Saturday, September 29, 2007

YouTube Opens "Nonprofit Program"

Online video sharing megalith YouTube is opening a program that offers advantages to nonprofits using their site. From AP via Ohio dot com:

    Hundreds of nonprofits currently leverage YouTube, the leader in online video, to raise awareness of their causes. Today at the Clinton Global Initiative, YouTube announced the YouTube Nonprofit Program, a way to make it even easier for people to find, watch and engage with nonprofit video content on the site.

    YouTube's 2007/2008 Clinton Global Initiative commitment enables nonprofit organizations (in the U.S. those with 501c3 tax filing status) that register for the program to receive a free nonprofit specific YouTube channel where they can upload footage of their work, public service announcements, calls to action and more. The channel will also allow them to collect donations with no processing costs using the newly launched Google Checkout for Non-Profits. YouTube's global platform enables nonprofits to deliver their message, showcase their impact and needs, and encourage supporters to take action.
Participating nonprofits get:

    -- A premium channel on YouTube that serves as a nonprofit's hub fortheir uploaded videos. Through the channel, people can connect with a
    nonprofit via messages, subscriptions, comments and more. Nonprofits will
    also receive enhanced channel branding features and increased upload

    -- Designation as a "Nonprofit" on YouTube that clearly identifies
    organizations as a nonprofit for YouTube community.

    -- The ability to embed a Google Checkout donation button on their
    channel and video watch pages, allowing people to quickly and securely make
    a contribution directly from YouTube. Starting today, nonprofits who offer
    Google Checkout for Non-Profits as a donation option -- whether through
    YouTube or on their own sites -- will receive 100 percent of donated funds,
    as Google has committed to processing all donations for free through at
    least the end of 2008.

    -- In the coming months, nonprofit channels will have a centralized area
    on YouTube, making them and their videos more easily discoverable.
I also noticed checking out one of the channels that the page is ad-free. Parent Google is sweetening the deal by allowing nonprofits to collect donations without poundage. From the Google blog:
    One other thing the YouTube Non-Profit Program offers: the ability to collect donations directly from these channels using the new Google Checkout for Non-Profits. Checkout for Non-Profits -- which can also be integrated directly into a non-profit's site -- helps drive more donations for U.S.-based 501(c)(3) groups by making it possible for supporters to contribute quickly and securely. It also offers supporters the satisfaction of knowing that 100 percent of their contributions will be sent to the non-profit, as Google has committed to processing donations through Checkout for free through at least the end of 2008. This functionality is particularly exciting, as today's fund-raising is increasingly moving online -- and Checkout for Non-Profits makes the entire process even easier. You can learn more here.
Also the program page announces that the first 300 nonprofits that sign up get a free video camera.

Further Evidence of the Beacon Journal's Decline

This week has not been a happy one for Beacon Journal readers. Set aside news of staffers leaving in order to begin looking for a new job, or PD buying billboard space to brag about poaching Terry Pluto. Set aside the PD doing the blog thing right and the BJ bloggers providing a constant source of embarrassment. The the level of journalism in the paper this week was painful to behold.

I've already noted that the story about police cameras around the city involved little more than transcribing the press release. I just watched News Night Akron where Jody Miller One of many questions

The writer of that article, Rich Armon, Katie Byard is better than that story. I assume the questions weren't answered because the paper is so badly understaffed. That excuse won't work for this travesty written about a high profile criminal case:

    Police may have conducted an illegal search of the home of an Akron Public Schools administrator when they seized evidence later used to charge her with illegally keeping a pit bull and misdemeanor drug offenses, a lawyer claimed in a court hearing Thursday.
This is just awful. Defense attorneys file suppression motions all the time. The overwhelming majority are denied. Filing the motion is part of going through the motions. What's more, the motion hasn't even been filed yet. This is a defense attorney saying he "intends" to file a motion. We don't even know what his grounds will be. And given that the police searched pursuant a warrant, the search is most likely valid.

On top of that, the case has the makings of Demetrus Vinson II -- at least that's how attorney Orlando Williams seems intent on playing it. The defendant, Donna Wheeler, plead "not guilty." Framing the story as the search possibly being illegal is like writing "Donna Wheeler may be innocent." Factually correct with that "may be" slipped in there, but completely wrong in tone, and risking unnecessarily inflaming people.

Then there was the decision to publish the list of voters whose absentee ballots were not counted. I'm still puzzled as to how the names and precincts of the individual voters constitutes news. But I would certainly be uncomfortable if it happened to me.

So not a banner week for the BJ. At this rate, no one is likely to blog ABJ in a post anytime soon.

Open Wide and Say "Blog"

Boring Made Dull wrote pretty much the post I planned, contrasting the community-based blogs in the Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal. It's not often I point to Boring and say "What he said," but what he said.

So far the PD's experiment -- putting four experienced bloggers with divergent politics on one blog -- appears to be working as a blog. It helps that they selected so well. Jill Zimon and Jeff Coryell have long been among my favorite people in the blogosphere and Tom Blumer and Dave from NixGuy are among the best on the right side of the 'sphere. The four not only write well, but they know how to write a forceful argument without lapsing into the nastiness that is rendering much of the sphere so toxic.

Some purists on either the journalism or blogging side may object to the mash up, but I think it's a good thing. First off, I'm all about bloggers getting paid. (I'm especially about this blogger getting paid, but we aren't there yet.) Second, the MSM platform will introduce more people to these four who are important voices.

With all that, I'm disappointed in the comment traffic so far. Aside from the four bloggers, the commenters lean decidedly to the right. So far Jill and Jeff's readers haven't followed them into the great Wide Open. You have to sign up -- no anonymice. For myself, I have to dig up my password, but I'll be there. Let's get some lefty voices in the fray and back up our folks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Show Some Third Quarter Love to a Congressional Candidate

Tomorrow night marks the end of the third quarter reporting period for political campaigns. If you have any notion to help one of the Ohio Congressional candidates, this would be a good time to do it. The more the campaigns raise at this remove from the election, the more they look viable to the big money. If we want Dem funders and DCCC to take Ohio races seriously, we need to show they are serious.

Here are the candidates who seem to be in the best position to make use of some early dough:

    Bill O'Neill, 14th District.
    O'Neill was an appellate court judge until he stepped down to take a run at Steve LaTourette in the Fourteenth. He's also the 2006 candidate for the Supreme Court who vowed to take no campaign contributions from anyone. My friend Jeff Coryell was there when O'Neill Met the Bloggers and reported that this is a serious race. The district has some swing potential, loaded as it is with suburban independents, and O'Neill has the chops to give LaTourette his biggest challenge in years.

    Rosemary Palmer, 10th District.
    Recently a commenter snidely pointed out that the reason Dennis Kucinich won't debate his challenger is that he is running for President. Um, he's running for Congress as well. And if he isn't, he'd better note that he has opponents who are. Of the two, I like the notes Palmer is hitting -- basically she and Dennis agree on many issues, but she is more interested in actually improving things than grandstanding. It's like she was trying to appeal to a militant pragmatist or something.

    John Boccieri, 17th District.
    State Sen. and Air Force Reserve Major John Boccieri is running for Ralph Regula's seat. Depending on what day you read the paper, Boccieri will run against Regula, OR the seat will be vacated by Regula's retirement and State Sen. Kirk Schuring will run, OR he'll run against the winner of a bruising primary between Schuring and State Rep. Scott Oelslager OR the Republicans could face a three way primary if term-limited Sen. Ron Amstutz enters and Amstutz could sneak in as the two Stark County. In any event, the Dems have one candidate and he's a solid guy with party support behind him.
I give honorable mention to Mary Jo Kilroy and Dave Woolever. Kilroy would make the list if she actually had an opponent. Woolever might if he didn't -- he's a much more interesting candidate if the incumbent holding the seat makes good on his retirement talk.

So you have three solid candidates who can build effective campaigns if the money comes in now. Surf over and give generously. And when the Ohio congressional delegation turns blue, you can say you helped out back when.

Building Inspectors Inspected

The Akron Building Department has been dinged by an Ohio oversight agency for failing to comply with rules:

    Akron's building department has failed to adhere to the rules and procedures established by the Ohio Board of Building Standards.

    And four department employees will be advised Monday of a move to revoke their certifications as inspectors.

    That was the finding of a voluminous report released today by the Ohio Department of Commerce that resulted from an investigation into complaints against the city's building department and its suspended chief officer, Greg Burgoon.

