Thursday, August 31, 2006

School Begins At Home

Talk about Old School.

In 1957, Chuck Berry had a hit that started, "Up in the mornin' and out to school!" Fast-forward to the present and you'll find that sentiment sorely lacking in our city.

The St. Louis public schools started the new year Monday, and only 72% of the kids showed up. On Tuesday, the attendance rate jumped to 84%. That's a difference of almost 4,000 students.

Where were they on Monday? It wasn't a holiday, the Cardinals weren't playing a day game, there was nothing special going on. So why didn't their parents make sure they were at school, ready to go? How can the superintendent of schools call that a successful start? And what's keeping the other 16% of kids away?

These are the kind of questions that have to be asked, but never are. If St. Louis wants to thrive again as a city -- if any American urban area wants to turn the tide -- it must have good public schools. Without that, you'll never get families back in town, and without families, you're lost as a city.

There's been so much news and too much noise about the school board, the superintendent, and all the rest. It's the typical litany of distracting arguments and infighting that don't focus on the number one problem in education today -- lack of participation by parents.

I'm not talking about joining the PTO. I'm talking about parents doing what they're supposed to do, instilling in their children that school is a MUST, not a choice -- that education is the key to everything in life, that there's no excuse for not showing up -- and then making sure their kids get there every single day, starting on Day One.

But it can't stop there. Parents have to stop asking the schools to handle every problem their kids might encounter. This is not just an urban problem. You'll find it in the suburbs, too, and virtually every school district in the US. The reason many kids don't succeed in school is because they don't have a home environment that stresses the importance of learning and studying. If your kid doesn't do her homework, whose fault is that? Don't point the finger at anyone inside that brick building. Point it at the mirror.

Teachers want to teach, but when they chose this career path, they didn't sign up to be your child's psychologist, drug tester, discipline instructor, clothing inspector, probation officer, and nutritionist. Those are the responsibilities of parents. If you want teachers to perform all those extra duties, then pay them for the other five jobs you're making them do.

Are schools completely blameless? Of course not. In some cases, money is squandered, bad teachers aren't fired, students are promoted from grade to grade who haven't learned a thing, and lunch consists of tater tots and French toast on a stick.

On the other hand, some teachers have to pay for supplies out of their own pockets, haven't seen new textbooks during their entire tenure in the classroom, and work in facilities that haven't been upgraded since Laura Bush attended library school.

However, none of that detracts from the central problem in our educational system, the fact that Mom and Dad have to step up and do their job first (if, in fact, there are both a Mom and Dad at home). Just as parents helped their child take those first steps as a toddler, they must never relinquish the role as the ones who urge that child to keep moving forward.

That starts with getting them to school in the first place. Not just on the first day, but every day. Even the best teachers can't help a student who isn't in the building.

I Just Watched A Girl Named Maria

Nike is running this Maria Sharapova ad during the US Open. As she strolls by various people, they check her out and sing "I Feel Pretty." Even John McEnroe makes a cameo appearance.

But does anyone know the name of the bald character actor reading the newspaper in the hotel lobby? I know I've seen him in several things, but can't place him.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Olbermann Blasts Rumsfeld

Kudos to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for blasting Donald Rumsfeld over the speech yesterday in which the Secretary Of Defense continued his "if you criticize us, you're unpatriotic" tour.

The commentary invokes other instances in history when those who don't understand freedom have mistaken the questioning of our leaders for disloyalty, when in fact it is every American's birthright. Rumsfeld, in demonizing disagreement, refuses to see that it's possible to want to defeat terrorists while seeing flaws in the methods used to achieve that goal, just as you can support the troops but be repulsed at the continuing strategic blunders with which our leaders put those troops, and us, in even more danger.

Olbermann doesn't just make excellent points, he does it with tremendous writing skills. See for yourself.

Hiccup Helper

Last fall, I posted my Guaranteed Hiccup Remedy. Tonight, I got this e-mail:

My husband was REALLY, REALLY SUFFERING from continuous hiccups all evening (4 hours). Usually, he has a high tolerance for pain, but he was really hurting. I googled 'hiccup remedy' and yours was the first hit. It looked easy enough, so he tried it - mostly to humor me. I know he was thinking that there was no way this was going to work. While he was taking the sips of water, he was still hiccupping. He took the last two sips of water, exhaled and WOW - the HICCUPS WERE GONE!! It was incredible. We both were sooooo HAPPY !!! THANK YOU!!
Another satisfied customer. Glad I could help.

Ted Stevens vs. Government Transparency

As explained on my KMOX show today, there's a bill pending in the US Senate that would create a website with searchable information on where your tax dollars go. You could see find out how much money your senator was taking from various special interest groups, or who was getting a federal contract or grant, or who was hoarding all the congressional pork. It's all supposed to be on the public record, but there's no single place to find that info without digging into massive federal paperwork.

Unfortunately, the bill can't go anywhere because one senator put a "secret hold" on it. The rules of the senate give each of them that power, to keep the legislation or a nomination from ever reaching the floor for a vote (this odd rule has some resonance in my family, since a single senator was able to use it to block my brother from getting an appointment to a better position at the Labor Department a few years ago).

Several bloggers from both sides of the political spectrum have been trying to uncover who the secret holder is -- to reveal which senator doesn't want that transparency in our government.

This evening, their hard work paid off. After narrowing it down to just a few candidates, they finally got Senator Ted "Internet Tubes" Stevens (R-Alaska) to fess up and admit that he'd put the hold on the bill. This was the guy behind the $200,000,000 Bridge To Nowhere, as big a pork hog on the GOP side as Robert Byrd is on the Democrat side.

So, why did Stevens do it? He's mumbling some excuse, but it's probably revenge against bill co-sponsor Tom Coburn, who had dissed Stevens on the bridge pork.

By the way, Alaska's favorite son is on the Governmental Affairs Committee, but never attended a single hearing on this bill that he's so opposed to.

Your tax dollars in action.

Minutemen in Missouri

Randall Cox is starting a Missouri chapter of the Minutemen, but not before answering some tough questions today on my KMOX show. He claims they're not a bunch of racist vigilantes, just a group concerned about illegals taking jobs away from Americans. He insists that the solution is closing and securing the border, while I think that's a completely different topic from dealing with the illegals who are already here.

Listen to the conversation here.

