Max Headroom: Who is THAT?!?

Seriously, I know who Max Headroom is. But do YOU?

In my academic downtime, I've been been watching a set of the episodes from this 80s-era sci-fi cyberpunk televison series. It's SO nice to be able to veg out and just have to worry about work and kids for a change.

Well, only for a couple of weeks before my summer class.

Max Headroom was a "ghost in the machine". An experiment at artificial intelligence that escaped into the computer network of a major global television network, Max would show up on the tube at unpredictable moments, making unpredictable statements which often challenged the leading network's efforts to dumb down its audiences through bland programming.

Interestingly enough, the creator of Max Headroom was recently linked to a hoax video of an alien autopsy.

Leighton ryhmes with Satan, who allegedly deep-fries kittens, linked Max to new White House spokesperson Tony Snow AND the BS-arteest who stars in those cheesy Enzyte commercials.

Work Zone Safety: Please SLOW DOWN & do your part

Today's Orangeburg Times and Democrat covers a serious problem with work zone safety on one of my company's highway projects on US 321 in Orangeburg County. Two collisions in one afternoon involving a total of seven cars, one 18-wheeler and one pregnant lady.

The second occurred literally minutes after the first one. By some small miracle, no motorists or construction workers were hurt.

These spectacular pictures show what a little speed and a lot of inattention caused. That the truck driver walked away with his head attached is amazing.

Needless to say, we've asked for increased law enforcement patrols. When it comes to choosing between increased danger to workers and motorists or traffic fines and higher insurance, what choice do we have?

Many people who drive through work zones don't think much about it, in part because they don't know someone who may be working there.

Guess what? Now you do know someone who does.

I may work mostly in an office, but I get out on jobsites from Beaufort to Florence, Newberry to Charleston, and I've seen the near-misses, been on sites of fatalities involving vehicles. I've had to jump out of the way of cars, so I know firsthand how dangerous these work zones are.

By some small miracle, my company has had zero serious injuries or fatalities. However, many other companies have plenty of sad stories to tell. These work zone safety facts from the S.C. DOT are sobering.

When driving through work zones, you can do your part to help us by following these ten Work Zone Safe Driving tips will help us greatly.

Our lives are in YOUR hands. Please help us.

Rising in the East: Judas Priest on DVD ... ROCK AND ROLL!!!

I just (finally) got this DVD of Judas Priest in concert, Rising in the East, recorded in Japan on their 2005 tour. I know I've already raved about their concert performance in Atlanta the summer of last year in a previous blog posting, but I still can't say enough about that once-in-a-lifetime concert experience.

In the winter of 1983, their Defenders of the Faith album did ten times more than any album or band to make me a hard-core metal maniac, and that concert took me back to that overwhelming, transforming experience. Watching it brought back a lot of the awe-inspiring experience that I had last year.

These guys are a lot older than their breakthrough days in the late 70s and early 80s, but Halford and the gang, finally reunited, still rock like most bands never did during their prime.

For those of you who are Priest fans but missed out on their tour last year (how could you?!?), all I can say is get the DVD, even if it's the only DVD you buy all year.

P.S: No, Mike, I am still not going to talk about Faster Pussycat. Unless you wanna buy me the CD, and let me keep it if I like it.

Pot meet Kettle: State House vs. SCRG?

For a long time, I swore I'd try to stay above the fray (or Jerry Springer show) that is South Carolina politics, but lately, it's getting hard not to find some worthwhile points to make.

This evening's thoughts are about the ruckus stirred by the SCRG: South Carolinians for Responsible Government. Having entered the political fray a couple of years in an effort to pass school choice legislation, they've now jumped full-tilt into this year's GOP primary battles.

We find the State House GOP caucus leadership crying foul:
"These House members are good Republicans who've worked hard and have represented their district with solid conservative values," Harrell said. "These groups come prepared with misleading names, and they want you to think they represent South Carolina's values. The reality is these organizations come from places like New York and Washington, D.C."

