Wednesday, March 31, 2010

KTRS Wednesday


I'll be back on the morning show on KTRS/St. Louis today from 6am to 10am CT. Among my guests:
  • Richard Stengel, editor of Time magazine and author of "Mandela's Way"
You can listen live here.

Shoved Sideways

In West Yorkshire, England, Rona Williams' car was clipped by an oil tanker truck as she drove along the A1 highway. Somehow, her car turned sideways and got caught on the truck's front bumper as he continued to drive along at 60mph, pushing her along. It took almost a minute before he realized he realized she was there and stopped. The passenger in another car on the highway captured the horrifying video...


[thanks to Alan Light for the link and the story]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Final Table #61: Vanessa Rousso's Tips



Today on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I discussed more hands he played on "High Stakes Poker" Sunday night and "Poker After Dark" last week.

We analyzed hands that Dennis played against Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and David Peat, and Dennis answered critics who complain that he wasn't involved in more action on those shows.

Then we were joined by another Team PokerStars Pro, Vanessa Rousso, who offered some tournament tips for anyone playing the World Series Of Poker Circuit Event that starts later this week in St. Louis -- particularly players who have never been part of a big-field event.

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

I'm Just Asking

Why doesn't the media identify the Hutarees as religious extremists? You don't have to be an Islamic jihadist to develop bizarre beliefs about using violence and mayhem to fight the government.

Do groups like the Hutarees really think that 17 idiots running around the woods in camouflage with some guns can beat the US government at anything? Don't they know that the government has things they don't, like tanks and planes?

Why don't they try making it through a month on "Survivor" first? I bet they wouldn't win a single challenge, although you could overthrow Probst pretty easily.

If you're an anarchist, how can you be a member of a group that blindly follows one leader?

If the Hutarees' plan for a revolution did succeed, then what? If Americans had to choose between the government and religious extremists, wouldn't they choose the former all day?

If it's legal for the Secret Service and other law enforcement groups to set up a "free speech zone" hidden out of sight a certain distance away from political conventions or appearances, why is it illegal to limit access by the homophobic loons from Kansas who protest at funerals of dead US soldiers, where they carry obnoxious signs and chant hateful comments?

If Republicans in Congress justified huge deficit spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under Bush because it would "save American lives," why are they opposed to deficit spending for health care reform that would save even more American lives?

Classical Soccer

Here's a prank created by an ad agency for Heineken based on a big soccer game between Real Madrid and AC Milan last October. It was the UEFA Champions League game, which every soccer fan in the country wanted to watch on TV (as big there as the Super Bowl is here).

But on the night of the game, the ad agency set up a classical music concert, and they had women throughout the country talk their men into going to the concert instead of the game. They also got bosses to tell their employees to attend, and even editors at various media outlets, who sent reporters who really didn't want to be there. They managed to convince over 1,000 soccer fans to forsake the game in favor of a string quartet's performance.

Then, they bought time on the game broadcast and showed the million-plus viewers what was happening at the concert and let them in on the prank, which had a happy ending...

Monday, March 29, 2010

A $6 Billion Fiasco

A number with three commas in it is a big number, particularly when you're talking about money. So when you hear that the US has spent $6,000,000,000 training the Afghan police force, you'd think we ought to be getting a pretty good return on that investment, and that the Afghans will be ready to oversee their own country when we start pulling out our troops in the summer of 2011.

You'd be wrong.

As ProPublica reporter T. Christian Miller explained to me on KTRS/St. Louis this morning, not only will the Afghans not be ready, they're not even close. Those that aren't inept are corrupt, often selling the the equipment we've given them to the Taliban (the enemy!), or committing other criminal acts. We also discussed the role of at least one defense contractor, DynCorp, in this continuing failed exercise, and the complete lack of oversight and auditing of its performance.

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


Miller reported this story with Mark Hosenball and Ron Moreau of Newsweek.

Death & Life Of American Schools


It's not often you see someone change their mind as publicly as Diane Ravitch has.  The former Assistant Secretary of Education was an advocate for No Child Left Behind, merit pay, standardized testing, etc.  Now she has repudiated many of her previous opinions in her new book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education."