They Never Airbrushed Cronkite

With one week to go before her Evening News debut, CBS' publicity department better come up with an explanation for why they photoshopped a picture of Katie Couric to make her look thinner [link via Brian Stelter at TVNewser.com].

By morning, the rest of the blogosphere and the CBS-haters will be all over this. If you listen closely, you can hear them invoking Dan Rather's name.

Update at 7:34am: According to Broadcasting & Cable, "CBS blames the 'editorial staff' of a promotional magazine for doctoring a photo to dramatically slim Katie Couric down, but those editors are in fact the network’s PR staff. ... A CBS spokesman says only that 'the editorial staff of Watch magazine retouched the photo without the knowledge of Katie Couric or CBS news management' and would not elaborate further."

Update at 11:42pm: Why would anyone think that Katie had to look thinner in the first place? The two adjectives that have always best described her were perky and petite. Isn't "petite" small enough anymore? America has seen what Katie looks like for 15 successful years on television, and I don't recall anyone ever describing her as perky and pudgy. It's not like she was up there in the Kirstie Alley plus-size department -- why must her image be altered so she more resembles Nicole Richie after a vomiting binge?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina One Year Later

On the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I checked in today on my KMOX show with...

  • Jed Horne, editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and author of "Breach of Faith." We talked about whether the rebuilt levees are strong enough to withstand another major storm, what happened to all those unused FEMA trailers, and whether President Bush is right that there are signs of hope and recovery. Listen to the conversation here.
  • CNN's Amanda Moyer in New Orleans, about the rubble and debris that's still piled up and an infrastructure that's still not capable of sustaining regular life in parts of town. Listen to the conversation here.
I also replayed two remarkable pieces of audio from last year:
  • Dan Verbeck, a reporter for KMBZ-AM/Kansas City, who went to New Orleans to help out at their sister station WWL, where he was on the air when a woman called to ask, "Can you save our lives?" Listen to the audio here.
  • Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera (in New Orleans) on Fox News Channel, trying to convince Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes that the situation at the convention center was much worse than it may have seemed from their dry, warm New York studio. Smith was particularly strong during that coverage and Geraldo was, well, Geraldo. Listen to the audio here.
And then there's this, from an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal:
The post-Katrina spend-fest in Louisiana will be remembered as one of the greatest taxpayer wastes in US history. First came the FEMA $2,000 debit-cards fiasco intended to pay for necessities that were used for things like flat-panel TVs and tattoos. Then came the purchase of thousands of mobile homes that cost as much as $400,000 per family housed; the $200 million for renting the Carnival Cruise ship; millions more in payments that went for season football tickets, luxury vacation resorts, even divorce lawyers. Federal flood insurance policies surely will encourage many to rebuild in the same flood plains and at the same height as before.

Slo-Mo Home Depot

A couple of hundred people descended on a Home Depot. They shopped for awhile. Then, at a predetermined time, they moved in slow motion for five minutes. Then they went back to shopping regularly for five minutes. Then they froze in place for five minutes. A nice bit of street theater, by the same folks who brought you the Dress Like A Best Buy Employee stunt...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Aaron Barnhart on the Emmys Controversy

Considering yesterday's Comair plane crash that killed 49 people in Lexington, Kentucky, should NBC have cancelled the Emmy Awards opening segment which began with host Conan O'Brien on a jet that goes down and lands on the "Lost" island? Some critics are saying it was incredibly insensitive to allow it on the air, especially since they had plenty of time to yank it.

I disagree, as I told Aaron Barnhart this afternoon on KMOX show during our discussion of the Emmys -- he had another angle on the story. Aaron also explained why the audience booed Simon Cowell, why Conan won't win any Emmys, and why the Emmy for best reality competition went to the wrong show.

Listen to the conversation here.

If you didn't see Conan's Emmys opening, here's the video.

Pat Summerall

Legendary NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall joined me on my KMOX show this afternoon to tell some stories from his new autobiography, "On & Off The Air."

We talked about his recovery from alcoholism, why CBS broke up the team of Summerall and Tom Brookshier, what is was like broadcasting the first Super Bowl, and names from Jack Buck to Tom Landry to Vince Lombardi.

He also told several stories from his years with John Madden, including the classic "cantilever" segment, the time Madden sat on and crushed Summerall's headset on the air, and why Madden was so nervous before their first game together.

Summerall revealed the advice he gave Cris Collinsworth in his efforts to become a play-by-play man, the sport that he thinks is the toughest to broadcast, and much more.

Listen to the conversation here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Worth A Link

Bill Maher on those damned scientists, and how they've now ruined the solar system [video] with their cut-and-run policy deeming Pluto no longer a planet.

Bob Herbert on Juan Williams' new book "Enough," about "the vacuum of leadership and the feverish array of problems that are undermining black Americans."

The Ten Stupidest "As Seen On TV" Products, including The Flowbee and Spray-On Hair.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jeff Cesario

Jeff Cesario was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to joke about Tom & Jerry cartoons being censored in England, Pluto no longer being a planet, and his wife's kiddie-cup obsession.

Listen to the conversation here.

The new TV show he's working on is "Talk Show with Spike Feresten".

Jeff's concert DVD is "You Can Get A Hooker Tomorrow Night."

Professor Turned Freshman

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I talked with Cathy Small (a/k/a Rebekah Nathan), a college professor who was so fed up with her students, she decided to become one. She enrolled as a freshman and kept track of what she experienced, which she has compiled for her book, "My Freshman Year."

She says that it's a lot harder now than when she (and I) were in college in the 1970s, although there's still lots of "drinking, sexuality, and craziness." But she says the drug culture is very different -- instead of yesteryear's pot-heads, today's college students are Paxil-heads.

Listen to the conversation here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Watch The Pilots With Aaron

TV critic Aaron Barnhart (heard every Monday at 4:15pm CT on my KMOX show) will do a special event on September 6th in Kansas City called "Watch The Pilots With Aaron!" He'll screen the new fall TV shows he likes the most, answer questions, and give some stuff away -- all for a select audience of about 150 people.

If you'd like to be selected to be there, sign up here.

