Occasionally one comes across a news report that cries out for additional information. Given that journalism has been called the “first draft of history,” it’s not surprising that reporters aren’t able to always get complete answers to every question that arises.
Sometimes, though, one has to wonder if an article’s author is an actual living human being, or simply an automaton devoid of curiosity and an awareness of the surreal.
A German student “mooned” a group of Hell’s Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.
The man drove up to a Hell’s Angels clubhouse near Munich, wearing only a pair of shorts and carrying a puppy.
He dropped his shorts and threw the dog, escaping on a bulldozer from a nearby building site.
Few scenes capture the spirit of the South more clearly than fields of ripening cotton, so thick with fluffy bolls that the whiteness dazzles the eye.
Farm Press understands the charm of cotton and is again asking readers to grab their cameras and capture the picturesque crop in all its splendor.
For the second straight year, Farm Press, which publishes Southeast Farm Press among other publications, is looking for photos that “recognize the beauty of cotton and the people who grow it.”
“Cotton is a huge part of Southern farm culture … snow-white fields ready for harvest hold promise of a good return for hard work and perseverance,” writes Slate Canon on the Farm Press Blog. “And from the time the first seedling pushes through the soil, to first bloom, to boll fill and finally to the massive pickers marching through fields leaving brown swaths in the white landscape, a cotton crop is a work of art.”
Farm Press is asking readers to send in their best cotton photos – kids in cotton fields, blooms, sunsets, pickers and strippers, anything that captures the uniqueness of cotton – to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 1.
My four girls – ages 11, 10, 10 and 8 – still stare agog at me when I explain to them that once there was a time, long, long ago, when cartoons were a once-a-week treat, the sole motivation needed to pop out of bed on a Saturday morning.
In today’s world where entire networks are devoted to animation and stations run cartoons 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 365 days a year, it’s difficult for my girls to imagine a time and place where kids’ programming occupied such a small part of the television week.
(They also are completely baffled by the idea of a 13-inch television that got exactly three, count ‘em three, channels, but that’s a different story.)
Yet for all the seemingly endless hours of kids’ programming available today, the vast majority of it pales in comparison to what was available during the days of Saturday morning-only cartoons.
This is not only my own rose-colored remembrance of the past, either. Judging from the way my daughters gather eagerly around me when I grab my computer and ask who wants to watch Bugs Bunny, I’d say they’re as enamored with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies as I was when I was their age.
I introduced them to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Warner Bros. gang roughly two years, when, while perusing YouTube, I decided it was time to show them what real entertainment was all about.
Someone may want to let the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in on a little concept called “market forces.”
According to a Sunday article in the Upstate publication, copper theft is down in Spartanburg County due to a new law requiring those selling scrap metal to obtain permits.
“Between Aug. 16, when the law went into effect, and March 19, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office issued 13,569 scrap metal permits,” the paper wrote. “As a result, copper theft is down about 15 percent in the county, Sheriff Chuck Wright said.”
Nowhere in the article does it say that the price of copper has dropped about 15 percent over the past year, which may have stymied potential scofflaws’ willingness to steal non-ferrous metals.
The Nerve reported last month that SC lawmakers are attempting to pass even more legislation in a bid to thwart the theft and illegal sale of copper.
Meanwhile, over the past year the price of the malleable metal has fallen to around $3.80 a pound on the London Metal Exchange, from approximately $4.50 a year ago.
But the way the Herald-Journal sees it, more laws equals less malfeasance.
However, if reducing crime was simply a matter of legislation, murder, rape and armed robbery would have been wiped from the earth long ago.
No one disputes that newspapers are in serious decline: The question that remains unanswered is how far they will fall.
A recent conversation with a local attorney offered evidence of the industry’s decline. His is a family of six: two college-educated parents and four kids who all attend private school and will almost certainly go on to college themselves.
Yet, the family no longer receives a daily newspaper.
Such would have been almost unimaginable just a decade ago. Up until as late as 2000, at least, college-educated families, and many blue-collar families, took the daily paper as the best means to keep up with what was going on both locally and statewide.
No more, as the Internet and cable television have helped fragment the media market beyond anything imaginable even into the late 1990s.
