Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, May 29, 2003 8:39 pm

One big lesson from the Jayson Blair/Rick Bragg/NYT mess …

… is made explicit today by Nancy Nall:

But I think the real lesson that will come out in all of this is how difficult it can be to manage a newsroom, and how important it is to do it well. You need to listen to everyone, because everyone knows something, and the more puzzle pieces you can accumulate, the clearer your picture will be. Sometimes the colleagues taking coffee-break potshots at the young star streaking across the sky? Sometimes they’re not jealous. Sometimes they know stuff. It is their job, after all.

Actually, I’d say this is good advice for any manager, not just the ones running newsrooms.

One angry man

Well, not angry so much as bored to tears and wishing for a more comfortable chair. That’s pretty much the sum of my jury duty for this biennium.

In North Carolina, people in the jury pool get to see a short video on how juries and the court system work. It’s narrated by Charles Kuralt, one of our state’s most famous natives. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because Kuralt’s on-screen persona is the most avuncular, unthreatening, reassuring figure ever created from electrons, and if you’ve been called for jury duty and have never been inside the court system before, you can be in need of some reassurance. It’s a bad thing because Kuralt died almost six years ago, so the video is getting a bit long in the tooth and the haircuts therein are starting to show it.

After the video, the clerk told us we could watch whatever we wanted. “We” were, in general, about 106 years old on average so everyone was pretty well pleased to leave the channel right where it was, which, unfortunately, was the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson’s outfit. So we got to hear this water-headed moron talk about how the “roadmap to peace” in the Middle East was actually “the beginning of the end of the state of Israel.” Now, that might or might not be true, but anyone who would take advice on Middle Eastern politics from Pat Robertson shouldn’t be allowed outside without a leash.

I thought about standing up and asking the clerk, “Excuse me, but could we please change the channel to one not featuring a water-headed moron who makes a mockery of Christianity?” But I decided that doing so would give unredeemable offense to many other people in the room, at least 11 of which I might be spending way too much time with over the course of the next several days, so I said nothing and read my novel instead. Fortunately, it turned out to be way more amusing than I had any right to expect. And my manners were rewarded by the court clerk, who soon turned our TV to CNN. (The poor bastards way up at the front of the room were stuck watching game shows.)

Perhaps as cosmic payback for the 3 1/2 days I spent last time on a jury in a civil case that was settled before the jury got the case, most of us got sent home at lunch time. Woo-hoo!

So, that’s it until the spring of the next odd-numbered year, when I’ll likely be doing this again.

Lotsa players, no scorecard

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 7:26 am

Victoria’s imagination is very well developed, and she engages in role-playing pretty much every day. It’s charming but also a little confusing because sometimes the characters and script change without warning. One minute she’s Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books, the next she’s Jenny Weasley, the next Anna Crosswhite, the former UVa basketball player whom she saw play here in Greensboro in the 2002 ACC women’s tournament.

She’s also fond of playing waitress, which she does with Method-like intensity, carrying plates, cooking implements and utensils into the den to create her own little bistro with four 4-tops. One morning recently, I called her to breakfast, but she ignored me, continuing to take imaginary orders and to chat with diners only she could see.

So, in one of my rare moments of fatherly inspiration, I walked into the den, pulled her aside and said, “Miss, I’m the new restaurant manager and I just wanted to let you know it’s time for you to go on break.”

She grinned, put down her “order pad” and walked into the kitchen for breakfast.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 8:35 pm

Educational trip

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 8:35 pm

I don’t want to suggest that Hooper was overly impressed by Monday’s visit to the N.C. Zoo, but his favorite part was the pair of rhinoceroses.

How do I know this?

Because he’s been wandering around today pointing to his nose and saying, “I wanna horn.”

Monday, May 26, 2003 9:31 pm

Youngest blog subject ever?

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 9:31 pm

Congratulations to Bigwig and the Sainted Wife of Silflay Hraka, who became the parents of a bouncing baby boy while I was thoughtlessly taking the weekend off from blogging. Good work, guys. Bigwig, you are either a braver man or a foolisher man than I to be blogging while your wife is in labor, happydural or no.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 7:14 pm

Now get out there and set the world on fire!

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:14 pm

I’ve only gotten to give one commencement speech in my life, but if I ever give another, I’m giving Michele’s.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003 12:53 pm

Noon in the Garden of Eatin’

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 12:53 pm

Also via Bill, this revised account of life in the Garden of Eden. Turns out Eve was version 2.0. What happened to Version 1.0? Well, you’ll just have to go and read to find out. Hint: I was hungry after reading it.

