Archive for the 'In the News' Category


Good grief.

Mr. Rogers: Destroyer of Worlds, Harbinger of Doom.

King Friday will look upon the world, see nothing bug corruption and violence and sin and socialism, and find it to be unjust. He will decide that the end must come.

He will send his messenger, Mr. McFeely, to instruct man of how to be saved, but few will listen or accept his instructions, believing the words to be from a false prophet claiming to be a Nigerian Prince who needs money so he can send them more money.

You will know the end is near when Trolley’s great bell tolls, which signals the release of Daniel Striped Tiger, the right hand of Mr. Rogers, upon the world.

Daniel will enter the world with a mighty roar, and gouge the ground with his fearsome terrycloth paws, sending rippling earthquakes across the world.  His fearsome teeth will cause men to panic and flee before their inevitable destruction. Those who dare to get close to him will find themselves torn apart in Daniel’s great and mighty maw.

Things will be quiet for a day, and man will believe the worst is done.

But then a great howl will be heard across the land: Bob Dog will bring forth  X the Owl, who will beat his great wings, causing tornadoes and hurricanes to ravage man again. Millions of screams will be quieted by X’s mighty shriek, and the air itself will be littered with the dead as X laughs at man’s destruction. Man will be scattered and lost, knowing no border or home.

Again, those that live will know rest.

But on the third day, Lady Elaine Fairchilde will unleash plagues and pestilence upon man. The dead will rise and feed upon the living, while her harsh cackle fills the ears of those who live. The torment she unleashes will last for a day, and then she will say, “OK, toots!”

But on the fourth day, salvation will be at hand. Those who recognize the power and glory of Mr. Rogers will be saved. Henrietta Pussycat will arrive driving the giant trolley, and will help the survivors on board with a warm hug and a soft and gentle whisper of “Meow meow meow.”


And this, my friends, is why a lot of folks can’t take Fox News seriously.


Which way is up?

You know, over the years in my journalistic career, I’ve seen a lot of tragedy. I remember all of the reports from 9/11, all the pictures that didn’t run, all the heart-wrenching accounts that didn’t quite make it to press. I remember the horrible pictures that came out of the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians — the activist who was run over by an Israeli bulldozer; the Palestinian man who held up his hand, coated in an Israeli soldier’s blood, to show a mob that they had killed these men. I could go on and on and on about this, but I opt not to. Instead, I tend to push it all out of my mind, and I tend to tune out the news when it comes on.

Honestly, since I entered the world of IT, I have become a news hermit.

But then the PSU scandal broke. I can no longer turn a blind eye to the news, or pretend not to hear it. Beyond the obvious reasons of why I can’t escape it, this is a bizarrely fascinating story, and people’s reactions to it are equally fascinating.

At first, I was angry because any story about pedophilia will send me into an internal rage. JoePa reported it to his bosses after he heard about it, so he fulfilled his obligation, as did McQueary. But I was still angry at them, because these guys did the minimum when it came to potentially protecting the welfare of kids. I mean, let’s face it … all JoePa had to do was call the police and have them investigate. He had a credible witness in McQueary. Have a 3rd party investigate, and resolve the issue once and for all. Yes, that meant that there was a chance that JoePa could have been fired back in ’02 and that PSU would have suffered a black eye. But at least his conscious would be clean, PSU could have put an end to this nightmare, children would have been spared, and everyone would have a chance to heal.

However, he opted not to go that route. He put in the report in the hands of others, and never followed through on it. Sorry JoePa supporters, that decision is irrevocably on him, and it was enough to cost him his job.

But then JoePa’s firing came. Trust me, I took no joy in watching it transpire. I sincerely wondered what he knew … because surely, a man so well respected could not have been in the know on what was really happening. Someone had to have lied to him, which is why he didn’t take a stand. In other words, even though I took a strong stand against Paterno, I will admit that there was some doubt lingering. He looked so befuddled when the firing came … like his kids just came to take his car keys away because he couldn’t safely drive on the roads anymore.

He just didn’t seem to get it.