Byron Pitts & Ray Nagin

With the anniversary of Katrina just days away, I had CBS newsman Byron Pitts on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about the piece he'll have on "Sixty Minutes" this Sunday, in which he walks through New Orleans with Mayor Ray Nagin. Hizzoner had one particularly shocking statement regarding cleaning up New Orleans in the storm's aftermath compared to the cleanup of Ground Zero since 9/11. We talked about that, how the rebuilding of the city is going, and whether they're getting the federal aid they were promised.

Listen to the conversation here.

Worth A Link

Mark Evanier on how the Emmys producers figure out who goes in the In Memoriam segment, and which dead celeb should get the honored position of last in line.

Phil Plait on Pluto being downsized. Apparently, there's a planet in India that can do the job cheaper. Pluto is now a dwarf -- or in PC terms, a Little Planet.

Burton Wolfe on the undiscussed factor in the JonBenet story, the sexualization of a six-year-old girl.

Survivor: Ethnic Island

Here's a featurette about the next round of "Survivor," in which the 20 contestants will be broken up by ethnicity -- White, Black, Asian, Hispanic.

None of that matters to me, because I always root for the fat, bald, middle-aged guy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No Parking

A major debate ensued on my KMOX show today after a listener named Diane complained about a parking problem:

My husband and I took our 16 year old daughter to Hacienda on Manchester. Being a Friday evening, it was packed. After driving around for about 10 minutes, we parked across the street at Colonial Square (Cici's Pizza, Blockbuster). There were "no parking" signs along the storefronts and mid-section of the lot, but none visible facing Manchester, so we parked there. When we came out after eating, there was a "club" on our front wheel and two young men stating we owed $80 cash or a tow and impoundment fee of $225. Rock Hill police are aware, and they patrol simply to keep somebody from going off on these "collectors". They work for Abandoned Auto Alliance. I could see a parking ticket of $25 or $30, but $80 is insane. To add insult to injury, they attach a large orange sticker to your window and tell you, it will shred as you try to remove it and you will need a razor and soapy water to remove it. PLEASE HELP!
This seemed like a scam to me. Legal perhaps, but ethically questionable.

I can understand the property owner not wanting his parking lot to get so full that customers for his tenant stores can't get in. The problem is with the sign on the lot, which does not say anything like "Parking For Customers Only" or "No Parking Except While Doing Business With [These Stores]." Take a look at what it does say on the sign:


That photo was shot during my show by listener Michael Noble, who adds, "There are three entrances; main one across and on the East and West ends of the parking lot. There are two sign at the main entrance and signs on the east side, however the signage on the west side is missing, but the post is in place."

I'd guess that most people pulling into that lot can't read the sign as they go by. if they do, they must be confused by it. No parking?? By anyone?? What does "abandoned and illegally parked" mean?

According to Betty Crater, the woman we spoke with on the air from Abandoned Auto Alliance, "abandoned" means any car you leave in a parking lot -- even if you just go across the street, you've abandoned your car. That's crap. If I leave my car there with no intention of returning for it, then it's abandoned. If it's only there for an hour or two, it's parked. As for illegally parked, I would take that to mean a vehicle that's not properly within the lines of the parking space, as opposed to simply being on the property.

If the intention is to limit parking there to patrons of the businesses in that strip mall, they should say so, not hire a bunch of people who -- according to Diane -- hide in the bushes and boot your car as soon as you cross the street. I would also bet that the Blockbuster store has actually gotten business from people who eat at Hacienda, then go back to get their car and think, "Hey, let's get a movie while we're here."

As you'll see in the comments section, Diane is not alone in her experience in this lot, and lots of other folks have chimed in with their opinions and similar problems in other lots. Go ahead and add yours.

FYI, if you're ever caught in one of these situations and want to report it to the Missouri Attorney General's office, here's the number: 800-392-8222.

John Feinstein & His New Book

Sportswriter John Feinstein was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about his new novel, "Vanishing Act: Mystery At The US Open," and some stories from inside the tennis tournament (which starts this weekend).

While I didn't make him predict who this year's winners will be, we did discuss Andre Agassi's last stand and the way he has gone from punk player to elder statesman. And John had kind words for Martina Navratilova (this will mark her final major, too), Mary Carillo, and John McEnroe.

We also got into his longtime friend and colleague Tony Kornheiser's new gig (and thin skin) on Monday Night Football.

Listen to the conversation here.

Listen Live Link

For those of you who have used this site to link to the online audio of KMOX, I'm sorry to report that the backdoor link I had been sending you through has been deactivated by CBS.

From now on, you'll have to use the regular link, which involves a quick and painless registration page before you can access the feed via RadioMat (this is also accessible directly from KMOX.com). In order to do that, you must turn off pop-up blocking and allow cookies, but once you have, you should be able to click through to the KMOX audio feed easily. If you have problems with this, please let me know.

This does not affect any of the on-demand audio archives from my show which are posted to this site.

Worth A Link

Mark Frauenfelder points out that the world is still here, despite Bernard Lewis' prediction of Islamic apocalypse.

Steve Morris heard Bobby Grich reveal the real-life inspiration behind the sprinkler-rain-out scene in "Bull Durham."

Katherine Mangu-Ward writes about the pate ban in Chicago: "When foie-gras is outlawed, only outlaws will eat foie-gras."

Beloit College Mindset List

Beloit College has released its Mindset List for the Class of 2010 -- for incoming freshman, who were mostly born in 1988...

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in giant retail stores known as "big boxes."
6. There has always been one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
10. Thanks to pervasive head phones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
12. Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.
15. They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.
17. They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.
18. They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
19. "Google" has always been a verb.
20. Text messaging is their e-mail.
21. Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.
23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
24. Madden has always been a game, not a Super Bowl-winning coach.
25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.
26. Boogers candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.
27. There has never been a "sky hook" in the NBA.
28. Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.
29. Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.
30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing religious organizations in the U.S.
31. They grew up in minivans.
32. Reality shows have always been on television.
33. They have no idea why we needed to ask "... Can we all get along?"
34. They have always known that "In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups."
35. Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.
36. They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
37. Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.
38. Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
39. "So" as in "Sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.
40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.
41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
42. Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.
43. They are not aware that "flock of seagulls hair" has nothing to do with birds flying into it.
44. Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.
45. Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.
46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.
47. Small, white holiday lights have always been in style.
48. Most of them have never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
49. They have always been searching for "Waldo."
50. The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish birthday parties.
51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.
52. They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
53. They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.
54. There have always been live organ donors.
55. They have always had access to their own credit cards.
56. They have never put their money in a Savings & Loan.
57. Sara Lee has always made underwear.
58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.
59. Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.
60. They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.
61. Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.
62. Acura, Lexus and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.
63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
64. LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.
65. Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.
66. Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.
68. "Outing" has always been a threat.
69. "Oh, The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.
70. They have always "dissed" what they don't like.
71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.
72. Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.
73. They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.
74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.
75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.