Beep this

Filed under: Fun,Geek-related issues — Lex @ 12:52 pm

Other than an occasional interest in Next Gen, I’m not much of a Star Trek fan. The good news is, you don’t have to be to enjoy these answering machine messages for members of the various Star Trek crews. (Thanks to Bill for the link.)

Monday, May 19, 2003 10:17 pm

The music of her people

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 10:17 pm

Victoria had her dance recital Sunday afternoon. Her class did two delightful numbers, a tap routine to the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” and a ballet routine to (argh!) Britney Spears’ “Lucky.”

But I totally missed the best dancing, Ann says. She was up in the balcony with the girls while they were between numbers, feeding them Cheez Doodles and spring water to keep them quiet, and apparently, when another class came on to do a routine to Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love,” which I’m pretty sure Victoria’s group had never heard before, all 10 girls arose as one and started shaking their little 4-year-old hips.

And then there were …

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 10:17 pm

This is only my second summer of blogging, so I don’t know if this is par for the course or what, but some of my favorite bloggers have taken sabbaticals recently.

First, Julia took off after posting April 29 for what she said would be a 2 1/2-week trip. It’s been three weeks and she’s apparently still not back. (I hope this is not what happens when you get within sniffin’ distance of a gig with The Washington Post.)

Then, Vectorgirl decides her blogging days are done. It’s unclear why; her blog just flat disappeared one day last week. (I’m leaving the link up for now in hopes she changes her mind.)

Then, this morning, Page announces she’s taking off for the rest of the summer.

I don’t know what’s going on, but something tells me that it’s Bill Clinton’s fault it’s a plot of some sort.

But in keeping with my pledge to become the Kinder Gentler, New And Improved Lex and not always focus on the negative, there’s this plus side: Dooce got mentioned in The New York Times — by her real name, yet — in an otherwise unexceptional look at blogging.

Saturday, May 17, 2003 1:54 pm

Overheard in parental hell:

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 1:54 pm

“Your attention, please: Will everyone here for MacKenzie’s third birthday party please report to the showroom for Chuck E. Cheese and cake!”

“I bet they’d come if they said, ‘Chuck E. Cheese and icing.'”

Friday, May 16, 2003 8:36 pm

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” — Ephesians 5:11

It is the habit of a particular subset of Christians to say that “real” Christians could never be journalists. Most people who think this way understand very little about either Christianity or journalism.

The most recent case involves the president of a small, Christian college in Georgia who had falsified his academic credentials. He was exposed by the editor of the student newspaper, Joel Elliott, who also was working full-time for a nearby secular community newspaper to pay for his schooling.

When the journalist confronted the president, the president called the nonexistent master’s degree on his resume a mistake made by the secretary who had typed it and claimed that his lack of a master’s degree was “common knowledge.” Except that it wasn’t known by the chairman of the school’s trustees, who said the lack of a master’s would have immediately disqualified the president from consideration for the job.

The article ran. Soon afterward, the faculty, meeting in secret, recorded a vote of “no confidence” in the president, and he resigned.

The school’s academic dean and official spokesman, David G. Reese, was not pleased.

Dr. Reese, for example, says that Mr. Elliott found himself at a fork in the road between the Christian way and the way of a newspaperman, and chose newspaperman. “The prescription that Jesus gives us in the Gospel of Matthew if we find someone overtaken in a sin, or who has wronged us, is to go to them, privately, and if they recognize it and show a readiness to make it right, you’ve accomplished your mission,” Dr. Reese said. “Joel’s view was that it would all be swept under the rug. That is a choice he had to make.”

He added: “As a Christian, I feel it could have been better handled.”

As a Christian, I think Reese is full of it.

The president misrepresented his academic credentials. When confronted, he did not “recognize [his sin] and show a readiness to make it right,” as Reese put it. Instead, he lied about it. As a journalist, Elliott had a duty to behave in a Christian way toward the president, but he also had a duty to behave in a Christian way toward the larger college community he served as a journalist. That duty clearly trumped the harm done to the president — no, wait; the harm the president brought upon himself by his repeated lies. And the president has suffered the consequences.

I wish Elliott a long and productive career in journalism, if that is his wish. I wish him good luck and Godspeed as he examines and re-examines his own faith, seeking a faith community in which he feels comfortable. I wish the college, which has been struggling with declining enrollment, good luck as it seeks to rebuild its good name, and I think one excellent place to start would be with a faculty vote of “no confidence” in Reese: I would not want to work for an academic dean who is willing to sweep such things under the rug.

