Friday, May 05, 2006

Comment Problems?

I learned from a commenter on another blog that some folks are still having problems with trying to comment here. Since I use Haloscan, there's little I can do there. Can you describe the problem for me? Is it enough of a problem I should try a different solution?

If you want to reply but can't get comments to work for you, try emailing halfbakered AT hollihan DOT net.
Quote of the Day

The Howard Dean Fun Machine rolls on:
Howard Dean, in a speech to the American Jewish Committee, said new industries should emerge to develop alternative fuel sources. The other option, he said, is continued support of Islamic schools that teach hatred of the United States and Israel.

"We are committed to ending our standing by, while our oil money (provides) indirect funding of fundamentalist Islamic schools all over the world," he said.

Dean took a swipe at the Republican Party, saying the Democratic Party is one of inclusion and religious freedom.

"I was recently asked about the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties," Dean said. "When it comes right down to it, the essential difference is that the Democrats fundamentally believe it is important to make sure that American Jews feel comfortable being American Jews."
Um ... yeah. The other 95% of America thanks you. And I'm sure anti-Semitic black Democrats like Rev. LaSimba Gray are going to be real happy to hear that.

Talk about pandering.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hey! Wait For Me!

I am so clueless, I swear. Only just today discovered that Hugh Hollowell of Midtown Books has a blog! I'm sure I saw a mention in the newsletter, but I seem to have forgotten it, too.

Anyway, he blogs about books, bookselling, life and everything. Like his store, it's interesting and lowkey. Try this post about his experience in a "big box" bookstore:
So now it is my turn to be "helped". Oh, goodie. After giving her the title and author, she says "We should have a copy". What? You should have a copy? Hell, lady, I should have six pack abs and perfect teeth, but that just ain't the way it is.

So I say, "do you in fact have a copy"?

"I think so", she says.

"Where", I say.

"If we have one, it would be in Business- Motivation", she says, hopefully. [I always liked Swifties]

"Where would that be", I ask.

I kid you not, she looked me dead in the eye and said, "In the business section".

Check it out and if you haven't been to Midtown Books (on Madison, just before Cooper near Overton Square) stop by and say hi.

And buy a book!
Fear and Loathing at Hickory Ridge Mall

While doing research for the next post, I stumbled over this overheated but still intriguing vanity post over at
I was at the Hickory Ridge Mall on Winchester Road in Memphis around 4 pm today. I hadn't been there in about 2 years and I was absolutely stunned to see that half of the people in the mall were hispanics. Spanish was heard everywhere. I saw a lot of attractive and decent looking families towards whom I had sympathetic feelings on a personal level. They just looked like nice people living their lives. But the fact is that I was at the same mall 2 years ago and I hardly saw any hispanics. What is going on with our border security? This isn't a gradual expansion, this is an explosion. We're not talking Houston or LA- this is Memphis!

When I got to the food court I saw a group of about 15 teenage hispanics walking towards me who looked like they just came out of Hollywood Central casting. They were the scariest looking group of guys I've ever seen. Truly ridiculous baggy pants and they had a swagger like this was THEIR mall. You could tell they enjoyed the fear they were causing everyone around them to have. I had to look at them out of the corner of my eye to avoid offending them by staring at them....

Just as the gang members were walking past me a group of about 8 Memphis police officers and a similar number of mall security guards stormed the food court and the gang members started running in all directions. The gang members were yelling angrily like someone was fixing to start shooting, and for the first time in my life I was kneeling down in a mall to avoid potential gunfire.

Most of the gang members escaped but a few were detained. I don't know if they had been seen shoplifting or if this was just a move to keep them out of the mall.
Like I said, the poster is definitely excitable and overly dramatic, but the incident and general observations are pertinent.

I have to admit, about 10 years ago I went to Hickory Ridge pretty regularly. More than any other mall in the area. As much as I'm able to these days, I felt most comfortable there. (Malls creep me out.) But now that I think about it, I haven't been there in at least five years. I've been to Wolfchase and Oak Court a couple of times, but that's it. I tend to shop (what little shopping I do, anyway) at stand-alone stores.

