Happy New Year's from the Blogland

Best New Year's Wishes to one and all from the Blogland!

May 2007 be a great year for you and yours!

In case you're wondering, this picture is from Sydney, Australia, the first major city to celebrate the New Year.

Happy Birthday to Moye Graham

Moye Graham, a regular commentator on this blog, and globe-trotting good ol' boy from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, had a birthday today ... two great reasons to drink and party are always better than one.

Ya'll take a minute to tell him Happy Freaking Birthday!

Losing at Hangman, Baghdad style

Tonight, Saddam Hussein is no more.

Hussein was, unlike the victims of his reign of terror, tried in a court of law, in the plain view of the world, and given legal counsel drawn from around the world. For just a small fraction of the crimes he committed against his own people, those of other nations, as well as humanity, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Tonight, that sentence was carried out.

Some may celebrate his death, which is understandable, but we should all reflect upon what he did and think of those who died by his hand and by his orders. We should pray for the souls of those lost, for the healing of their loved ones, and most importantly, that we shall see a day when such acts are no longer tolerated, nor committed, among men and nations.

Tonight, let a message be sent to the world.

While there are many other butchers who still roam free in this world, let this example serve notice that sooner or later, they shall reap what they have sown.

Warrant's Born Again

I decided to do something I don’t do very often and take a look at the latest album by an old band – Warrant’s “Born Again” CD.

Warrant’s changed a bit. Jani Lane is out as lead singer, and Jamie St. James is in. Normally, most new releases by 80s metal don’t compare to what they put out back when they were big time. Bands with substantial changes in their membership, especially vocalists, very seldom put out anything that doesn’t suck. Combined, the first album with a new lead singer is usually the end of the line for a band.

This album is the exception to both rules.

This album, without a doubt, rocks hard and steady. Jamie St. James, as their new lead singer, is a little more raw-edged than Lane, and doesn’t hit the high wailing notes that Lane always hit. The song content is more mature, with none of the sappy ballads and broken-hearted wails that were what many true metalheads hated most about the band. The band plays just as well together as ever, if not better than ever.

This is Warrant older, wiser, and grown up. If this is a trend, then I’ll certainly be looking forward to their next release.

My favorite songs on the album? Clearly, Bourbon County Line is my favorite, but Hell, California and Down in Diamonds were also standout tracks. But the whole album is a solid piece of work well worth the ten or fifteen bucks.

Grandparents' visitation rights? Hooray for David Weeks!

As this is the season for families to come together, the Blogland brings you news of a bill to be introduced in the State House by State Rep. David Weeks, a Democrat from Sumter.

Weeks' bill seeks to make it easier for grandparents who are denied time with their grandchildren to seek visitation rights through family court. This bill seeks to address a long-standing problem.

I know more than one grandparent who is jerked around by their adult children or in-laws over this issue, expected to be babysitters and providers of financial assistance, and then cut off on a whim. It's time to stop this abusive practice and put our children first.

Weeks' bill is a good idea, and it's a long-overdue sign that someone recognizes that grandparents should have rights too. Be sure to drop him an email and thank him for standing up on this issue.

President Gerald Ford, Rest in Peace

Tonight, President Gerald Ford was lost to us.

For a generation, from Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan, not a single President would serve two terms. The departure of each serving in that time were under less than favorable circumstances including Kennedy by assassination, Johnson under fire for Vietnam, Nixon under investigation for Watergate.

Into that difficult time, President Ford, like Carter after him, was noted for bringing a different approach to the Presidency, in an effort to restore the faith of the American people to the office.

President Ford had his work cut out for him in those two short years, but he did his duty as he saw fit, even to the point of sacrificing his re-election. While his pardon of President Nixon assured his defeat by Jimmy Carter in 1976, it spared the nation from the prospect of a President being convicted and jailed, as if in some third-world military coup d'etat.

While it would still be some years before the Presidency regained the respect lost in Vietnam and Watergate, Ford took the first steps forward, both by preserving the office through his pardon and his personal conduct in the office.

In two short years, he did much. For that, he has earned the respect of his nation, and for that, he will truly be missed.

"O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who has trampled down Death and overthrown the Devil, and given life unto Your world, give, we beseech You, eternal rest to the soul of Your departed servant, in a place of brightness, in a place of verdure, in a place of repose, from whence all pain, sorrow, and sighing, have fled away.

Pardon, we beseech You, every transgression which may have been committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For there is no man who lives and does not commit a sin. You only are without sin, Your righteousness is everlasting, and Your word is the Truth.

For You are the Resurrection, and the Life, and the repose of Your departed servant, O Christ our God, and unto You we ascribe glory, together with eternal the Father, and Your Most Holy, and Good, and Life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and for ages to come. Amen.

May our gracious and merciful Lord, who rose from the dead, Christ, our True God, through the intercessions of His Holy Mother and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His departed servant in the mansions of the righteous; give rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number his soul among the just, and have mercy upon us and save us".