Also see my column, "When My Daughter Grows Up, Her Life Won't Include..."

Bollard vs. Truck

A retractable traffic bollard takes on a large speeding truck, and wins without a scratch...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Few Bad Men?

In a story that sounds like a real-life version of "A Few Good Men," US Marine Lance Corporal Matt Solowynsky says he was physically abused for several weeks by other Marines, including his Sergeant and other Lance Corporals at Camp Pendleton. He told his story today on my KMOX show, just minutes before turning himself in at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, where he'll face charges of being AWOL since he walked away from the situation six months ago. Thus far, no action has been taken against the other Marines he says beat him.

Listen to the conversation here.

Read more about Solowynsky's case here.

Jet-Powered VW Beetle

Ron Patrick has created a unique hybrid version of the VW Beetle. The standard engine is in front, but there's a jet engine sticking out the back. He claims it's street-legal in California, but the DMV is investigating a way to crack down on him. Click the image for more photos and details. [contrbuted by Jeff Olsen]

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dan Nassif, World Series of Poker

Dan Nassif is the St. Louisan who made the final table at the main event of the World Series of Poker a couple of weeks ago, and earned over $1.5 million. This afternoon, I talked to him about the experience on my KMOX show.

He explained the advice he was given by the guys who won the event the last two years (Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem), how he was physically drained before and during the tournament, what happened on the hand that eliminated him, and what he did when he ran out of underwear.

Listen to the conversation here.

ESPN's coverage of the main event starts tomorrow night, August 22nd.

TV News Meltdown

A Boston TV station ran into a major technical problem right at the top of its newscast last Wednesday when the control room switcher went dead. That left the anchors scrambling on the air with no teleprompter and no way to throw it to a live shot or taped report. Apparently, they also lacked the ability to read from a script (what's on that paper they're shuffling?) or ad lib the basics of the day's top stories.

You'd think the producers could have at least sent the sports and weather guys onto the set to cover their stuff, but without graphics and hi-tech toys, they'd probably be lost, too. It went so badly that after a few minutes, they bailed out of the local newscast entirely and aired an MSNBC feed instead.

Ironically, that seems to have helped their ratings -- they were #1 25-54 that night, probably because viewers got all the latest on the Jon Benet Ramsey developments.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Jeff Cesario returns

Comedian Jeff Cesario filled in for Jon Macks on my KMOX show this afternoon for a very funny segment. He joked about Cardinals and Cubs baseball, an accident in a chocolate factory, and a new TV show he's working on ("Talk Show with Spike Feresten").

Listen to the conversation here.

Here's a picture of the guy stuck in the vat of chocolate.

Jeff's concert DVD is "You Can Get A Hooker Tomorrow Night."

Pay Teachers Like Babysitters

Lots of requests for that essay I read on my KMOX show this afternoon, "Pay Teachers Like Babysitters." It was taken from a 2002 editorial in a New Hampshire newspaper. Author unknown.

Consider this:

If I had my way, I'd pay these teachers myself. I'd pay them babysitting wages. I'd give them $3/hour out of my own pocket. And I'm only going to pay them for 5 hours, not coffee breaks. That would be $15/day. Each parent should pay $15/day for these teachers to babysit their child. Even if they have more than one child, it's still a lot cheaper than private day care.

Now, how many children do they teach everyday? Maybe 20? That's $15 times 20, equaling $300/day. But remember, they only work 180 days a year! I'm not going to pay them for all those vacations! So that's $300 x 180 = $54,000.

Wait. I know that you teachers will say, "What about those who have ten years experience and a masters degree?" Well, maybe (to be fair) they could get the minimum wage, and instead of just babysitting, they could read the kid a story. We could round that off to about $5/hour, times five hours, times 20 children. That's $500/day times 180 days. That's $90,000! Huh?

Wait a minute. Let's get a little perspective here. Babysitting wages are too good for these teachers. Did anyone see a good salary guide around here?

Need I say more?

Signed, An Intelligent Parent

Snakes On A Plane Auditions

What would "Snakes On A Plane" be without Samuel L. Jackson? What if it starred Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, or Robert DeNiro? Dave Coyne thinks the auditions would have gone something like this. I almost fell off the chair for Joe Pesci. [rated PG-13 for language]

Spike Jones "Cocktails For Two"

Spike Jones and his City Slickers took classic songs and turned them into simple silliness, which is not as easy as they make it look and sound. One of the best was their 1943 signature tune, "Cocktails For Two" (also the title of a 2005 compilation CD).

This version may be from the Colgate Comedy Hour on February 11, 1951...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Could John Karr Have Killed Jon-Benet?

Charles Bosworth was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about the new developments -- and major contradictions -- in the case against John Karr, the suspect in the Jon-Benet Ramsey case.

For instance, Karr's claims of drugging her, having sex with her, and walking her home from school do not jibe with the evidence. But Bosworth says Karr's claim that her death was an "accident" does match the conclusions he and his co-author came to in their book, "The Killing Of Jon-Benet Ramsey."

Listen to the conversation here.

Hot & Cold

Steve Wobbe was on his way back from Rolla, Missouri, when he noticed these two water towers in St. Clair...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Eagle Flies Backwards -- Update

An update on the Anheuser-Busch sign controversy, which was started by Jeff Mild, one of my KMOX listeners. He contended that the sign (which has been next to Highway 40 since 1962) was wrong because it had the eagle flying backwards. Several others listeners chimed in and agreed.

After considering the visual evidence and hearing Jeff make his case on my show two weeks ago, I received the following statement today from Tony Ponturo, VP Global Media and Sports Marketing for Anheuser-Busch:

"We recently inspected the Highway 40 'A & Eagle' neon sign and learned that a short circuit in some electrical wiring had caused the eagle's flight to change in appearance. We immediately fixed it, and the sign once again accurately depicts and eagle's flight.

