Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote Yes on Prop A

One of the items on the ballot this Tuesday in Missouri is Proposition A, which would get rid of the ridiculous loss limit in the casinos in the state.

If you're not familiar with the loss limit -- a law unique to Missouri -- here's how it works, or rather, how it doesn't work. To gain entrance to a casino in the state, you have to show ID and get a player's card. That card is then swiped at a turnstile before you're allowed on the casino floor. Once inside, you can play any game(s) you like, as long as you don't buy-in for more than $500 in a two-hour period.

However, that two hour period doesn't start when you play your first game, or even when you walk in. It starts on every even hour. So, if you went to a blackjack table and asked for $500 in chips at 6:01pm, you couldn't buy any more chips until 8:00pm (regardless of whether you win or lose at that table or anywhere else in the casino). But if you got there a little earlier, and made your initial $500 buy-in at 5:59pm, you could then purchase another $500 in chips at 6:00pm, when the clock resets. That's not two hours; it's not even two minutes!

Those of us who are regulars at the local casinos know this, but newcomers are always startled by this system, because it doesn't exist anywhere else in the gaming world. The regulars also know that, since there are no surveillance cameras in the bathrooms, you can often go in there to buy more chips from other players who may have them. And many of the high-limit players simply take their winnings home in chips, so that they can start their next session with more than $500 without having to deal with these obstacles on each visit.

In other words, the current system doesn't work. But its advocates say that keeping a limit on the amount people can gamble will cut down on the number of people who develop gambling addictions and lose money they can't afford to lose.

In the pro-Prop-A campaign, advocates are using the slogan, "Good for our schools, good for our economy." That may be the way to get votes, but it's not the real bottom line. The campaign should be based on one thing, and one thing only: "It's not the government's job to tell you what to do you with your money."

While most newspapers in Missouri have endorsed Prop A, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch urged voters to reject with a feeble argument: "The loss limit is a safety net protecting compulsive gamblers from their own folly."

They couldn't be more wrong, as it is not government's job to protect us from our own financial whims.

There is no limit on spending for any other recreational activity -- no law tells you how many baseball tickets you can buy, how many movies you can attend, how many rounds of golf you can play (or how many classified ads you can buy in the local newspaper!!). There is also no cap on the number of lottery tickets you can buy, because that form of gambling is not only sanctioned by government, it is actually run by the state!

Proposition A would, in exchange for removing the loss limit, add another 1% tax on casino profits, and limit the number of casinos in Missouri at 13, essentially protecting current operators from future competition. It also promises that the additional tax revenue would go specifically to education. Missourians will forever be skeptical of promises to divert gaming money to education, after the initial guarantees that allowed casinos in the state proved false, and there was no windfall for Missouri schools because of some fancy financial footwork by the politicians in Jefferson City. But that's still no reason to regulate what people do with their own money, on their own time, for their own recreation.

Missouri's casinos would be glad to pay that additional 1% tax if the loss limit was gone. They would save money (on overhead, for example, when they don't have to check and count each admission or watch what each player buys in for), and industry insiders tell me the additional revenue flow would mean an estimated 6-7% increase in profit. It would also allow the casinos to market themselves as a destination for high-limit players throughout the Midwest, and could even mean bringing a major poker tournament to St. Louis (Harrah's would jump at the chance to host a World Series of Poker satellite event here, as would Ameristar with the World Poker Tour).

The opposition is funded by some anti-gambling extremists in the state, with help from casinos on the other side of the Mississippi River. Located in Illinois, they benefit from Missouri's loss limit by attracting people who: a) want to play higher limits; and b) don't want to provide personal information every time they play. If the loss limits are removed, the Illinois (and Kansas) casinos lose that edge.

Loss limit proponents keep harping on the notion that people who can't afford to lose a lot of money will do just that. But what about people who can afford it, who either know how to play within their own limits or have plenty of cash to throw around? I've played poker several times with Nelly, the rap superstar, who can certainly play at higher limits than the state allows without feeling pinched. Charles Barkley has talked about the huge amounts he has won or lost, and pointed out that, since he has plenty of income, even his biggest losses haven't been put a crimp in his life.

What right does the government have to tell them or anyone else how much they're allowed to bet? Yes, some people be hurt when they gamble and lose, but the government doesn't stop them from buying a bigger car than they can afford, or charging so much on their credit cards that they get upside down on their finances. That's because Americans believe in a large measure of personal responsibility, particularly when it comes to your own money.

Vote YES on Proposition A and throw the loss limit into the muck.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man who stole the wrong pickup, a thief busted for driving a stolen car to court, and an 89-year-old woman would wouldn't give a ball back to a boy.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Nailin' Palin

Shortly after Sarah Palin became a nationally- and internationally-known celebrity, Larry Flynt's company quickly threw together a skin flick called "Nailin' Palin." Graham Norton, who hosts a talk show on BBC2, got a copy of the script and asked guests Ricky Gervais and Thandie Newton to read one of the scenes [warning: language]...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Worth A Link

  • Roger Simon says the McCain campaign is trying to make Palin the scapegoat if they lose
  • Brian Stelter notes some foreshadowing of the real-life presidential race of McCain-Obama and the fictional campaigns of Vinick-Santos in the last two seasons of "The West Wing"

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include an update on the woman arrested for swearing at her toilet, a man whose dropped cell phone stopped a train, and a woman too drunk for her driver's license test.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wassup 2008

Eight years ago, Budweiser created a national sensation with the "Wassup?" commercials...

Here's a 2008 update by an Obama supporter...

