure that--

            ``(A) the scientific and technical points of view

        represented on and the functions to be performed by the Board

        are fairly balanced among the members of the Board;

            ``(B) at least ten percent of the membership of the Board

        are from State, local, or tribal governments;

            ``(C) persons with substantial and relevant expertise are

        not excluded from the Board due to affiliation with or

        representation of entities that may have a potential interest

        in the Board's advisory activities, so long as that interest is

        fully disclosed to the Administrator and the public and

        appointment to the Board complies with section 208 of title 18,

        United States Code;

            ``(D) in the case of a Board advisory activity on a

        particular matter involving a specific party, no Board member

        having an interest in the specific party shall participate in

        that activity;

            ``(E) Board members may not participate in advisory

        activities that directly or indirectly involve review or

        evaluation of their own work;

            ``(F) Board members shall be designated as special

        Government employees; and

            ``(G) no federally registered lobbyist is appointed to the



A couple things of note:

C could be read as opening the back door for corporate scientist for hire. I suppose this is the source for concern from Salon. But, I would point out that it opens the front, side, and the basement doors to other interested and expert parties as well. Corporations are not necessarily and exclusively the only “entities that may have a potential interest in the Board’s advisory activities” 

State and local governments, universities, colleges, environmental groups, interested scientists, activists of other sorts and foreign entities of similar types, all would fit this bill. Why? There is money involved in science. It is big business. Where money is involved, claims to objectivity are rightly suspect. To counteract such biases C serves the “balance” required in A.

By bringing in known experts with conflicting “affiliations” you get robust debate and a full airing of the best arguments from both sides, along with the narrower requirement for peer review handled earlier. What is more, with the transparency requirement stated in C, you know what, or rather, who you are getting in doing so. You know who is coming to the party, and what possible extra-scientific motivations they may have. What is more D would limit any corporate scientist “shill” from being on the Board that considers any matter for which that shill has been hired to sway the results. G has similar import, in its banning of lobbyists from service.

Not seeing anything so troubling as the Salon Solon paints, so far. In fact, we see a very stringent requirement to make public all possible information that might indicate financial motivations that could compromise the work of the advisory committee:

The Administrator shall--

            ``(A) solicit public nominations for the Board by

        publishing a notification in the Federal Register;

            ``(B) solicit nominations from relevant Federal agencies,

        including the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, the

        Interior, and Health and Human Services;

            ``(C) make public the list of nominees, including the

        identity of the entities that nominated each, and shall accept

        public comment on the nominees;

            ``(D) require that, upon their provisional nomination,

        nominees shall file a written report disclosing financial

        relationships and interests, including Environmental Protection

        Agency grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, or other

        financial assistance, that are relevant to the Board's advisory

        activities for the three-year period prior to the date of their

        nomination, and relevant professional activities and public

        statements for the five-year period prior to the date of their

        nomination; and

            ``(E) make such reports public, with the exception of

        specific dollar amounts, for each member of the Board upon such

        member's selection.

    ``(4) Disclosure of relevant professional activities under

paragraph (3)(D) shall include all representational work, expert

testimony, and contract work as well as identifying the party for which

the work was done.

    ``(5) Except when specifically prohibited by law, the Agency shall

make all conflict of interest waivers granted to members of the Board,

member committees, or investigative panels publicly available.

    ``(6) Any recusal agreement made by a member of the Board, a member

committee, or an investigative panel, or any recusal known to the

Agency that occurs during the course of a meeting or other work of the

Board, member committee, or investigative panel shall promptly be made

public by the Administrator.

In short, although the Salon Solon wants badly to find the bill to be shilling for eevil corporations, by their running dog anti-science lackies in the science-hatin’ Republican party, I ain’t a seein’ it pahdnah.
Nice try though..




Monday, November 17, 2014

David Ignatius’s handy-dandy Iraq checklist

From the WaPo, David Ignatius provides a checklist for the U.S. as it goes forward with the state of “Iraq.”

The strategy from the WH according to Ignatius:

 “President Obama’s basic strategic framework seems right, in theory. Obama reiterated Monday in Beijing: “It’s not our folks who are going to be doing the fighting. Iraqis ultimately have to fight [the Islamic State] and they have to determine their own security.”