And I kinda began to wonder if Sandusky had managed to play everyone exceptionally well.

But then there was a report today about Sandusky actively recruiting for Penn State in 2011. JoePa knew that Sandusky had been investigated in ’02, and more than likely knew Sandusky was currently under investigation. McQueary, recruiting coordiator, ABSOLUTELY knew about Sandusky’s actions. PSU also had to have known. And yet they sent a man, an alleged sexual predator and child rapist, to represent them and their football program, to minors.

Penn State University, your actions (and lack thereof) are appalling.

JoePa, any sympathy I had for you as a human being is irrevocably gone.

McQueary, there will be a special place for you in hell. A very, very special place.

For all of my friends who graduated from PSU and who whole heartedly supported them, I cannot even imagine what you are feeling. The man who was the cornerstone of your school and a source of pride absolutely failed you. I may have bashed you in the past, but it was all friendly rivalry stuff — I would have never wished this tragedy on anyone or their school. Trust me, I long for the day that this whole thing will be behind us, and we can go back to talking shit on each other. But sadly, I have a feeling that’s not going to happen for a long, long time.

Side note to JoePa: I’m sure during your 61 year tenure, you gave your players a speech or two about what it means to be a man, and rising up to faces challenges, no matter how big they were. And yet when confronted with your own personal challenge — what to do about a former coach accused of molesting children — you opted to sit down and pass the buck. Funny how you couldn’t walk what you talked.


Where do you stand

I don’t know how many of you have seen this story, but it’s bringing up a lot of different reactions of my Facebook page … and I have to admit, I appreciate the views (pro and con) that folks opted to share.

Essentially, an 8 year old who may or may not have special needs (I don’t think he’s been officially diagnosed with any), was out of control, grabbed a piece of wood trim, and was trying to stab people with it. Police were called. They pepper sprayed the child to end the situation.

Now the mother is angry, because she feels the police should have rationalized with the child, which has apparently worked in the past.

Admittedly, I don’t know the whole story. I’m sure the police didn’t just walk in, hose the kid with pepper spray, and then amble out to their police cars while whistling the tune “Whistle While You Work.” I’m sure they did try to talk to him, but when it became evident that he wasn’t going to listen and that he could potentially hurt someone, they opted to subdue him.

But, there’s 2 things that struck me about this story:

1) Mom says “rationalizing” with the child works. Why do I get the feeling that “rationalizing” is actually “bargaining” or “pleading with” the child?

2) Mom says the police need training. Is this a classic psych projection mechanism or what? In my mind, if someone is so out of control that they are a danger to themselves or others, and the police are called, the duty is ensure public safety over all else. They aren’t counselors or social workers. They deal with all sorts of unsavory characters, and they are going to do what they are trained to do … defuse the situation as quickly as possible.

And with that in mind, what would have happened if someone would have been hurt while the police were trying to “rationalize” with this child? Could you imagine the criticism the police would have faced?

I guess in my mind, this kid needs boundaries. This kid needs to learn that, special needs or not, some behavior is not social acceptable … and that there will be consequences for these outbursts. What’s going to happen in a few more years when he finds the world isn’t going to screech to a halt and “rationalize” with him when these outbursts come? That his outbursts aren’t going to control a situation anymore? Will the behavior escalate?

Obviously, this kid needs help.

But learning that there are limits certainly isn’t going to hurt. And I think he learned one when the police showed up.

What do you think?


Visiting the LST-325

Parked behind the Bettis Grill.

For those who don’t know, the LST-325 — one of the last, if not the last — ginormous WWII-era transport ships came into Pittsburgh. Rescued from a Greek scrapyard (as the ship served the Greek navy longer than the U.S.), she’s been refurbished and is on tour. Pittsburghers helped make hundreds of these ships during World War II, so there’s a little bit of yinz in every LST that was made.

According to the brochure, LST stands for “Landing Ship, Tank” — which basically means it’s an amphibious ship that that could drop an asston of armor, men and supplies on the beach. In the Pacific, these ships would open their front doors and the amphibious tractors would swim ashore so they wouldn’t have to beach themselves like they did during D-Day.