Pondering the state of newspapers – where I spent a good bit of my career – brought me back to my formative years, when the medium essentially helped shape my life.
It did so by serving as the all-important conduit between me, beginning at age 9, and the first sports team I started following religiously, the Detroit Tigers.
Gina Williams, a native Texan writing at the always-captivating Like the Dew website, details common misconceptions some Northerners have about people from the South.
These include that we’re all racist, uneducated hicks with lazy Southern drawls who always vote Republican. (What about us also being NASCAR-loving, moonshine-swilling, ATV-driving, snake-handling Creationists? That’s some of the best stuff about living in the South, after all.)
Williams does a good job debunking these myths, including providing a USA Today map of the 2004 presidential election which showed interestingly that plenty of Southern counties voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry over Republican George Bush, while there were several Northern states with a majority of counties favoring Bush over Kerry.
Better yet is Williams’ assessment of the simplistic portrayal of Southern cultural and social norms:
- Surprise, we’re not all bigots, she writes:
The history books we grew up studying in school failed in one big respect: The American Civil War was not simply over the preservation of slavery; it was a war over states’ rights and excessive taxation. The simple fact is that, at the time, there was controversy on just how much involvement the federal government should have in state governments (sound familiar to current times?); the federal government’s involvement with the anti-slavery movement set many Southern states off because they felt that state governments, through citizen voting, should determine laws on such things. And with increasing pressure by Northern states in the late 1850s to increase taxes to benefit their industries, Southerners became upset. Before and after those taxes were implemented with Abraham Lincoln’s entry into office, Southern states began seceding.
Yow! Williams is right on the money here, but I wouldn’t dare trying pursuing this argument with anyone but my closest friends, whether they’re from the North or the South. Public school education dropped the ball on complex issues like the War Between the States a long, long time ago and I’m not stupid enough to try to pick it up.
If nothing else, perhaps the failure of Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration to turn over public documents related to an S.C. Freedom of Information Act request by the Charleston Post and Courier will prompt the state Attorney General’s office to get off its duff and start looking into the myriad examples of open-government abuse taking place across the state.
Thursday, Haley refused during a public appearance to answer a Post and Courier reporter’s questions about public documents her administration failed to provide to the paper earlier this year.
Reporter Renee Dudley attempted to question Haley about a possible violation of the state open-records law related to her influence over a nonpartisan health care committee.
According to the Charleston publication, Dudley had been told by Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey that the governor would be available Thursday and Dudley attempted to speak with Haley following a Budget and Control Board meeting on the Statehouse grounds.
Haley regularly speaks with the media following Budget and Control Board meetings.
Most political scientists agree a few things are necessary for a democratic form of government to thrive, including honest elected officials, an informed and engaged citizenry, and a vigorous, aggressive and scrupulous media.
Lately, the latter has been coming to life in South Carolina, but it’s clear from a reading of that media that the former two are in short supply.
One need go no further for an example than Sunday’s story in The State newspaper that detailed an office policy under Gov. Nikki Haley in which “only emails between the governor and the public are being saved and archived permanently.”
Other emails that Haley sends or receives — including exchanges with her staff members — are deleted.
At least two of South Carolina best-known media law attorneys say the policy violates the state’s open-records law, meant to ensure the public has access to government records. Because emails are being deleted, they are not available for the public to review.
Haley was elected governor in 2010 in part on a platform of conducting an open administration, its workings transparent to the public.
The State paper is reporting that according to public records provided to the publication, Gov. Nikki Haley’s state-issued cellphone has been used 197 times during the first nine billing cycles since she took office – an average of about one call a day.
Haley touted government transparency while running for governor, promising accountability and openness. But, as The State correctly points out, the idea that she has used her state cellphone on such a limited basis raises questions about whether she is doing state business through communications that the public cannot scrutinize.
Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey told The State the governor is using her state-issued cellphone along with other forms of communication to do her job.
Sometimes, he said, staff members hand Haley their cellphones to make and receive calls, particularly when she and staff are traveling. The governor also does many face-to-face meetings, he said.
As someone who worked for Haley’s predecessor I have but one simple response to the idea that a sitting governor who is constantly on the move would only need to use her state cellphone a little more than 20 times a month: Bulls**t.