What's been y'all's experience with the changing customer base of local malls and your shopping patterns?
Ron Meroney Arrested

Ron Meroney, co-host and anchor of FOX13's Good Morning Memphis was arrested at his home Wednesday afternoon. He was picked up by TBI on a warrant issued from Wicomico County, Maryland. The warrant stems from a grand jury indictment handed down in December, 2005; the charge was statutory rape. According to Maryland law, the age of consent is 16, so the child involved would be younger than that.

He is being held at the Criminal Justice Center (aka 201 Poplar) downtown until a hearing Thursday morning. That is sure to be all over the noon and evening news tomorrow.

I don't particularly want to cover this but it seems that a "one stop shop" of links for websurfers is called for. So this post will serve that need.

The Commercial Appeal has their story here. Apparently, court and public offices in Maryland were closed by the time local media got the word on the story as no one has any quotes or comments from Marylanders as of Wednesday evening. But they note:
Meroney lived in Maryland from 1972-85 and also has lived in Florida, according to an online public records data base.
Remember those dates, as we'll come back to them.

(There is one oddity in the story, an outgrowth of the daily's strange unwillingness to acknowledge any media or news source other than themselves and the national nets/papers. One sentence in the article begins: "According to a FOX 13 Web site ...." "A?" Is there another one? It's either a strange bit of sloppiness or a needless bit of obfuscation.)

The local television news offers a bit more.

WMC/5, in their report write:
Jennifer Johnson with the TBI says, "We were notified by a family member that he was wanted on a warrant out of Maryland and they were very concerned that he had be[en] living in Memphis and had not been picked up."
The "a family member" is a bit vague. Was it the victim's family or Meroney's? Why was this left hanging so long when Meroney isn't attempting anything like hiding? Very strange.

At WPTY/24 there's a bit more:
A TBI spokeswoman says last December the 69 year-old was indicted in Maryland on a charge of statutory rape. She says one of his relatives called the TBI to alert the agency that he was wanted in Maryland.
Stranger still.

And WREG/3 has a bit more background, including discovering another case involving Meroney dating back to 1984! They report:
But News Channel 3 has obtained police reports dating back 22 years ago in a separate Maryland County - Baltimore County.

Those police reports state that a "sexual assault" case was investigated in May, 1984 involving Meroney. They say that the alleged victim was a nine year

But court records show that case was never prosecuted. That a "disposition" for child abuse and second degree rape was put on "nolle prosequi" in August, 1984.
It makes you wonder why this has been sitting out there unnoticed all this time. And if it's part of a pattern, then that's just frightening.

I tried to search various Maryland television news and newspaper sites, but couldn't find anything either current or past. Google didn't offer turn up any results.

As more becomes known, I'll update this post.

THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE: Hmmmm. Very little to update here. I'm kind of surprised, given the explosive nature of the charges and the media's love of this kind of luridness.

Anyway, WMC/5 adds to their original story with this:
A news release by the Wicomico County Child Advocacy Center said only that an investigation uncovered a statutory rape accusation between the months of June and October of 1974.
Is that last a typo? Do they mean "1984" which would match when Meroney lived there?
In 1984, Meroney was charged with several counts of sexual offenses in Baltimore County. Those charges included child abuse and rape.

All but one of those charges were dismissed in July of 1984. On one charge, third-degree sexual offense, Meroney was granted probation before judgment, indicating that a judge found that the facts were sufficient for a prosecution, but instead elected to grant probation before entering a sentence.
So did Meroney fail to complete probation? Did something else happen?

WPTY/24 to their original story add this:
On Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Meroney was released on a $50,000 bond.

Former local television anchor Joe Larkins offers some insider's thoughts about the business side of this situation. As I said to a friend last night after the story broke, innocent or not, mistaken case or whatever, his career is likely over. Even if he's completely exonerated, this will still attach to him forever more.