Charleston Post and Courier, 4/21/06
This is just weeks after their recent appeal for support for their incumbents who face primary challenges, and criticism of PACs by House leaders which are raising big bucks to promote their own agendas. One example is cited by the Greenville News:

Harrell has more than $262,000 in his Palmetto Leadership Council PAC account.

Harrell said the organization is dedicated to improving the state's business climate.

It "is an effort to get business folks more involved in the process," Harrell said. Harrell's PAC spends its money helping pro-business candidates.

"We created this organization for the purpose of electing legislators who think in terms of growing South Carolina's economy" he said.

Greenville News, 4/16/06

Really, Bobby, just where does all of this money come from? If it's all South Carolina greenbacks, I'm David Wilkins.

Harrell may be upset that House members are being challenged, but time and time again, challengers get steamrollered by incumbents. The money being spent on legislative races is skyrocketing, and House GOP incumbents are continuing to run ahead of the pack, according to fundraising reports from the watchdog resource at FollowTheMoney.org.

So the playing field is being leveled by a few inches? Challengers are getting a helping hand? Is having to run on their records and work for re-election too much to ask of the Harrell and his colleagues? I hope not.

To be fair, I'm bothered by the decision of the SCRG to not follow state ethics laws. Maybe they don't have to, but they are involved in the electoral process. If they're big enough to play in the ring, they ought to have enough respect to play by the rules.

This claim by the SCRG is a little hard to buy:
The organization's leaders have refused to provide more financial information, saying that its supporters need to be protected because they are taking on the government.

Charleston Post and Courier, 4/21/06
The SCRG and groups like them should respect the spirit of the law by disclosing, and Harrell and others can have enough respect for the truth to admit the deck is well-stacked in favor of their incuments, no matter what SCRG does, or where their money comes from. Then, they should go out to the voters, support their candidates, present their arguments, and let the best candidate win.

Who wants to put money on THAT happening?

As always, your opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

Kudos to the Laurin Line and Palmetto Voice for their discussion of issues related to this posting.

Operation Pork and Barrel

Kenneth, what is the frequency?

Kent, I'm talking to you. Operation Pork and Barrel to commence.

Popcorn station delivery targets for 1200 ALPHA MARY. Triangulate coordinates 35.1298603318/-81.5498618573, 34.4984596722/-79.3096900408, and 33.3518878523/-80.6845704619.

Decipher for resolution.

Push Polling in South Carolina political campaigns

For the twenty-seven people who visit this blog montly, here is the discussion of push-polling research that I promised I was working on:
Here we go again.

Recently, we've seen allegations of push-polling in South Carolina start popping up. Some of you may recall this practice
making national news during the 2000 GOP Presidential Primary. Now, it's back, via recent reports of its use in the GOP primary for Lieutenant Governor, with complaints surfacing of callers contacting voters by telephone and presenting questions critical of both incumbent Andre Bauer and challenger Henry Jordan.

According to the website for Public Opinion Strategies, a telephone services firm focusing on GOP candidates, "'push polling' is NOT polling at all - it is advocacy calls under the guise of research. The differences between push-polling and survey research could not be more dramatic". It goes on to list some of the differences between push polling and legitimate telephone surveys.

The Independent, a weekly newspaper in Lafayette, Louisiana, fired their polling firm after it was revealed the firm was engaged in push polling practices. Their criticism of the practice left little to the imagination:
Push polling tries to deny us, as voters, the ability to connect the dots between the lie and those who benefit from its telling. It should have no place in Lafayette.
These concerns are even shared by political consultants. In a 1998 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, an overwhelming majority of political consultants rejected the practice, with SEVENTY PERCENT agreeing that push-polling was unethical, and only SEVEN percent felt it was a fully acceptable practice.

It's also condemmed by the National Council on Public Polls and the American Association for Public Opinion Research, which in 2004, condemned the practice, warning:

Push polls go beyond the ethical boundaries of political polling and bombard voters with problematic statements about candidates or issues in an effort to manufacture negative voter attitudes.
Clearly, this practice has been widely rejected, including by political campaign professionals and professional organizations for those who conduct surveys of the public. It's a fair question to ask is if it's so widely condemned, who would still dare to employ such practices?