And I would encourage any Christian who is even slightly interested in journalism to c’mon in. I think you’ll find that what is so often described as not doing one’s Christian duty toward the subject of a story is, instead, doing one’s Christian duty on behalf of a larger community affected by the subject.

Indeed, as I said in a column I wrote as the N&R’s religion writer several years ago, “journalism, far from being antithetical to Christian belief, already is a professional home to many Christians whose work strengthens and enriches the craft. … And, as does society generally, journalism needs even more people whose faith, Christian or otherwise, calls them to be ethical, compassionate, courageous seekers of truth.”

My tax dollars at work

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 8:35 pm

You think your local politicians are nuts? Try mine.

Thursday, May 15, 2003 9:46 pm

Unassailable logic

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 9:46 pm

Sweetie, I’m sorry your doctor’s appointment made you miss lunch. What were you having?

Spaghetti. My favorite.

I’m really sorry.

That’s OK, Daddy. I know what it tastes like.

Fairness doctrine?

Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose, who led the investigation into the D.C.-area sniper case, has sued to bar the county’s Ethics Commission from keeping him from profiting from the sale of a book and possible movie rights.

On the one hand, I’m not thrilled when government officials (or journalists, for that matter) cash in on the status of their job (and, by extension, their employing organization). On the other hand, this situation is certainly not anything Moose sought out; to paraphrase Churchill, he had publicity thrust upon him.

Moreover, when Stephen Glass, the New Republic writer who was fired in 1998 after fabricating more than two dozen articles for the magazine, can cash in on book and movie deals, it seems absurd to prevent Moose from doing so, so long as his work in this arena does not compromise his ability to do his full-time job (which, these days, is active duty with the D.C. Air National Guard, but whatever).

Could these deals affect the prosecution of the sniper suspects? Maybe, but I doubt it: Even in high-profile murder cases, the investigators at the scene generally are the ones who are called to testify, not the police chief.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 10:00 pm

The diaper raise

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 10:00 pm

Hooper, on his own initiative and of his own volition, pooped on the BIG potty Monday night — not once, not twice, but three separate times, complete with three separate flushes and three separate hand-washings. And he did it again this morning.

My favorite part: Each time he got seated on the big potty, he painstakingly pointed himself south and then ordered me out: “Pie-vacy, Daddy! Pie-vacy!

My second favorite part: The diaper raise is within sight. The diaper raise, for you nonparents, is the money you no longer have to spend on diapers each week, and in these days of 1.5% merit raises, it’s almost as much as a raise at work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003 7:21 am

The N.C. Dept. of Transportation needs to buy some of these

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:21 am

Something Awful has a large inventory of Photoshopped road signs. Because we frequently drive up to my mother’s cottage in the mountains and encounter construction or repaving on Interstate 40 on the way, my favorite sign is this one:


Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 7:16 am

Jayson Blair doesn’t have it, but Mimi Smartypants does, particularly with this riff (scroll down to the “MORE TELEVISION STUFF” subhead) on lessons to be drawn from the experience of the guy who recently cut off his own arm to save himself: “[Mother Nature] is all, like, Listen, m———–, what exact part of ‘red in tooth and claw’ don’t you understand?”

She (Mimi, not Mother Nature) also points out that “being known as That Person Who Severed His Or Her Own Arm With A Pocketknife pretty much assures you of buckets and buckets of bad-ass cred until the end of time.” Ayup. Reminds me of San Francisco 49er defensive back Ronnie Lott, who once had the tip of one of his fingers amputated rather than undergoing surgery that would have caused him to miss a game. He had bad-ass cred, too. Still does, I think.

Sunday, May 11, 2003 10:09 pm

Southern culture

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 10:09 pm


Yeah, sweetie?

Why is that car parked by our house?

Because the [neighbors] are having an open house.


Because they’re selling their house like Herb and Susan are, except they’re moving out of town.


Well, Mr. [neighbor] teaches now at [a local institution of higher learning], but he has a new job, teaching at Clemson. And it’s an endowed professorship, which means it’s very hard to get and you have to be very good to get it.

Where’s Clemson?

Well, we drive past it on the interstate on the way to Atlanta. It’s about halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta. You remember when we’ve driven to Atlanta to see [friends]?

Oh, yeah! So the [neighbors] will get to see the Peachoid!

Uh … yeah, that’s right, sweetie. They’ll get to see the Peachoid.