And that's it. I wonder if the story would be this scant if it involved a politician, businessman or "average citizen." The skeptic in me has to wonder if "one of their own" is being given some slack. I doubt it, but the apparent lack of digging bugs me.

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: OK, WPTY/24 steps up and provides some much needed details. The arrest yesterday involves an incident 31 years ago. A female family member alleges she was raped between June and October of 1974. No details have come out yet as to why the accuser waited 30 years to come forward.

The arrest happened because a family member sent an email to Governor Bredesen's office. Shelby County Sheriffs and Baltimore prosecutors are blaming each other for the snafus.

The 1984 case was a completely separate incident.

If, and I stress if the charges are true then we move to a new fear. It's widely accepted in psychological circles that once a pedophile (or ephebophile, they are related) acts on his impulses, he will continue to act on them. If we have two incidents 10 years apart, we must consider that there might be further undiscovered incidents in the intervening time.

I know, pretty horrifying to think about.

Finally, let's use this opportunity to clear up some terms here. A pedophile is a person (usually but not always a man) who is sexually attracted to children. By that we mean pre-sexual children: infants, toddlers, pre-adolescents. Humans without secondary sexual characteristics like breasts, pubic hair, hip curves, etc.

An ephebophile is a related phenomenon, involving people who are sexually attracted to post-adolescent children, to humans who are sexually immature and still developing like tweens or late bloomers.

NOTE: No more updates to this post.
You See? I Told You: Immigrant Rallies Dept.

After the amazingly large rally downtown a couple of weeks ago, where 10,000 folks showed up fairly spontaneously, the "big" rally Monday for illegal immigrants' rights was a bust. The school system reports few students left; no big crowds. It seems the main event was at a local Hispanic Church.

Of course, the big picture in the CA was the black skinned man wrapped in the American flag. And the paper repeatedly mentions that May Day is a huge holiday in Central and South American countries but doesn't tell you why. Nor explain why so few showed up if it's such a big holiday.

Money quote, from the very end of the article:
Dawn Shute, who runs the Foreign Language Immersion Childcare Center on Mud Island, said many of her workers -- all of them legal and documented -- asked three weeks ago to be off work on May 1. So FLICC organized volunteers from among its parents in order to make it happen.

"Some of them were going to participate in rallies," Shute said, "but some of them said they just wanted to be invisible for the day."
Again, for those of you who are late to the Half-Bakered party or who just react first without thought, I'm not at all opposed to immigration. I am the son of an immigrant; Quebecois, though my appearance is that of my paternal Irish great-grandparents.

I also think the US government does a piss-poor job of making it possible for resident aliens to become citizens. But the uncontrolled border to the south is a problem. The uncontrolled flood of people is a problem. The imbalance between Mexican attitudes to their emigrants and our immigrants vs. our de facto situation needs addressing and rebalancing.

In many parts of this country American culture (white, black, whatever) is being supplanted by a non-assimilating Hispanic one. That must be stopped and they must be assimilated. Or we will have problems.

Don't believe me? Look around the world at other nations with similar situations. England (Caribbean blacks), France (North African Muslims), Germany (Turks and East Germans and former Yugoslavians), Japan (Koreans, Chinese, Philippinos), southern Russian (Arab Muslims), Iraq (Kurds), Saudi Arabia (Philippinos), Mexico (Central Americans), Australia (Lebanese and West Pacific Asians). The list is long and instructive.

The lesson is clear. Slow down, absorb, assimilate, re-open. Repeat.

The consequences are clear. Ask yourself where would you like to live without moving: America or Mexico?

The coverage goes back to what I talked about in a post last week. The rallies Monday were supposed to be even huger than the ones previous. The country was supposed to be shut down, or at least annoyingly inconvenienced. That didn't happen. With few exceptions, the rallies were smaller. Rallies in Florida and the Northeast emphasised flexing the political muscle of the already established immigrant communities -- people who are working their way into American culture and political structures with an eye to finding their place. Not folks trying to set up their own parallel world on this land.