Hey, I was just on that ship! Thanks Wikipedia!

Well, as soon as I heard it was coming for a visit, I knew I HAD to go. Not only is it living history, but my Uncle Fred likely went over on one of these ships … and my father, being a Marine, was likely on board a similar ship. I jumped at the chance to go. At the last minute, my friend Kelly opted to come along, so I picked her up and off we went to see the historic ship.

Now, the ship is big. I mean, it’s meant to carry 20 Sherman tanks on the top deck, and all kinds of assorted supplies in the hold, so obviously it has to be big … but I mean, when you’re walking in through the cargo hold, you sit there and think “Man, this sucker is huge.”

Yep, it's big.

I mean, you’re walking through effortlessly. Sure, by today’s standards, this ship would probably be small. And hell, we have airplanes that can carry tanks and such. But still, this sucker was cranked out in droves, and it was made to be disposable. And, according to one of the veterans on board, the steel hull was only 3/8-of-an-inch thick … meaning your iPhone was way thicker than the hull. 3/8″ … it’s kinda scary when you think about it. That’s all that’s separating you and the sea. Yeesh!

Now, I’m not going to give you a blow by blow of our tour of the ship. Quite honestly, we felt a little rushed as we went on the tour. That feeling had nothing to do with the gentlemen serving as guides (the ones we talked to were simply awesome) … but it comes up because you’re in tight quarters and there’s always people coming up behind you. So, I ended up snapping a ton of pictures. 97, to be exact. It was really a remarkable ship, and likely my only chance to be aboard one.

I think Kelly summed it up best: What makes this tour so interesting was the fact that you could talk to men who served on LSTs, and it was like talking to your grandfather about his time in the service, and you had the equipment right there so he could show you how stuff worked. I mean, we ended up talking to one of the tour guides as we were about to step foot into the officer’s section. He looked at me and said, “My guess is that you would be too old to be the captain of one of these ships.” Turns out the average captain was about 25. Some of the chiefs were in their 30s. I thought back to when I was 25, and to be commanding one of these ships? No way! That would have been crazy talk! But it was war, and that’s what was needed, so the men had to grow up fast.

And you thought your dorm was small...

And like I said, space was tight aboard these ships once you got inside. All the space was meant for cargo and supplies … not for the men on the ship. What was funny was behind us, there were a few sailors who were in civilian life again. And they were talking about these bunk areas, and how these were spacious compared to some of the ships that they had served on. One guy said he had a top bunk where he could touch the ceiling with his stomach. They also talked about getting a “warm rack” — meaning someone else slept in their bed while they were on duty. These 2 things gave me a ton of respect for sailors. Quite simply, not a job I could do. That would be a bit too much for me.

The gentleman who talked about the age of the crew on board also told us that these ships rolled badly at sea. Now, as some of those steps were kinda steep, I laughed and told him I surely would have been thrown overboard. he said, “Well, that’s why most guys just used their hands. Their feet would never touch the steps.” And now a lot of movie scenes made sense to me. Just one of those tidbits I didn’t know.

So, if you get a chance to go see the LST-325, I highly recommend it. It’s in Pittsburgh on the North Shore (right by Heinz Field) through Sept. 6. It’s $10 for a tour, and the hours are 9am-4pm. It’s well worth the visit, especially if you are veteran or a history buff.

We got our sights set on you, Pittsburgh!


Stats and stories

Growing up around my dad, I learned a valuable lesson: “Sometimes its better to keep the peace.” He always said this after he and his wife were done arguing, and even though it was clear that he was right, he would just let it go because continuing the fight would do nothing except cause more aggravation.

That lesson always pops into my head when I feel the desire to talk about certain topics. And one of these “keep the peace” topics is Anthropogenic Global Warming (ie, man is causing the earth to warm). I’m a skeptic on the subject … meaning I don’t think it’s met the scientific burden of proof to be called “fact.” But, when I talk about the subject, I do it like how some racist assholes talk about people of different races — in a hushed voice and to those who feel the same way as they do.