A Sanka Freeze Dried version of the checklist, something to which we should refer as we measure levels of success in this strategy, along with Ig’s prognostications for success over the long haul:

1. New Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must  bend down the corruption curve.

Does it look like it will happen?


2. Abadi must bend down the Shia/Sunni sectarianism curve.

Gonna happen? 

3. The U.S. must bend up the probability of success in military training. 


As in the past, there is plenty o’ reason to be skeptical.

4. Iraqi ‘government’ must share lucre with Kurds and ‘outreach’ in other ways to those grownups to their north.

Gonna happen? 


5. Abadi must outreach to other Gulf (Suni) states, not just Iran. 

Gonna happen? 


6. The U.S. can’t just give “Iraq” piles of money with no oversight. 

Gonna happen?

Yep, likely. This is completely within our control. Won’t make that mistake again.


That’s 4/4 ‘not gonna happens’ on things that are in Abadi’s control, a doubtful on the training question, and #6 essentially boils down to the U.S. having to ask and answer the question in #1. Given that the answer is a ‘nope’ it seems we should not and will not give large scale help to “Iraq” again. It’s going to be a waste of money, and any men and time we also ‘invest.’

Now, consider what the answers to these questions would be if we asked them about the Grups up North (Kurds).

1. Far less corrupt governance to begin with. Promising future.

2. Little sectarianism in KRG. Promising future.

3. Peshmurga forces are pretty effective militarily as is. Our presence, equipment and training would only improve their postition. Good gamble militarily and geo-politically. Promising not only for the Grups, but for us.

4. N/A

5. Kurds already effective at outreach not only to Gulf States, but world. Promising future

6. Because #1 is not a large scale endemic problem, oversight would be easier, and the Kurds would be open to oversight. Funding would be used for purposes intended, not stolen by corrupt leaders.

The strategy should be to make the Kurds full allies, generously fund their military, encourage trade with  and develop their business, and put the weight of the U.S. toward complete independence for them. While doing this we provide aid to “Iraq” at levels not much greater than present, primarily military training, in order to prevent complete dissolution in the short term.  However, most of our military operations/partnership aimed toward eliminating ISIS-IS-ISIL would be carried out with the Kurds and from KRG. We should base there as much as they would allow. For the long term, we aim to treat them as we presently treat our friends the Saudis and other autocracies in the region, but with the intent to wean ourselves off those states, and make do without them, while we maintain substantial and increased ties to Kurdistan. Eventually we can tell the Saudis and others what they can go do with themselves

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day / Armistice Day

And a darn good tribute from an 8th Grader:

And another one from our neighbors up north, and Terry Kelly

The Tower of London surrounded by red poppies, one for each UK life lost while serving during WWI.

Be sure to thank a veteran today.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween OTR Cornucopia: Mercury Theatre 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast and other Apocalyptic Fakes

First from Rand’s Esoteric OTR, a newly discovered 16 inch lacquer set of the granddaddy of them all, the War or the Worlds "panic" broadcast of 10-30-38.

Next, Buck Benny replicates the listening experience of the 1938 "channel surfer" who wandered unsuspectingly into the War of the Worlds, during a musical number in the much more popular Charlie McCarthy Show

Next, two television recreations of the broadcast:


1975, The Night That Panicked America

Next, some radio imitations.

First up: Groovy WKBW Buffalo rendition, 1968. Dig the music man…

WKBW again, circa 1971. Different music this time.

A few years later, the WKBW staff remember the fun…

Next, NPR does it in its own inimitable NPR style, 1985, Jason Robards stars, along with several NPRistas. Audio effects by Skywalker Ranch: Oh… and partially sponsored by

 “The Urban Jogger: Investment quality shoes and chocolates in a meditational environment”

PBS “The American Experience” 75th Anniversary documentary on the ’38 Broadcast

We’ll wrap things up with some lesser known, but no less entertaining apocalyptic radio broadcasts:

WUHN Peoria:
 The Peoria Plague (a zombie themed fake broadcast) 1972

And a student project from 80s Canada. What happens when the Ruskies invade West Germany, and that cowboy Reagan is in charge here in ‘Murica’? All out nuclear war. That’s what happens. Canadians hardest hit.

