Saturday, March 31, 2007


Half of all American troop deaths in the Iraq have been caused by explosives plundered from Saddam Hussein's weapons depots, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. Those depots--filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of shells--remained unguarded for years after the U.S. took control of the country.

The Boston Globe


lRL rLR lRR LL R rL lR...rlrL...lR, RRLLRRLLR (lrlrlR)!

Some of you ex-USMers will recognize that ending!

old enemies make peace

Following up from, or adding to, my Northern-Ireland post of a few days ago...

Leaders of Northern Ireland's largest Protestant and Catholic parties stood in the same room for the first time and agreed to share power. Ian Paisley founded the pro-British Democratic Unionists in 1971, while Gerry Adams has been a key leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, since 1978--and in all that time, the two never met.

Paisley and Adams said they would govern jointly starting May 8. That would mean reimplementing the Good Friday accord of 1998, which provided for home rule for the British province of Northern Ireland, under an executive made up of both parties. "We must not allow our justified loathing for the horrors and tragedies of the past," Paisley said, "to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future."

I wonder if Paisley and Adams are now on hit lists for more extreme groups within the Protestant and Catholic communities?


She is KILLING me with her gas explosions!!! Maybe that hamburger from Wild Willy's wasn't a great idea! But she sure liked it.

sleeping together

A University of Vienna study found that when men slept alongside their female partners, they woke up the next day less rested and with impaired cognitive functions. "We were never meant to sleep in the same bed as each other," a sleep expert said.

What about having to sleep with an English bulldog?

states of being

Excuse me...

cat and puppies...but what are they doing here?

Friday, March 30, 2007


"You're the duke of New York. You're A-number-1."

places I've lived

0. In my momma's tummy!
1. Knoxville, Tennessee
2. Eau Gallie, Florida
3. Columbia, Tennessee
4. Waverly, Tennessee
5. Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico
6. Waverly, Tennessee (again)
7. Wilmington, Delaware
8. Biloxi, Mississippi
9. Hattiesburg, Mississippi
10. Columbus, Mississippi
11. Jackson, Mississippi
12. Hattiesburg, Mississippi (again)
13. Chicago, Illinois
14. Boston, Massachusetts

Monday, March 26, 2007

Northern Ireland conflicts


Key dates in tensions between Protestants and Catholics:

1921: Northern Ireland is formed from six provinces that opt out of a self-government agreement offered by Britain and accepted by the southern part of Ireland.

1967-68: Northern Ireland's Catholics push for voting rights and demonstrate against unionist power in Northern Ireland.

1972: Direct rule of Northern Ireland from London begins. Violence against British troops quickly follows. Police report more than 1,400 bombings; 470 people are killed during the conflict's bloodiest year.

1994: Mostly Catholic Irish Republican Army announces a cease-fire. It lasts until February 1996, when the IRA sets off a bomb in London, killing two.

1998: USA helps broker the Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland. Voters in Ireland and Northern Ireland endorse it.

2005: IRA agreement to disarm clears way for implementation of the agreement.

2006: Great Britain and Ireland prod Northern Ireland's politicians to move forward on home rule and shared power.

2007: Voters elect a new assembly on March 7, giving the Protestant and Catholic political parties the power to form an executive government.

Monday: If Northern Ireland doesn't form a government by this deadline set by Britain and Ireland, Britain will continue to rule it in consultation with Ireland.

Reporting by Melanie Eversley, USATODAY.
Sources: Wire reports and USA TODAY research

Northern Ireland

It's odd to see these two men together...especially since one is Ian Paisley.

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams

Friday, March 16, 2007

HUGE pet peeve

A bit rambling, probably, but you should be able to figure out what I'm getting at:

This is a BIG pet peeve of mine...companies who have contracts (and automatic debits set up) with customers let the customers know that their accounts are about to expire, as they should. But then, instead of sending out a courtesy e-mail later, saying, "Your contract is about to expire: if you don't want this to happen please remember to upgrade (or whatever)"...

...they send out an e-mail at some point, easy to overlook, saying "We're going to be nice and upgrade you automatically, UNLESS you do x, y, or z," "x" being to make a cancel request, which takes any number of steps. And if you miss one of the steps, like confirming the cancel request, the cancel request is discarded, and you go on forever not noticing that you're still being charged.

I think companies make a lot of money because people don't notice the above. For instance, when my 1and1 (Website host) contract was going to expire in a few months, I chose not to renew my contract, at a now higher price. And, of course, nothing in those e-mails to me at the time said anything about the soon-to-come paragraph two above! I figured that I would choose not to renew and so my contract would end quietly at its expiration date.