But sometimes it’s hard to keep the peace. I’m constantly bombarded by people lobbing all kinds of ridiculousness on this subject. Fires in Russia? Must be AGW! (Despite the fact that there’s written records of it happening since 1298, and it’s happened several times since the 1900s.) Highest temperatures since 1850? AGW! (Then what caused the high temperatures in 1850, since AGW is believed to have started impacting the Earth in the 1950s?) Carbon Dioxide caused carnivores to shrink! I mean, if it can be traced back to or linked to CO2 or the AGW cause, it has. Trust me. If it were any other topic (like if a church linked all social ills to people who didn’t go to church), people would be laughing.

No poop me, please

But the reason I’m relatively quiet about my skepticism? If you write about it or talk about it, it usually produces a very visceral, negative response. Insults, insinuations and accusations usually follow. By being skeptical that man is driving climate change, some will call me a “denier.” (False. I’m not denying anything … I’m saying I have doubt in the AGW claims.) Others feel that I put on an SS uniform in the morning and then hop in my leaded gas/coal-fired hybrid SUV to go to work. They think my job involves taking a shit on baby seals and wiping my ass with polar bear fur while formulating new and inventive conspiracy theories about how the environmental movement is trying to enslave us all. And at the end of my supposed day, I burn styrofoam and plastic containers as a sacrifice to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin (the Republican Goddess of Fertility, since she so full of shit) and feed people from third-world countries the ashes.

And none of this is even close to being true.

See, just because I don’t believe that Al Gore (the Democratic God of Fertility, also because he’s remarkably full of shit) and his posse of “saviors” doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in living in harmony with nature. And also, just because I’m a skeptic doesn’t mean that I don’t think man’s activities have NO impact on the Earth (obviously, we do). I read a lot on environmental science. I love a lot of green projects. I’ve never owned a car that didn’t have a 4-cylinder engine. I’m a “green-ish” guy by choice — meaning that when the concept is clear, workable and produces long-term cost savings, I’m all about it. Dual-flush toilets to save on water use? On the agenda for next year. A light colored roof to save on summer cooling costs? Done deal when my current roof goes bad. Push mower? Again, as soon as my gas mower dies, done.

No poop on Earth, please

Deep down, I’m all about efficiency and conservation. I’d rather work with Mother Nature than try to overcome her (whenever possible). So hey, if we can efficiently generate power from windmills, go for it! Solar? On board! Electric cars? Sign me up! All of these still need a LOT of work before we can replace fossil fuels (and right now, they have more problems than benefits), but it’s a start. And all this without believing the “We’re all going to die!” hoopla.

Now, one of the sites on climate change that I love to read is called “Watts Up With That.” It’s a science-oriented blog … and I admit, some of the technical aspects of the topics they cover are over my head. However, what I really love about this site is the comments, because that’s where the real food for thought comes into play. Debate is encouraged (unlike at a lot of “warmist” sites), as long as both sides are respectful about it. And sometimes, watching the debates is like watching talented fighters go at it: You may not know every little strategy that they’re employing, but you do know when a solid hit has landed.

So, about a week ago, the folks at WUWT put up a really interesting post: some respected statisticians went and took climate guru Michael Mann’s (adjusted, not raw) data that he used to create the hockey stick graph, analyzed it and basically said, “This is essentially worthless.” The paper says nothing about global warming, but rather is an indictment on the methods and statistics that Mann employed to compile his results. (And you’ll notice on the linked page, there’s links to responses to the paper — some supporting, some rejecting — read and make up your own mind.)

I was really happy to see that published. Really happy. The post drew over 1,000 comments for WUWT, which means it really struck a cord with folks on both sides of the issue. For me, this just reinforced my belief that the “science” we’re being fed about this issue isn’t robust, nor settled. One of the things that always bothered me about Mann and his work was that he won’t share his data/methods with skeptics. Now, one of the things that I was taught was that if you have a hypothesis, you must test it; the test has to be repeatable; the test has to be repeatable by others; the test’s results must be verifiable and consistent; and the results must stand the test of time. Others MUST scrutinize the idea and data to look for other factors that may affect the results. But with Mann and crew, this isn’t possible (he won’t share with others) … so it becomes a “trust us, it’s happening” issue.