The Final Broadcast

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Columbus day 2014: Old Time Radio, and some Youtube offerings.

Columbus Day media. First up; from the excellent OTR radio series "Cavalcade of America"

Chris gets some defense from Orson Welles

Listen here!

Next, from another excellent OTR series "You are There": CBS News circa 1948 covers Columbus's landing in the New World. Listen by clicking the link.

Both of these radio shows are downloadable as well. Right click and save.

From the Ridley Scott movie "1492: Conquest of Paradise," a stirring selection from Vangelis's excellent score:

Was Columbus really Italian? Not according to these guys. He was Portuguese..

Unless, of course, he was Greek..

Which would be OK with Mr. Vangelis I'm sure

But, not everyone is so eager to be associated with Columbus. Here is someone who is evidently not the biggest fan of old Chris:

To be balanced with a cartoon from the wayback machine:

Ya see, he wasn't all bad kiddies.

And some balanced perspective from a Columbus fan (along with some nifty info on the mad navigational skeelz of the C-man):

How we came to have Columbus Day as a holiday:

And, just to lighten up things a bit. Chris the Colombo Man Goes Disco! [Note: the blog does not necessarily approve of all images used in this video, and disclaims all responsibility for mental harms that may be caused by same]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Troy Calhounian Singh holds another bizarre press conference

From the Colorado Springs Gazette...

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun spent his 30-minute press conference fending off questions Tuesday.
Well, he didn’t spend all 30 minutes deflecting – he also dedicated a 4-minute stretch once again to bears.
The bear tangent began last week when Calhoun, clearly frustrated by the line of questioning about the Falcons’ preparation for a larger Boise State team, suggested that the team might leave out food to attract the area’s bears, then use them in practice to simulate Boise State.
The same reporter broached the bears topic again this week, setting off an off-the-wall 4 minutes that included Calhoun floating the idea of pushing spring practice back so the bears would be out of hibernation and ready to again contribute.

It grew more and more surreal, with Calhoun talking about the strengths of bears as athletes; how they struggle in man-to-man coverage but are great on the blitz.

“I think you’ve always got to be looking at what your resources are,” Calhoun said.

While Calhoun was happy to talk about bears, he said nothing regarding the significance of last week’s upset victory over Boise State or anything about the motivation of playing for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.
The Falcons moved their CIC Trophy case into the locker room during the offseason, even though the case is empty.

Here's Calhoun's response when asked by The Gazette's Brent Briggeman about the thinking behind putting an empty trophy case in the locker room.

BB: What was the decision-making process in bringing that trophy case into the locker room?
TC: As far as?
BB: How did that come about? Did a player bring that idea to you through the leadership council?
TC: Just, we know here what you have to do is practice. You have to prepare well.
But putting that trophy in there, there’s obviously a motivational reason behind that to put an empty case in your locker room.
Where should it go?
Where was it before?
You’d have to go find out. Ask the equipment guy.
So there’s no motivational tactic behind putting an empty trophy case in a locker room?
I think the motivational, what’s motivational and what’s the tactic is you have to practice well and you have to prepare well. I don’t think anything in this world that you do, that if it has some relevancy that you don’t practice or you don’t train. I don’t think you say all of the sudden that I’ve got a column and I don’t work at it and hack at it and maybe rearrange it and rewrite it and spell check it, make sure grammatically it’s right again – when it should be “are” instead of “is.” That’s why work, you’ve got to work.
You also play in a conference and you practice and prepare for those games, but there’s not a trophy case for the conference sitting there, while there is for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Is there nothing there that you want to elaborate on at all?
I’m itching to, can’t you tell. You’ve got to work. Each week is its own entity and this one is a unique one too. It certainly is.
 Calhoun grew more cooperative later, answering specific questions about defenders Nick Fitzgerald and Jordan Pierce, and he went into detail in praising the work of new defensive coaches Tim Cross and Ron Vanderlinden.
On Navy, he said: “You’re playing a team that, when you look, they run the ball at will. And still, I don’t think you ever see a team that has more guys wide open on passes than what you see on film, too.”
Asked about sophomore D.J. Johnson’s move atop the depth chart at fullback, Calhoun said only that senior Broam Hart would “play a ton.”
But for the most part Calhoun remained combative, though smiling, when dealing with questions. A television reporter asked if preparation for Navy is a bit easier because of the teams’ offensive similarities and later asked if preparing for Navy is difficult because the team plays so hard and is fundamentally sound. Calhoun answered neither question, but called out the fact that the reporter had suggested Navy be both easy and difficult to prepare to play.
When asked about the status of cornerback Justin DeCoud, who played very little against Boise State with a hamstring injury, Calhoun and The Gazette again enjoyed something of a verbal tussle:
 BB: Do you anticipate DeCoud fully returning this week?
TC: Starting?
BB: Not necessarily starting, I don’t care who starts.
TC: I want to quote that, “I don’t care about the starters.” I’m going to write that in my blog.
BB: Some positions you roll more than others, that being one. You have alternated those two on a lot of series. I’m not taking count of who’s out there on every series, but I’m wondering if he’s recovering or where he is with the injury?
TC: You’ve got to be full speed to play. Everybody thinks that’s a coach’s decision or a trainer giving you a thumbs-up. I find out real quickly if you’re full tilt that it doesn’t have to be a verbal declaration.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy E-Plebnista day message from One Named Kirk.