At the mayoral primary debate, Joe Finley cited a recent Plusquellec harague at the building department as Exhibit A. He alleged that the interim building inspector had resigned as a result (as it turns out, untrue.) Somehow he had a recording of the incident and his spokeslawyer Warner Mendenhall was handing out CDs in the lobby after the event. Mendenhall said that

Plusquellec's response was to own it proudly. He said the inspection department wasn't doing the job and damn yes he got after them. Not that he needs validation, but this is big time validation. And how bad would Finley look now if he had pulled off the upset and was now against the inevitable Republican as Independent challenger?

Top Chef Semifinal – Ranch Dressing.

I’ve got no idea what’s going on in the previews at the end of last week’s show. The previously segment for tonight’s show reviews the whole show, emphasis on camaraderie. Interesting, because that’s been a real difference from past shows. As much of an insufferable ass as Hung can be, he still seems pretty much accepted by the group, unlike Tiffany in Season 1 or Marcel last season, both of whom had pretty much burned bridges with the larger group. If Howie was still around things may have been different, but this season we don’t have the group and the outcast.

OK, I’ve just seen Casey, Dale and Brian hug like crazy when they meet up, then Hung roll up to a perfunctory “it’s been a while.” So it’s not big love between Hung and the rest. Not out and out hostility like, say Marcel and everyone else, but definitely a chill

The chefs ride a limo that rolls up to a Top Chef hot air balloon and are given a nice hot air balloon ride. During the ride, we get some up-close-and-personal with Dale and Hung. Dale had lost a job and a boyfriend and was generally out of the game when he signed up for the show. Hung talks about his father getting out of Vietnam and working here to get the rest of the family out.

By the way, Vietnamese ex-patriots by and large rival Cuban ex-pats for antipathy for the current regime in their homeland. They are not, for example, uniformly enchanted to learn that Kid T is Vietnamese.

Back to the show. The chefs are getting smarter. They know as they set down in the middle of no where, that something is up. They walk through the woods and see Padma and Eric Rippert, another returning Top Chef judge.

They are on the banks of Frying Pan River, a noted Aspen area trout stream. The challenge is to clean and cook a fresh trout on a camp stove. Their prep surfaces are the uneven and sloping tops of big tree stumps. Casey, Brian and Dale all note that they are out of practice trying to beat the clock.

Hung finishes with more than seven minutes left. And when time is up he realizes he forgot to add lemon juice. I’m not clear on whether he planned to add it last, and forgot, or just plain forgot for, um, seven minutes and five seconds, apparently.

Least favorites. Brian – the salad isn’t salted. . .? By the way, one thing I’ve learned from watching the show is that haute cuisine connoisseurs expect the food to be seasoned something close to how they like it. You never see a judge ask for the salt shaker. Brian says it’s all good because trout is not seafood.

Favs. Hung, “highly refined,” but you needed lemon juice. Casey gets high marks and her food “has a soul.” Hung looks ready to physically rip Rippert’s soul form his body. In interview he complains that his dish was “more refined.” This is back to Dale’s remarks last week – Casey has heart and Hung is all about refined technique.

We have some more up close and personal, including Hung talking about his mom. If this means anything, it suggests the producers are softening the blow for a Hung win. But apparently they don’t know who won yet since somehow they plan to announce live.

Elimination Challenge.

They are at Moon Run Ranch. I’m writing all this about big Aspen sites like it means something. I’ve never been to Apsen so I take Top Chef at their word that these places are special. Jerome Hotel, Moon Run Ranch.

The challenge is to cater an annual rodeo roundup. We have interview shots of chefs fretting about what cowboys eat. And either Dale has ramped up the ribald talk or the editor has decided to let that side start coming through, but we learn that Dales only experience with cowboys is, erm, experience with cowboys.

Because she won the quickfire, Casey gets to use whatever special ingredients she brought..

Colicchio and Dale are both dubious about Brian braising the elk in three hours. When Dale says it’s a problem because the meat is very lean, I think he is talking about how long it will take to melt enough collagen to make the meat taste moist. Generally, when meat is cooked through it feels dry in your mouth. It can gain a moist mouth feel from fat and/or melted, dissolved collagen. Collagen is connective tissue which is a shank has plenty of. Dale, I assume, is thinking it would take a very long braise to melt and dissolve enough collagen in the shanks to make the meat taste and feel moist.

Casey is not taking advantage of her quickfire win. She’s saving her stuff for the actual finale. Colicchio says that “because of the level of competition” three going to the finale.

Dale is giving up on his tart and switching to some potatoes and cauliflower dish. After almost three seasons of Top Chef, we are finally seeing chefs say something isn’t working and scrapping it.

Whoa, Casey suddenly rolls out a Texas drawl as the customers roll up. Casey’s is the very rare meat we heard Colicchio complain about in the previews. Dales is the “lot going on on the plate” dish.

The chefs all seemed confident but as soon as Padma says Judge’s Table everyone seems to get suddenly paranoid.

Judge's Table.

Sounds like Dale is up top, they have real problems with Casey, Brian and Hung. Casey meat is too rare, Brian put too much on the plate and Hung mixed summery garnishes with wintery potatoes.

I hate this “why should you go on” business. It always strikes me as made for TV. This time, though, Dale’s answer is actually fairly touching. It’s hard to believe he hadn’t cooked for a year and half before the first quickfire – you would think there had been an audition. Nonetheless, it’s a nice redemption story.

Hung all through Judge’s Table is completely full of crap. He told the camera he hated the elk challenge, now he loves it. He told the camera, screw the cowboys, I’m just cooking for the judges. Now it’s all about giving the customers good food. And when asked about why he should go on, the uses the word “soul” about a dozen times.

I’m at the commercial break. Dale is the clear winner of the challenge. Hung is in – they aren’t going to send him home now just because he got no soul. It’s between Brain and Casey who is packing and who is staying. Brian’s dish is too sweet and has too much crap on the plate. Casey has a great sauce but undercooked meat and a weird cauliflower dish that nobody liked.

When Tom says that Brian’s dish is a typical Brian dish, it doesn’t sound good for him.

The viewer question is who people most want to see sent home. Hung by a landslide.

The winner is Dale, which had been pretty well telegraphed.

Brian is packing. No build up, just gone. Brian didn’t learn the lesson of his last challenge – less is more. If they were only putting two in the finale, Casey would almost certainly be out, but now she has a shot at the big prize.

Dale seems to be peaking at the right time and could pull off an upset. Otherwise, it’s Hung vs. Casey; technique vs. soul. The finale is next week, plus we’ve been teased for another reunion after that.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Surveillance Cameras in Highland Square

Posted yesterday on Ohio dot com:

    Akron police-operated security cameras soon will be monitoring activity in the Highland Square business area and on Copley Road, west of Diagonal Road.

    Both locales are in West Akron.

    The cameras, which will continuously pan the areas once they become operational in October, represent the first segment of a security project, George Romanoski, Akron's deputy mayor for public safety, said in a news release issued today.

    * * *

    The recorded video will be stored in the cameras for up to two weeks.

    Police looked at severity and frequency of incidents in choosing areas for the cameras. Also, residents, business owners and judges have recommended spots.

All the information in the story comes from the press release. It would have been interesting to learn whether the choice of Highland square was based on the crime number crunching or the neighborhood "recommendations." HS residents have been concerned about some high-profile muggings and assaults lately and can be quite relentless about "recommending" things. On the other hand, it's an open question whether HS is a high crime an area in need of high-tech policing.

Of course it could go the other way with Square denizens resenting the surveillance. Big Brother and all that. You never can tell with the Square. As of tonight, they haven't started talking about it on the HSNA website.

By the way, the big advance in technology which has made this sort of thing possible isn't the cameras themselves, but the data storage. Think for a moment about a hardwired camera leading to a video tape deck. You would be generating three tapes a day which, after two weeks, adds up to 54 tapes. Just finding the physical space to store the media was a real problem. Now the camera itself will store the equivalent of all those tapes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Carnival of Politics #84

It's up, with an Orwellian theme. Obvious, but given how much of blogging is given over to parsing political doublespeak, obvious worked.

By the way, heartfelt apologies to my fellow administrators. Not only did I inadvertently start the labor-generating tradition of finding a nexus among the carnival number, graphic and theme, I did so having by far the easiest numbers to work with. I mean, 76, 80, 84 -- the posts practically write themselves. Meanwhile poor Jill has to deal with 83.

Not that I'm going to stop, mind you. 88 is next. Time to brush up on piano terminology.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Faux Independents Spoiling the CF Muni Clerk Race.