[thanks to Scott Reames for the link]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include man vs. bees, the banning of fake bull testicles, and a prisoner who's suing after losing 100 pounds.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Synchronized Debating

This is for anyone who wishes there had been more debates between Obama and McCain, thinking they'd hear something different from the candidates if they had more opportunities.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ballot Prep

Long lines are predicted at polling places across the country next Tuesday. One reason is the intense interest in the presidential election. Another is that there are so many propositions, referenda, and proposed amendments for voters to consider.

It would help if you knew ahead of time what your ballot choices would be, so you won't have to stand in the voting booth and figure it out while holding up everyone else. Here's a site you can customize down to your local precinct to see exactly who and what you'll be voting for (or against).

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man who didn't want to go through with his wedding, a man arrested twice in the same night for drunk driving, and a bus driver who shouldn't have followed GPS directions.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

The War Room

Sixteen years ago, as Bill Clinton was on the cusp of beating George HW Bush to become the 42nd President, his handlers gave permission for Ted Koppel to ride along for the last 24 hours of the campaign. It became a stunning episode of "Nightline," with the kind of access to the candidate and his minions that, until then, had rarely seen the light of day. I wonder which network correspondent or anchor will be allowed that privilege with the Obama campaign next Monday and Tuesday.

A year later, in January, 1994, we learned more about the Clinton campaign team when Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker released "The War Room," their documentary about how James Carville, Paul Begala, Dee Dee Myers, Mandy Grunwald, and George Stephanopolous worked behind the scenes to get Clinton elected and, in the process, changed the way modern campaigns are run.

It's one of the most remarkable movies ever made about presidential politics, which is why it long ago earned a place on my Movies You Might Not Know list.

Here's the scene on election eve in their headquarters in Little Rock...

Recently, the documentarians went back to re-interview some of the principals for "The Return Of The War Room." It's airing this month on The Sundance Channel -- unfortunately, we don't subscribe, so I'll have to wait to see it on DVD.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Heavy Honeymoon

After hearing that the world's heaviest man, Manuel Uribe (who once tipped the scales at 1,230 pounds but has trimmed down to 680) got married on Sunday in Mexico, I'm reminded of a joke that my old radio partner Dave Murray originally wrote about a huge sumo wrestler marrying a woman who weighed about 100 pounds:
"What are the two words his bride doesn't want to hear on their wedding night? Missionary position!"

Worth A Link

Michael Scherer at Time magazine lists 7 Things That Could Go Wrong On Election Day, from database problems to polling place changes to badly designed ballots to the voting machine fiasco.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a game of highway chicken, legs sticking out from under a car, and a man who urinated on a dog.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Retro Works

I've been impressed by the series of commercials that consist of re-makes of classic movie scenes with the actors spouting talking points for Direct TV and digitially composited into the original.

From Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens" to Christopher Lloyd in "Back To The Future" to Robert Patrick in "Terminator 2" to the newest one, with Christie Brinkley and Chevy Chase in "National Lampoon's Vacation," each of them includes makeup and set decoration that perfectly matches the film. None of them make me want to dump Dish Network and go with Direct TV, but I admire their cleverness.

Then there's the must-see video by Ron Howard, in which he teams with Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler to reprise their classic characters and endorse Barack Obama. While not as slick as the Direct TV ads, it's amusing to see how a wig, a costume, and some retro-acting can help create an effective message.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jim Oliphant, Covering Obama

Jim Oliphant has been covering the Obama campaign for the Chicago Tribune and joined me on WLS to talk about it, from the discipline of staying on message to the media buys to the general tone the Democratic nominee set early on.

We also discussed how this election marks a generational change, in that it's the last one for candidates from the Vietnam era, and the beginning of the post-baby-boomer era. From here on out, the cultural and historical milestones will be different, to the point where references to Ronald Reagan will become increasingly irrelevant, and the challenges on both the domestic and foreign fronts unlike those America faced before.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Worth A Link

  • Leonard Pitts says a few words on behalf of us Fake Americans
  • Andrew Sullivan says Sarah Palin is America's Next Top Super Model
  • Kip Hawley, TSA Administrator, responds to Jeffrey Goldberg's article about airport security

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Politico's Josh Kraushaar

Josh Kraushaar of has become a semi-regular contributor to my WLS shows, and today we talked about the electoral landscape for Obama and McCain with a week and a half before the election.

Josh also broke down what could happen in Congress, and how many seats the Democrats may add to their majorities in both the House and the Senate. And I asked him to name three states that we should keep an eye on as bellweathers as the returns start coming in on election night.

We also discussed Josh's story about the apology/explanation offered by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for saying last week (on "Hardball") that the media should investigate everyone in Congress to see who's pro-America and who's anti-America. I have yet to see anyone confront Bachmann and ask exactly what criteria would be used to determine anyone's patriotism, but I suspect she'd consider you pro-America if you agree with everything she says; otherwise, you're the enemy.

Ironically, that televised McCarthy-esque outburst has helped Minnesotans decide they're not quite at pro-Bachmann as she thought they were. It may cost Bachmann her seat in the House, as her 10-12% lead in the polls has evaporated in a week, and she now trails challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg (!!) -- who has been helped by over a million dollars in donations that poured in after her comments made national news -- by several points.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff

On WLS today, I talked with Newsweek's Michael Isikoff about where things stand 10 days before election day.