We talked today on KTRS/St. Louis about what changed her view on these issues, Why testing is an unreliable way to measure the quality of teachers, why she's opposed to charter schools, and why she supports a national curriculum. We also discussed the impact of the narrow-minded Texas Board Of Education on students in the other 49 states because, as one of the country's top purchasers of textbooks, their educational decisions are reflected in what publishers put in those books.

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


Here's another fascinating conversation I had with Ravitch in 2003 about her book, "The Language Police."

KTRS Monday


While McGraw recovers from his surgery, I'll be back on the morning show on KTRS/St. Louis today from 6am to 10am CT.  My guests will include:
You can listen live here.

Titanic 2

James Cameron can't make a sequel to "Titanic," can he? He can if he's as clever an editor as Derek Johnson...

Friday, March 26, 2010

KTRS Friday


I'll finish my week doing the morning show on KTRS/St. Louis today from 6am to 10am CT.  You can listen live here.

John & Jerry & Josh

Here's animation of a conversation between John Lennon and a 14-year-old named Jerry Levitan. It took place in a hotel in Toronto in 1969 when Levitan walked in with his reel-to-reel recorder, spotted Lennon, and started asking him questions. Four decades later, animator Josh Raskin turned it into this Oscar-nominated short...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Worth A Link

KTRS Thursday


Change of plans:  instead of doing Charles Jaco's midday show, I'm going to do the morning show on KTRS/St. Louis today from 6am to 10am CT.  You can listen live here.

A Song Of Science

Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Richard Hawkins, and others sing a song of science called, "The Poetry Of Reality" (thanks to autotune and the folks at SymphonyOfScience.com)...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Times, Bad Times

"This is the worst time in the history of our country."

That's what a listener claimed in an e-mail to me yesterday after President Obama signed the health care reform bill. This is an ignoramous who has no sense of perspective, nor any idea what he's talking about when it comes to history.

He must not have heard of The Civil War, when Americans fought each other for four long years at a time when the nation was literally in danger of falling apart.

He must not have heard of The Great Depression, when Americans suffered through a decade of devastating economic hardship the likes of which a current generation can't even imagine.

He must not have heard of World War II, when Americans went overseas to help fight for freedom against fascism, while those who stayed home sacrificed, were subject to rationing of many goods, and struggled through another difficult economy.

He must not have lived through The Sixties, when a draft sent tens of thousands of young men to fight an unpopular war to keep the nations of Southeast Asia from falling like dominoes to the communist threat -- laughable in retrospect, considering that Vietnam is now a communist country that we have good diplomatic and trade relations with, surrounded by several nations that never became communist.

He must not have heard of The Civil Rights Movement, when Americans couldn't sit at a lunch counter or vote or work in many places, and were often hanged, shot, or knocked down by high-pressure fire hoses, simply because of their skin color.

He must not have lived through The Energy Crisis of the 1970s, when the lines for gas stations went around the block. Not to mention mortgage rates in the double digits.

He must not have paid attention in school when these things were taught. Or more likely, he conveniently forgets history when he hears the Fear Media repeatedly tell him lies like this because they don't like the man in the White House.

Take a look at a new poll from the Louis Harris polling company (no relation). See how many Republicans still believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim (57%), a Socialist (67%), is anti-American (41%), wants to take away their guns (61%), and wasn't born in the US and is thus ineligible for the presidency (45%).

Those are astounding numbers, full of fears stoked by the same people who decry the mainstream media, even though they host the most popular talk radio and cable TV news shows or work for the most popular cable news channel. When you are that popular, you are the mainstream media. That doesn't mean you speak for most Americans, but it's hypocrisy to rail against the domination of the airwaves at the same time you boast about how big your ratings are.

I see a different America. My America is progressive -- not in the left-wing political sense, but in how our nation keeps making progress, moving forward despite the deniers and haters. We are a nation that, in our short 234-year history, has moved beyond the days when one man could own another man, when women couldn't vote or be treated as equals, when children were forced to work from an early age, when employers got away with unbearable exploitation of employees. The list goes on and on.

We still have big problems in this country, but we keep making grand strides in the right direction. If that e-mailer knew anything about American history, he'd be able to look back at the obstacles we've overcome and understand that, despite the pessimists, haters, and fear-mongers, we're still better than we were. And we'll keep striving to be better.