Of course, the nature of the calling might suggest that it was conducted by one of the other candiates: Republican Mike Campbell or Democrat Robert Barber. To fair, I contacted both of these campaigns to give them an opportunity to state their positions on the issue. Only Barber's people responded:

-----Original Message-----
From: andy@robertbarber2006.com
Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 2:39 PM
To: Earl Capps
Subject: Re: Research on push polling

dear earl,
sorry for the delay in response. I can tell you though, that the Barber campaign has nothing to do with any push polling, and will not in the future.

Thanks for contacting us.

Andy Smith
803.312.2478

I still invite the input from these campaigns, and any others, for any office in South Carolina who would like to express their concerns about this campaign practice, as well as private citizens. You can post on my blog, email me at earl@earlcapps.org.

I appreciate the responses I've received, as well as off-the-record phone calls and emails that have come in on this subject. I will keep your comments confidential unless you give me express permission to publish them.

80s actor found filling in for Charleston Mayor

Charleston, S.C. - Rotter's News Service

Charleston residents and South Carolina Democrats were stunned when 80s comedian Tim Kazurinsky was found to be filling in for Joseph Riley, the Mayor of the City of Charleston.

As pictured below, Kazurinsky, who bears some resemblance to Riley, as well as with his high-pitched voice and short stature, had gone so far as to attend meetings of Charleston City Council and attend lunch breaks with city workers.


Joe Riley is famous for being Mayor of Charleston. Little is known of his life before this, according to I. M. "Reedin" Books, a Lowcountry political historian. "He was dropped off on the door steps of Charleston City Hall shortly after birth, and was raised to become the city's first Mayor for Life. If he ever left this job, it's not likely he'll be remembered for anything else. Kind of like Kazurinsky, if you think about it."

The scenes Kazurinsky was most famous for his role on several Police Academy movies, playing a timid police officer, and his Dr. Jack Badofsky skits on Saturday Night Live, where he would don a lab coat and portraying a timid, nervous doctor who would discuss odd diseases and conditions that would rhyme, including:

* "Siouxicide: the killing of a native american"
* "And if you should make love to a person at a Sno-Kone stand, you could get slurpies...and kissing your canary can cause you a bad spell of chirpies!"

"Citizens of Charleston can now rest easier," said Richard Hurt, a Charleston resident. "If aliens abduct Joe in the middle of the night, we've got someone who can fill in for him."

However, there were some concerns if Riley or Kazurinsky was the person who actually endorsed Democratic gubernatoral candidate Tommy Moore. Democratic Party officials intend to look into the matter further to determine who really issued the endorsement.

Editor's Note: A tip of the hat is due to Michael Reese, at Sports and Politics, who does a number of political figure match-ups on his site. Go take a look ...

Push polling: Stay tuned & please help

Prompted by recent allegations of push-polling in the GOP primary battle for Lt. Governor in South Carolina, I am starting to put together some research on the subject. Expect something interesting and insightful on this subject in the next couple of weeks on this blog.

I welcome the input of anyone who is interested in this subject, or may have come in contact with push polling in this race or any other in the upcoming 2006 primary elections (both GOP and Dem races).

The point of this research, as any real academic work, is not to prove or disprove a particular point of view or pursue an agenda, but rather to present the facts and let them speak for themselves.

Email me directly at earl@earlcapps.org if you'd like to participate, share some leads, or express your opinion on the subject.

Whoever you are, whoever you support (or don't support), and however you feel, I welcome your input on this project.

CofC Young Alumni Scholarship award: I won!

Late breaking news:

I was chosen as the 2006 recipient of the Young Alumni Scholarship from the College of Charleston Young Alumni (CCYA) Association. This is the third award or recognition that I've received since I started graduate school, and is certainly a good sign that while it's been a struggle, I'm on the right track!

According to their website:

The Young Alumni Scholarship provides $1,000 towards tuition at the Graduate School of the College of Charleston. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be a graduate or be graduating by May 2006 from the College of Charleston and be scheduled to enroll at the Graduate School for the Fall 2006 Semester. Applicants also must be a member of the Alumni Association or demonstrate an intention to do so as a senior.