We discussed whether McCain can still come from behind to win and whether his attacks on Obama as "socialist" ring true and swing voters his way. We also talked about Isikoff's recent piece on Obama's massive fundraising success, some questions about keeping donations small on purpose, and whether it's possible in a modern election to know the validity and source of every donation.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a creepy beauty shop break-in, a thief who thought his police photo was really cool, and why you shouldn't leave body parts at a brothel.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Movies After 9/11

In 2002, Tom Cruise opened the Academy Awards telecast with a monologue (written by Cameron Crowe) about whether, in light of the horrible events of 9/11 just months before, the movies even mattered any more. His answer: "Now more than ever."

Then Cruise introduced a montage by Errol Morris with people talking about their favorite movies and moments...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

McCain Tested

Ed Barabash e-mails:

I just heard McCain commenting on Joe Biden's remarks about the next president being tested with an international crisis within months of his taking office. McCain said HE had been tested. During the Cuban missile crisis he was in his plane, ready to go, with a bomb destination.

So, how does that make him tested? Did HE challenge the Russians? Was it HE that would make the decision to go or not go forward with the bomb run? He was not the commander-in-chief, making the command decision. Was he in harm's way? Yes, but in no way does this experience give him the ability to rationally decide what action should or should not be taken in a crisis.

If you carried this logic through, you could say that any football or baseball player, having been through the battle of the game, would be fully qualified to be a top notch coach.
And Aaron Barnhart has some very good points about John McCain and G. Gordon Liddy, wondering why -- even after David Letterman first brought up last week when the Senator returned to his guest chair -- their friendship is getting no play in the news coverage of the campaign, while the GOP harping about Barack Obama and Bill Ayers does.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include flashing lights and phony cops, a naked man in a chimney, and a burglar and his cell phone.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Accepting For The Beatles...

Quincy Jones talks about the night The Beatles won an Oscar for "Let It Be," but since they'd broken up the year before, none of the guys showed up, and Quincy had to accept it for them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a passport-eating husband, a woman who drove over her fiance, and a woman who refused to pay for not getting care at a hospital.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Goodbye Liberty

My friend Chris Bliss -- who you may know from his juggling routine done to the end of "Abbey Road" -- has been working on getting a Bill Of Rights monument built in several states. His first success came this summer in Montezuma, Iowa, where this display was unveiled on July 5th.

He is close to getting a major go-ahead in Texas, where he plans to erect a monument that will become a national destination. You can find out more about the Bill Of Rights project (and you can support it) here.

Here's another project Chris has been working on, based on his frustration (and mine) over the violation and lessening of our core liberties over the last few years. He writes:
I've got a new video called "Goodbye, Liberty" with music by Madonna collaborator (and Roger Waters' producer) Pat Leonard. The video was out together from somewhere around 60 YouTube clips, out of hundreds I combed through, to tell a complex story in a viewable way. There's also a companion site,, which has a full list of sources and resources, keywords and a transcript.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include the cheapest yacht in the world, a woman surprised by her cat cargo, and a man with shrimp in his pants.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Palin As President

Your first look at Sarah Palin in the Oval Office, with plenty of stuff to click on (do the red phone last). [I don't know who created this site, but thanks to Alan Portman for the link]

Monday, October 20, 2008

The War on TV

On television, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan barely exist. While the election and the economy are using up every minute of the news cycle, it's remarkable that months have gone by without any major media outlet showing footage of Americans at war. We get the occasional question to politicians about policy, and arguments about the effectiveness of The Surge, but what's the last time you saw coverage of our troops actually engaged in combat?

That's what occurred to me as I watched this piece on "60 Minutes" Sunday night. Lara Logan spent a month with a forward unit operating near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are getting more dangerous and more bold in their attacks on the US base. It's jarring to see our soldiers ducking behind rocks to avoid gunfire, then scouring through a cornfield to root out enemy combatants, then killing a sniper who lay prone in a hole, waiting for them.

That's a real bullet piercing the body of a real American soldier. Those are real dead bodies they drag back to camp. The shock comes not from their actions, but from this being so rare on television.

I grew up during the Vietnam era, when the nightly newscasts were full of battle scenes shot by correspondents and photographers in the midst of real war, complete with death, gore, and mayhem viewed from ground level. Seeing those images in our homes on a regular basis helped form America's opinion of that war as a waste of time, life, and effort.

This war, to the contrary, is rarely allowed into our homes. We don't see the efforts of our armed forces, the enemy they're fighting, and the damage being done. The Bush administration and Pentagon have limited access, while the media has lacked the courage (and refused to dedicate financial resources) to put reporters in harm's way to tell the story. When the war started, the networks couldn't wait to show off their embedded correspondents as they rode along with US troops on the march towards Baghdad.

Now, more than five years later, this kind of reporting is far too rare...

Airport Security

If you think the extra layers of security at the airport are really making you safer, think again. Jeffrey Goldberg has a chilling story in The Atlantic of how airport security in America is a sham. He says it's "security theater designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists, but smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items." To prove it, he did just that, and you'll be surprised at how easy it was.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man injured by a stripper's shoe, a world record attempt spoiled by a hungry crowd, and the wrong place to keep your winning lottery ticket.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Colin Powell for Obama

Gen. Colin Powell, lifelong Republican and former Secretary of State in the Bush administration, endorses Barack Obama on "Meet The Press," and has harsh words about the narrowing of the GOP, the tactics of the McCain campaign, and the Palin choice.

But the most impressive part of Powell's remarks come when he discusses his disappointment with those on the right who falsely believe Obama is Muslim, or continue to promote and exploit that lie: "The really right answer is what if he is?"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dennis Meets Wounded Warriors

On WLS/Chicago today, I talked with Dennis Phillips about his recent trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for a charity poker tournament with some of our wounded warriors. He says it was a very emotional visit, and he was surprised at how positive some of these guys are, despite having their bodies torn apart by war.