The best time in the history of our country is tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Police Chief on Speed

Charlack, Missouri, is a small municipality (population = about 1,000) in St. Louis County. Its police chief/city administrator, Tony Umbertino, announced recently that he's putting up cameras to catch speeders on I-170 -- one-quarter-mile of which is within Charlack city limits.

The county's chief of police, Tim Fitch, has been vocal in his opposition to the idea, so I invited him to join me on KTRS/St. Louis today and explain why (I also invited Umbertino, but he declined). As Fitch points out, Charlack has offered no evidence that accidents on that stretch of road occur at a heightened rate compared to other interstates in the St. Louis area.

In fact, MODOT says there have been about 61 accidents in I-170 in Charlack in the last five years. That's one accident per month -- none of them fatal. Doesn't seem like a huge problem to me, either. Sounds like a cheap revenue grab by a town that already gets almost a third of its revenue from traffic tickets.

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

KTRS Wednesday


I'll be back on KTRS/St. Louis today from 10am to Noon CT. You can listen live here.

Periodic Table of Sci-Fi Film and TV

It's too big to embed here, but take a look at the Periodic Table of Sci-Fi Film and TV.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Final Table #60: Dennis Does High Stakes Poker


Today on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips, Joe "The Poker Coach" McGowan, and I talked about Dennis' debut on "High Stakes Poker," which aired Sunday night.

We analyzed three hands that Dennis played, all of them involving Tom "Durrr" Dwan, including one in which Dennis bet the flop with the best hand (ace-jack on a jack-high board), but then checked the turn, allowing Dwan to catch up. He explained why he did that, and Joe discussed why it's so hard to play against Dwan. We also reviewed an "HSP" hand where Phil Ivey had kings and Patrick Antonius had aces, both were deep-stacked, yet they didn't play a huge pot.

Then we were joined by Mori Eskandani, the executive producer of "High Stakes Poker," as well as "Poker After Dark" (where you'll see Dennis later this week) and the NBC Heads-Up Championships (where you'll see Dennis in April and May). Among other topics, Mori answered criticism from some online posters who think the structure of the heads-up tournament is too fast and doesn't give the better players a chance to play their game.

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

Breaking News Behind You

Last week I showed you video of a TV reporter having a mild breakdown on the air during a live shot. Here's something similar, contributed by reader Andy Penn. It's an Italian TV anchor doing a report, initially oblivious to the two guys getting into a fight in the newsroom behind him:

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Loss For Fearmongers

Last night's vote on the health care reform bill in the House was not only a win for Obama and Pelosi, but also a loss for hyperbole and fear.

For Republicans who said "let's scrap this thing and start all over," who had a chance to reform health care their way when they ran both the White House and Congress but did nothing, who used phrases like "death panels," "destroying freedom," and "a government takeover," their hyperbole was dealt a blow last night. Does it mean that hyperbole and fear-mongering are dead? No, because that's how American politics work in the 21st century.

Part of the fear story opponents of health care reform tried to sell was, "just wait and see how much your premiums go up." If nothing had been done, if no one had lifted a finger, do you think your premiums would have stayed the same and gone down, after a decade in which they increased 130% on average? This morning I talked with a small business owner who told me that her health insurance costs went up 25% last year, and she just got a notice from her carrier that the rates are up another 25% this year. That's before the reform. Does it mean that premiums will go down for everyone now? No. But if they don't go up as much as they did, isn't that a good thing? And in the long run, if the deficit gets cut (as the CBO says it will), isn't that a good thing?

I don't know that the legislation headed to President Obama's desk will make America healthier or save us a lot of money, but I do know that something needs to be done. When one party offers constructive suggestions and the other responds with destructive and vituperative remarks, the lines are clearly drawn.

Now the punditry is arguing how much of an affect the Democrats' victory will have on this year's elections. My guess is that it will be less about this bill than about the overall economy -- particularly for swing voters, who are too busy trying to stay employed, keeping their benefits, and hoping their kids don't get sick, rather than becoming ensnared in the viciousness of the health care debate sideshow.

Calling this a government takeover of health care is like arguing that public libraries are a government takeover of reading. It's ludicrous, yet it became the venomous catch phrase spit out by virtually every Republican politician and talking head over the last year. And some people believed it.