We appreciate KMOX and its listeners for bringing this to our attention, and we hope St. Louisans and visitors to our community continue to enjoy this St. Louis landmark."
Case closed, with credit once again to Jeff for noticing it and bringing it to my attention.

Tony Kornheiser

While he's in St. Louis for a couple of days, Tony Kornheiser called into my KMOX show this afternoon.

I asked him what he thought of his Monday Night Football debut and what he expects to bring to the games each week -- he answered candidly, as he always has. Tony also fired back hard at Paul Farhi (a columnist for his own paper, the Washington Post), who took some shots at Tony in his review of his first MNF telecast. I believe Tony described Farhi as "a backstabbing, two-bit weasel."

Listen to the conversation here.

My history with Tony goes back to my days as a morning radio guy in Washington, DC, in the late 1980s, when he would come on as a guest occasionally and complain that I had made him wake up far too early. Then we worked together (for a very short time in 1992) at a station that wooed me away and offered Tony his first fulltime radio show. I did the morning show with my whole ensemble, then James Brown was on for three hours, then Tony held down middays. He lasted longer there than any of us, and was eventually picked up by ESPN Radio for national syndication, which led to the TV show "Pardon The Interruption" with Michael Wilbon, which continues to go gangbusters.

As I said this afternoon, as Tony settles into the rhythm of doing the Monday night games and becomes more comfortable in the booth, he'll be great at that, too.

Jon-Benet Ramsey

With the shocking new revelations in the Jon-Benet Ramsey case, a decade after her murder, I called upon Charles Bosworth Jr. (co-author of "The Killing Of Jon-Benet Ramsey") to reflect upon the case and the conclusions he came to in 1998 -- which may turn out to be completely wrong, if John Karr is the real killer.

Listen to the conversation here.

What I remember about the earliest part of that case was my utter revulsion at the pictures of six-year-old Jon-Benet dressed up for those kiddie beauty pageants, made up to look like a porcelain doll. We never saw any photos of her in what would be considered normal everday clothing for a girl that age -- which probably added to the popular belief that there was something wrong with her parents, and suspicion that they were involved in her disappearance. It's too bad that their exoneration comes too late for Patsy Ramsey, who died a couple of months ago.

How Many Planets?

This afternoon on my KMOX show, Phil Plait discussed the "what's a planet?" controversy, whether Pluto will no longer be considered a planet, and whether other big rocks could be upgraded so that we have 12 planets in our solar system.

Listen to the conversation here.

Phil's Bad Astronomy Blog is here. His must-read book, "Bad Astronomy" has great info on debunking claims that the moon landing was a hoax, and on astronomy errors in science fiction movies.

ACLU vs. Hazleton

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Hazleton, Pennsylvania, claiming their new law to combat illegal immigration is unconstitutional. Since the St. Louis suburb of Valley Park has a new municipal ordinance based on Hazleton's, I invited ACLU attorney Omar Jadwat onto my KMOX show this afternoon to explain the problem with the law, whether anyone in Hazleton has actually been harmed by it, and how he feels about the English-only aspects of the legislation.

Listen to the conversation here.

Gas Prices Q & A

I hit the gas price lottery this morning. After not filling up yesterday when the price was $2.87/gallon, I was happy to see the place near me had dropped the price to $2.79 this morning. Still, I wondered what caused the price drop, so I called Ron Leone on my KMOX show this afternoon.

Ron answered my questions and a lot more from listeners about gas prices. He also said that many of the local gas stations he represents have been losing money on the gas they sell for several months, and some of them may go out of business if this trend continues.

Listen to the conversation here.

Ron is executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Assn.

Bruno Kirby

All the obits of Bruno Kirby this morning mention his work in "When Harry Met Sally," "City Slickers," and "Good Morning Vietnam."

But they leave out two of my favorite supporting roles in his filmography:

  • as Marlon Brando's nephew, who gets the whole con rolling, in "The Freshman."
  • as Albert Brooks' assistant in the severely underrated (but finally on DVD) "Modern Romance," one of the funniest failed-relationship movies ever made, about a man who breaks up with his longtime girlfriend and then obsesses over getting her back, at the same time he's trying to finish editing a space movie starring George Kennedy.

Editorial Of The Day

USA Today says it's time for the administration to retire the "no one could have expected it" excuse, which they've invoked for the 9/11 attacks, the breach of the levees in New Orleans, and now the sectarian violence in Iraq.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Cleavage

Seen in the window of a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in St. Clair, Missouri [contributed by Bob Davis]...


If you read it literally, you won't be served if you don't have a shirt, shoes, or cleavage. Ironically, the bra is usually what causes the cleavage to be so visible. And I wonder whether the bra requirement is enforced with male customers (no exceptions!).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Little League, Big Controversy

We got into the Romney Oaks story this afternoon on my KMOX show. He's the kid with brain cancer who played in the Pony League championship game in Bountiful, Utah, this spring.

In the bottom of the 9th, Romney's team was down by one run with two outs and a runner on third. Jordan, the best hitter on Romney's team, was up, but the opposing coach called time and walked out to the mound. He instructed his pitcher to pitch around Jordan, give him an intentional walk, and bring up the next batter instead.

The next batter was Romney. He's a small kid, a brain cancer survivor, and not nearly as good as Jordan or the other kids on his team. He struck out, and all hell broke loose. Parents were mad, the umpire couldn't believe it, the local newspaper lambasted the other coach, politicians and blogs chimed in.

Romney's father said, "What are we teaching our kids? Are we teaching them it's OK to pick on the weakest person?"

Too bad they're all wrong. No one picked on Romney. The coach didn't tell the pitcher to throw at his head. Romney was treated the way he probably wanted to be treated, just like any other kid. It would have been scandalous if his coach had pulled him and put in a pinch hitter, taking away his chance to play under pressure.

What if Romney had gotten a hit and brought that runner in? Talk about a Cinderella ending, just like that autistic kid in upstate New York who scored those six 3-pointers at the end of a game and was carried off the court as a hero. In Romney's case, instead of blaming the opposing coach, his parents and teammates should have rallied around him anyway: "Hey, Romney, you did your best, and that's what counts!" "Nice try, Romney, you'll get'em next year!"

