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From the Times Standard:

ARCATA — Humboldt State University has been named a “Best Western College” and a “College With a Conscience” in Princeton Review’s 2009 rankings.

HSU is one of 117 universities to receive a “Best in the West” designation and one of 81 listed under “Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement.”

”It’s nice to have an outside organization recognize the work going on here,” said HSU spokesman Frank Whitlatch.

Nice to know. Does anybody have a report from last night’s KHSU meeting?

Here’s a guy, Joe Barnhardt, with 27 pellets in his back including one too close to his spine to remove, pontificating in Unitarian fashion about cross-ideological debate and the death penalty. His daughter and his brother were also hit. There’s anger in his words, but not really hatred. He wants the attacker put away, but he’s not sure about the death penalty. I don’t think I’d have the strength to resist a complete reversal of my death penalty position if my daughter was hit. Hopefully I’ll never find out. But Barnhardt says his position is being tempered by the arguments of his friend Linda Kraeger, who was killed.

Here’s an interview with a victim who will probably lose his eye. The article also contains some chilling details about the attack itself.

There are videos of both victims through the link.

I did hear on the news this afternoon that the attacker, Adkisson, was not targeting children despite the opportunity. Small favors from a troubled soul.

Look, I’ve just spent about 45 minutes going back over some of our exchanges. I don’t feel good about some of the sniping I’ve done in the heat of what was for me very frustrating argument. I don’t want it to be this way. I want to apologize for my sniping and sometimes heavy sarcasm.

I strongly object to some of your world views, most profoundly your comments about Jews and Judaism. But I don’t believe that you harbor ill-will to them on a personal level. I do believe that you are playing with some very dangerous rhetoric which has been associated with massive violence against Jews in the past, and I will continue to call you on them. But I will try to be more productive in my responses. If I start to relapse, please link me to this post and remind me.

In other respects I agree with you. An example is the ecological impact of the current subdivision lifestyle. But I don’t believe your approach to the issue has been any more productive than some of the left wing protests which dehumanize the opposition.

I would like to meet with you sometime when I’m in transit to or from Nohum and we both have some time. I’ll spring for the beer or coffee. There I’d like to discuss how we can promote more healthy exchanges on the local blogosphere. I’m jaded on the medium these days, but I still see potential for enhancing community rather than reflecting its less than attractive underbelly.

In fact, I’d like to suggest some sort of conference between local bloggers. It’s long overdue.

I don’t quite know how to describe this ad by Republican Rep. Sam Graves who is in a tough election campaign.

Kay Barnes’ responsive ad.

What about St. Louis values? I wonder if St. Louis feels slighted.

San Francisco gets too much credit.

My wife and kids left for the Bay Area, so I’ll be batching it over the next few days. Working late I decided to go see the local movie. Kung Fu Panda having left town, The Happening opened tonight. I read a summary and figured it would be good for some decent entertainment. 3 stars I guess. More on the movie with spoilers, so you might want to stop reading if you’re really looking forward to it.

I didn’t quite finish my work until just about 7:00. I figured I’d grab a quick sandwich somewhere, but almost everything is closed by seven. Flavors. Paradise Grill. Nacho Mama’s. Giddyup. Even Flavors! It’d be nice if some sort of coffee house was open until late so teenagers can talk there instead if in movie theaters, but I’ll discuss that shortly.

What’s open, besides the fried food/microwave options at the gas stations and the sit-down restaurants for which I didn’t have the time before the 7:30 movie start, is Calico’s. Fine. I went there for a simple sandwich. Unfortunately I got caught behind a woman (probably a very nice woman) who is probably one of those who hasn’t made up her mind whom she is going to vote for yet – in the primary. I mean Calico’s has like 50 items. You’d think something would reach out to her. But her family was going hungry at their table as she scrutinized the menu and asked question after question, most of which I couldn’t make out over Tanya’s beautiful live violin music you can hear there most Tuesday nights. She would look up at the board menu, then down at the paper one, moving her finger down the list. Asking questions. After seven minutes and just about 20 seconds I ran out of time. So I decided to wait until after the movie and went for a walk towards the south end of town. On my way back, she had apparently ordered, but her family was sitting at one of the outside tables and she was standing up studying the menu in the window, intensely as before. As I said, I’m sure she’s a very nice woman.

So I got to the movie theater. If I anticipate a movie will be under 4 stars (this one was 3, did I mention that?) I treat myself to a box of Junior Mints (the phrase in my family for B grade movies is “a Junior Mints movie”). So I’m waiting for the movie to start and I’m staring at my box of candy and I’m kind of hungry. My mother pushed this rule as a kid that we don’t start eating our candies until the start of the movie. And not the previews. The actual movie. I don’t know why I continue to follow that rule. But I did tonight. They were gone by the time the people in the park started killing themselves. But I’m not discussing the movie quite yet.