Well, when the expiration date came, then I had to go through three or four steps to cancel what I thought should've been done automatically. I have to remember to be careful about these kinds of things.

Caveat emptor, for good reason.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


TFK is going to hell...doo dah, doo dah.
For f'ing over JAC...oh, doo dah day.

Monday, March 05, 2007

some Mississippi facts

Hmm, I may have posted this once before: sorry if I did.

Be happy that you live in the great state of Mississippi.

Mississippi leads in obese adults.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast, from Biloxi to Henderson Point, is the largest and longest man-made beach in the world.

Mississippi was the last state to illegalize moonshine.

The Ringier-America company in Corinth, MS prints National Geographic.

The world's only cactus plantation is located in Edwards, with more than 3,000 varieties of cacti.

Mississippi has more tree farms than any other state.

Mississippi has more churches per capita than any other state.

Norris Bookbinding Company in Greenwood is the largest Bible rebinding plant in the nation.

H. A. Cole in Jackson, MS, developed the cleaning product Pine-Sol.

Pine-Sol is manufactured only in Pearl, MS.

Dr. Tichenor created Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic in Liberty, MS (not in South Louisiana as commonly believed).

Four cities in the world have been sanctioned by the International Theatre/Dance Committee to host the International Ballet Competition: Moscow, Russia; Varna, Bulgaria; Helsinki, Finland; and Jackson, Mississippi.

David Harrison of Columbus owns the patent on the "Soft Toilet Seat." Over one million are sold every year.

The first football player on a Wheaties box was Walter Payton of Columbia.

The Teddy Bear's name originated after a bear hunt in Mississippi with President Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt refused to shoot an exhausted and possibly lame bear. News of this spread across the country, and a New York merchant capitalized on this publicity by creating a stuffed bear called "Teddy's Bear."

H. T. Merrill of Iuka flew the first round-trip transoceanic flight in 1928. The flight to England was made in a plane loaded with ping-pong balls.

The birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo includes: a museum, a chapel, and the two-room house in which Elvis was born.

The world's oldest Holiday Inn is in Clarksdale.

Blazon-Flexible Flyer, Inc., in West Point, manufactures the best snow sled in the country, the Flexible Flyer.

Greenwood is the home of Cotton Row, which is the second largest cotton exchange in the nation and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Emil and Kelly Mitchell, the King and Queen of Gypsies, are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Meridian. Since 1915, people from all over the world have left gifts of fruit and juice at their gravesites.

The 4-H Club began in Holmes County in 1907.

The Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg is the largest research, testing, and development facility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On April 25, 1866, women in Columbus decorated the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers in Friendship Cemetery. This gesture became known as Decoration Day, the beginning of what we observe as Memorial Day.

Shoes were first sold as pairs in 1884 at Phil Gilbert's Shoe Parlor in Vicksburg.

Inventor James D. Byrd of Clinton holds seven patents and developed the plastic used as a heat shield by NASA.

Mississippi University for Women in Columbus was the first state college for women in the country, established in 1884.

Every commercial airliner has at least one hydraulic component manufactured by Vickers in Jackson.

The McCoy Federal Building in Jackson is the first federal building in the United States named for a black man. Dr. A. H. McCoy was a dentist and business leader.

Hat Maker John B. Stetson learned and practiced hat making in Dunn's Falls, MS.

The oldest field game in America is Stickball, played by the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi. Demonstrations can be seen every July at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia, MS.

Alcorn State University, in Lorman, is the oldest black land grant college in the world.

The International Checkers Hall of Fame is in Petal.

Natchez was settled by the French in 1716 and is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River. Natchez once had 500 millionaires, more than any other city except New York City. Natchez now has more than 500 buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Captain Issac Ross of Lorman freed his slaves in 1834 and arranged for their passage to the west coast of Africa. They founded the country of Liberia.

Oliver Pollock was the largest individual financial contributor to the American Revolution. He invented the dollar sign ($). He is buried near Pinckneyville.

Resin Bowie, the inventor of the Bowie Knife, is buried in Port Gibson, MS.

Liberty was the first town in the country to erect a Confederate monument, in 1871.

The Pass Christian Yacht Club is the second oldest yacht club in North America, founded in 1849.

The Mississippi Legislature passed one of the first laws in 1839 to protect the property rights of married women.