Trust us, it'll work.

Well, honestly, I’m not a trusting guy.

I mean, would you believe it if a tinfoil company produced a study advocating that the wearing of tinfoil hats to reflect sunlight could combat global warming, but said the data for their study had been lost? Or that they weren’t going to share it with other groups because some would attack their studies? Or how about if a medical company claimed that 3/4 of us were going to die in twenty years if we didn’t take Drug X (which was enormously expensive to buy), and that there simply was no time for the FDA to check their research to verify their claim?

Undoubtedly some people would, because some people will believe anything.

But most of us wouldn’t believe either one of them. We’d be skeptical. And we’d have good reason to be.


Different view of Big Ben

I found myself having an interesting discussion yesterday. I was talking to my mom about all the normal stuff … she was catching me up on family news … when we somehow drifted to the topic of Ben Roethlisberger.

Now, mom talking about football in any way, shape or form, other than “When is this done?” or “I’m over this already,” is highly, highly unusual. So, even with Big Ben’s current problems, I found myself kinda shocked that she brought it up.

Mom claims she knows what’s going on with Big Ben.

Now, mom isn’t an accountant. She’s not a homemaker. She worked for years in differing degrees in the psychiatric field. She has more degree initials after her name than letters in her last name. Some of the names of the doctors she’s worked with are well-known throughout the area, and are highly recognizable in the psychiatric field. She’s been a nurse and an instructor, and trust me, she knows her stuff.

Mom says Big Ben is expressing the first signs of permanent brain damage.

According to her, “poor judgement” is the first sign. Now, most people chalk that up to being a rich 28-year-old professional athlete with a stereotypical “jock” mentality. I mean, really, how many stupid decisions would I have made when I was 28 if I had millions in the bank? A lot, that’s for sure.

However, mom says that no one is talking about possible brain damage because it can be difficult to see if you haven’t worked with brain-injured people before. So, it’s getting chalked up to other things.

But for mom, it’s clear as day.

She said she called her old friend and co-worker, and they talked about Big Ben’s shenanigans. Without expressing what she thought was going on, her friend confirmed her thoughts: Displaying first signs of permanent brain damage to the frontal lobes.

And let’s face it, Ben has taken his fair share of shots to the head. Not only concussions from the game, but a faceplant into a windshield. To rule out permanent brain damage seems a little foolhardy, even if it seems entirely too early for something like that to have happened.

Of course, this is all speculation. Neither of them have seen Big Ben’s records or charts. Mom is retired — her friend is also retired and lives in South Carolina. They don’t have access to anything on Roethlisberger. I think both have been retired before Ben even came to Pittsburgh — so this isn’t “inside scoop” or an “inside leak” or anything like that — this is the opinion from 2 retired professionals who worked with the brain-injured.

But having grown up around nurses, I can tell you one thing: They often see things that doctors don’t. In military terms, they’re the soldiers on the front while the doctors tend to be the commanders. And when it comes down to it, a good nurse needs to be a good observer so they can relay proper information to the doctors.

Whether they’re right or not, only time will tell. But I’ll be curious if this is the beginning of an inexplicable, downward trend for Big Ben — and something we’re likely to see more of in the future.


For those other people

Since a bunch of my friends DON’T use Twitter (and technically, I can’t say that I blame them. I still haven’t found a real “use” for it yet), this post is for them.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, you know about the controversy on Tuesday — we had an impending storm and no one was saying where young Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was. Well, people started throwing out ideas of where he could be, with Pittgirl jokingly saying that he was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

Well, I for whatever reason, I just took the #WhereisLuke trend tag and ran with it. So, here’s what you missed, Twitter-less readers:



Now, it all turns out that the mayor was in Pittsburgh, and he was “doing work.” He said that the lack of knowledge about where he was was “meant to teach the media a lesson” that “they don’t have to know where he is all the time.”

Or, otherwise, summed up:

Follow me, Twittering fools!


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