A listener named Mike called this morning, furious that the government was going to tell him which doctor to use, what kind of insurance he had to have, etc. I calmly asked Mike if he has health insurance right now. He said he does. I asked if he gets it from his employer. He said he does, but he has to contribute a few hundred a month (as do I and most other working Americans).

That's when I told Mike that the new legislation won't change any of that for him. There was a pause. He didn't know that. He'd bought into the lie that, in essence, Barack Obama was going to be his new insurance agent and make him stand in lines for days to see his doctor. Wrong.

He believed that because he listened to opponents spew misinformation on a daily basis, often combined with ugly attacks. That's what passes for legislative debate in this country -- it doesn't matter if everything you say is wrong, as long as you say it loud enough and frequently enough, combined with epithets shouted across the schoolyard in an abyss of reason. When you have no honest points to make, you lash out like a sixth grader: "oh yeah, well, you're ugly, too!" It's how you end up with Tea Party extremists yelling racist and homophobic epithets at Democratic congressmen.

It is not enough to say your opponent is wrong, you must classify him as evil, destroy his character, burn him in effigy, even spit on him. That's not how the system is supposed to work.

We elect our representatives to be part of a deliberative and collaborative body, to better the common good of the nation. What do they work for instead? Their own re-election, their political party's agenda, and the defeat of anyone who disagrees with them, even a little bit. When you go to Congress as an elected official and say from day one, "I'll never compromise, I'll never agree to anything you say," you may get cheers from the extremists in your base and a boost for your ego, but it's not leadership.

It's cheap opportunism.

How The Dems Won Health Care

Today on KTRS/St. Louis, I talked with Bob Cusack, editor of The Hill, about last night's historic vote on the health care reform bill. I asked him how Obama and Pelosi managed to pull enough votes together from their party, what the defeat means for Republicans, what effect the result will have on this fall's elections, and more.

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

KTRS Week


I'll be back on KTRS/St. Louis all week filling in for Charles Jaco from 10am to Noon CT. You can listen live here.

Stop Motion Doritos

Jennifer Cater sent this Picture Of The Day with the brief message, "Paul, I have three words for you: Stop Motion Doritos."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cupcakes Inc.


A few years ago, I was walking through the Central West End and saw a store sign that read "Cupcakes." I thought, "Hey, that's a cute name for a kids clothing store." But as I got closer, I saw that they weren't selling clothing for kids or anyone else.

They were selling cupcakes. Nothing but cupcakes.

The place was closed, and I couldn't see any of their little pastry products through the window, but I was pretty sure you couldn't make a business out of just selling cupcakes.

Boy, was I wrong.

On vacation in Bethesda, Maryland, this weekend, we went out with some of my wife's family to a Malaysian restaurant (tangent: this place had more typos on the menu than all the tweets on one day on Twitter -- my favorite was "fofu with gralic suave"). During dinner, someone mentioned that there was a gourmet cupcake place a couple of blocks away. All the kids at the table wanted to go there instead of having dessert in the restaurant, so my brother-in-law and I volunteered to take them down the street.

When we found the cupcake store, the line was out the door and we had to wait several minutes. Once inside, we saw a display of several dozen "designer cupcakes," in flavors like chocolate, chocolate squared, chocolate ganache, chocolate coconut, chocolate and vanilla, cookies and cream, mixed berry, red velvet, mocha, and a few others. Cost: $2.25 apiece.

We each got a cupcake. My "chocolate squared" was good, but not great. Everyone enjoyed theirs, but no one raved. In fact, I didn't hear any of the people consuming these cupcakes make those "mmmm, oh my god, this is good" kind of sounds. Don't get me wrong. They weren't bad, but they weren't so fantastic that I can't wait to go back, let alone stand in line for them.

Apparently, I'm alone in my opinion, because the locals tell me the cupcake place is packed all day every day. It has two locations and is about to open a third. A quick Google search brings up designer cupcake stores in most major US cities.

I guess calling your cupcakes "designer" or "gourmet" works in an upscale neighborhood (down the street from the cupcake store was a restaurant billing itself as a "mozzarella bar," which must be for Americans frustrated by the lack of mozzarella variety in their diet).