We also talked about the eBay auction Dennis is conducting to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society by auctioning off space on the shirt he'll wear at the Final Table of the World Series Of Poker Main Event in three weeks.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Tina Fey-lin

Must-see but non-embed-able video: Tina Fey explains to David Letterman how she does her Sarah Palin impression.

Decision 2008

Mike Allen has an interesting Politico piece on how the networks will handle election night if it's a blowout. It's not just a matter of graphics, blue-and-red maps, and analysts galore, but what to say and when to say it.

Allen explains that Virginia may be the bellweather, since there's no scenario in which McCain loses that state but wins the election -- and since Virginia's in the east, the results there will be in long before voting has ended in the west. Anchors and reporters may have to choose their words carefully in that case, knowing how it's likely to end but without pissing off states where the polls haven't closed.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have an election night that doesn't drag on forever.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Evening with Dave and Ridley

I'm looking forward to hosting another evening with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson at the St. Louis Public Library, where they'll present their new young adult novel, "Science Fair."

My daughter is already devouring the book and laughing out loud at many parts, as she did with Dave and Ridley's "Peter & The Starcatchers" trilogy.

The event begins at 7pm, but you should get there early, because this will fill up very quickly. After I make some opening remarks, I'll leave it to the guys to talk up the book, share stories, and do some Q&A. Then they'll sell and sign a few copies. More info here.


As I was wondering how anyone can still be undecided 18 days before election day, a caller on WHAS/Louisville told me that undecided voters have an obligation to do some research and find out the facts about these candidates and then choose.

I explained to him that they're not going to do that. Their choice will be based on passive information -- what they see on TV, hear on the radio, buzz from friends, and perhaps (in much smaller numbers) read in the newspaper. They're not going to take the time to check voting records and policy statements, and if they do use websites to gather information, it will be from subjective sites that lean in whatever direction they already like.

Most Americans don't like to put in the time to figure out stuff like this and don't like to do research. That's why we spent decades doing school reports by copying directly out of the World Book.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

That photo is not just the Picture Of The Day -- it also matches one of today's Knuckleheads In The News® stories, which also include the wrong place to have sex in your car, and political pickup poop.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Comedy Candidates

McCain and Obama both appeared tonight at the Al Smith Dinner, a formal political tradition in New York at which the presidential candidates do comedy monologues, roast each other, and throw in some serious stuff, too. They both had some very good material, well delivered.

Here's McCain...

Here's Obama...

I'm Just Asking

The last time plumbers played this big a role in a presidential election was in 1972. How did that work out?

Plumber To Nowhere

Line Of The Day comes from Mark Evanier:
I just turned on the news and saw "Joe the Plumber" doing something that Sarah Palin apparently can't do. He was answering questions at a press conference.
Speaking of Joe Wurzelbacher, I said last night that he'd better have a pretty clean record, because the media was going to run him through the wringer. They did that today, and discovered that he doesn't have a plumber's license, he owes the state of Ohio over $1,100 in back taxes, and he would not have over a quarter million in profits from the plumbing business he wants to buy -- so he would actually get a tax cut under Obama's proposal.

Of course, the facts won't stop McCain from using Joe as the hero of his stump speech. After all, the candidate vetted the plumber about as much as he did his running mate.

Joe is the Plumber To Nowhere.

Put Your Patch On Dennis

Dennis Phillips, the St. Louisan who is chip leader going into the Final Table of the 2008 World Series Of Poker Main Event, has been doing a lot for charity. He's promised 1% of his winnings to Put A Bad Beat On Cancer. He's donated a large sum to he Albert Pujols Foundation. At lunch today, he told me of his emotional visit last weekend for a charity poker tournament with our wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Now, he's auctioning off a spot on the shirt he'll wear at the Final Table, as a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Bidding began this morning and will continue for the next week or so.

If your company wants major exposure on ESPN during the two-hour telecast on November 11th -- as the chip leader, Dennis will be prominently featured -- here's your chance to get it and do something positive for a worthy cause. This will easily go up into five figures. Click the photo above to see what the high bid is and enter yours.

Jamie Gold

In Vegas this weekend, I played a lot of poker, including one session with Jamie Gold, who won $12 million as champion of the WSOP Main Event two years ago.

When I heard he was in town for a promotional appearance and was playing in a cash game at the Hard Rock's new Poker Lounge, I made my way over there and got a seat at the table, where there was plenty of money being pushed around. We didn't get tangled up in any big pots, but we did talk between hands.

I asked Gold how often he goes out to play in live games like this. He said it's not that often, but he plays in a home game in Hollywood with several guys who have more money than anyone else he knows and with stakes higher than he can get regularly in a casino. Plus, in their private venue, they don't have to worry about gawkers and other distractions -- and can eat and drink whatever they want.

When I told Jamie that Dennis Phillips (chip leader going into this year's WSOP Main Event Final Table on November 9th) is a friend of mine, he offered to talk to Dennis and give him an idea of what life will be like if he emerges victorious. One change, Gold explained, is that winning the WSOP and appearing on "High Stakes Poker" on GSN have put a target on his back and forced him to modify the way he plays. He can't bluff as much as he used to, with other players coming after him more aggressively because they want to beat a former World Champion.

On the other hand, Gold claims that cash game players tend to give him their money more easily, because they never believe he has a real hand. I witnessed at least two examples of this, when players called him down with inferior hands and pushed big stacks in his direction. I also saw him make a couple of good reads. He didn't impress me as much as other pros have, but it was interesting to watch (I won a few big pots of my own, so I was in a good mood, too).