Eternal be Your memory.

-Trisagion Prayer for the Departed

Merry Christmas

Today, we Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord (that means Christmas, ya'll) as one. Let us share with each other the spirit of peace and goodwill on this day.

Here are some audio clips of the Liturgy of the Feast of the Nativity.

... and of course, with my blog, it wouldn't be Christmas without some loud, crude, and unrefined head-bangin' rock and roll. Here's a new Christmas video from Twisted Sister:

Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for tuning in. Now quit reading this blog, turn off your computers and go enjoy some time off with your friends and families!

300 posts later ...

Yep, just in time for Christmas ... the sign says 300, which means this is my 300th posting of a blog that is about 14 months old ... and of an author who is a few bricks shy of a full load.

I reached my 100th posting on March 17th of this year and my 200th posting on September 14. That reflects a heckuva spike in my activity.

The most amazing thing of all is that some of ya'll actually kept up with it - which either says I'm getting good at this, or I've developed a following of those who are as clueless and lost for meaningful activities as I am.

I'm honestly not sure which is the correct answer.

New to my Blogroll

I want to welcome the following blogsites to my blogroll ...

  • A Light from the East

  • Democrats in the South (yep, a Democratic blog)

  • Eddie Trunk's Metal Blog

  • Mike Burleson's New Wars (lots of foreign policy stuff)

  • Heavy Metal Addiction

  • Ross Shealy

  • The Body Politic (as blatantly partisan as DITS above)

  • If you're a reader and have your own blog, let me know. I'm sure I can fit a few more in my blogroll.

    Not sure if your blog will fit it? Think again ... as electic a roster as I have, I'm sure whoever you are, or what your angle is, your blog will fit into the roll quite nicely ...

    Today's Joke: Gilmore for President?

    In the closing days of Election 2006, while his friend and fellow Virginia Republican George Allen was struggling to prevent losing his Senate seat and prevent a Democratic takeover of the US Senate, Jim Gilmore, former VA Governor and RNC Chairman, thought long and hard about where he could make the biggest difference.

    Then he headed down to South Carolina to make a series of campaign appearances ... ?

    It looks like Gilmore believed advancing his personal ambitions for 2008 mattered more than his team did in 2006. Now, he's looking to build upon his record of "leadership", by offering to do for national Republicans what he did for Virginia Republicans:

    Former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III has decided to form a committee to examine running for president in 2008, casting himself as a fiscal conservative with executive experience and national security credentials.

    In an interview yesterday, Gilmore said his candidacy would fill a void among Republican presidential hopefuls, who he believes are not dedicated enough to important conservative principles.

    Now, after he helped to deliver control of the Senate to the Democrats, Gilmore would now like to make a difference in the Presidential race.

    I'm sure the Democrats can't wait ...

    Will Nukes save Iran?

    Some very interesting thinking from Mike Burleson's blog, about the efforts of Iran and other nations to construct nuclear arsenals to draw attention away from internal dissent and provide breathing room from the West, while they seek to short up domestic instabilities:

    While the insurgents dominate the headlines with suicide bombers, car bombs, and IEDs, an equally hopeful President George W. Bush is winning the war of ideas. He has been hotly ctisized, especially after his Axis of Evil speech of January 2002, which was strangely reminiscent of Reagan’s speech 20 years earlier, both in its truthfulness and the amount of sarcasm it has received. By challenging the tyrants and terrorists to mend their ways, or face the wrath of the people, he has placed their backward ideology on notice.

    Iranian President Ahmadinejad and other demagogues may shore up their defenses, expand their nuclear arsenals, and seal their borders, yet the truth will always filter through. While they console themselves in the strength of their suicidal converts, and with the sympathy of Western elites, the very extremeness of their constant rhetoric reveals an increasing dread that their time is short.

    "Nukes won't save Iran" (12/11/2006)

    As the world watches Iran, hosting a conference denying the Holocaust, while Iranian students protest against their President, one does have to wonder if the hand of the tyrants is a strong one, or a weak and desperate one ...

    Person of the Year 2006

    As I struggle to get a computer up and running so my kids can use it for some projects that are due in school this week, I notice that Time Magainze just announced their Person of the Year.

    After carefully examining the events of the past year, and those who made them, Time Magazine's Person of the Year is ...

    Here's some of what Time had to say about their choice:

    To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

    But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

    ... interesting idea.

    Anthrax's Sound of White Noise

    Anthrax is one of the most-enduring and better known bands in the metal scene, and still going strong. Without a doubt, these guys are the real deal.

    The band's Sound of White Noise album, released in 1993, came at a pivotal point in their career. After the success of the band's recent partnership with Chuck D of Public Enemy in the groundbreaking fusion of rap and metal in the song "Bring the Noise", lead singer Joey Belladonna (who is back with the band) was replaced with John Bush, former lead singer for the band Armored Saint (who is back with that band now).