The Natchez Trace Parkway, named an "All American Road" by the federal government, extends from Natchez to just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The Trace began as an Indian trail more than 8,000 years ago.

The Mississippi Delta is the birthplace of the Blues, which preceded the birth of jazz, the only other original American art form.

The Vicksburg National Cemetery is the second-largest national cemetery in the country. Arlington National Cemetery is the largest.

D'Lo was featured in Life Magazine for sending proportionally more men to serve in World War II than any other town of its size; 38 percent of the men who lived in D'Lo served.

In 1894, Coca-Cola was first bottled by Joseph A. Biedenharn in Vicksburg.

Mississippi was the first state to outlaw imprisonment of debtors.

Belzoni is the Catfish Capital of the World. Approximately 70 percent of the nation's farm-raised catfish comes from Mississippi.

Fred Montalvo owns the company that makes “Icee” drinks from Edwards.

Peavey Electronics, in Meridian, is the world's largest manufacturer of musical amplification equipment.

Proportionally more Mississippians were killed during the Civil War than from any other Confederate state.

Serving during Reconstruction, Hiram Revels was the first Black U.S. Senator.

The first Parents-Teachers Association was founded in Crystal Springs, MS.

Babe Ruth's last home run was hit off a Mississippian, Guy Bush of Tupelo.

List of famous Mississippians

Soulja Boy, Batesville
Dick Stephens, Pontotoc
Dana Andrews, Covington County
Earl W. Bascom, Columbia
Lacey Chabert, Purvis
John Dye, Amory
Morgan Freeman, Greenwood
Gary Grubbs, Amory
Beth Henley, Jackson
Jim Henson, Greenville
Anthony Herrera, Wiggins
Eddie Hodges, Hattiesburg
James Earl Jones, Arkabutla
Simbi Khali, Jackson
Daniel Curtis Lee, Jackson
Kris Lee, Louisville
Shane McRae, Starkville
Gerald McRaney, Collins
Parker Posey, Laurel
Eric Roberts, Biloxi
Sela Ward, Meridian
Oprah Winfrey, Kosciusko


Earl W. Bascom, sculptor, Columbia
George Ohr, "Mad Potter of Biloxi"
Walter Inglis Anderson, painter, Ocean Springs


Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson), Gulfport
Lance Alworth, Brookhaven
Dizzy Dean, Wiggins
Earl W. Bascom, Columbia
Dennis Ray "Oil Can" Boyd, Meridian
Ralph Boston, Laurel
Jeff Bowman
Terrell Buckley, Pascagoula
Reggie Collier, D`Iberville
Joseph (Joe) Pierre Courtney, Jackson
Erick Dampier, Jackson
Jim Dunaway, Columbia
Marcus Dupree, Philadelphia
Eric Moulds, Lucedale
Brett Favre, Kiln
Charles Gavin, Laurel
Litterial Green, Pascagoula
Louis Edward Green, Vicksburg
Lancaster Gordon, Jackson
Bobby Hamilton, Columbia
Phillip Hampton
Othella Harrington, Jackson
Lindsey Hunter, Utica
Belton Johnson
Steven Lombardi
Deuce McAllister, Morton
Steve McNair, Mount Olive
Archie Manning, Drew
Shane Matthews, Pascagoula
Steve Newsome, Columbia
Jerious Norwood , Jackson
Joe Owens, Columbia
Roy Oswalt, Weir
Jeremy Patrick
Eddie Payton, Columbia
Walter Payton, Columbia
Justin Reed, Jackson
Jerry Rice, Starkville
James Robinson, Jackson
Eugene Short, Hattiesburg
Purvis Short, Hattiesburg
Jackie Slater, Jackson
Calvin Smith, Bolton
Jimmy Lee Smith, Jackson
Lake Speed, Jackson
Dmitri Young, Vicksburg
Antonio Mcdyess, Quitman
Claude Passeau, Lucedale
Al Jefferson, Monticello
Clarence Weatherspoon, Crawford
Sammy Winder, Madison
Ruthie Bolton, Lucedale


Earl W. Bascom, Columbia
Lerone Bennett, Jr., Clarksdale
Larry Brown, Oxford
Hodding Carter
Craig Claiborne, Sunflower
Gerald Ellis
William Faulkner, New Albany
Shelby Foote, Greenville
Richard Ford, Jackson
Barry Hannah, Clinton
Thomas Harris
Beth Henley, Hattiesburg
J. R. Johnson
Muna Lee, Raymond
Justin Mapp, Brandon
D. J. McCornik
Willie Morris, Jackson
Lewis Nordan, Forest
Walker Percy
William Alexander Percy, Greenville
William Raspberry, Okolona
Eudora Welty, Jackson
Tennessee Williams, Columbus
Richard Nathaniel Wright, Roxie
Stark Young, Como
Carolyn Haines, Lucedale