Congratulations to me! I'm just flattered that someone thinks that much of my contributions to the college.

Also, special thanks is owed to those who have encouraged me and put up with me. I didn’t do this alone!

South Carolina Republicans to open new zoo

Columbia, S.C. - Rotter's News Service

Plans to construct a new, fully-stocked zoo in Columbia by members of the South Carolina Republican Party have been confirmed at a press conference by Governor Mark Sanford and Commissioner of Agriculture candidate William Bell.

Sanford, who has appeared at the State House
exhibiting piglets, as well as a horse-drawn buggy the following year, pointed out the enthusiasm over wildlife at the State House. "They're so passionate about this new role for wildlife in South Carolina politics that our Commissioner of Agriculture went to prison over chickens," he said. "Even the State Senate loves winged wildlife, seeing as how they've acted to protect chicken farming."

William Bell, who arrived on horseback for the occasion, joined the Governor in supporting the plan. "Yep, in this city, we've got a lot of pork, and cock and bull too. It's a long, time-honored South Carolina tradition that not even Lost Trust, restructuring, and a GOP majority could get rid of."

Bell is not alone in showing his fondness for horses. Virginia Senator George Allen was also sighted campaigning on horseback.

At the recent GOP Silver Elephant dinner, a wild Rhino was seen wandering through the crowd. It was not sure if the rhino will be part of the new zoo's collection, but some sources report efforts were made to find a tranquilizer dart to slow down the still-untamed Lieutenant Governor.

The main exhibit of the zoo will feature special lunchtime and evening performances by the quintessential GOP wild beast - rocker Ted Nugent - who will perform in front of one of the ten-foot tall artificial cows used by former GOP Lieutenant Governor Bob Peeler.

Meanwhile, Haywood Jablome, a sports commentator quoted in the Charleston Post and Courier, looked down at his shoes, covered with manure. "Man, this stuff sure is getting deep around here."

What winning requires ...

In most sports, a winning spirit, determination to succeed, athletic gear is what you need to succeed. Oh, don't forget a few other things ...


.... a bottle of tequila ... cigarettes ... knee pads?!? Does this guy look like John Belushi?

Thanks to the local weekly news and events magazine Graffiti for this hilarious cover page image, from their coverage of the annual Cooper River Bridge Run. Also, thanks to their editor, Kato Watson, for sending me a full-sized image of the front page for use in this blog.

Too Fast for Love: Motley Crue's first album

As a hard-core headbanger from the 80s, I always enjoyed digging to find the indie releases a lot of bands put out before they hit it big. A lot of the time, this stuff is pretty darn good - what these bands don't have in terms of expensive production and slick graphics they make up for in raw spirit, hunger, and energy.

In later years, controlled by producers, A&R personnel, and hooked on the booze, bimbos, parties, and drugs, a lot of these bands sold more of albums that were trash than these early raw gems. To be honest, I have to put Motley Crue in that category. After Shout at the Devil, they never had that same raw drive and power in their music.

One great example of what these bands did before they hit the big time is the first album by Motley Crue: Too Fast for Love. The album is raw, crackling with energy, driven by a frenzy of Vince Neil's vocals and Mick Mar's piercing guitar work, rushing from one song to another. Truly "too fast" for too many of today's music fans, this a darn good album. If you call yourself a fan of the Crue or an 80s headbanger and don't have this album, then your status is revoked until you get it.

Yes, it's THAT good! So, shut up and go get it. Once you listen to this album, I promise you'll agree with me, and will come back to me, groveling, seeking forgiveness for ever questioning my judgment.

My favorite songs on the album? Too Fast for Love, Live Wire, and Piece of your Action. But there's not a bad song on the album. The re-release includes the full, pre-edited Too Fast for Love, and several other songs.

Mindcrime Revisited: The new Queensryche album

Ok - it's been about 32 hours since I received their new album via advance fan club order, and I've listened to it twice, trying to unwrap the story covered in the 17 songs in the album.