I mentioned that it was odd seeing so many weeks of ESPN's coverage go by without even a shot of Dennis until this past Tuesday. Gold said that's like the story line they set up about him, as if he came out of nowhere on the last day of the Main Event when, in fact, he'd become chip leader on Day 4 and never relinquished that lead. But, after all, they're producing a heavily-edited TV show, with stars to promote, stories to tell, and suspense to build.

As for the Hard Rock Poker Lounge, it's nicely designed and has some of the most comfortable chairs I've found around a poker table. The music is pounding, the staff and players are younger than in other rooms, and there's a much more relaxed atmosphere, which explains why the players at one table were using a Magnum condom as the dealer button. On the other hand, the younger, less experienced players have attracted the attention of some of the local sharks, who prey on those smaller "fish."

The Hard Rock will be the site of a charity poker game and party two nights before the WSOP Final Table, in which Dennis will play with some big-name pros and celebrities. I'm looking forward to it.

McCain On The Dole

One of the things that has hurt McCain the most this year is abandoning the friendly image he'd cultivated through years of media appearances. Reporters liked him, talk show audiences cheered him, hosts laughed at his jokes.

But by taking the ugly personal attack route, he's gone down the same path Bob Dole took in 1996. Like McCain, Dole's positives were very high right up until he became The GOP candidate Who Attacks. He was behind, and he allowed his handlers to push him into a campaign strategy he clearly wasn't comfortable with. It seemed very un-Dole like to a lot of people, and it caused impressionists like Norm McDonald to play up the Mean Old Man stereotype he had turned into, instead of the Respected Senator With A Sense Of Humor he had been.

That's exactly what happened to McCain this year. By listening to Steve Schmidt and other Karl Rove wannabes, he destroyed his goodwill. Whether he can get any of it back remains to be seen -- perhaps tomorrow night on Letterman.

If not, look for John McCain to continue following in Bob Dole's footsteps with a series of commercials for Pepsi and Viagra in 2009.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man who didn't tell his wife that he named their daughter after the candidates, a fight at a nursing home over a presidential ballot, and the rock star who won't sign autographs anymore.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Debate '88

From 20 years ago, an excerpt of an "SNL" debate sketch with Dana Carvey as Bush 41, Jan Hooks as moderator Diane Sawyer, and the classic closing line by Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama-McCain 3

Title this one John McCain Unleashed. He won, Barack Obama lost. In fact, Bob Schieffer finished ahead of the Democratic candidate. I know the insta-polls don't show that (CNN's says Obama 58/McCain 32, while the CBS poll says Obama 53/McCain 22, but McCain won by being a different John McCain.

Unfortunately for McCain, the only people he won with are the red-meat Republicans he already had in his column. However, nothing that happened tonight will stop the now-inevitable Obama victory. It might swing a couple of percentage points in the next day or two, but not enough to save McCain.

It's said that you're doing well if you can "think on your feet." McCain had trouble thinking on his feet at the last two debates, but did much better tonight. For him, it's best to "think on your butt." It's a good thing McCain didn't get all those town hall debates he wanted, since he became a star by sitting down on "Face The Nation" and "Meet The Press," a format which, like tonight's debate, works much better for him.

What's the over/under on how soon America will be sick of Joe Wurzelbacher, a/k/a Joe The Plumber? I'm giving the news cycle 48 hours to get him booked on all the shows and a magazine cover or two. By the way, Joe, your life better be pretty clean, because you're about to be picked apart by the media and the blogosphere.

Isn't it amazing how McCain made himself the victim in the name-calling personal attack war? His running mate goes around the country accusing Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and McCain himself has to calm down supporters spewing extremist remarks about his opponent, and McCain is the victim? Obama's negative ads are about issues, McCain's are much more personally pejorative. Now that's spin.

McCain says Obama has spent more on negative ads than any presidential candidate in history, but that's because of the huge amounts of money Obama is spending on all advertising (even in video games!). If only half of his ads were negative, that would still dwarf the overall sum McCain has spent -- it's something like an 8-1 ratio in Obama's favor.

Not one uncommitted voter was swayed by the discussion of US trade policy with Colombia. Who cares about that? Only one demographic group: cokeheads.

Same thing applies for the Ayers issue. With 20 days to go and the economy owning the headlines every day, there's no time for Ayers to get traction with the public, particularly the 7% of voters who still haven't made up their minds.

Missed opportunities for Obama:

  • When McCain quoted Obama telling Joe The Plumber that we have to "spread the wealth," Obama should have pointed out that's how our tax system works now. It's a progressive system, under which the more you make, the more you pay.
  • He should have asked how McCain can freeze spending and still buy up $300 billion in mortgages. If that's gonna come out of the $750 billion Paulson Plan, what takes up the slack?
  • In the abortion discussion, he should have pointed out the the Palins made a choice to have their youngest child. Palin told an interviewer the other day that she and Todd prayed and talked about it a lot before making their decision. In other words, they considered the options and chose to have the child. That's a choice. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, as both Palin and McCain want, they wouldn't have had any options.
  • On government being involved in health care and insurance, he should have pushed both the Medicare connection and the fact that McCain (and Obama), as a federal employees, is covered by a government health care plan.
I'm not sure whose grin is more annoying -- Obama's when he heard McCain say something he considers ridiculous, or McCain's when he heard, well, anything.

To play up his self-proclaimed maverick status, McCain keeps talking up how he has voted against his party at times, and challenging Obama to give evidence of when he's done that. But Obama isn't running as the anti-Democrat Democrat, and all he has to say is, this isn't about who I voted with, it's about what I voted for. Incidentally, Obama was gracious several times in mentioning things he agreed with McCain on, but I didn't hear McCain return the favor.

