Dirty bombs

Thursday (March 11) in The Sun (Bremerton, Washington) fellow reporter Chris Barron wrote that in December at the Bangor Sub Base there was an accident involving a nuclear missile. It didn’t blow up (youdda heard about that sooner), but had it been worse the plutonium inside could have leaked or escaped by way of a conventional explosion, which is equivalent to a dirty bomb. There are local anti-nuke groups that protest the base all the time, but not many other people think of the potential hazard of living so close to a collection of Trident missiles (which the Navy, understandably, won’t confirm or deny are even there). Even the protesters were surprised at how bad the accident could have been.

Go to http://www.thesunlink.com/redesign/2004-03-11/local/422492.shtml to read the story.

At least one reader (though not much of a pronounciator) thinks we shouldn’t have done the story. My office is separate from the main office, but apparently this guy looked us up in the phone book and saw the Poulsbo number and called and left this message on my answering machine.

“You know um, this little article that you have in The Sun ‘Nuke missile mishap alleged’ (he pronounced it ‘a-leejed’) uh, just curious, um, are you a tree hugger also? Because that’s what it sounds like and I think it’s very unprofessional. Um, thank you for screwing the Navy around and uh, thank you for screwing yourself because a lot of crap just uh, went down from this. Thank you.”

Another happy customer.


Gettin’ all Republican on ya

Dino Rossi, a Republican looking to become Washington’s governor, told a cool story today at an event I covered. DISCLAIMER: DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW HOW I’LL VOTE JUST BECAUSE OF THIS LITTLE BLOG.

His four kids were bugging him for a dog. They had lost their cat (to death, I think) and wanted a dog to replace it. Dino the would-be governor kept saying “no” (I think if my name were Dino I might not take fondly to the idea of the house getting another pet, either — Flintstones reference). He said the kids hadn’t shown they could be responsible enough, but they kept insisting.

One day, in exasperation, he gave them the terms under which they could get a dog. If President George W. Bush called and said they should, then they would. Then he forgot about it, thinking there would be no way that would ever happen. By now, of course, you know that it did. Otherwise this would be a really lame story. Here’s how:

Rossi, being the political type that he is, arranged to have the family tour the West Wing of the White House in July during a visit to D.C. As the family approached the Oval Office, Rossi could see his oldest daughter, 13-year-old Juliauna, peeking around the velvet ropes keeping would be office visitors from going inside. The tour guide noticed, too, and asked Juliauna what she wanted. Juliauna said she had a letter she wanted to deliver to the president. The tour guide agreed to do it for her. Rossi figured the letter would disappear into the piles of other letters the president gets, so he wasn’t worried.

The letter read:

“Dear Mr. President,

“I know you are busy, but we are hoping you could help me. My name is Juliauna Rossi. I am enclosing a picture of myself. I am writing this on behalf of my brothers Jake and Joseph and my baby sister Jillian.
“We asked our dad if we could have a dog and he said he would get one for us only if you told him to.
“So Mr. President, I am hoping you can take time out from your busy schedule to tell my dad to get us a dog. We are enclosing a card with his address and phone number on it.


“Juliauna Rossi

“P.S. Don’t call too early! There is a three hour time difference.”

Weeks later Juliauna received a letter from the White House. Inside was a handwritten note reading:

“Dear Juliauna,

“Thank you for your letter and picture.
“I agree that dogs are good friends. I love Spot and Barney.
“So, please tell your dad, I think you should have a dog.
“Best Wishes

“George W. Bush”

So now Dino was whupped. They went to the animal shelter and picked up a dog. They named him “Dubya.”

Now no matter what you think of George W. Bush, it certainly was a cool gesture for him to respond as he did. Even better was Rossi’s comment today about his daughter. “Juliauna had no idea that was impossible.”

It’s a message that can speak possibilities to those who are committed to their limitations. Personally, I’ve been committed to the notion that I can’t get my weight down to a healthy level. I know it’s not true, but the feelings I get are all about how tough it is to take it off and keep it off. So I’m challenging those beliefs right now.

Now for a dig at Republicans

Yesterday there was an AP story reporting polls showing that support for the president was diminishing. In response Karl Rove was ordering more American flags in Bush-Cheney campaign ads.

Yeah, there’s nothing like the sweet, soothing balm of Old Glory to ease the painful sting of unemployment.


Things I learned from my daughter during a flap about plagiarism

Last week I was home around noon when my wife (Diana) picked up my daughter (Sarah) from kindergarten. As Diana and Sarah were walking through the door I heard Diana ask Sarah why Matthew was crying. My heart broke. Later she asked why Sarah was sitting alone on the bus. Sarah said she didn’t want to sit alone, but no one would sit with her. My heart broke again.

The first break came because Matthew is one of Sarah’s friends. He’s a nice boy, a bit rambunctious, but nothing you wouldn’t expect from any boy. One day I was walking Sarah to the bus stop when Matthew walked out and suddenly remembered that he had drawn a picture for Sarah. He ran back in to get it. While Matthew was inside his father told me how hard the boy had worked on it. I don’t know why he was crying, but here we are in Sarah’s first year of school and I’m already building up affection and allegiance to her friends.