Civil Rights Leaders

Vernon Dahmer, Hattiesburg
Charles Evers, Decatur
Medgar Evers, Decatur
Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruleville
T. R. M. Howard, Mound Bayou
James Meredith, Kosciusko
Dianna Freelon-Foster, Grenada

Entrepreneurs/Business Leaders

Jim Barksdale (former CEO Netscape Communications Corporation)
Harry A. Cole, Jackson (inventor of Pine-Sol)
Hartley Peavey (founder Peavey Electronics)
Robert Pittman (founder MTV, former CEO and COO AOL)
Fred Smith, Marks, MS, founder and CEO of FedEx


Joseph Newman, Lucedale
Earl W. Bascom
Elizabeth Lee Hazen

Military Figures

Charles Read
Nathan Bedford Forrest


Glen Ballard, Natchez
Afro Man, Hattiesburg
David Banner, Jackson
Lance Bass, Laurel
Big Bill Broonzy, Scott
Jimmy Buffett, Pascagoula
R. L. Burnside, Harmontown
David L Cook, Pascagoula
Sam Cooke, Clarksdale
James Cotton, Tunica
Arthur Crudup, Forest
Bo Diddley, McComb
Willie Dixon, Vicksburg
Faith Hill, Jackson
John Lee Hooker, Clarksdale
Big Walter Horton, Horn Lake
Son House, Riverton
Guy Hovis, Tupelo
Mississippi John Hurt, Teoc
Carl Jackson, Louisville
Elmore James, Richland
Skip James, Bentonia
Robert Johnson, Hazelhurst
Tommy Johnson, Terry
Junior Kimbrough, Hudsonville
B. B. King, Itta Bena
Kris Lee, Louisville
Yung Money, Rolling Fork
Little Milton, Inverness
Brandy Norwood, McComb
Alexander O'Neal, Natchez
Charley Patton, Edwards
Elvis Presley, Tupelo
Charley Pride, Sledge
Leontyne Price, Laurel
Jimmy Reed, Duleith
Del Rendon, Starkville
LeAnn Rimes, Jackson
Jimmie Rodgers, Meridian
David Ruffin, Whynot
Jimmy Ruffin, Collinsville
Britney Spears, McComb
William Grant Still, Woodville
Ike Turner, Clarksdale
Newt Rayburn, Oxford
Lisa Stewart, Louisville
Conway Twitty, Friars Point
Muddy Waters, Rolling Fork
Bukka White, Houston
Big Joe Williams, Crawford
Sonny Boy Williamson II, Glendora
Cassandra Wilson, Jackson
Howlin' Wolf, West Point
Tammy Wynette, Tupelo
Lester Young, Woodville
Three Doors Down, Escatawpa
Mickey Gilley, Natchez


Haley Barbour, Yazoo City
Ross R. Barnett, Standing Pine
Marion Barry, Itta Bena
Theodore Bilbo, Poplarville
Thad Cochran, Pontotoc
Jefferson Davis
James Eastland, Sunflower
Pat Harrison, Crystal Springs
Trent Lott, Grenada
Sonny Montgomery, Meridian
Charles W. Pickering, Jones County
Chip Pickering, Laurel
John E. Rankin, Itawamba County
Hiram Revels
John Stennis, DeKalb
Bennie Thompson, Bolton
James Vardaman, Yalobusha County
Jamie L. Whitten, Cascilla
William Winter, Grenada
Blanche Bruce
Gene Taylor, Bay St. Louis
James Z. George, Carrollton
Dianna Freelon-Foster, Grenada

Other luminaries

Red Barber, sportscaster, Columbus
Richard Scruggs, attorney, Pascagoula

Vienna Philharmonic (long)

Vienna Slow to Change Its Tune
Justin Davidson

March 2, 2007

In the symphonic music world, the Vienna Philharmonic defines prestige. It performs annually at Carnegie Hall, its concerts are almost always sold out, its New Year's celebration in Vienna is broadcast around the world, and having stood on its podium is a conductor's equivalent of Olympic gold. The Philharmonic is Austria's preeminent purveyor of Austria's most visible export: classical music. But it is more: To many people around the world, and in its own corporate estimation, it embodies the quintessence of the Western musical tradition.