We now know the names of the first six people who John Widowfield will hire if he is elected to replace Lisa Zeno Carano as Cuyahoga Falls Municipal clerk. Assuming that history repeats, they will be Anne-Marie Bretzin, Amy Grace Goodrich, Carol A. Gostlin, Ruth Ann Mundy, Kimberly Steinwedel and Kristi Marie Sykora, the six "independents" tapped by Alex Arshinkoff's Republicans to run as independents.

According to the ABJ:

    Many of the same people circulated their petitions. The petitions contain identical signatures signed in the same order on the same days. And the petitions even appear to have been typed on the same typewriter, with a faulty ''m'' key.

    The candidates are all women and most go by three names as does Lisa Zeno Carano, the Democratic candidate for clerk.

    Some are questioning whether the candidates are independent. They think the six are plants by the Republican Party aimed at splitting the Democratic and female vote in the nonpartisan race and giving State Rep. John Widowfield, the lone Republican and male among the candidates an advantage.
So, a typically classy and fair-minded move by A2 and company. When Alex did this before, running the normally Republican Tracy Kennedy as an Independent in the Akron Muni race, Ms. Kennedy ended up with a job in the office of winner Jim Laria. Because everyone hires people who ran against them. (Though it's not clear what Kennedy got for being the designated splitter in the Ohio 13th race.)

Local Dems are challenging the independent status of the candidates, a challenge that goes to Secretary of State Brunner as the Board of Elections split along party lines.

Meanwhile, the spin is hilarious. A2 claims he's only doing this because the Dems are running Never mind that he's been playing games with independent candidates for years. On the other hand, Team Coughlin is acting all verklempt about it. From the ebag:
    Don't get us wrong, we're Republicans and we'll support Widowfield. But at what expense? Anne-Marie Bretzin, Amy Grace Goodrich, Carol A. Gostlin, Ruth Ann Mundy, Kimberly Steinwedel and Kristi Marie Sykora are all nice ladies. Should a party chairman use them in such a way that damages their reputations, places them under investigation, and welcomes media scrutiny? That's no way to treat loyal party activists.
I wouldn't worry about Kev. Loyal party activists generally get taken care of for this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, it's fine for the Kevinites to be trying to spin it theior way, but this undermines his most recent volley in the Elephant Wars. The CF Clerk's office was supposed to be an office that was subject to the deal between the Ds and Rs, with the Dems supposedly trading Carano's position for Sheriff and an office to be named later. So why did party stalwarts like David Brennan need to drop five-figure donations on Widowfield's campaign? Why is he going to the billboard-sized yard signs all over the district? And why have they thrown a half dozen spoilers into the race. That doesn't sound like a race Alex is treating as a gimme.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

That Random Thing

I was terribly late for a meeting in Geauga County today because the Google Maps directions kept directing me to bridges that weren't there. I vaguely recall reports of destructive floods there earlier this summer which, lemme tell ya, were not exaggerated. For my birthday my wife offered either a new flat screen monitor or a GPS. I was happy with my choice of monitor until today.

Does anyone else think Notre Dame's first-ever 0-4 start has more to do with the school's admirable refusal to water down academic requirements than problems with their coaches? Look at the Top Twenty-Five and nearly all are big conference factories. Notre Dame can maintain its integrity or win, but cannot, I suspect, do both.

At least four people have found their way to the pages by Googling "french dish coco van." No single blog-related occurrence has made me as happy in a long time.

Don't look for a post tomorrow. I really need to get back to blogging on my church blog. Sunday seems an appropriate time for that, somehow. Right now the plan is to hit that Sunday and come back here Monday night. Speaking of my side projects, I'm up for the Carnival this week, so take this as your first reminder.

Now here it is, your Moment of Ten:

1. "Mary Ann," Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys
2. "Lonesome Day Blues," Bob Dylan
3. "Eternal Life," Jeff Buckley
4. "And Never Look Back," Matthew Ryan
5. "Knocked Up," Kings of Leon
6. "The Roar of the Masses Could Be Farts," The Minutemen
7. "Certain Songs," The Hold Steady'
8. "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie," Louis Jordan
9. "Turn a Square," The Shins
10. "Love Is Here to Stay," Dexter Gordon

University Reshuffling in NEO?

Friday the PD broke the news that the University of Akron and Cleveland state might merge. Or might not. Or that NEOUCOM will move to Cleveland. Or Akron. Or will stay in Rootstown.

One thing is for sure -- things will stay the same up to the moment that they change.

Oh, and no one will tell us what's happening.

To back up a bit, the PD story ledes as follows:

    An idea to shake up the state's college system could combine Cleveland State University and the University of Akron and bring a medical school to downtown Cleveland.

    Some of the talk involves moving the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, known as NEOUCOM, from Portage County or expanding its Rootstown-based campus.

The story then checks in with all the players -- Gov. Strickland, University Chancellor Fingerhut, UA Prez Proenza and CSU Prez Michael Schwartz -- all of whom give a version of "no comment." The PD does not disclose who gave them the information in the lede. The story just says this might happen, but no one is talking.

Katie Byard at the Beacon called Proenza and got a story up on Ohio dot com yesterday saying that such talk is premature. Speaking on NewsNightAkron, WAKR's Larry States said the same thing -- Proenza said the discussion is "not ready for prime time." (As of right now AkronNewsNow is offline.)

Byard's breaking story has been replaced with a more extensively reported version in today's print edition. There we learn that:

    University of Akron President Luis Proenza said Friday that talk of combining his school and Cleveland State University has been around a long time.

    In an e-mail to the UA campus community, Proenza wrote that ''the idea described'' in an article in Friday's Plain Dealer ''is merely one of those ideas'' being presented as ''bold proposals that would strengthen higher education in our region.''

Oh, and Mike Rasor, the ABJ's U Akron sports blogger is not amused. He climbs all over Chancellor Fingerhut, resetting the "You say finger" chant. And somewhere Tim Russo smiles.

Most Akronites will side with Rasor at the suggestion of anything like a merger. Despite the fact that Akron is half again as big as CSU, despite the fact that Akron has evolved from a commuter school to a research university with a real campus and a growing community and CSU really hasn't, Akronites will assume that merger means becoming the CSU/Akron campus. As Ed Esposito notes, that's how it is when you "collaberate" with The Big City. And no one around here will accept that.

According to States last night, Chancellor Fingerhut "decries the lack of a world class research institution" outside of Ohio State. Akron certainly has done more to work toward that end than CSU -- to the point that Polymer is truly a world class center.

So while merging Akron into Cleveland State makes little sense, repurposing Cleveland State as a satellite of Akron might. How about Northeast Ohio State University at Akron with a Cleveland campus? Clevelanders are no more likely to live peacefully with that idea that we would tolerate the reverse, but there it is.

Hey, no one said this regionalism stuff would be easy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Did Bloggers Prompt Proliferation of Fact Checker Sites

FactCheck dot org has generously publicized two new "fact check" sites run by mainstream media operations. The St. Petersburgh Times' PolitiFact* debuted a few months ago and WaPo's The Fact Checker went live earlier this week. Both the MSM sites do the sort of analysis as Annenberg's Fact Check, but with a little more happy news talk about them.

Writing in Slate, news watcher Jack Shafer ponders why members of the media are loath to use the word "lie" to describe the blatant falsehoods of, say, Alberto Gonzalez. Then he notes a trend away from that reluctance, namely the new fact checking sites. And he sites one reason why:

    [George Washington University media professor Mark] Feldstein sees the features as an example of the press adapting to a more competitive environment, noting that "bloggers are not loath to call people liars." The fact-checking sites "offer more analytical and pointed coverage, because their old bland standard of objectivity doesn't cut it any longer," he says.
Not too far off, I think. Even for blogs like this one that have not declared outright war on the "liberal elite msm" or the "corporate-owned msm," the strictures of the cult of objectivity frustrate no end. Reporters love to play false equivalency and, as Shafer notes, even where they call BS it's buried deep in the story. No question many bloggers have taken up the art after a lifetime of shouting in frustration at the TV or newspaper.

And with three fact checking sites, those same bloggers now have that much more information to blog about.

Notes: While I routinely read Slate, this article was flagged by Free Press.

*If you wonder why a gulf coast paper was the first to roll out such a site, the parent company of St. Petersburg Times is run by the Poynter Institute, a journalism school located there.

A New Pino Flurry

My blog stats counter serves as a Julio Pino news alerts system. When I see a spate of hits from searches for "Julio Pino," odds are Mike Adams has written another anti-Pino screed. Indeed, it has worked again.