Here are two points that I still haven't been able to figure out:

  1. When Nikki confronts X in their duel, did he kill him, or not?
  2. When driven to the edge of suicide, does he do it and reunite with Sister Mary in the afterlife, or is this another illusion of someone trapped in a world of mental illness?
If anyone has any thoughts on this, please feel free to share. In the meantime, I'm off to bed, and tomorrow, back to the grind, trying to get this project done for grad school in the next 2 weeks.

Good night everyone.

New Media vs. Old Media: Does traditional media get it?

Recently, we've seen two good examples of coverage of online "new media" culture by the Greenville News, a "traditional" news media outlet. The two cases in point, which both are about the suddenly red-hot race for Lt. Governor in SC, involve 1) the blog site, Barbeque and Politics, and 2) the MySpace webpage of Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. Interestingly enough, both involve the Greenville News, the big daily newspaper of the Greenville metro region.

THE GOOD: Barbeque and Politics, like my blog, Mike Reese's Sports and Politics, Jeff Quinton's Backcountry Conservative, and many others, mostly cover two or three subjects, and usually a rather eclectic combination thereof. Many of these people are not consummate insiders, and therefore have different perspectives that challenge the status quo.

Barbeque's Photo-shop fueled satire is no exception. They got a great plug from Dan Hoover with the Greenville News, which quoted their recent satire about the Andrebahn, a freeway dedicated to the Lite Guv himself, following some recent traffic stops for speeding. Clearly, a recognition that some valid insights can be found on the blog:

The state's political blogs are having a field day at Bauer's expense. One, Barbecue and Politics, reported on fictitious legislative action appropriating $12 million to build an "Andrebahn" where the minimum speed would be 90 mph and only Bauer would be allowed on it.

Congrats to Ross Shealy and Barbeque. Go there for witty satire, good visuals, and helpful BBQ recommendations. Also, be sure to email Hoover and thank him for tuning into new media channels and actually paying attention to what we're doing out here.

THE BAD: Another story from the Greenville News about the MySpace site for Andre Bauer discusses the content of his MySpace site:

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, always the unconventional officeholder, maintains a personal Web page on MySpace.com that his executive assistant said Wednesday is part of his "open door" policy.

The page includes a list of more than 160 friends and photos, some of them young women in bikinis, and a link to a racy MySpace group called "Matt's Mom is HOTT," where users talk about parties, concerts and sexual scenarios. Other groups are political or sports-related.

Topping the page is a photo of Bauer, in the purple legislative robe he uses on special occasions, applauding next to President Bush and former Speaker of the House David Wilkins.

The rest of the page shows decidedly less gravitas, with comments from approved friends like, "Are you a parking ticket? 'cause you got fine-fine-fine written all over ya." Another user offers to find "a lot of cute, high-spirited girls" to help him campaign.

The story seems to try to tie the comments posted and people who have linked to Bauer's My Space to the Lt. Governor himself, without acknowledging that, as websites have often cautioned web surfers for years, the author/editor of one website is in no way responsible for the content of others.

It turned out later on that Campbell's campaign manager has his own MySpace site. Then again, so do I. So what's the crime about using MySpace as a valid communication channel to help do better job of reaching out to others, as well as sharing news and helping make connections between people?

Obviously, traditional print and airwave media still has much to learn about newer forms of media. While some do and even use new media to help better connect with their readers and disseminate their news/messages, others don't. So long as they don't, they will only lose for their lack of understanding, and in today's hyper-competitive media environment, that's always good news for the competition.

Welcome to a New Blog: Lewis and Oswald

Don't know who Lewis and Oswald are, but welcome online guys.

Sorry I've been out of the loop, but grad school is keeping me busy, kids on weekends, and I had a bunch of friends, both local and out-of-town, over Saturday for a cookout and Four-Birthdays-in-One gathering, as well as an Alumni benefit at my college.
At the alumni event, I won two tickets to the big alumni reception on April 22 - a $100 value. The problem is that I already bought a pair of tickets. Guess I can find some friends to bring along. My date will be rather young, and no doubt will draw a lot of attention - my 7 year-old daughter.

Really, I promise more good stuff is coming soon. Please stay tuned ...