As for me, I would've been happy with a package of Hostess Cupcakes, the ones with the cream inside and the swirls on top. Cost: $1.19 -- for two! And you never have to stand in line to buy them.

The Skeptic Lives

When Indian guru Pandit Surender Sharma claimed he could kill another man with only his mind, Sanal Edamaruku said, "Kill me."

Edamaruku is not a suicidal nutjob. He's the Indian skeptic equivalent of James Randi. Remarkably, the guru accepted the challenge. A TV channel carried the whole thing live, even preempting other programming as the showdown went on, hour after hour. In the end, of course, Edamaruku is still alive.

Eric Keith sent me this story because he found it as satisfying as I did, and added that his favorite part was this paragraph:

"When the guru’s initial efforts failed, he accused Mr. Edamaruku of praying to gods to protect him. "No, I’m an atheist," came the response. The holy man then said he needed to conduct a ritual that could only be done at night, outdoors, and after he had slept with a woman, drunk alcohol and rubbed himself in ash."
Not wanting Sharma to have any excuses for his failure, Edamaruku accompanied him to an outdoor studio, where the farce continued until midnight, when the TV station's host declared it over.

We don't get many opportunities to show these mystics to be the fakes they really are, so Edamaruku really hit a home run for reason with this demonstration. It's particularly important in a nation like India, where huge number of the poor and uneducated (and plenty of rich smart people) fall for this sort of nonsense every day. Considering how gullible Americans are in this realm, it's even worse in a nation with nearly four times the population.

You don't have to fool all of the people some of the time to get rich through what Randi calls the old flim-flam.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Final Table #59: Sit & Go, Joe Cada, Andy Bloch



This week on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I talk with Joe Cada, who won the 2009 World Series Of Poker Main Event in November, but hasn't played a lot of live tournaments since then. Our other guest is Andy Bloch, who goes one-on-one with Joe "The Poker Coach" McGowan to discuss an interesting hand that led to Andy's elimination from the NBC Heads-Up Championship last weekend (by eventual winner Annie Duke).

We also have an extended strategy session about playing Sit and Go tournaments. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

There's No Take Two In A Live Shot

When you're a local TV reporter recording a standup for a story, you screw up sometimes -- you're tongue tied, or tired, or can't remember what you were going to say. It can be frustrating, but you can always stop and start over again, because it's on tape and you'll only send in the final version, where you get everything right.

But when you're doing the story live, you can't just stop in the middle and throw down your notes in disgust. That's the shot everyone will see, and you'll leave the anchorman stumbling for a lame "technical problems" excuse.

With that in mind, let's meet Gordon Boyd, a reporter for the CBS affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Worth A Link

  • Alec Baldwin looks back on his stint as co-host of the Academy Awards
  • Matt Taibbi on the biggest egos in sports
  • Remember the Lifelock guy who gave out his Social Security #? He has to pay $11,000,000 to settle lawsuits over deceptive ads.
  • Take that, Jenny McCarthy!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

KTRS Friday


I'll finish my week on KTRS/St. Louis this afternoon from 3pm to 6pm CT, including a round of The Harris Challenge at 5:15pm. You can listen live here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Talk Like A Person

"Motorists use caution."

I've heard that phrase come out of the mouths of traffic reporters for years, and winced every time -- because that's not how real people speak. No one says, "The motorist next to me didn't use his turn signal and then almost hit my vehicle!" You mean the man/woman/driver almost hit your car/truck/motorcycle? Then say that!

This has long been a pet peeve of mine, and it apparently bothered Randy Michaels, too. Michaels, the veteran radio executive who is now CEO of Tribune, issued a memo to the news staff of the company's flagship station, WGN/Chicago, listing 119 words and phrases they should never say on the air. He's catching some flak for it, but he's right.

"Motorist" and "vehicle" were on the list. So was "area residents." Hey, Jim, are you going to the game tonight? Yes, I'm getting a ride from some area residents after we consume a meal at a local eating establishment.

Michaels tells his staff to stop referring to towns as "up there," "over there," "down in...", because those are all relative -- if you're listening in that town, you're already there. You're not down, up, or over.