Apparently Adams got a 9/11 anniversary note purporting to be from Pino. Interestingly, Adams says he thougth it might be a fraud and wrote Pino to confirm. Interesting because he was so sure emails he got last year that purported to be from Pino were authentic.

At any rate, neither Pino nor KSU officials responded to Adams' inquiries.

The email as quoted sounds more deadpan jihadist than much of the work of Lover of Angels -- the blogger thought to be Pino. The original Lover of Angels sounded more like a Borat version of Islamic radicalism, particularly in comments on other BlogHi blogs. So it may be a fake Lover or the same guy with refined (!) patter.

Ever since the first couple days of the story, Kent State's strategy has been STFU, for both officials at the University and Pino himself. And Pino has stuck to that strategy which would be surprising if he really were that wild-eyed nut Lover of Angels.

As a result, Adams has received no reply to his inquiries to Kent State and to Pino himself. Now I don't blame people for not addressing Adams directly as he seems a little unbalanced himself. This is, after all, the man who said Pino should be shipped to an offshore black site and tortured for his blog work. When Adams describes Islam as "the world's most violent religion," he sounds more jealous than disapproving.

Nonetheless, the latest episode reminds me how frustrating the whole controversy has been. Pino has never explained his exact relationship to the former Global War blog. I don't find Pino hide-under-the-bed scary like Adams apparently does, but I nonetheless think those of us in Ohio who pay his salary have a right to know where he stands on this. And it aggravates me that he hides behind his right to free speech.

Set aside whether a Pino-approved regime would extend that right to its citizens, I don't want to curb his speech, I want him to disclose whether the speech on Global War was his.

Top Chef: The French Convection


Did we know 4 people are going to Aspen? I did not recall that.


The chefs are wandering New York City, then wander over to legendary restaurant Le Cirque. Apparently they were told the address or something because they act like “Aha, this is where we are supposed to be.”

They taste a super-special, VIP-only dish, served by the restaurant’s equally legendary founder. Then the Quickfire is to duplicate the dish, cooking one at a time in the Le Cirque kitchen as the staff is cooking food for paying customers.

It freaks me out to see people using a mandoline without a hand guard. Sarah especially is just scary with that thing. How she escaped incorporating paper-thin slices of hand in the dish I do not know.

I’m also disoriented to see a challenge without a product placement. I kind of doubt Le Cirque paid a placement fee.

Damn, did Dale just blow up Hung. “The best food has heart and if you don’t have one . . .” Nonethelss, the win goes to Hung. Casey is close and apparently also gets hottie points.

The teaser for the next segment shows Padma saying that the chefs and Le Cirque consider “these ingredients to be the ultimate culinary test.” Could be eggs, though they already did that for the season 1 and 2 throwdown.

Elimination Challenge.

French Culinary Institute. Faculty has come up with “ultimate culinary test.” Chicken, pototo and onion. For as ubiquitous as it is, chicken is challenging to cook – particularly the white meat. Cf – every fundraiser dinner you’ve ever been to.

This will be particularly challenging given that Colichio seems extremely picky about chicken. He’s probably less than .500 for the sum total of chicken dishes made on the show over three seasons.

Hung gets an extra half hour for winning the Quickfire and will serve first. As usual, he swings his knives around like an ostentatious crazy person.

They have $200 at a green market. Uh oh. Dale talks about being close to Casey. Last two people who were featured discussing a tight relationship with Casey didn’t last that episode.

We get some up close and personal time with each chef. Some happy talk about Why We Cook, in addition to what they are cooking.

Brian tells Colicchio about the peasant’s pie he face falls. Colicchio has something cautionary to say about each chef’s choice. He’s particularly troubled that Casey is calling her dish coq au vin. (BTW, that’s how you spell that which she keeps calling “coco van.” Yahoo! I’m coocoo for coco van!

The judges are the deans of the school. Even Colicchio is intimidated by the level of talent in the room. Interesting that they are eating a series of chicken dinners and matching with red wine.

Hung first. One chef quibbles with his pommes dauphine. Other than that, it’s a successful dish. Sarah’s dish doesn’t go over at all. Plus Gail’s chicken was undercooked. That’s a big problem.

Dale forgets the sauce that was going to be the major wow on his plate. The judges like Brian’s. There’s a complaint about whether it’s a chicken dish or a sausage dish rounded out with chicken. Funny how they like it so much better than his co-competitors. Casey also is successful, but again they complain about branding it coq au vin,

Looks like it’s Dale or Sarah heading home.

Judge’s Table.

Is Casey really going to lose out because she called her dish coq au vin? Apparently. Hung wins, but gets nothing. Would be interesting to know how the resolved the conflict. Gail and Tom preferred Casey’s dish. The guest judge preferred Hung.

Casey and Brian are in.

The judges retire to discuss who gets sent home. Interesting framing by Colicchio. Dale’s dish was a poor concept. Sarah had a good concept but poorly executed. He asks which is the bigger sin. I suspect the answer would be bad execution. When they were eating, Mrs. French Culinary Institute makes the remark that Sarah needs more experience. That doesn’t get you on the road to being Top Chef.

Padma does a switcheroo, saying “Dale . . . you are going to the finale.” Good TV maybe but pretty harsh to Sarah.

Damn, Dale must be good. He survives being friends with Casey.

So we have our final four. We know that anything can happen in the semifinal. Last season Marcel getting in the final and Sam not was a huge surprise. Hung and Casey have to be the favorites going in and if the final challenge is just cook your best, Hung is an overwhelming favorite. But the semifinal is always something funky and the previews show cooking outside on a campstove. Getting down to the final two will be interesting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dennis Kucinich Is Completely Shameless.

Congressman and presidential campaign hobbyist Dennis Kucinich (D-Candyland) is at it again. He still has not responded to a debate challenge from his Congressional primary opponent, Rosemary Palmer. But that doesn't stop him from pitching a hissy about being excluded from Iowa events.

Kucinich has famously concentrated his Presidential nomination strategy on winning New Hampshire. As a result of that and the fact that he isn't raising money or hiring staff, he has no presence in Iowa. Organizations hosting campaign events set rules that candidates must have a presence in Iowa. Kucinich doesn't so he doesn't get invited. Then he tosses his hissy and everyone walks away happy. DK gets free pub and the rest get a Dennis-free event.

The latest character in the ensemble is AARP which is co-hosting a candidate forum, along with Iowa Public Television. According to Kucinich, he is getting snubbed because AARP is too cozy with insurance companies:

    Kucinich sees something darker at play. As his campaign explains it, AARP's partnership with private health insurers will generate $4 billion in revenues for the organization over seven years. Kucinich wants to take profits -- and premiums, deductibles and co-payments -- out of the equation. In a Kucinich White House, he says, there would be health coverage for all.

    So AARP is excluding him from its forum, he says, because it has "a $4 billion vested interest in preserving the role of private, for-profit insurance companies in the health care industry."

Yes Dennis , everyone with a stake in the status quo is scared of you. That's why you don't get invited to things -- because they are afraid you're going to win. After all, you are only a couple appearances in Iowa away from breaking the psychologically important five percent barrier.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

SummitCo Elephant Wars: Kevin Coughlin Needs a Witness

For anyone worried that if blogs go away there will be no place for gossip, innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations in politics, relax. State Sen. Kevin Coughlin has you covered.

In a story that eerily echoes the most compelling arguments made against blogs, the Akron Beacon Journal today runs with Coughlin alleging that the two county parties have agreed to divide the county elected offices into spheres of influence -- a sort of Rubber City Yalta. Here's what showed up last night on the Coughlin, er sorry, New Republicans website:

    Reports coming out of Summit County Republican Headquarters are that Chairman Alex Arshinkoff has made yet another deal with local Democrats at the expense of our party's future.

    In the latest deal, the Republican Party will not challenge County Executive Russ Pry or County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh in 2008. In addition, the Republican Party will give the Democrats the Summit County Sheriff's office (an office the GOP currently holds).

    In return, the Democrats will allow the GOP to win the Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Clerk of Courts race and the Green mayor's race in 2007. Republicans will also get the two new common pleas judgeships that will appear on the ballot in 2008.
Now here is the Beacon Journal article:
    A state senator claims the Summit County Republican and Democratic parties have swung Election Day deals to determine the outcome of some key upcoming races a charge that party leaders called untrue and childish.

    Republicans will not seek to upend Democratic incumbents in the county executive or county prosecutor's office next year and will give up the GOP-held sheriff's office, Sen. Kevin Coughlin said.