So the movie started. And on the opposite side of the theater there’s a group of about six bored kids yacking up a storm. Someone else cleared his throat loudly, but they missed the cue. The manager, before the start of the movie, asked us not to talk and to turn off our cell phones (one went off near the end of the move anyway, but by then I was kind of looking for distractions – more on that shortly). Anyway, I walked over to ask the kids to shut up. Nicely. They did. I’m sure they’re very nice kids.

So the movie is The Happening. It’s by that director with the name that sounds like it’s East Indian (probably because it’s East Indian). He peaked with The Sixth Sense. So it starts with, oh, did I mention there would be spoilers? There will be. I mean, the movie’s predictable from moment one, so maybe there are no spoilers. So it starts with people in Central Park (that’s in New York City) stopping. The wind blows through the trees (trees, that’s important – trees) and the people all freeze, start walking backwards, then start killing themselves. So, there are lots of scenes of people killing themselves. Their brains aren’t working, but they come up with some very creative ways of killing themselves throughout the movie.

Yeah, it gets tedious. See, that’s why I mentioned the part about the cell phone. I forget the word for the cinematic technique of prepping the audience for something later in the movie. You know, like a character pointing out a haystack under a barn loft so you won’t be too skeptical when the hero falls out of the loft during a fight scene only to fall on a haystack instead of breaking his bones. Well, this move gives you plenty of those, whatever they’re called, early on. The hero, in his classroom, asks his class to speculate as to why the bees are disappearing across the continent. And one seemingly dumb student shows his hidden depth by suggesting it’s one of those “mysteries of nature which we’ll never figure out.” I guess that’s the Indian guy’s (or the Indian sounding name guy’s) way of telling us we’re never going to really learn why the people are killing themselves when the wind blows through the leaves.

We get another one of those cinematic revealing thingies when somebody talks about how tobacco plants have evolved a defense where they release some chemicals to attract crickets to eat the caterpillars. See, the plants are defending themselves. Only, they aren’t walking around like triffids. They’re using psychotropic chemicals to create wind which makes people walk backwards and kill themselves.

Oh, and there’s this couple. The main two characters. They have a troubled marriage (she had dessert with another man. Dessert. Really!). But as we know from the other 500 apocalyptic movies we’ve seen, when the chips are down they get to see the real person in their partners, the personas that truly matter. And by the time the crisis is over, millions of people may be dead, but it’s a happy ending because love conquers all.

Oh, damn! I’ve spoiled the ending!

Three stars. One for Zooey Deschanel’s piercing bratty eyes. Another for the Indian guy’s willingness to avoid sugar coating his tragedy by killing off kids as well as adults. And a third star for the performance of the old woman in the last part of the movie who was creepy even without the plant-induced evil and really was the scariest part of the movie. I don’t know what inspired that sequence, but I could have seen that alone and come away satisfied. Basically, the Indian guy introduced his own Deliverance theme as the characters fled to the most rural corner of Pennsylvania they could find.

Did anybody watching the film come away afraid of trees and grass?

I never did see The Lady in the Water.

Heraldo reports on a lead. Heraldo was criticized roundly for spreading rumors of a certain previous raid, resulting in a DEA denial which turned out to be very misleading (the right question not being asked, namely “is a raid planned” rather than “are you planning a raid”). Heraldo turned out to have had the material nature of the story straight.

Again, the authorities could be playing mind games with these rumors, but if your home is raided do not engage the officers in conversation, whether you are guilty or innocent of anything. Many people who were caught up in last month’s raids were innocent of any crime, but a search is justified under the law simply on the basis that there is reason to believe your home contains evidence of a crime. My advice is to leave the premises if they allow you to do so. Do not argue with the authorities. Ask to see the warrant and make it clear that you are not consenting to any search. If you are arrested, invoke your rights under both the 5th and 6th Amendments – the right to silence, and the right to be left alone until you’ve consulted with an attorney. If you have a camera you are in your rights to photograph the search, but remember there is the law and there is the reality that there are people in your house with guns who may be as scared as you are. Don’t try to be a hero or heroine.

Most important, don’t panic and don’t do anything stupid. If they’re breaking up your home or your stuff without good reason, or otherwise violating your rights, you can press the issue later. You won’t win any arguments on site.

God, I feel just like the Duck and Cover Turtle!

The last minute stay having been denied, PALCO is handing over the keys to the Mendocino Redwood Company.

A clean slate, sort of. Let’s hope it works out.

For Obama, the buzz says it’s Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

There are others I would prefer, but it would be nice to have someone as VP and a possible future president who opposes the death penalty. He was also a major engine behind the blueization of Virginia.

But some on the right think they can attack that ticket as “inexperienced.” Obama would really have to push the outsider-for-change theme hard, but this year it may work.