I have heard and written about the orchestra many times, but I will not be attending Friday's Carnegie Hall performances - or Saturday's, or Sunday's - and it may be years before I review it again. A decade after it supposedly committed itself to entering the 21st century, I believe that the Vienna Philharmonic has relinquished its claim to serious consideration as a dynamic cultural organization.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, on the eve of another U.S. tour and under pressure from the Austrian government, the orchestra struck down the statute in its bylaws forbidding women from becoming members. That change permitted Anna Lelkes, a harpist who had been playing in the orchestra in an unofficial capacity for many years, to become a full-fledged member. She has since retired.

In the decade since that change in policy, the orchestra has replaced about 40 people, and still has a solitary female member - another harpist, Charlotte Balzereit - and 136 men. Even if every one of the women now in the long and blockage-prone pipeline made it into this most rarefied of classical clubs, they would still only number five by 2010. The Citadel, the South Carolina military school that reluctantly admitted its first woman in 1996, has a far better record of adaptation.

When challenged on this issue, the Philharmonic answers that it is making a good-faith attempt to increase the number of women in its ranks, and offers a number of "buts": 1) Most members stay in the orchestra for life, which keeps the rate of turnover low. 2) The organization is dedicated to a fundamentally historical mission, so it need not reflect contemporary mores. 3) Its highest concern is the refinement of its art, and if the price to be paid for that is a sluggish creep toward equality, so be it. Finally, the orchestra's identity depends on a complex of highly local traditions, so any new member must not only be a brilliant musician, but also someone capable of imbibing and integrating with the orchestra's spirit.

Mary Lou Falcone, a New York-based spokeswoman for the Vienna Philharmonic, and one of the more indomitable women in a world historically controlled by conservative men, told me to be patient, that the orchestra works on its own time scale. "What I see is the openness of the Vienna Philharmonic to have auditions that include everyone. They're preserving the best of their tradition and a sound that's been there for 160 years, a distinctive sound, which most orchestras today don't have."

But the geological pace of change is not merely a regrettable obstacle in the relentless pursuit of quality. It is product of a narrowly preservationist, antiquarian philosophy, which fetishizes sound at the expense of spirit. The composers in the Vienna Philharmonic's pantheon were all disturbers of the peace, and they railed against the city's recurring fondness for the status quo. Beethoven was a liberal idealist, a radical egalitarian and artistic revolutionary who would have been revolted by the claim that performing his forward-looking, constantly renewable music required an inflexible reverence for custom.

Most orchestras are conservative: They keep reheating the same masterpiece soup, seasoned with the occasional novelty. But some - the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for example - aspire to flexibility, excitement, leadership and collaboration with the creators of today. Few major ensembles have quite so hidebound a philosophy, and none so monochromatic and homogeneous a membership, as the Vienna Philharmonic. (To take one top-tier example, women constitute 40 percent of the New York Philharmonic.)

The world's most important orchestra treats the symphonic repertoire the way re-enactment societies treat the Civil War: as terrain for the obsessive pursuit of historical correctness. There is a place for this, of course. We should be grateful for the efforts of so many dedicated people who put their expertise and time to the service of faithful reconstruction of the past. Obscurity becomes part of these organizations' charm.

But if we judge an orchestra's quality by what it contributes to the vibrant, dynamic musical culture that keeps the symphonic tradition alive, rather than by the transparency of its string sound, then the Vienna Philharmonic would occupy a dusty corner.

The orchestra's defenders make one additional argument: It is a completely private association, which receives no public funds, and so it does not actually have to change at all. Aside from its symbolic value to the Austrian nation, however, it is also an association made up entirely of Austrian civil servants: the tenured membership of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. For those musicians, membership in the Philharmonic amounts to a second job. It is difficult for an American to understand why the glacial pace of change in a group so tightly (if indirectly) linked to the government causes no apparent public embarrassment except in the liberal Green Party.

The Vienna Philharmonic cannot keep women out forever, especially since it professes not to want to. Even a group that holds nostalgia in such high regard has its progressive contingent. Inevitably, the orchestra will change. And when it does, I will recover my interest in hearing what it has to say, hoping to detect that great old sound fired by new ideas.

Friday, March 02, 2007

elephant ivory

From Time magazine:

257: Estimated amount, in tons, of ivory poached worldwide last year
Number of elephants that were killed illegally to reap that much ivory
Cost per pound of ivory on the black market, up from $50 about 20 years ago