Bob Schieffer was the only debate moderator who avoided asking a stupid question. He did a very good job keeping these guys to the topic as often as possible, even interrupting to get direct (or as direct as they can be) answers to his questions.

WLS political analyst Dan Profft adds that Schieffer did McCain one big favor -- he made him seem not so old by comparison.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include an inappropriate act in a classroom supposedly inspired by a sitcom, a McDonald's restaurant with an alternate pay scheme, and a farm equipment joy ride.

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Vacation Cheek Squeak

A commercial for a hotel that makes you feel as comfortable as you do at home -- to let one loose (I like the candle scene)...

I actually stayed at one of these places in Vegas in June, and pleasantly surprised enough to recommend it to friends.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Poker World Meets Dennis Phillips

Nice to see ESPN's cameras finally found my friend Dennis Phillips tonight in coverage of Day 5 of the World Series of Poker Main Event. They showed two hands he was involved in -- and won -- as he rolled towards becoming the chip leader. Up until now, the coverage has focused on the stars of poker (Hellmuth, Matusow, Hansen, etc.) and some of the up-and-coming pros and online players.

Truth is, Dennis was in the middle of the pack and didn't start making his move until Day 5, and the cameras never came to any of the tables he sat at because there were no out-of-the-ordinary hands that ESPN would be interested in.

However, you'll certainly see more of Dennis on the next two Tuesdays, followed by a two-hour ESPN special on election night which will profile all nine final table players, before they go for the $9,100,000 grand prize at the Rio on November 9-10, which will air on November 11th.

I'll have more tomorrow on another charity project Dennis is involved in, as well as some stories from the weekend I just had in Vegas, where I sat down and played with a former WSOP Main Event Champion.

Doggie Out Of Style

From the frontier of intolerance, Saudi Arabia, a new rule by the religious police means pet shops can no longer sell cats and dogs, and if you already own one, you can't take it for a walk in Riyadh. Why? Because men are using them as a way to make passes at women, and we certainly can't have pet-inspired inter-gender human contact.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On Hold

I won't have web access for a few days, but will return with new posts, Pictures Of The Day, and Knuckleheads In The News® soon. Until then, feel free to browse the archives by category on the right side of this page. Or not.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a woman shot by her stove, the wrong place to steal a bike, and a blonde who sued over being a brunette.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Now That's Cold

If you work at McMurdo Station in Antactica, the weather can get pretty bad, with the wind blowing at 50 knots, making it feel like a hundred below zero. They call that Condition 1, when you're not even allowed to go outside...

That's Christine Powell, whose husband Anthony is a photographer and Satellite Communications Tech at McMurdo. See some of his stunning photos here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Harry Smith Sings

Harry Smith of "The Early Show" on CBS wrote a song called "Red State Blue State Blues" and recorded it with country singer Sarah Darling while he was in Nashville for last night's debate. It works as a novelty, but not much more. Aaron Barnhart got his hands on a copy of the song and posted it here.

Knuckleheads In The News®

The link for today's Knuckleheads In The News® mistakenly gave you yesterday's audio, but I have repaired it and it should work correctly now. Thanks to all who e-mailed about the problem.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man whose get out of jail card only lasted a few minutes, a guy with a bad excuse for missing jury duty, and a plane with white powder service.

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This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Murder By Death

Today's addition to my Movies You Might Not Know list is "Murder By Death," a 1976 satire by Neil Simon.

Truman Capote plays Lionel Twain, an eccentric rich guy who invites a coterie of detectives (straight out of mystery novels and movies) to his mansion for dinner and a murder -- only to trap them in a mystery of their own, as he threatens to off them through diabolical devices like those in their own books, and challenges them to figure out what's going on.

Funniest is Falk, doing a Bogart imitation, with Eileen Brennan as his faithful moll. Then there's David Niven and Maggie Smith as a Nick-and-Nora-like couple, James Coco as an Hercule Poirot type with James Cromwell as his chauffeur, Peter Sellers sending up Charlie Chan, and Elsa Lanchester doing Agatha Christie proud as Miss Marbles -- plus Alec Guinness as the blind butler and Nancy Walker as the deaf cook.

Falk's character was so popular that Simon wrote another movie for him. "The Cheap Detective" wasn't strictly a sequel, and the detective's name was changed from Sam Diamond to Lou Peckinpaugh, but Brennan's still there (along with an all-star supporting cast) helping to parody movies like "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca."

Here's a montage from the "Murder By Death" trailer (trivia tidbit: the drawings used for the opening and closing credits were by Charles Addams, creator of The Addams Family)...

See the entire Movies You Might Not Know list, and feel free to add your suggestions.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More Debate Observations

Three things McCain said tonight deserved more attention.

First was his claim that "social security is easy to fix." Easy? Then how would you do it, and why haven't you presented a plan to fix it during your multiple terms in the Senate? Social security has been the third rail of American politics for two generations, and is one of the toughest problems our legislators have had to deal with. There's nothing easy about it.

Second was "I know how to get Osama Bin Laden. I'll get him." You know how? Then tell us! I can understand your not wanting to say it out loud to the public, out of fear that you'd tip off the enemy, but have you shared your plan with the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs and the White House? Why would you keep that a secret?

Third was, "We don't have time for on the job training, my friends." That had a lot more zing before McCain named Palin as his running mate.