The “safe choice” is Sen. Evan Bayh, an “experienced” white guy with “Appalachian appeal.” No controversy. Won’t upstage Obama. Adds gravitas. Scoops in some Hillary support. Yada, yada, yada.

The photo comes from Kaine’s site.

While some studies have tended to verify something along the lines of a “liberal media bias,” other studies have indicated otherwise. Well, making the headlines is another study to add to the latter.

From the L.A. Times (which also contains a reference to a study to add to the former):

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

Conservatives have been snarling about the grotesque disparity revealed by another study, the online Tyndall Report, which showed Obama receiving more than twice as much network air time as McCain in the last month and a half. Obama got 166 minutes of coverage in the seven weeks after the end of the primary season, compared with 67 minutes for McCain, according to longtime network-news observer Andrew Tyndall.

I wrote last week that the networks should do more to better balance the air time. But I also suggested that much of the attention to Obama was far from glowing.

That earned a spasm of e-mails that described me as irrational, unpatriotic and . . . somehow . . . French.

I saw a debate on the more recent study on one of the cable news shows tonight. The conservative head actually cited as rebuttal a Rasmussen poll which indicated that the majority of Americans believe that the media is slanted liberal. Seriously. Statistics defeated by popular perception.

And yes, I do believe CBS purposely edited McCain’s gaffes out of the interviews, not necessarily because they’re supporting McCain, but rather because they’re gun-shy. Katie Couric wants conservatives to come onto her show to be interviewed (a boycott of the sort is reportedly what killed Crossfire in the latter Carville/Begalla days as one or both of them would chew up conservative pols and spit out the flag pins). I don’t buy the “young editor” excuse.

Eric Alterman wrote about the impact of the LME meme a few years back in What Liberal Media?

On occasion, honest conservatives admit this. Rich Bond, then chair of the Republican Party, complained during the 1992 election, “I think we know who the media want to win this election–and I don’t think it’s George Bush.” The very same Rich Bond, however, also noted during the very same election, “There is some strategy to it [bashing the ‘liberal’ media]…. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

Bond is hardly alone. That the media were biased against the Reagan Administration is an article of faith among Republicans. Yet James Baker, perhaps the most media-savvy of them, owned up to the fact that any such complaint was decidedly misplaced. “There were days and times and events we might have had some complaints [but] on balance I don’t think we had anything to complain about,” he explained to one writer. Patrick Buchanan, among the most conservative pundits and presidential candidates in Republican history, found that he could not identify any allegedly liberal bias against him during his presidential candidacies. “I’ve gotten balanced coverage, and broad coverage–all we could have asked. For heaven sakes, we kid about the ‘liberal media,’ but every Republican on earth does that,” the aspiring American ayatollah cheerfully confessed during the 1996 campaign. And even William Kristol, without a doubt the most influential Republican/neoconservative publicist in America today, has come clean on this issue. “I admit it,” he told a reporter. “The liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.”

And watching the news tonight, the media grudgingly point out that McCain has been “inaccurate” in his account of Obama with regard to visiting wounded soldiers, photo-ops, and the like (bloggers on the other hand have no problem using the word “lie”). But having been corrected, he continues to make the same accusations even tonight, with no real challenge from any network other than MSNBC.

So while I am optimistic for an Obama win, the media’s wimpiness remains McCain’s ace in the hole.

Yesterday a 58 year old man entered a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and started shooting. Children were performing a musical at the time, but no children were physically injured. Seven people were injured, two of them died. One of the dead had reportedly placed herself between the attacker and the children on stage. A few others tackled him and held him on the ground until the police arrived. According to the news he was motivated by his dislike for “the liberal movement” and his inability to land a job.

This gives me the heebie-jeebies. I spent a week in the woods with a bunch of Unitarians. At one point some campers from another area were target practicing on the hill above us. None of us felt like we were in danger, but it did break the tranquility of the week briefly. Had this story broken a week earlier, it might have rattled some nerves. I never thought of the Unitarians as an identity group. I think it’s been about three years since I actually attended a service.

This guy thinks it should be regarded as an incident of terror – the motive apparently being political. But I think of terrorism as a calculated act aimed to promote a particular political agenda by intimidating opposition. This just seems like a random act of mental illness-induced anger.

What will be interesting is whether authorities in Tennessee will push for the death penalty even if the victims ask them not to. It’s happened before and sometimes the prosecutor listens, other times the “victim’s rights” get tossed aside when they’re inconvenient to a prevailing agenda.

Check this map out. Humboldt County is like the only California county north of Sacramento with Unitarians.

Addendum: More info on the attacker. Plenty of ammunition if you want to trash right wing celebs like O’Reilly and Savage, but it’s probably unfair. Interesting quote: Adkisson told Still that since “he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office.”


July 2008