He includes redundancies like "5am in the morning," "close proximity," and "untimely death" (as opposed to someone dying exactly when we expected them to). Here's another one: "fled on foot." Not to be confused with the suspect who fled on a unicycle.

It's a matter of getting away from official-speak and talking like a person instead of a press release. There's a difference between writing something to be read (as in print) and writing something to be said (as in broadcasting).

In that regard, Michaels bans the phrases "those of you," "some of you," "you folks," because he knows that radio is a personal medium, so their comments should be aimed at a single listener, not "everybody." Use the second person singular, not plural (this policy doesn't apply in the south, where "y'all" is both singular and plural). Don't think of the audience as a stadium full of people, think of it as one motorist alone in a vehicle.

Unless they're fleeing on foot with a group of area residents.

KTRS Thursday


I'll be back on KTRS/St. Louis this afternoon from 3pm to 6pm CT, filling in for Frank. You can listen live here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Final Table #58: NBC Heads Up + Kara Scott



This week on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I talk about his weekend at the NBC National Heads-Up Championship in Las Vegas, where he competed against Chris Ferguson, Doyle Brunson, and Eli Elezra -- all of whom Dennis beat before losing in a semi-final match to Annie Duke.

His first victim in the tournament, Kara Scott, joins us to recap the experience and her now role as co-host of "High Stakes Poker." We also talk with Mike Johnson and Adam Schwartz, co-hosts of the highly entertaining Two Plus Two Pokercast. And you'll hear "Poker Coach One-On-One" interviews that Joe McGowan recorded with Doyle Brunson, Phil Gordon, and Annette Oberstad at the NBC Heads-Up event.

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

Robo-Sidekick

Craig Ferguson is lonely on his CBS "Late Late Show." He has no band and no sidekick, so he asked Grant Imahara of "Mythbusters" for help, which is coming in the form of a Robot Skeleton Sidekick...

KTRS Wednesday


I'll be back on KTRS/St. Louis this afternoon from 3pm to 6pm CT, filling in for Frank. You can listen live here.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Next X Games Event

Wait until Shaun White see this -- snowmobilers in Iceland...


[thanks to Alan Light for the link]

Monday, March 08, 2010

Worth A Link

It's early, but this could be Knuckleheads In The News® story of the year:  "Woman Crashes While Shaving Bikini Area."

Handsome Jimmy

The highlight of Oscar night on ABC had nothing to do with Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, "The Hurt Locker," or anything else movie related. It was after the awards, on Jimmy Kimmel's show, when he introduced us to the Handsome Men's Club...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sylvia Browne, 100% Wrong

I have written many times about Sylvia Browne, the evil woman who claims psychic powers and the ability to talk to the dead.  I have interviewed Robert Lancaster of StopSylvia.com, James Randi, Phil Plait, and others about her.  All of them have developed evidence through the years of Browne's lies.

Now Ryan Shaffer and Agatha Jadwiszczok have cast a skeptical eye on how many of Browne's predictions about missing persons and murder cases -- most made on Montel Williams' TV show -- were true.  Their conclusion:  despite Browne's claim that she is correct 87-90% of the time, of 115 predictions she has made about missing persons and murder cases, the researchers couldn't find a single time when she was right.

Not one.

When she claimed people were alive, they were dead.  When she said they were dead, they were alive.  When she said missing persons were in other countries, they were found in the US.  And so on and so on.  You'd think that after she got several of these wrong, something ethical and moral in her would realize that she was doing harm to the loved ones of the dead and missing.  But it's clear that ethics and morals play no role in Browne's world, where money is all that matters.  Instead, Browne continued to take advantage of these folks while they were at emotional low points, all in an effort to enrich herself.

Fortunately, Montel Williams is no longer her enabler, as his show was cancelled a couple of years ago.  But that hasn't stopped Browne from traveling the country and taking advantage of people.

Read the summary of the research here

Here's my 2004 conversation with James Randi about Sylvia Browne (there's more at Randi.org).
Here's my 2007 conversation with Robert Lancaster of StopSylviaBrowne.com.