    In exchange, the Democrats will allow Republicans to win the Cuyahoga Falls Municipal clerk of courts and Green mayor seats this year, and permit Republicans to capture two new Common Pleas judgeships that will appear on the ballot next year, he said.

    ''This has been the standard practice around here so the (Republican) party doesn't have to pay for competitive races,'' Coughlin, a Republican from Cuyahoga Falls, said Tuesday.

If ABJ reporter Rich Armon asked Kev how he knew all this, the answer doesn't appear in the article. Or on the website, for that matter. But at this point, we should demand proof. Presumably the party leadership didn't tell Coughlin about the deal, since they know by now that any dirty laundry gets hung out on the New Republicans' line. So how does he know all this? Who told him, and how does that person know? Until he can provide more than "reports coming out of Summit County Republican Headquarters," nobody should take this seriously.

As of now, the Republicans deny the charge, as do the Democrats. Two of the people named as trade bait -- Sheriff Drew Alexander and Green mayoral candidate Andy Padrutt -- deny the allegations. And of course, a reply post on the pro-Alex blog went up last night. We have Kevin's "reports" and nothing else. Give us a name, Kev, or we call BS.

Meanwhile, the deal doesn't even make sense. The last time Dems cut a deal with A2, they got hosed. Alex got what he wanted -- no challenge to Sheriff Alexander (the guy who now supposedly is set to walk away, btw.) Sherri Bevan Walsh, on the other hand, dealt with an independent challenge from Republican David Drew. And by all appearances, Drew didn't suffer an lasting party discipline -- he was on the party's slate for County Council last year.

That's the problem with these deal; cheating is easy, enforcement is impossible. The supposed deal at play is even less enforceable than the Walsh/Alexander deal. Can the Dems guarantee that Padrutt will lose? I know some folks on the campaign and I can guarantee they will work their asses off. Zeno Carano? Ditto. And trust me, Lisa wouldn't stand for a deal which freezes her out.

And besides that, what do the Dems gain? Give up the Cuy Falls clerkship and two common pleas judgeships for the Sheriff's office? Why do that when they are on a roll county wide? They've picked up judgeships the last two cycles. Why give them up?

Coughlin makes the allegations right after A2 accused him of supporting Padrutt in Green. Arshinsquellec, my favorite non-anonymous commenter on the Elephant Wars, chimed in to say the allegations are untrue. (Oh wait, he's my only non-anonymous commenter on the Elephant Wars.) Reports from my computer say that Coughlin is trying to slap back and cause division in the ranks.

You can quote me on that.

Carnival #83

Jill has the newest Carnival up. She went retro NASCAR for the graphic. Based on my research, the #83 Hot Tamales car was a Kerry Earnhardt's paint scheme heading into Daytona in 2003. It wasn't his regular paint scheme in the 2003 season. How retro is that? Long enough ago that it was still called the Winston Cup series.

Kerry is the older, less successful half-brother of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He's the son of Dale Sr's first wife, not of wicked stepmother Teresa.

All about service here at Pho's House of Useless Knowledge.

Back to the Carnival -- we are trying to encourage people to submit posts with an Ohio connection. We have so much going on here in the state

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Top Chef Catchup

A Few Notes About the Show I Missed.

Product placements were amped yet again. They had a bare bones kitchen for the aisle challenge, with staples like Bombay Sapphire gin. Then back at the apartment, Sarah is seen changing a trash can liner – Glad of course.

It was a little odd to hear Colicchio beat up on people who chose to do multiple dishes. In last season’s catering challenge the losing team didn’t make enough different dishes. They had other problems as well, but the limited selection was a key problem.

It was also after last season’s catering challenge that Mia took herself out (send my ass home) rather than see Elia go home. This year Howie tried to do the same thing (for utterly unfathomable reasons) but the judge’s said it was there decision. Then they sent his ass home.

I must admit to being quite snarky when Casey was cutting the meat for her carpaccio. Raw dishes like carpacchio, tartar and sashimi are all about knife skills and her knife skills during the mise en place relay were wanting. But she killed her team in that relay by chopping onions so daintily. In fact, she diced onions like she was cutting carpaccio. When the subject is carpaccio, her knife skills were enough to give her the win.

Previous winners must have looked at that MacBook she got and wondered WTF. A bunch of them got, well, books. She gets a $1500 computer.

Top Chef Week 11: Flying Fish


No tea leaves to read. Casey won and Howie packed. We knew that.

The show starts with pastoral music playing in the background as the camera pans over sleeping chefs. Padma bursts into the apartment at 6 a.m. Dale (the gay guy) notes that the other male


Brought to you by Breville blenders. The cutting element spins in a recess I’ve been waiting for the Breville product placement as they have been advertising And damn I wish I was in the market for a blender as those Brevilles are nice.

The quickfire is make a breakfast using a campstove and a Breville blender. Hung as usual is letting food fall over the place. Casey is looking awkward with the knife as usual. Sarah says the Padma loves alcohol which makes Hung look strong as he has a smoothie spiked with Grand Marnier.

Padma likes Hung and Sarah. Padma picks Hung because he used the blender to make something that hit all parts of her palette. True to the sponsor is she. Hung’s prize is

I’ve got to give the producers props for creativity this season. I liked this quickfire which deviated sharply from the standard format. Creativity in the past has meant cooking out of vending machines or some such. This was a cool challenge without being silly.

Elimination Challenge.

Padma announces that the show is hitting the road. We have a commercial break cliffhanger (a chance to review the qualities of the Breville blender) then we find out they are heading to New York.

We have a few shots of the group packing for New York. The producers want to assure you all that Casey looks quite nice in a tank top and a pair of sleep boxers.

CJ said all he wanted was a piece of pizza in NYC. When Padma stops them in Newark airport and tells the chefs they have to get through the first challenge before they will get to New York, I fear for the tall guy.

The elimination challenge is to make a meal worthy of First Class airline service. The chefs all get a tour of Continental’s kitchen facility and all must wear hairnets. I’d love to know how long Padma’s hair stylist spent perching the hairnet so that just enough of her luxurious locks remain visible.

The dishes have to fit in a foil box which will then be uniformly heated for ten minutes. Hung gets to pick his protein first and goes with sea bass (no environmentalist he.) We learn that CJ chooses halibut, Dale chooses filet and Brian is doing surf and turf with Lobster and New York strip.

The chefs can’t find stuff in the kitchen and comedy ensues.

Colicchio’s walk through. He tells Hung he would never order fish on a plane. Hung says no problem.

We find out that Casey is doing veal and Sarah has salmon. Colicchio always seems to take sadistic glee about the chefs “starting to crack.” I figured they would have to serve the dishes in a plane, but some of them seem surprised. And the “travel experts” are a bunch of Continental flight attendants and crew. Again, surprising only to people who haven’t seen the show before.

Brian is out first. A huge strip steak and a lobster and potato hash that Colicchio and Bourdain do not like. The lobster is completely overcooked, Tom says.

Dale next, filet and poached shrimp. He doesn’t have enough dinners.

Sarah with Salmon. Salmon looked like a risk since the chefy choice is to cook salmon medium rare. In any event, some of the pieces end up overcooked. And Bourdain gets one of them.

CJ is in big trouble. Bourdain and Colicchio have a little bitchfest going and they bitch about his broccolini more than anything. Broccolini is a specialty food that tastes bitter under the best of circumstances and is pretty unforgiving.

Judge’s Table.

They have a guest judge, plus the swing spot is not Gail, not Ted, not Dana Corwin, but slam master Anthony Bourdain.

Padma calls back Hung, Casey and Dale. Casey and Hung had to be hating life – they were with the guy who made one plate too few.

Bourdain effuses over Casey’s dish. Probably the nicest he’s been about any dish ever

Casey wins for the second time in a row and gets . . . A New Car!! No, but almost as good – Continental Business class tickets to anywhere in the world the carrier flies. I suppose as the game wears on the prizes get bigger, but it seems like a sudden, huge jump. On the other hand, if I were a chef, hanging out and cooking with some of judges is probably a better deal.

The other three then on the carpet for being the worst. Now Bourdain can really shine. Sarah’s salmon was catfood. CJ’s broccolini was “horrifying,” something you couldn’t serve in prison. The lobster in the hash had the texture of “doll head.”

Brian – the lobster hash was “disgusting.” Sarah – some salmon pieces were overcooked and the couscous tasted like an afterthought.