Instead, the reaction has made Romney seem more a victim. The stories written about the incident make a big deal about Romney crying after his strikeout, as if that makes him more pathetic. It doesn't -- it makes him more like the other 9 and 10 year olds in that league. If any of them had gone down swinging in that situation, they probably would have cried, too. I've seen bigtime pros cry when they lose the championship game in lots of sports, so why use that against Romney, or as proof that the other coach is a big bad meanie?

Several callers said all this teaches the kids is that winning is everything. No, winning isn't the only important thing, but this was a championship game, not some esteem-building club. By definition, it's competitive, and everyone involved knew it. No rules were broken, and if there were no cancer angle, if Romney were a perfectly healthy yet still not-that-good ballplayer, no one would have said a word about any of this.

Best of all is Romney's attitude. He didn't let this incident knock him down and keep him there. Instead, according to SI's Rick Reilly, Romney told his father, "I'm going to work on my batting. Then maybe someday I'll be the one they walk."

Comments below. Rick Reilly's column here. Jeff Gordon's piece here.

Michael Boyd vs. TSA

Aviation security expert Michael Boyd had some tough words for the TSA this afternoon on my KMOX show. He says the TSA's crackdown on liquids and gels is a knee-jerk reaction that doesn't make fliers any safer.

Listen to the conversation here.

Ron Suskind, "The One Percent Doctrine"

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I talked with Ron Suskind about the lessons learned from last week's terrorist threat, which he says was not thwarted because of monitoring phone calls or electronic surveillance. Rather, it was a tipster and good old-fashioned human intelligence that broke the case. I also asked him about whether we're safer today than before 9-11, the patience of Al Qaeda, and the breeding of new freelance terrorists.

Listen to the conversation here.

Suskind is the author of The One Percent Doctrine.

Self-Montage

Ahree Lee took a picture of herself every day for three years, then turned them into a weird, morphing self-montage. Her hair, clothes, glasses, and lipstick changed -- but her expression is exactly the same in every photo...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mike Douglas

With the death of TV legend Mike Douglas yesterday at 81, I dug through my audio archives to find an interview I did with him on November 24, 2000.

He told stories about:

  • doing his live show when news came in about the assassination of JFK;
  • the famous week John & Yoko were his co-hosts;
  • good guests from Ronald Reagan to Malcolm X to Burt Reynolds;
  • why Robert DeNiro was a terrible guest;
  • the day he got caught between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
  • how commercials changed his life
Listen to the conversation here.

For more Mike Douglas stories, get his autobiography, "I'll Be Right Back."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cat Flushing Toilet

Why you shouldn't toilet train your cat -- when this one figured out how to flush the toilet, it kept pulling the handle to watch the water go down the bowl, over and over again [contributed by Brenda Whitmer].

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Magician Terry Richison

Magician Terry Richison was in my KMOX studio this afternoon to pull off a few mentalism tricks with listeners and my colleagues Carol Daniel and Mike Grimm. Terry is one of the organizers of and performers at the Midwest Magic Jubilee next week (August 17-19) at the Airport Hilton.

Listen to the conversation here.

Set Your DVR

If you're in the St. Louis area, set your DVR for the WB 11 News At Nine tonight to see my latest "The Way I See It" commentary in the second half of the newscast. Since the Rams-Colts game is blacked out here, now you have something to watch.

The Old Wrong Football Play

A high school team pulls off a cute trick play after the center shouts to the sideline, "Hey, coach, wrong ball!" On second thought, I'm guessing that the other team didn't think it was so cute [thanks to Mike Grimm for the link]...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Top Gun Maj. Rob Novotny

I had a Top Gun in the studio today. Major Rob Novotny, who appears in the Omnimax movie "Fighter Pilot: Opearator Red Flag" (now showing at the St. Louis Science Center) came in to my KMOX show this afternoon.

He told stories about flying missions over the No-Fly zone in southern Iraq in the 1990s and being part of Shock And Awe at the start of the war, too. He also explained the Red Flag missions used to train fighter pilots over the Nevada desert, which became the basis of the movie. All this while my colleague, Carol Daniel, couldn't take her eyes off of him. Okay, he's a good-looking guy in an Air Force uniform, but c'mon!

Listen to the conversation here.

Michael Barone

Today on my KMOX show, I talked immigration with Michael Barone, senior writer at US News & World Report and author of "The New Americans: How The Melting Pot Can Work Again."

Barone contends that assimilation has to be the basis of any immigration policy, which is why he's opposed to programs like bilingual education. I challenged him on whether assimilation can be forced by the government, or happens naturally over time. We also discussed immigrant enclaves and communities that show no interest in assimilating, and the problems that can cause.

He explained how the experiences of Latinos and Asians today mirror those of Italians and Jews a century ago, and what he thinks of cities (like Valley Park) that have passed English-only legislation. I also asked him about the proposed Guest Worker program and other methods to make illegals part of the American system.

Listen to the conversation here.

World Series of Poker

Congrats to St. Louisan Dan Nessif, who has made the final table at the World Series Of Poker. Unfortunately, he'll be the short stack when the nine remaining players enter their final day tomorrow. Fortunately, even if he's next to go out, he'll collect at least $1.5 million.

The Overblown Culture War

I've said for years that the notion of a divided America is nothing more than hype -- while there is an enormous amount of hot air expended over so-called hot button issues, most Americans don't fall into one camp or the other.

My theory is that we are not a nation that can be easily pigeonholed as Red State vs. Blue State, left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, Label One vs. Label Two. Sure, you have a very loud 10% on one side trying to shout down the very loud 10% on the other side, but the other 80% of us refuse to fall into convenient categories and labels.

The Pew Research Center has just released a poll of 2,003 American adults which backs up my argument. It shows that on supposedly defining issues like abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research, most Americans do not take consistent stances. On some, they lean one way; on others, they lean the other way, according to the study:

"Despite talk of 'culture wars' and the high visibility of activist groups on both sides of the cultural divide, there has been no polarization of the public into liberal and conservative camps."
We are the Great American Middle (and not just geographically), regardless of what politicos, pundits, and special interest groups would have you believe.

The truth is that the average American is more concerned about how much it costs to fill their gas tank, whether there's enough time in their day to get through traffic and still get their kids to soccer practice on time, whether that kid is going to a good safe school, what might happen on their favorite TV show tonight, and whether the next storm might knock out their electricity again.