And I hate that "my friends" thing, just as much as I hate Joe Biden invoking "ladies and gentleman." They're both cheap verbal crutches. I'm not looking for a friend, and I wouldn't elect any of my friends to the presidency. Be a leader, not a pal.

Line of the Debate

Andrew Sullivan had the funniest line by a blogger tonight:

Memo to McCain: don't talk about Herbert Hoover. The Abraham Simpson problem.


Last week, I mentioned two wasted questions by Gwen Ifill in the Palin-Biden debate. Tonight, Tom Brokaw had his own, which he chose from among those submitted online.

A woman in New Hampshire asked, "What do you not know now, and how will you learn it?"

Here's what I don't know -- why ask such a useless question? It's a classic example of an unanswerable question that teaches us exactly nothing about the candidates, but allows them to go off on long-winded rehearsed speeches.

On the other hand, McCain could have changed his public perception by invoking one word in his answer: "How will I learn it, Tom. Wikipedia!!"

Speaking of Brokaw, it took only a few minutes to get sick of his time-cop routine, reminding the candidates that he was trying to keep them to the format they had agreed on. By doing so, he injected himself far too often and got in the way of Obama and McCain spewing their time-worn answers. Granted that not much was different from what we've heard from them before, but Brokaw was a lousy intruder.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include the victim you shouldn't mug, the cop you shouldn't hug, and the coaches who shouldn't coach.

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This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.


While this weekend's Biden-Palin debate sketch on "SNL" got tons of attention, there was another bit that caught my eye. It's a parody of "Mary Poppins," in particular the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

While the writing is clever, the sketch works entirely because of the performance by Anne Hathaway, doing an on-the-money impression of Julie Andrews (with whom she worked in "The Princess Diaries"). Based on this performance, "SNL" should bring Hathaway back as often as possible, as she has the potential to be an all-star regular in the vein of Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin -- one of those go-to hosts who does anything they're asked and knocks it out of the park every time.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Kick It Away

I just watched Reggie Bush run back a punt for a touchdown for the second time in the game, giving him a total of 176 return yards. Now Tirico, Kornheiser, and Jaworski are wondering why the Vikings even kicked the ball to him after he returned the first one for a TD. They're saying that, from now on, punters will have to avoid Bush they way they avoid Devin Hester, and kick the ball out of bounds instead.

I don't know why more punters don't do that already.

Don't get me wrong, there are some great punters in the league who can boot it high and long (Donnie Jones of the Rams is one, as he's had to prove far too often this season), but far too many of them kick it down the middle between the hash marks, and then hope that the coverage team can get to the returner.

Why don't NFL teams require these punters to develop more skill at punting towards the sidelines? That would increase the chance of getting it out of bounds or, at the very least, narrowing the field for the return man.

I also wonder why the NFL hasn't recruited more punters from Australian Rules Football. My wife and I went to Sydney on vacation many years ago, and our friend Russell, who had played in a semi-pro league, took us to a game. I was amazed at the players. Almost all of them had the ability to kick the ball downfield to another player, the way a US quarterback throws it to a receiver, but these guys could do it on the run -- and with either foot!

Imagine having a punter who can not only escape the rush, but can move around until the coverage men get downfield, and then kick it directly to them, instead of the opponent's return man. I saw the Aussies do the equivalent of that over and over again.

It took the recruitment of some European place kickers to introduce the soccer-style field-goal to the NFL. It is long past time to get some of these down under wonders to change the way the ball is punted. They certainly would never kick it right to Reggie Bush.

You can almost hear the Aussie Rules players watching our game and saying, "That's not a punt -- this is a punt!"

Worth A Link

Ken Levine explains why no network would put "Cheers" on the air today.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man upset his girlfriend wouldn't have sex, a city that tells its residents not to lock their doors, and a gun shot stopped by dentures.

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This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Bruce for Barack

Bruce Springsteen speaks up for Obama at the Vote For Change rally in Philadelphia on Saturday in his intro to "The Rising"...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paging Dr. Beeper

When I went to call my friend Frank this afternoon, I couldn't remember his cell number. So I checked his number in the Contacts list of my iPhone and there it was, along with his home number, and his pager number.

Pager number? Wow, that's an old listing I need to delete, because I know he never wears one of those anymore. In fact, the only people I see with a pager are doctors on TV medical dramas, who are always being paged to respond to an emergency while having sex in a break room down the hall.

In the high-tech cell phone age, does anyone still have a pager? If so, why? When it goes off, do they have to search for the nearest nearly-extinct pay phone?

SNL Does The Debate

Nice job by the double-taking Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill, the mavericky Tina Fey, and the Biden-repeating Jason Sudeikis on SNL's parody of the Palin-Biden debate, which probably didn't go over well in Scranton...

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

From blogger Aden Nak...

Garry Shandling on the Campaign

Two of his lines last night on "Real Time with Bill Maher":

Joe Biden treated Sarah Palin the way Johnny Carson used to treat Charo. I thought any second she would say "coochie-coochie!"
John McCain is such a maverick that I think he could end up voting for Obama.

Worth A Link

  • Tom Shales on changes in television, from the devices we use to watch it to the way it's presented
  • A bank robber used Craiglist to hire decoys for his getaway
  • Mark Cuban says, to save Wall Street, add a 10¢ tax to every share of stock that's bought or sold -- you'd raise $200 million a day, and no real investor would care
  • Alternative medicines can't stand up to scientific inquiry
  • How not to test the supposed dangers of cell phones
  • Where does the money you spend on gas go?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Worth A Link

Not So Great Debate

Upon further thought, am I the only one who finds it sad that being adequate in your only debate is considered a really good thing? What happened to the good old American attempt to be great, with a reward only for achieving greatness?