After conference Tom runs through the shortcomings of each dish again. CJ’s broccolini has been demoted from Worst Dish of Top Chef Season 3 to Worst Dish in Top Chef History.

CJ is out. Padma honestly looks on the verge of tears as she tells him to go pack. CJ was the quipmaster. No doubt the editor will miss having his interviews to cut into the action.

Chrissie Hynde Roundup

Rocker Chrissie Hynde is swung through Akron to open her first vegetarian restaurant, Vegeterranean. Chrissie has always been on the short list for Coolest Rock Chick Ever. So cool, in fact that she can make the PETA agenda sound something other than completely ridiculous. How many people can say publicly "I'm just here to save some cows" and fail to elicit howls of derisive laughter? That's a short list indeed.

Needless to say, the return of Akron's favorite wayward daughter garnered plenty of interest. If you are just catching up, here's where to go. Crain's Cleveland and AkronNewsNow each posted video of the press conference in which Ms. Hynde praised the city for restoring the steps where she got high as a teenager.

By the way, I never knew that Chrissie was Jewish, but she cut lose with a mazel tov and a la chaim. So let me amend my initial remarks: Chrissie Hynde is so cool that she can talk about saving some cows without sounding meshugga.

WAKR news editor and new blogger Ed Esposito has had extra fun with the story. He wrote one post about the press conference and another about her anti-meat agenda. His current sidebar poll asks "Will Chrissie Get You Off Meat?" Current opinion is running heavily pro-carnivore with two days left to vote.

More sympathetic to the veggie agenda are Village Green and Radio Free Newport both of whom attended one or both events and turned in great posts.

As has been happening a lot lately, other life demands kept me home wondering how the concert was. But you know me, I love pretending.

The CC Cy Young Watch Begins. And Ends.

This weekend ABJ scribe Patrick McManamon made the case for Tribe ace CC Sabathia winning the Cy Young award. It's a wonderful idea to dream on. It's been decades since an Indian's pitcher was in the conversation for the award, and longer still since that conversation didn't include a side discussion about saliva on baseballs. What's more, Cleveland fans have lived through a succession of highly-touted fireballers who never quite dominated like they were supposed to -- think Greg Swindell, Jaret Write, Bartolo Colon.

Tribe fans could be forgiven up to this season for thinking that CC would join that list of good-but-not-great pitchers showing flashes of brilliance but unable to sustain it for a season. This year, CC has broken out, turning in a performance that legitimately makes him one of the top two or three starters in the league. But not, alas, the best.

McManamon offers a solid effort, full of the kind of obscure stats that hometown writers excavate when making the case for their guy:

    Sabathia started Friday night's game with a streak of 10 games in a row in which he had pitched at least six innings and given up two or fewer runs. That's something that has been achieved only six times in the majors since 2003.

    He leads the majors in innings pitched, and is on pace to become the first Indians pitcher since Bob Feller in 1947 to lead the league in that category. His ratio of 5.61 strikeouts per walk is the third best by a left-handed pitcher since 1901.
The problem is that Cy Young voters don't geekily crunch numbers like this for every candidate. Cy Young voting inevitably boils down to win/loss record and ERA. The most sophisticated the analysis will get is looking at permutations like the number of games over .500 or wins over 20.

If CC had a chance this weekend, it ended when he pulled a tough no-decision against KC Saturday night, and Boston ace Josh Beckett won his 19th decision. Unless Beckett loses his last couple decisions and CC wins out, he will likely end up behind Beckett in ERA, total wins and win/loss percentage. In fact, Sabathia currently is tied for third in total wins and tied for sixth in ERA.

In addition, odds are pretty good that Beckett will not only lead the league in wins, but will be the only 20 game winner, almost assuring him the award. And Beckett has all the arguably unfair tangibles going for him: He's a proven ace, he's pitching in a major media market and in a tight, closely watched pennant race against uber-media team New York. In other words, he's far more on the radar of the coastal Cy Young voters than Sabathia.

Hopefully CC will get another look at it, but this is not his year. Still, he's got that streak of 6-inning starts. They can't take that away from him.

News Cycle? What News Cycle?

I'm hopelessly behind on blogging, with God knows how many tabs open and no way to organize it all. And about an hour an a half today before I have to actually do something productive. So I'm pulling up tabs more or less randomly and posting as much as possible. Hang on.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Browns Week 2: Zastudil Gets Another Day Off

Well, not entirely, but one measure of the extraordinary success of the Browns’ offense was the relative inactivity of punter Dave Zastudil. Only two punts all game, and they only turned the ball over once. After taking last week off to recover from an injury, he was probably glad for the extra time to heel. Oh, and because it meant the Browns were steamrollering the Bengals. That’s a nice side benefit.

The Browns probably saved Romeo Crennel’s season with this one game. They didn’t just eke out a win, they looked effective on defense and overpowering on offense. This was by far the best offensive performance of the Crennel era.

On the other hand, the game did no favors for Charlie Frye’s career. Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards and Kellum Winslow all showed themselves to be effective offensive weapons, leading us to wonder what the hell happened last week.

The answer to that probably is about line play. The big difference in today’s game was Cincinnati’s inability to pressure the quarterback. Last week Charlie couldn’t work under pressure, leading to his early hook. This week Cincinnati gave Derek Anderson the time he needed to stand in the pocket (and oh he does stand, doesn’t he?) and get the ball to an open receiver.

The lead story is Lewis’s best game in four years, which is a pity in a way since it overshadows excellent performances by Edwards and Winslow. It was possibly the best game the two ever played in tandem.

Mostly Crennel called a good game, but I wonder about that last drive. With as well as Anderson passed all day, Romeo should have let him put the ball in the air one time to try and extend the drive. But once again the D came up with a stop, Bodden intercepted. Ballgame.

The defense looked better as the game wore on. They started putting at least enough pressure on Palmer to make him throw quickly. More than once he heard footsteps and threw just a little off. The receivers helped by dropping what ever didn’t get there gift wrapped. Also, the defense stopped committing dumb penalties which really hurt them the first half.

While it was maddening how Cincinnati seemed able to pass at will earlier in the game, one thing the Browns D did well was limit runs after the catch. By and large they didn’t let receivers get away and break off huge plays. As a result, the Bengals only averaged 7.7 yards per pass play, against the Browns’ 9.9.

This was a vital win. Not saying they will make the playoffs this year, but a win like this puts wind in the sails that can last for weeks. They have a tough schedule from now until the bye, but they have a rhythm now. They don’t have to just hang on until bye week then try and find themselves.

And for us fans, it is a welcome reminder of how absolutely and completely winning does not suck.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Digesting the Mayoral Primary

The sorta close call re-nomination of Mayor Don Plusquellec offers a bit of a window into the black box that is local politics. So let's probe a little and see what we can see.

The ABJ ran a good piece analyzing the results by ward and the week's News Night Akron delved deeply into it. The Leader story is notable only for Finley crying foul because some of his Republican voters may have been disenfranchised, which is just too easy to bother going there. Results are here.


Before we get started, let's revisit Finley's campaign. I described Finley as inept to which a commenter said, essentially, "Scoreboard." Fair enough, but let's dig deeper than that. The sentinel question is whether Finley's 47% was a vote for him or against Plusquellec. And therein lies the charge of ineptitude.

To be sure, Finley's organization on a shoestring was impressive. As the anonymouse noted, he had a solid volunteer base, got signs distributed well throughout the city and apparently got his vote out.

Which is all the more impressive considering how thoroughly the substance of his campaign failed to inspire. His platform boiled down to being nicer than the current Mayor and opposing everything the mayor supports. This last to a comical degree. Mayor wants to take down the Innerbelt? I like the innerbelt. Mayor rejected a job training program? I'm for it. Mayor wants to redevelop Goodyear Heights? Against it.

On the one hand it was the damnedest primary campaign, on the other, it looked hauntingly familiar. Then I figured out where we had seen this before:

It got to the point that I wondered what Mayor Finley would do without Plusquellec as a foil. The first time a new issue came up, how would Finley know his position without learning Don's first?

All of which made his showing Tuesday that much more remarkable

The Role of the Republicans

One point discussed by the NewsNight Akron gang was the number of Republicans who rolled out to the polls in response to appeals from Without some information about which precincts the Rs came out in, it's hard to even guess how they affected the race.

In any event, Finley was a fool to think Republicans were his friends. If he had pulled off the upset, Alex would have backrolled the strongest candidate he could find to run as an independent. And by strongest I mean not David Drew.