Unfortunately, talking about those issues won't get you elected in this country.

Or would it? I've yet to see a politician try, making an effort to relate to real people and what they honestly worry about. It all seems too mundane in the world of power and ego.

I'm not saying that social issues aren't anywhere on America's radar, I'm just saying they're not as high on the priority list as the news media (both mainstream and blogosphere) and political propagandists insist they are.

Mythbusters, Mentos, and Diet Coke

The Mythbusters will take on the Mentos-Diet Coke legend on tonight's show, and reveal that, while you have to use the right Mentos (non-mint won't work) to get the CO2 geyser, you'll get an even better result by using regular table salt. Jamie Hyneman explains why.

I plan on watching, just to see the soda come out of his nose when he pops the Mentos and Diet Coke in his mouth.

Caterpillar Infestation

When the caterpillars come, nothing will be safe from their infestation, including that bicycle you left leaning against a tree...


See the complete series here. For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

E-Mail Of The Day

Greg Young writes,

You suck. Your show is so interesting everyday that when I get to my destination, I still sit and listen because I would find it unacceptable to walk through the grocery store or Wal-Mart, etc.. wearing headphones. And I don't want to miss anything. It's been hot lately, so I have to run my engine to stay cool. I'm sure I'm not the only person that does this. That means that you have to take some responsibility for the depletion of fossil fuels and the ozone layer, air pollution, and reducing the overall productivity of the United States of America. If you were a true patriot, you would be more boring, at least occasionally.

Morons 1, Meerkats 0

Here's the story that created so much buzz on my KMOX show this afternoon.

Five meerkats were euthanized after one of them bit a 9-year-old girl at an exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo.

Why did the animals have to die? Because the parents of the girl didn't want her to have to have rabies shots. Since she wouldn't do that, state law mandates that the meerkats had to be tested, which required killing them. Naturally, the tests showed that they didn't have rabies, but by then it was too late.

Here's the unasked question in this story: where were the girl's parents, or whoever was supposed to be keeping an eye on her that day? To get close enough for the meerkat to take a nip at her finger, the kid had to crawl over a driftwood barrier, climb up several feet of artificial rock, reach over four feet of Plexiglas to get her arm into the exhibit, and then dangle her arm down to where the meerkats were. While all that was going on, no adult stopped her.

The girl should have been forced to get the rabies shots, regardless of how painful they might be. Then she and her family should have been barred from the zoo. Instead, the animals are dead and the zoo not only has to replace them, but has to add an additional barrier in case other parents aren't doing their job and making sure their kids stay out of harm's way.

Kind of makes me wish the kid had tried her stunt in the Ape House.

Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?

"Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?" is the followup by Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg to their wildly popular "Why Do Men Have Nipples?" They were back on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about it and answer new questions about snot, breast implants, and whether you can blow your eyeballs out by holding in a sneeze.

Listen to the conversation here.

Listen to our conversation about their first book here.

That's Oil

When you don't know the answer, ask someone who does. That's what we did on my KMOX show this afternoon, with a couple of experts tackling questions about issues related to gas prices.

Ben Brockwell discussed the impact of the BP pipeline problems in Alaska and other factors that affect the price of gas you put in your car. Ben is an oil analyst with the Oil Price Information Service. Listen to the conversation here.

Juli Niemann talked about how gas prices are set on the financial markets, the impact of releasing supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and who owns the oil the big companies want to drill for off-shore. Juli is a financial analyst with Smith Moore and Co. Listen to the conversation here.

Did you know all that?

Clever Advertising

Victor Urbach has compiled some very clever print ads on his website, including this one for a law firm that specializes in divorces [contributed by Bill Sobel]...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Monday, August 07, 2006

E-Mail Of The Day

Greg Miller writes,

As a long-time listener, I've always appreciated your emphasis on personal responsibility -- especially when it comes to the duty parents have to protect their children. I think it's a good idea for parents to know how many convicted sex offenders are in a neighborhood before they think about moving (or raising children) there. I am writing to alert you of a ridiculous change recently made to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Sex Offender Registry.

After having successfully accessed the database in the past, I recently tried to do so again. I found my attempt frustrated by a new "validation" feature. Ostensibly added for "security purposes", it appears to be nothing more than a duplicative attempt to keep citizens from exercising their right to view the database. The new "feature" requires you to enter the next in a simple series of numbers or letters. I proceeded to do so, only to have a new sequence pop up each time.

I began counting how many sequences I'd been asked to complete prior to being allowed to view the database. After being asked for the 30th time to complete a sequence--with no end in sight--I finally gave up.

Whoever has made the decision to make the process of protecting our children and communities more onerous and difficult ought to lose their job.
Greg is right.

There are plenty of sites with verification screens. Ticketmaster has one, for example. I can understand that, since someone could use robot software to go to their site and snatch up lots of tickets for some concert. Some blogs use them to prevent comment spam.

But where's the possible threat to the Sex Offender Registry site?

The first time I accessed it, the site asked me to fill in the blank for this sequence: T-S-?-Q. It took me about a minute to realize that the missing letter is R, which I entered and was allowed to proceed into the database.

True, it didn't take me 30 attempts, but that's not the point. The point is that this is supposed to be a public database to help us know which pervs and sickos might be living nearby.

We shouldn't have to take a logic quiz or overcome any other website obstacle to access that information.

Bill Carter returns

Bill Carter, TV critic for the NY Times, filled in for Aaron Barnhart on my KMOX show this afternoon. We talked about the networks coming up with new ways to publicize their shows (like NBC offering the pilot for "Studio 60" via Netflix), the breakout shows of this summer (if any), and how the programming heads of the networks really hate each other.

Listen to the conversation here.

Bill was last on with me in May for an in-depth discussion of his book, "Desperate Networks." You can listen to that earlier converation here.

Smoke Like Mom

It's always nice to see family traditions passed from generation to generation. Particularly when that tradition is ingesting cancer-causing tobacco smoke.

Here's one of those heart-warming moments, starring Melanie Griffith, with a cigarette dangling from her lips, lighting one up for her daughter, Dakota (who, by the way, is under the legal smoking age at 17). Maybe they were on their way to get the kid a matching heart tattoo for her arm, just like Mom's.