It's as if America is a tee-ball team that's happy you just showed up to play and remembered to wear your uniform. Here's a trophy for you, Miss Not-The-MVP.

The greatness concept probably died when Kellogg's pulled Tony The Tiger off their Frosted Flakes commercials. Now the claim is, "They're aaaaaaverage!"

More of my post-debate comments here.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a woman in a cow costume, a man with a severed arm, and a getaway car that's too small for the haul.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Simpsons Election

Homer Simpson tries to vote for Obama, but the touch screen machine won't let him (this episode will supposedly run on the annual Treehouse of Horror episode that airs November 2, two days before Election Day)...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Running Mate Debate

Instant headline: Nobody Screwed Up. Her style controlled the first half, his substance took the second half.

That means that there won't be any lasting effect from what happened tonight. If anything, Palin won by not losing, since the bar was so low for her, but aside from a couple of days of stopping McCain's slippage, there won't be much impact on election day from what these two said in the debate. The GOP base may have been reassured by Palin's performance, but it probably wasn't enough to convert any independents -- and the same goes for Biden.

Larry Sabato just told me on WLS that there are 9 states that are still in play: Ohio, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Nevada. Some of those are a surprise, like Missouri, which seemed pretty red on most electoral maps not long ago.

It's one thing for Palin to be folksy with sayings like, "Say it ain't so, Joe" and "You betcha," but do we have to put up with her following the Bush lead on how to pronounce "nuclear"? There is no vowel between the "c" and "l" in that word, so how do you get "nuke-u-lar"?

The fluffed-up controversy over Gwen Ifill's book had no bearing on her performance tonight -- she was unbiased, but terrible. She didn't follow up enough, and let the candidates get away with too much. That's partly the fault of the format, but she could have kept saying, "You didn't answer my question!" Ifill also wasted time with silly questions like the one she copied from Jim Lehrer, asking the candidates which campaign promise they'd have to break. They were never going to answer that, and the voters are too savvy to believe them anyway.

Now that she's memorized the debate-camp talking points, will Palin do a press conference anytime soon? Now that he's seen Palin's plain-speak in person, can Biden make himself a little more folksy, rather than staying stuck in Senate-speak? Don't hold your breath on either count.

It was a nice psych-out move when Palin greeted Biden at center stage and asked, "Can I call you Joe?" He seemed a little thrown by the familiarity. It was also clear during the debate that he'd been instructed to always refer to her as Governor Palin, although he did slip and invoke her first name at one point before reverting to the formal.

Did anyone win Palin Bingo?

Has anyone ever seen Joe Biden at Home Depot?

In Time magazine, a former McCain advisor suggested the candidates get as much airtime as possible by talking until Ifill cut them off. But with these two, less would have been more. Given too much time, Biden goes off on tangents where even a GPS can't bring him back, and Palin keeps circling around the same points like a car stuck in a traffic circle. Just because the format set a maximum time for responses, there was no minimum, and they should both have been reminded that concise is nice.

Sarah Palin said that John McCain knows how to win wars. Hmmm. Not to slight his heroism in the Hanoi Hilton, but which war did he win?

The only spontaneous moment in the whole debate was Biden choking up towards the end when talking about his son. I think he even surprised himself by bringing it up. Palin's folksified "Say it ain't so, Joe" wasn't even close.

Palin Bingo

Make tonight's VP debate interactive by playing Palin Bingo, with boxes you can mark every time she says "Lipstick," "Reformer," "Bridge to Nowhere," "Ummm," etc.

Obama on Science

Ten days ago, I posted a column listing 12 Things The Next President Must Say. One of them was:

I will trust scientists. Since I am not a scientist and have no training in the field, when the scientific community reaches a peer-reviewed consensus, I will accept it. I will not allow anti-scientific dogma and pseudo-science to be funded or supported in any way by my administration.
Recently, Nature magazine asked the presidential candidates a series of questions about science policy, including:
Many scientists are bitter about what they see as years of political interference in scientific decisions at federal agencies. What would you do to help restore impartial scientific advice in government?
McCain's campaign declined to answer the questions, but here's what Obama said:
Scientific and technological information is of growing importance to a range of issues. I believe such information must be expert and uncoloured by ideology. I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees.
Sounds right to me.

Read his answers to all 18 questions here.

Strategies For The Green Economy

My friend Joel Makower -- who has been at the forefront of writing and speaking about environmental issues and working with both small and large businesses who have discovered that going green can accrue to their bottom line -- has just published his new book, "Strategies For The Green Economy."

He writes:
On the one hand, the business opportunities are growing and becoming increasingly attractive, having moved beyond "doing the right thing" and "doing well by doing good" to leveraging environmental strategies using green thinking as a platform for innovation. It's no longer simply a matter of "greening up" one's products and processes, as it was back then (though most companies still seem to hew to that tactic). Today, it's about harnessing the growing toolkit of technologies, materials, business models, and other innovations to create new products, new markets, even entire new systems of commerce.
For your copy of "Strategies For The Green Economy," click here.

As Chairman and Executive Editor of Greener World Media, Joel publishes,,, and other sites. He also blogs here.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include topless blonde bike bandits, a dead cat landlord, and a man who doesn't understand the relationship between gasoline and fire.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

The Big Schlep

Sarah Silverman is an Obama supporter and wants help getting him elected. So she's started a project called The Big Schlep in which she calls on young Jews to go to swing state Florida to talk their elderly relatives into voting for Obama -- in return for more visits from their grandchildren [rated PG-13 for profanity]...