(I wondered if the A2 machine might attempt a sub rosa campaign to turn out Republican votes for Finley for that purpose, although given everthing happening between the R's these days, its doubtful such a campaign could remain quiet. Witness, e.g., Coughlin and Co. campaigning for Andy Padrutt in Green, a move no doubt driven by either punishing an enemy or setting up the Dem they think is weakest.)

It is notable that Finley performed well in the more Republican-leaning southside wards. In particular, the fact that Plusquellec underperformed in Kenmore, the neighborhood with which he is closely identified, suggests an explanation like Republicans and independents turning out for Finley.

Voting for NotDon.

The overwhelming explanation for the result is Plusquellec fatigue. Yes, part of that is the Mayor's occasionally harsh personality. Part is the ill-considered income tax ballot issue last spring. But much, I fear, arises from a general discontent about the economic direction of Akron. Lots of people thought deeply about the state of things to give Plusquellec credit for keeping Akron in better shape than most NEO cities.

But this can't last forever. People around here are getting more and more news like this and they are getting tired of it. While they may for a while say things are a little better here than there or that this is all about forces beyond the control of the guy, eventually they get sufficiently angry that they just vote against everybody. That's poignant news for Plusquellec, but a serious concern for Strickland. He's on an extended honeymoon now, but at some point people are going to start asking where the jobs are.

Finley's Future.

The NNA gang argued about whether Finley has a future in Akron politics. To an extent that depends on Akron's fortunes. If Akron gets some economic good news, Finley will be known as the pol who cried wolf to the extent he is remembered at all. If the city struggles he could find a place as standard bearer for a voter rebellion. He'll have that Kucinich "Guy Who Was Right All Along" thing going for him.

He certainly is done with the mainstream Democratic Party. He made no friends among the progressives with his pro-life stand. But he could conceivably lead a broad, blue collar insurrection against the establishment.

Could do, but probably won't. He would be hard pressed to do such a thing if he didn't have Plusquellec to run against. And in any event, he hasn't shown the political chops to really build a movement. In this election he was sufficiently bland that discontented people could project their particular hopes and grievances on him and nothing clashed. To really lead an upset charge, he'll have to project something of his own.

The Usual Weekend Random Thing

My schedule is crazy and getting crazier. Just as I was settling into the class, something else has come up which is exciting and all, but presents still more time challenges. All of which is to say, finding the time to blog presents challenges.

Here's what else is on my mind.

>I plan to catch up with Top Chef Blogging this weekend. I'll post a brief catch up on two episodes ago, then blog this past week.

>"God Hates Cleveland Sports" hates winning. Or at least that's what it has felt like this summer. GHCS posted about the Cavaliers suffering the sweep in the NBA finals, then went dark. The blog came back to life to acknowledge that possibly the Indians were having a good season, and now is hitting stride as the Brown start their eighth straight rebuilding year. Anyway, the wittiest cry-in-your-beer sportsblog is back.

>This week Jill noted the Douchebag plug-in with allows a blogger to tag any obnoxious commenter. What I really need is a plug in that will detect comments from a certain url and deleting them automatically, regardless of the account the commenter is using. In Ohio this would be called the Hickman plugin. But apparently no right-of-center blogger would use it.

>Just when I think the ABJ's lefty blogger The Reverend has maxed out his unlikeability, I find out he's a Troother (also here). So now the internet real estate of one of Ohio's most-storied papers is being used to flog the theory that the Bush administration intentionally murdered thousands of Americans for political gain. John S. Knight would be so proud.

>This weekend Michael Feldman played in Canton's Palace Theater and Chrissie Hynde is playing the Akron Civic. So it's a fine weekend for both old classic theaters and the over-forty pop culture junkie set (not that I've been able to partake of either -- see above.)

>If your taste in, erm, entertainment runs a little more downmarket, this is apparently the place to be. Poster Average Jane on ProgressOhio notes that the Akron-Canton area has the state's highest concentration of topless joints. Jane speculates that this Means Something, but probably nothing we want to go bragging on.

Now here it is, your Moment of Ten:

1. "Burning," Fugazi
2. "Enjoy," Bjork
3. "Darkening of the Light," Concrete Blonde
4. "Blue Moon of Kentucky," Bill Monroe
5. "The New Year," Death Cab for Cutie
6. "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," Solomon Burke
7. "Stars," Alison Krauss
8. "Rich," Yeah Yeah Yeahs
9. "Right to Be Wrong," Joss Stone
10. "Come Away With Me," Norah Jones.

Friday, September 14, 2007

BREAKING: Ron Amstutz May, Um, Do Something.

I'm puzzling through the first few grafs of today's Dennis Willard piece on state Sen. Ron Amstutz.

    COLUMBUS: State Sen. Ron Amstutz, R-Wooster, has been in the Ohio General Assembly for 27 consecutive years, longer than anyone else in the legislature.

    And his tenure has no end in sight, although he faces term limits in the Senate at the end of 2008.

    Amstutz could return to the Ohio House, where he spent 20 years before term limits forced him to run for the Ohio Senate in 2000. Or he might get into the U.S. House race should Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Navarre, retire.

    State Sen. J. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, is also exploring a run for the Regula seat, and Amstutz admits he would be at a financial and demographic disadvantage in a congressional run.

Amstutz has been a subject of conjecture for some time. Even before Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) started making noises about retiring, Amstutz was touted as a possible candidate in the 16th. Now he might be running. Or maybe not. He definitely will continue in elected office. Unless he decides not to. Glad we cleared that up.

If Amstutz does run, he may find himself in a three-way primary with State Sen. Kirk Schuring and Rep. Scott Oelslager. If Oelslager indeed gets in the race, things will be difficult for both he and Schuring. The two are so much alike in both voting record and temperament that the race could get nasty only because the two have no other way to make their case that tear the other guy down. Amstutz could well sneak in the side door as he takes Wayne and the two Stark Co. candidates split their mutually held bases.

And all of that could only benefit Dem. candidate John Boccieri. Amstutz is considerably more conservative than Schuring and Oelslager, holding to a rural cultural conservatism that plays badly with the independent and moderate Repubs in much of the district.

The rest of the piece is a pretty straightforward and fairly balanced profile. Amstutz is conservative, but works with Strickland. He has some legislative accomplishments but "unfortunately" is linked to the stripper bill movement which has splashed silly on all players. Etc. It's not bad as a reference piece should Amstutz become a player in the national fight over Congress. But as an update on what his intentions are, apparently we are still waiting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back Tomorrow. I Promise

No, I haven't been posting much. Yes, I'm a little jammed up with the new class and the kids running me all over town and some other new work stuff. I need to get on top of a few things, including -- whaddya call it -- sleep. I'm not going to try to catch up tonight. Instead, I'll try to stack up some posts tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Carnival Number 82

Excellent Work by LisaRenee. Thanks as always to the carnival goers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Minidecision '07: (Hopefully) No More Mr. Nice Guy

Joe Finley's bid to unseat longtime incumbent Mayor Don Plusquellec appears at an end. Finley made a surprisingly good showing -- 47% to 53%, translating into almost exactly a thousand votes. Given reports of the Mayor's solid field operation and the general ineptitude of Finley's campaign, the Don can't feel too good about the close call. People and obviously discontent -- unfortunately about forces largely out of the Mayor's control.

By the way, yesterday the Governor robo-called the House of Pho on behalf of Plusquellec. What a difference a year makes. Even by this time last year, Plusquellec's support for the party's nominee for Governor was tepid at best. Now Strickland is intervening on the Mayor's behalf when the U buying downtown property and offering campaign help. Good to know it's all bygones.

In other SummitCo election news, Deandre Forney squeaked out a four-vote victory over incumbent Renee Green for Ward 4 City Council. The Green Mayor's race is set with (Republican) Dick Norton against (Democrat) Andy Padrutt in the nominally nonpartisan race. Barberton will have a new mayor as Council President Bob Genet beat incumbent Randy Hart handily, 57-43%.

Much of the rest of the primary, such as it was, went as expected.

I Remember Six Years Ago

Like everyone I vividly remember the day. I remember how clear and bright it was. I remember what my plans were and how I kicked people off the one semi-functional television in the office to watch a tape in anticipation of a trial prep meeting. I remember that the secretary who first told us that planes had hit the towers also told us that the towers had fallen. Somewhere around that point we collectively realized this had gone from a very bad day to a singularly, historically awful day.