That Sarah was sitting alone on the bus probably wasn’t a big deal. She has no problem making friends and kids can be mean to each other, or they may have just had other plans than sitting by my daughter. It did, however, drive home the notion that life during the next 12 years watching Sarah go through the public education system is going to have its share of pain. I remember kids when I was in school, who for I don’t know what reason became the class or even the school pariahs. I remember one girl walking across the schoolyard and it seemed the whole school was screaming insults at her. I have no idea why, but it was an ugly incident I’ll never forget. Now I envision that girl’s parents, wondering why other kids didn’t see the beauty and the sheer miracle their daughter was. I knew parents who moved to different school districts to get their kids away from the taunting.

My daughter Sarah is brilliant. She’s 5 years old and she’s reading books way beyond her age and learning to write in cursive. She’s reading science books and at times she tells us little factoids that I honestly didn’t know and wonder if I ever knew. She’s a pretty girl too, looks just like her mother. Yet I know that those things sometimes don’t matter in the schoolyard. In fact, in some instances it only feeds the resentment. Even if Sarah has an idyllic childhood, she’ll get her feelings hurt by her friends sometimes. When she’s in high school she’ll probably have moments that will hurt about as bad as anything could. It will end up being a great experience for her, but it’s tough for a daddy to watch.


There is a correllation, albeit a weak one, to the Billy flap. As much as I think Billy has been completely unaccountable for what has happened, setting himself up as the martyr and whatnot, I can understand his friends going to bat for him. Billy is probably a decent guy, with loyal friends. I’m not all that objective about Eric, either, because of my respect for his work and who he is. When I worked with Eric I always enjoyed having him around and counted him as a friend. So I’m guessing we’re all a little bit clouded about this issue. Billy’s response to the events seems ridiculous to me, but I’m open to someone explaining his side. Bring it on.


Writing opinions and a little ditty about Billy

I appreciate the opportunity to blog, even though I haven’t really told anyone about it (that is until I invited Billy’s friends to see my post).
My frustration is my career goal is to end up writing opinion columns, but while I’m reporting I can’t really do it. I took the liberty of doing it on Eric’s board a few times, but I resist now. I won’t write about gay marriage, because I may end up writing a Sunday centerpiece about it. I don’t throw out opinions about Kerry vs. Bush, because I’m certain I’ll be covering the elections between now and November.
In reality, though, it’s a good problem to have. I’m not very humble, I’ll admit, and I believe I can turn a good phrase in an opinion piece. Reporting is work. It’s fun, but it’s work. And the longer I’m reporting the better an opinion writer I’ll be when my opportunity begins.
I’ll still write some opinion pieces for my web site and will e-mail to people who’ve agreed to receive them, but it may be rare for a while.

Billy’s blog
The guy who responded to a plagiarism charge by libeling the accuser has taken down all references to the incident on his blog and has decided to stop blogging for a while. While Billy’s apology still paints himself as a victim, he at least pulled the tasteless stuff off his blog. I don’t believe he has to quit blogging all together, but that’s his call. He probably believes it will get us all to eventually forget about him, and he may be right.


An open letter to Katie

Dear Katie;

I understand friendship can blind your otherwise common sense. So on some level I can forgive you for defending your plagiarist friend Billy. It doesn’t change the fact that he was an unaccountable jerk in his actions toward Eric Snider. Billy stole Eric’s stuff, then calls Eric a pedophile when Eric calls him on it. That’s a Clintonesque response to libel the accuser. Clinton used the technique to attack those who accused him of perjury. It saved him from being removed from office. In Billy’s case it has brought the likes of you to his side. That Billy would have been much better off just removing the page from his web site is beside the point I guess. Too bad for Billy that Yahoo! didn’t think so.

To your specific complaints about me, I don’t care that you’re a dog as you claim, that your brothers could probably beat me up and I have no intention of kissing you anywhere. You and Billy like to make assumptions about all of us. Billy likes to call us names, which I suppose is a natural response to spending so much time around children. By the way, I don’t live in Utah. I grew up in Covina, went to BYU, graduated, stayed in Utah for a while but moved to the Pacific Northwest.

Furthermore, I’m no lurker. I post, which by definition means I don’t lurk. Your post that I originally responded to claimed Billy would let us have it face-to-face, yet your brave friend removed the comments feature from his blog. I had originally responded to Billy, but he removed my comment. I saw the links to other blogs on his site and found yours. I saw your cute little rant about Utah Valley people needing something better to do and I responded not long after it ran. That you didn’t see it earlier isn’t my fault. I just assumed you had decided to ignore it, which in reality would have been a better idea for you.

I have checked back to your blog and Billy’s from time to time, not as he claimed to see if he would write something to rile me up, but to see if Mr. Plagiarizer had come to his senses. His “pedophile” attack at Snider is incredibly base. Worse, it’s not even funny. If you or Billy want to continue deflecting blame for your misdeeds by calling your accusers names, you have to live with the consequences. In this case, it means dealing with people like me who really have no interest in seeing you get away with it. I’m not as angry as I am amazed. Eventually, I hope, you’ll get tired of defending the indefensible.