So, time for the annual collection of links and videos celebrating that remarkable document:

First, for the Trekies... er..Trekers, a dramatic reading of the preamble by one named "Kirk" from Star Trek, the Original Series' episode "The Omega Glory." Captain Kirk schools Cloud William. "THESE WORDS AND THE WORDS THAT FOLLOW ... MUST APPLY TO EVERYONE OR THEY MEAN NOTHING! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"

Exit question for 'one named Kirk': Here Me! Here This! What exactly is "domestic TRONquility" anyway?

And HERE we have James Lileks asking a very pertinent question. If Cloud William takes Kirk's advice, and extends constitutional protections to the Coms, isn't it at least possible that the Coms may indulge their proclivities, using the constitutional route, or rather those very protections, to a take over of the reigns of government after which they would send all the smelly Yangs off to vacation at various gulags? Hey that's probably a good thing for olfactory trOnquility, but is it right Jim? What the hell was this war all about in the first place? Just asking.

Omega Glory. This was one of the first scripts Roddenberry wrote for Trek, so you can’t blame the old “third season” curse. The Enterprise finds an empty starship around the usual Backlot Planet, where two groups compete for power: the Yangs, and the Coms. After much hugger-mugger Kirk finds himself in the presence of the tribal elder, He Who Speaks Without Contractions, and the sacred founding documents of the tribe is produced. Well, whadaya know: it’s the U.S. Constitution.

Kirk: “Spock, what are the odds that another planet’s evolutionary process would not only yield bipeds who speak English, but wrote a complex assertion of individual rights on parchment?”

Spock: “Theoretically, it is possible, Captain.”

Kirk: “Well, that settles it; I’d best reorder their society with some overemoting.”

Kirk upends their entire worldview by pronouncing the Constitution correctly, and sweatily insists that the words are not just for Yangs, but for the Coms as well, or else they mean nothing. Do you understand?

“We will try, Ham Who Rants,” the Chief says, and that’s that. But really: If there’s one thing we know about Coms, it’s that they use the freedoms guaranteed by E Plebnista to take power and put the Yangs against the wall. Of course, in this episode, the Yangs and the Coms had forgotten the ideas that had led to their all-consuming war. (No one in Trek ever had regional wars; everything came down to great planet-wide Manichean conflicts.) It would have been nice if Kirk had asked the tribes what they stood for.

“Free exchange of goods and ideas,” the Yangs might have said.

“Subordination of the individual to the will of the collective duty,” the Coms might have responded.

But no: This was one of those high-minded episodes in which the presence of conflict damned each side alike.

And some Old Time Radio:

 Cavalcade of America, 1937 "The Constitution of the United States"

You Are There, 1947 "The Ratification of the U.S. Constitution"

For those that prefer to read the documents, the National Archives "Charters of Freedom" website. At that site, you can supply the names of these individuals, from the Constitution Mural at the Rotunda:

You know, I'm not seeing any smelly Yangs. Where the heck is Cloud William?

Last, Take a Constitution Day QUIZ

Happy E Plebnista day one and all! Be thankful you Americans that you live in a society that lives by this incredible document.