I also remember the aftermath. I remember how the world sold out of American flags. I remember the near-unanimity over taking down al Queda in Afghanistan. The conservative revisionism currently in vogue has it that liberals didn't support the president, which is bilge. Bush was given ample room to operate -- he delayed going into Afghanistan for weeks to get forces in order with nary a peep from his critics. I don't for a moment believe Fox News would have given similar consideration to President Gore.

Point is, the country came together in a way it hadn't in my lifetime. No one leveled the obvious criticisms of Bush -- for reading about his pet goat, about flying around the country for fear of about this happening on his watch for criminy sake. This wasn't the time for that.

Of course we had to eat a lot as a result. And as attention turned to a possible war with Iraq, a lot of us felt the trap closing in around. By that point

Bush's great failure was failing to lead. Rather than understand what the country needed and rally people together to achieve it, he and his circle sought only to cravenly exploit the incident for political opportunity. He drug us into a war of choice based on information at best incomplete. The net result is more terrorists more pissed off than ever before.

That will be his legacy. The nearly three thousand who lost their lives that day deserve better than to be tied to it.

Charlie Frye Traded?

One report earlier today from WTAM's Mike Trivasanno said that the Browns were looking to move or cut QB Charlie Frye. (h/t Jim Rome.) Right now the front page of ESPN 850 WKNR quotes a Fox Sports reporter as saying that Frye has indeed been dealt to the Seahawks. As of right now, nothing showing on the Browns official site.

The Browns appear to be going all in with their bet on Brady Quinn. They are moving Frye to bring back veteran Ken Dorsey who was around during camp as a player/mentor for Quinn. I hope against hope that ownership and management understand not to start Quinn before he is ready. I hope, for instance, that ownership assures Crennel and company that they will accept some more losses as Derek Anderson plays statue in the pocket. I hope we all realize that we are once again rebuilding and in particular are building Quinn's experience and confidence. He's a middling first round pick who missed a bunch of camp. If they run him out too soon, forget any hopes of Quinn being the future franchise.

Frankly, Frye probably needed more seasoning before starting last year. Whether he has the talent to be anything more than a backup or a spot-starter remains to be seen, but he certainly doesn't have the talent to take up the position without some experience.

And once again, the Brown's inability to field a solid offensive line has claimed a promising quarterback. Tim Couch looks up from his steroid-fueled comeback attempt and laughs ruefully.

Image: AP/ESPN

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Usual Weekend Randomness

Parental stress point for the week: I may need to explain this to my ten-year-old. Of course it may be an opportunity convey modern life lessons. Like, "Don't allow anyone to take your picture in a manner that you don't wish to share with the entire world." And it could be worse. If my kids were baseball fans, this would be harder to explain.

Jill appears to be making the jump to Word Press. Thanks to BFD for news about the "soft launch."

This is just inexcusable. Good fucking Christ, can't anyone have a disagreement with Jerid without turning it into a public bar brawl? Have we forgotten how to use email? No good comes of this kind of leftyblog fratricide.

I've heard that Appalachian State U. paraphernalia is selling briskly on the OSU campus as fans gear up for the Michigan game. Excellent.

I was at the Akron Zoo today and learned something frankly unbelievable. The koi at Akron Zoo are worth thousands. The largest specimen is worth $26,000. They were donated from the estate of a local man who bred and showed koi. Which actually is the most unbelievable part of it -- there are koi shows. When will we see that on A&E?

Odd sort of coincidence. When I ran the first Megan Pappada post, I noticed that a hit came from an email sent to one Laura Brod, a State Representative in Minnesota. Ms. Brod appears to be something of an up-and-coming Republican politician. Anyway, doing research for the story on Kevin Coughlin's Grieving Parents Act, I discovered that Rep. Brod sponsored Minnesota's version.

I recently celebrated a birthday. I got the usual greetings from certain institutional well wishers -- my alma mater, my doctor, charities I've supported. And 1350, Radio Free Ohio. Weird hearing from a radio station that no longer exists. Like a preview of post-apocalyptic technology going on without us.

Now here it is, your Moment of Ten:
1. "Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing," Stevie Wonder
2. "Elevator," The Black Keys
3. "Anymore Time Between," Bob Mould
4. "The Gulf of Mexico," Clint Black
5. "Thorn Tree in the Garden," Derek and the Dominos
6. "On Top," The Moldy Peaches
7. "I Can't Stand It," The Velvet Underground
8. "Baby, Now That I've Found You," Alison Krauss
9. "Who Will the Next Fool Be?" Charlie Rich
10. "The Hop," A Tribe Called Quest.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Padgett's Retirement Opens Two Republican Seats; Debbie Phillips Will Run

The blogosphere has been buzzing this week about news that State Sen. Joy Padgett would not seek a new term. Obviously, that opens up her 29th Senate district to challenge. In addition, Rep. Jimmy Stewart's decision to run for the seat opens his 92nd House seat. And yes, YDS, Debbie Phillips is running. She informed me this afternoon that she will run for the seat and will officially announce her candidacy soon.

This is happy news at the House of Pho as Debbie is a dear friend. It's also good news for the party. Debbie nearly unseated Stewart last year. The district indexes D, but Stewart won it in one of those things a few years back and has held on as a moderate Republican concentrating on retail politics. Without Stewart the seat sits as a high priority target for the House Caucus.

If you want to get a jump, you can surf over to Debbie's still-extant campaign website, print off a form and send in a donation. Look for new content coming soon.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Kevin Coughlin's Fetal Positioning

What with him taking on Alex Arshinkoff and all, it's easy to lose track of why Kevin Coughlin is generally so dislikable. If you need a refresher, check out one of his recent legislative opuses, Senate Bill 175, the Grieving Parents Act. The bill has been kicking around for a few months now, but gets it's first committee hearings next week.

The act rewrites some Ohio definitions, so that death of a "product of human conception" prior to twenty weeks is now "fetal death." (Technically, prior to twenty weeks, it's not called a fetus, it's called an embryo, but why worry about medical jargon when there are political points to score.) The act then allows parents to request a death certificate and burial of the dearly beloved product of human conception.

To the untrained eye, this looks like it might possibly have something to do with abortion. For those of us following abortion politics, that's entirely what it is about.

Let's get you up to speed.

The essential debate in abortion politics is when life begins. Few on the pro-choice side would endorse purely elective abortion for a fetus that they think is a human life, and few on the pro-life side would proscribe aborting something clearly not alive -- a D&C for a blighted ovum, for example. Problem is, like whether the man goes around William James's squirrel, the question turns on how people define terms. That part of the argument is essentially unresolvable as a matter of pure reasoning.

One tactic of abortion opponents is to invoke arguments of moral reasoning. "People only deny humanity of something when they wish to deprive it of humanity." That sort of thing. Such arguments have their strengths, particularly a certain moral resonance.

But one weakness in the abstract moral arguments for treating fetuses as human is the totally real, very non-abstract fact that people regard unviable fetuses as different from children fully gestated and born. One example is how parents grieve miscarriages. This I can speak of from experience. Not only have we gone through a miscarriage, I know many families who have. My wife and I were sad for a while and then we moved on. And understand, my wife's miscarriage has had enduring implications. While I wouldn't trade Kid T for any alternative fate, fact is my wife's miscarriage is the reason we have only one biological child.

The experience of others who have been through the same thing is similar. After a period of sadness, life gets better and the incident eventually fades into the backdrop of memory. I also have friends who have lost children. That's something different. That is true grieving, the kind that never truly leaves a person. Friends have said things like "not a day goes my I don't think about -----"

So it's different. Enormously different. Firing a bullet from a gun versus dropping one on the ground different. And when an abortion opponent is trying to make the appeal to moral reason that a fetus is the same as a human life, the difference is inconvenient.

Which, it seems, is the point of the Grieving Parents Act. It is government-generated propaganda aimed at making something sad take on tragic dimensions, thus muddying these waters. The Act says to parents, "not only is it OK to grieve, it's really not natural to do otherwise. Let's have a generation of people burying miscarried embryos and see if we can't make everyone truly deeply sad about miscarriages. Then maybe you all will appreciate fetal life."

Like so much that is pestilent in the state Republican agenda, this is part of a nationwide trend. A number of states have enacted the laws and more are considering. They offer an platform to trumpet the fetus=life message decorated with concern-for-parents bunting. And in states with Democratic governors, they offer a serious veto dilemma.

And it's vintage Coughlin. It's symbolic, politically calculated and media-friendly legislation that does nothing to make the lives of real Ohioans better. It's this year's pink license plates. It's exactly the kind of bill Coughlin has been pushing his whole career. And this is one criticism team A2 dare not make.