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Even Death Can't Stop AOL

A few months ago, I had Vincent Ferrari on my KMOX show to talk about the problems he'd had cancelling his father's AOL account (complete with the remarkable audio of one frustrating conversation he had with an AOL customer service rep).

Now comes this story about Maxine Gauthier, whose father died, but AOL kept billing him, and wouldn't stop.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Die Hard

Now that Bruce Willis is going to work on a fourth "Die Hard" movie, let's recap where the story has taken us thus far, in song (rated PG-13 for language)...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

FCC FU

A group that's sick of the FCC and censorship in the post-Nipplegate era has recorded "FCC FU" to the tune of "My Country 'Tis of Thee." The video shows the lyrics for the short version. You can download the full unedited version (and a metal version) on their site.


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Raymer Out Of WSOP

Greg Raymer won't win the World Series Of Poker main event this year. He was just eliminated from the tournament on day 2B.

The Eagle Flies Backwards?

As heard yesterday on my KMOX show, listener Jeff Mild claimed that, on the big Anheuser-Busch sign next to Highway 40, the animated eagle is wrong -- it's flying backwards!!

Here's his argument, along with video of the sign so you can judge for yourself:

I am a St. Louis native, 45 years old. My parents took me to lots of Cardinals games (both football and baseball) and Blues hockey games. I remember driving home as a kid after the games and waiting to catch sight of the Budweiser eagle sign on hwy 40. The eagle was spectacular - graceful and BIG. I feel as though it is an icon of the city.

Quite a few years ago, AB had the sign restored (sometime in the 1970's ?). A few of the animations, like the white/gold lights that outlined the "A" used to dance around. Now those lights are gone. But more importantly, they accidentally reversed the order of the 5 frame animation that makes the eagle fly.

I know - it sounds crazy. How could it have been flying backwards for so long without anyone noticing? Well it has and I did. Once you suspect it is flying backward, and then study the sign, it becomes obvious. Also, to the younger viewer who may have never witnessed the eagle flying properly, one may see the awkward bird trying to fly and dismiss it as "It's just difficult to animate an eagle in flight using neon lights".

But don't take my word for it, I have created animated gif files of the the eagle flying backwards and forwards. Most picture viewers and web browsers will work to view the files. The first file is the eagle as it flies now - backwards. The second file has been reversed to show how the eagle should be flying.

To be honest, I can't tell the difference, but several people I've showed this to agree with Jeff. For an expert's opinion, I have asked Walter Crawford of the World Bird Sanctuary what he thinks, and he says that he will go look at the sign in person before rendering his verdict. We're also waiting to hear from someone at the brewery with their response.

In the meantime, what do you think? Add comments below.

Also for your viewing pleasure, a home movie of the way the sign looked in 1962, as shot by Joseph A. Hess [contributed by his son, Carl].

Update 8/2/06 @ 5pm: This afternoon, Anheuser-Busch sent me this official statement: "We appreciate all the interest in our Highway 40 'A & Eagle' neon sign. This historic sign has been a landmark in our community since it was put up in 1962, and we agree it's important it accurately depicts and eagle in flight. We are currently looking into this to ensure the sign's accuracy."

They'll be happy to hear Walter Crawford's verdict. He says the eagle is not flying backwards, but blames the illusion on the way the five-step animation works, with one step making it seem like the eagle is going backwards, when in fact it's just the animation resetting. Listen to his full explanation here.

Update 8/16/06 @ 6pm: After considering the visual evidence and hearing Jeff make his case on my show two weeks ago, I received the following statement today from Tony Ponturo, VP Global Media and Sports Marketing for Anheuser-Busch:
"We recently inspected the Highway 40 'A & Eagle' neon sign and learned that a short circuit in some electrical wiring had caused the eagle's flight to change in appearance. We immediately fixed it, and the sign once again accurately depicts and eagle's flight.

We appreciate KMOX and its listeners for bringing this to our attention, and we hope St. Louisans and visitors to our community continue to enjoy this St. Louis landmark."
Case closed, with credit once again to Jeff for noticing it and bringing it to my attention.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

World Series of Poker

I had my numbers wrong for the WSOP 2006 Main Event. There were 8,773 entries, and first prize won't be ten million. It will be $12,000,000. Second place will get over six million. The top 12 finishers will get at least a million each.

Her Kids Bore Her To Death

Here's the op-ed piece we're talking about on my KMOX show by Helen Kirwan-Taylor, the mother who is bored by her kids.

Worth A Link

  • Kip Esquire on the deaths of children and adults in Qana, Lebanon, over the weekend: "The 36 child fatalities, as well as the 20 adults, in the Lebanese city of Qana were killed by Israeli weapons. But they were murdered by Hezbollah."
  • Laura Vanderkam on one of my favorite subjects -- keeping perspective on what's really risky in our world, from deadly roller coaster rides to venomous spiders. A couple of months ago, I blogged about a similar lack of perspective in stories about children being killed by falling TVs.
  • Phil Plait on the suppression of science at the FDA and elsewhere in our federal government.
  • Mark Cuban on the way technology is changing not just what we watch on TV, but how we decide what we're going to watch.

MTV's Debut 25 Years Ago

MTV isn't celebrating its 25th anniversary today, probably because their current target audience wasn't alive at the time. But many of us do remember that day, with its introduction of the first five VJs...


That was followed by their first video, "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles.

The first time I ever saw a music video was at a radio convention in Atlanta in January, 1980. At the time, I was Music Director of WRCN, a station on the east end of Long Island consulted by the company that created the "SuperStars" album rock format, Burkhart/Abrams (all the stations at this get together were clients of theirs).

We were bussed to a big barbecue place for a dinner sponsored by Warner Brothers. After the food, they rolled out a couple of huge screens to showcase some promotional clips of their up-and-coming hits. Since MTV wouldn't be on the air for another year and a half, very few of us had ever seen music videos, unless it was on "Midnight Special" or "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert."

The first images we saw were of Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders dressed as a waitress, singing "Brass In Pocket." None of us could take our eyes off the screen, and there was actually applause when the song was over. It seems incredibly tame compared to the thousands of videos we've all seen since, but at the time, it created an immediate, lasting memory -- so much so that I don't remember any other band, song, or video they showed us that night.

The next day, "Brass In Pocket" became one of the most added new songs on American rock radio, purely on the strength of that promotional video...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.