Worth A Link

  • Until I get my flying car, I'll take one of these personal jet packs. Can I borrow $75,000?
  • After a family survived the earthquake in Haiti, they moved to someplace safer -- Chile.
  • When this becomes a Law & Order episode, it will have to air on Cinemax.
  • How do they choose which dead people to put in the "In Memoriam" segment at the Oscars?
  • A profile of Steve Cohen, a terrific close-up performer who calls himself the Millionaires' Magician

Friday, March 05, 2010

You're Only As Old As Your Age

In 2005, I talked with Greg Critser about "Generation Rx," his book on how Big Pharma has gotten Americans on more medications than ever before.

Today, Critser was back to talk about his new book, "Eternity Soup," about the anti-aging industry, where people spend billions of dollars each year trying to defy (and deny) time. We talked about his own hormone therapy after suffering a concussion and others who have used bizarre treatments for more ego-driven reasons. Critser also describes a wild convention of anti-aging products he attended.

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

Do Dems Have The Votes?

Jake Sherman, congressional reporter for Politico, joined me today on WHAS/Louisville to explain whether the Democrats have enough votes on Capitol Hill to pass the health care reform legislation -- it's going to be very close in the House -- and what impact using reconciliation may have on this year's heated election season. We also talked about the jobs bill, the fallout from the Bunning blockade, and more.

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

WHAS Friday


I'm finishing up my week on WHAS/Louisville doing the 9am-Noon ET show. Among my guests:
  • Congressman John Yarmuth, on using reconciliation to pass health care reform, and his thoughts on the Bunning blockade earlier this week;
  • Time columnist Ramesh Ponnuru, who makes the case against college education.
  • Greg Critser, author of "Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging"
  • Jake Sherman, congressional reporter for Politico
You can listen live here.

Sleeveface

The concept of Sleeveface is very simple. You pose with a famous album cover (remember album covers?) in front of your face, preferably with your body positioned so it looks like the continuation of your anatomy. Carl Morris and John Rostron have compiled a bunch of these into a book and a website.

This is literally a dying art, since it's hard to do Sleeveface with digital downloads that come with no artwork to hold up. Some samples:

You can be Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks...


You can be Kenny Rogers...



You can be John & Yoko...


Or you can be Barbra Streisand...


[thanks to Alan Light for the link]

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Trust But Verify


Our entire economy is based on trust -- from buying a gallon of milk to using an ATM to investing on Wall Street -- and when that trust is violated, when there is a lack of integrity in the system, it falls apart and breaks down. That's the concept behind Anna Bernasek's book, "The Economics Of Integrity."

She joined me today on WHAS/Louisville to talk about Toyota's problems after a long-established image of trustworthiness, how bankers have gone from among our most-admired to most-scorned, and whether we need more regulation or a more free market policy.

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

WHAS Thursday


I'm on WHAS/Louisville this morning doing the 9am-Noon ET show. We'll talk about the kids in the airport control tower, the attempt to fight meth labs by making pseudoephedrine available only by prescription, and a bill to ban sexting. You can listen live here.

All-Star Presidential Reunion

President Obama gets a late-night visit from some of his predecessors in this expended advocacy spot promoting the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The cast includes Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, Will Farrell, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Jim Carrey. There were some pretty talented guys behind the camera, too, with Ron Howard directing and James L. Brooks producing...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Reconciling Today's Political News

Today on WHAS/Louisville, I talked with Josh Kraushaar of Politico about the chances of President Obama getting his new final version of health care reform through Congress, whether he can ever get support from Republicans regardless of how many compromises he offers, and the impact of using reconciliation on this year's elections. We also discussed the fallout from Jim Bunning finally relenting in his one-man blockade on extending unemployment benefits, and what we can learn from Rick Perry trouncing Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary yesterday.

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Worth A Link

  • The post office may cancel Saturday delivery. I wrote last summer that they should just deliver the mail every other day.
  • Yes, that's a CHILD talking to pilots from the air traffic control tower. Listen for yourself.
  • Anderson Cooper's rep says the CNN anchor was never in talks with CBS about Katie Couric's job.

WHAS Wednesday


I'm back on WHAS/Louisville this morning doing the 9am-Noon ET show. Among my guests:You can listen live here.

Rube Goldberg Rocks

Here's a music video by OK Go that includes an extended run by a Rube Goldberg device. According to the band, "The video was filmed in a two story warehouse, in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The "machine" was designed and built by the band, along with members of Synn Labs over the course of several months"...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Final Table #57: How To Play Heads-Up


Dennis Phillips and I had a very full edition of our poker radio show, The Final Table, today.