Don’t forget

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 11:31 am

(From Michele via Amish Tech Support)

Friday, May 9, 2003 9:50 pm

Columnist apologizes, takes back everything he ever wrote

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:50 pm

OK, I suppose that if you put a gun to my head and ordered me to, I could go back through the yellowing clippings accumulated during 14 years of newspaper reporting and find a few things I wished I could take back — misspelled names, at the least. But Levi Harris, an outgoing columnist for Indiana State’s student newspaper, has gone me one better: He’s taking back everything he ever wrote.

If his undergraduate columnist career weren’t being cut off by his untimely graduation, I’d say he was just doing this because he’d run out of ideas.

Hittin’ the big time

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:49 pm

Wow. Blog on the Run has worked its way up the ecoladder to lowly insect! Mom would be so proud.

The dragon’s gonna eat the moon again

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:45 pm

There’s going to be a total eclipse of the moon this Thursday night. The exact times in Greensboro for when it starts, hits totality and then ends can be found here.

The ancient Chinese, if I recall correctly, favored a myth that an eclipse was caused by a celestial dragon eating the moon and then spitting it back out. The Chinese had no explanation for this phenomenon, but modern astronomers, after exhaustive research, have concluded that the phenomenon occurs because the dragon does not like the taste of cheese.

Ew. Moon barf.

Victoria’s always up for a good meteor shower. I wonder if she’ll be up, literally and figuratively, for an eclipse.

Disappointed wife

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 10:42 am

A friend’s wife, returning from her pilgrimage to Graceland: “It’s smaller than I expected.”

Thursday, May 8, 2003 6:04 pm

This really is the Best. Headline. Ever.

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:04 pm

(Page is right.) Here it is.

The article isn’t nearly as entertaining, although it does contain this gem of a line: “It’s two separate things — selling cocaine from an inventory in your rear and smoking dope with your buddies,” [law professor George] Dix says.

What can I say? Some days I’m easily amused.

So that makes the rap artist ODB what on subsequent references?

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:02 pm

I got tickled at this Ad Age article on GM’s using Meat Loaf’s 1978 hit “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” in its TV commercials — not because I like GM, not because I like Meat Loaf (although I do, at least that album), but because on subsequent references Ad Age uses courtesy titles, so that when he’s mentioned a second time in the article, Meat Loaf becomes “Mr. Loaf.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2003 7:27 pm

The beauty industry hates women

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 7:27 pm

I’d never heard of Anita Roddick before stumbling across her blog while searching for something else. But if this post is any indication of how she thinks, I’m going to make sure my daughter hears about her early and often.

This post discusses a news article in which a L’Oreal regional sales manager is suing the company for sexual harassment because she was ordered by a top L’Oreal executive to fire a saleswoman in a Macy’s in Los Angeles and “get me somebody hot” to replace her.

There’s irony enough to go around here, not least the fact that the saleswoman in question apparently was one of the region’s top producers.

Roddick’s take:

This case goes to an important core of the beauty industry: the one that promotes unattainable ideals and sabotages self-esteem. If he thinks like the rest of the beauty industry’s male leaders, that L’Oreal executive presumably wanted a “hot” woman behind the counter to make potential customers feel less attractive by comparison and drive more sales. The thinking here — that women can be played off of one another in a pathetic competition of insecurity and consumption — should insult any half-intelligent woman.

More power to Ms. Yanowitz [the woman suing L’Oreal — Lex]. Even if she doesn’t win, she has helped shed another, valuable light on the grotesque inner workings of an industry hell-bent on making women feel inferior.

I can tell my daughter until I’m blue in the face that what matters most about her is how she treats other people. And it’s working so far: At age 4, she can offer a perfectly serviceable modern-English version of the Golden Rule, and she generally seems to behave accordingly. But how well will that instruction stand up over time against multi-billion-dollar media campaigns and the culture those campaigns help shape?

But apparently I’ve got grounds for using the insanity defense

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:26 pm
Disorder Rating
Paranoid: High
Schizoid: High
Schizotypal: Moderate
Antisocial: High
Borderline: Very High
Histrionic: Moderate
Narcissistic: High
Avoidant: Very High
Dependent: High
Obsessive-Compulsive: Low

Personality Disorder Test – Take It!

Stop the presses

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:25 pm

To the surprise of virtually no one who knows me, I’m going to Hell, according to this quiz. But only so far into Hell:

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score

Take the Dante’s Inferno Hell Test

Public-service announcement

Today is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day.

So if you are a teenager, please do not get pregnant today.

That is all.

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