    The first product of the new lineup was their hard-rockin' Sound of White Noise album. This was considered by many, including myself, to have been their best album.

    Unfortunately, as it was shortly after the 80s metal scene collapsed, taking all bands from that time down with them, whether or not they deserved it, so it didn't get the exposure it deserved - AND IT DESERVED A LOT!!!

    My favorite songs on the album? Potter's Field, Room for One More, and Hy Pro Glo.

    What are you waiting for? Go check the album out!

    Peach Road interchange opens (Exit 32, I-77)

    I got photos back from my company's latest highway project completion: the Peach Road interchange at Mile 32 on Interstate 77 in Fairfield County, and thought I'd share them with ya'll.

    There I am, standing off to the side, trying to keep warm in the 40 degree weather, watching a rather well-organized event roll right along ... but the best part was the barbeque lunch provided by Po Pig's from West Columbia (go check that place out, ya'll! ... and Ross, thanks for the lead!)

    With just a week's notice and quite a bit of help from the following people, the opening event, which I was asked to coordinate, went rather well:
    • Jeremiah Bradley, SCDOT Resident Construction Engineer
    • Cheryl Brown, Clerk of Fairfield County Council
    • Tiffany Harrsion, Fairfield County Economic Development
    • Tina Hembree, SCDOT Governmental and Public Affairs

      ... but especially Tiffany!
    The project took an existing road which crossed over I-77 and upgraded it to a full interchange, providing a direct connection to the county's industrial park. The event turnout included management from my company and subcontractors, the local and state levels of SCDOT (including two commissioners), county officials, Congressman John Spratt's office, as well as management from the companies in the adjacent Walter Brown Industrial Park.
    Ribbon cutting

    Of course, the signs for the interchange arrived just as we were getting ready to have the ribbon-cutting event. Talk about perfect timing!

    With 200-300 acres of undeveloped land, with water, sewer, and roads in place, between Charlotte and Columbia, improving access to this park might be the catalyst for development in a fairly poor rural county that needs good paying jobs and tax revenue.

    Also, I have to thank the local officials who invited me to attend the tree-lighting in Winnsboro the night before, after I looked over the event location. I didn't have much time to check it out, considering how tired I was between two events in a week, finals in grad school and a pretty bad cold, but it was definitely worth making the side trip.

    Winnsboro is a nice little town, and one that hopefully will be a little better off for my company having done our part.

    Some of my co-workers

    McMaster stars in video on online predators - what's the big deal?

    According to The State, Attorney Generalissimo Henry “Ferris Bueller” McMaster has garnered some free publicity for himself and provided a small peek inside his office’s efforts to snag online predators via an online video on Hitachi’s website.

    The video focuses on his office’s online task force, discussing their work, and how they use Hitachi computing products in their work. The aim of the company’s program is to show some unconventional uses of their products, no doubt to convince potential buyers to give them a try.

    In return, Henry and his staff get some free publicity. In the worlds of PR and political communication, “earned media” is never a bad thing. I call it a fair trade.

    The story also raised questions that there may be an unfair advantage in that Henry received free advertising, which to me seemed to be fishing for a deeper story. They even put up an online poll asking readers if they felt that it was appropriate for Henry to appear in the video (I said yes).

    Having just been re-elected unopposed, and with no discussion of any next political move, I don’t see the point of throwing that issue on the table. If he was gearing up for a Senate bid in two years, there might be something to discuss here.

    But he’s not, so that dog ain't hunting.

    If anything, since his election four years ago, we’ve probably seen the least overtly political behavior from Henry since before he first got into politics in the mid-1980.

    Congrats to Henry on getting free publicity for its efforts to get on the cutting edge in the war on crime, and shame on Ben Werner at The State for trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    If you'd like to know more about Henry's video, click here, and you can click here to see The State's copy of the video.
    As some of ya'll alredy know, my father has been doing this same kind of work in the Lowcountry for years ...

    Grad School - Halfway there

    At long last, the halfway point to my Master's Degree has been reached. Five classes down, four more to go (two in the spring), and of course, my thesis project. So far, I'm on track to be among the first to receive the new Master's Degree in Communication in the spring of 2008.

    Then, with no doctoral program nearby, I'll be confronted with the toughest challenge I've ever faced - getting a life.

    Having completed the required core courses in the Master's program, I'll receive my Graduate Certificate in Corporate and Organizational Communication after the first of the year, which will be the next framed thing on the wall.

    Next spring, a course in Risk Communication and one in Rhetoric Theory, where I'll continue to dig deep and inflict pain, suffering and sleeplessness upon myself.

    But for now, I get to try out a very wierd and different experience - being able to get home by 6 or 7 in the evening on weeknights and get a good night's sleep for a change.