With Dennis heading to Vegas this weekend to play in the NBC National Heads-Up Championships, Collin Moshman (who wrote the book on heads-up tournaments) offered advice on the wider range of starting hands, the importance of raising on the button, how to defend from the big blind, and much more.

We also talked with Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, who is just back from lobbying some politicians in Washington on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance, and why anyone who believes in personal freedom should be part of the fight. On that same front, Dennis shared his own story of meeting with an entirely different group of DC big shots last week. Greg also offered tips for you regarding the WSOP Circuit Event which starts in four weeks in St. Louis.

Joe "The Poker Coach" McGowan joined us to talk about playing in the WPT's LA Poker Classic at Commerce over the weekend, where he observed first-hand the aftermath of that sick last-longer prop bet between Joe Sebok, Gavin Smith, and Jeff Madsen. And I told a story about a couple of well-known pros who weren't exactly image-conscious as they played big-money cash games while very drunk.

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

Kevin Pollak and Jason Reitman

I've enjoyed Kevin Pollak's work for a long time -- from his standup years to his character-actor work in movies ("Avalon," "A Few Good Men," "The Usual Suspects," and many others) to his unbelievably-good impression of Albert Brooks.

For the last few months, Pollak has been doing a weekly web-only Chat Show, where he sits down with guests one-on-one over a Charlie Rose-like table and talks with them about their careers. The interviews are similar to those James Lipton does on "Inside The Actor's Studio," except that these run about 90 minutes, are uninterrupted by commercials, and the host is genuinely funny.

Pollak includes questions from viewers as they watch the live stream each Sunday at 5:30pm CT (if you miss one, they're all archived on his site), and via Twitter, then has each guest play The Larry King Game, in which they must do a bad impression of the CNN host as they reveal something inappropriate about themselves (as Larry) and then go to a phone call, preferably from a town with a funny name (I'd use Wissahickon, Pennsylvania).

Pollak has done so many movies and other projects that he jokes he doesn't need six degrees to connect to anyone in Hollywood a la Kevin Bacon, but can often do it in one or two steps. Those associations are apparent in his discussions with guests, and help him pull interesting anecdotes out of each one.

I am fascinated by process -- how and why did they do this or that? -- so I was completely drawn in by Pollak's recent conversation with Jason Reitman, whose directing career began with "Thank You For Smoking," continued with the mega-hit "Juno," and now includes all sorts of nominations for "Up In The Air." Reitman is a terrific storyteller both on-screen and off -- his story of visiting George Clooney at his giant home in Italy to try to convince him to star in "Up In The Air" is amazing -- and he's also very good at explaining the machinations of Hollywood that he learned from an early age by shadowing his father, Ivan Reitman (director of "Ghostbusters," "Twins," "Stripes," "Dave," and more).

This runs a little over an hour and a half, but it's worth it...


Monday, March 01, 2010

Aaron Barnhart's "Tasteland"


TV critic Aaron Barnhart joined me on WHAS/Louisville today to talk about his book, "Tasteland," in which he reviews the last decade-and-a-half in television via the columns he's written for the Kansas City Star and his website, TVBarn.com. Among the topics we covered:
  • whether the current roster of shows qualifies as a Golden Age Of Television;
  • how on-demand viewing has changed what we watch;
  • whether Jay Leno can resume his position as a late-night leader when he returns to "The Tonight Show" this evening;
  • whether NBC's horrible new show, "The Marriage Ref," would be on the air if Jerry Seinfeld weren't its producer
  • the rumor that CBS is talking to Anderson Cooper about replacing Katie Couric in the anchor chair
Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Another Week in Louisville


I'm back on the air this week doing the 9am-Noon ET show on WHAS/Louisville. You can listen live here.

Water Drop Bounce

Mark O'Keefe writes, "We've all seen the high speed films of water drops, or milk drops, falling on the surface to send droplets into the air and cause ripples moving outward. But you've probably never seen it like this, at 2000 frames per second." This is from Discovery Channel's series "Time Warp," featuring MIT scientist Jeff Lieberman and digital-imaging expert Matt Kearney...