Media coverage was suspiciously light on making the follow-on connection. There's already evidence (witness the money quote above) that there's a backlash happening, which may be partly why the latest rallies made a point of waving American flags. I think the Instapundit had it right when he noted that some organisers aren't interested in anything more than creating an alienated group of immigrants and an angry group of Americans as a way to further discord. It's all about the revolution, he argues. It seems many immigrants (the legal, naturalised, assimilating kind) spotted that as well and decided not to play along.

Good for them.
Spring Bloggers Bash?

I was reminded a little while ago that we've not had a bloggers bash recently. Spring is nearly over; you can feel the hot humid breath of summer on your neck even now.

So what say you all? Ready for another bash? Offers, suggestions, observations, bribes from venues, etc all solicited.
Uh Oh

So I head over to Rachel and the City to see what the Kewl Kidz are up to these days and there's nothing there but a placeholder page saying "There is no website configured at this address." Please tell me everything is all right and this is just another web hiccup.

I like Rachel's site and her view of a particular part of Memphis that, were I twenty years younger, I'd be deep in the middle of. She's also a massive booster of indie and rock Memphis music and there's just not enough of that.
Fiscal Prudence for Thee But Not for Me

Those of you who watch television news may remember seeing that Governor Phil Bredesen only have 2% raises for "state employees" this year. His definition of state workers seems to be a bit convoluted:
You've heard of Speakers Jimmy Naifeh and John Wilder; but you may not be as familiar with their right-hand men. Burney Durham is Naifeh's chief of staff and chief clerk of the House.

In 2003, Durham made around $115,000. Now, he makes more than $145,000 -- a 26% increase from three years ago.

Russell Humphrey is Wilder's chief of staff in the Senate. His salary increased from $104,000 to $134,000 -- 28% in three years.

"Are you worth that much money?" asked Amons.

"I love my job. I'd do it no matter what they paid me," said Humphrey.

Last year alone, Humphrey and Durham got 12% raises -- six times what Governor Phil Bredesen budgeted for everyone else. At Governor Bredesen's state of the state address, he had announced, "we're proposing a total of 2% in raises for our employees."

Channel 4's I-Team tracked the salaries of every state employee over the last three-years. In the legislature, we found the ten staffers who make more than $100,000 a year each averaged a 20% increase from 2003 to 2006. That's more than TWICE what the average state worker got during the same time period -- 9%.
Sounds a lot like our Mayor Herenton and his cushy crew, doesn't it? The police and fire department and other first responders have to make do with no raise, but Herenton's political appointees and his office staff are quite well paid.

On your dime.

I thought America was a represetative democracy where the bureacracy were "public servants." Since when did we become a monarchy with an aristocracy?

Link via Say Uncle.
Voting With Their Feet

Les Jones looks at the inter-state migration of Americans and maps it to a blue / red political color scheme to instructive result.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Drop the Bomb on Monroe Avenue

Sorry for the sporadic and indifferent blogging of late. I was away from the computer all weekend and then yesterday the new property managers (PMs) for our complex dropped the bomb on us.

The PMs sent out letters to most of the residents of five of the six buildings they manage on this street. All will have their month-to-month leases terminated at the end of this month. My buildings will be shut down and boarded up, preparatory to being completely stripped and remodelled.

Residents on longer leases (like my year-to-year lease) will be terminated as their leases expire. But it's clear, everyone is going from at least four buildings, maybe five, by year's end. The sixth building is spared for now as it's still in excellent repair. All the others have suffered from a series of landlords and property managers who ranged from overwhelmed to actively indifferent to just plain cheap. The buildings have suffered a lot; the apartments can't be filled; the residents we do have are either druggies or fearful decent people.

There's been a change in the crack business on the street. The shifts happened over the past few months. The drug dealer behind me apparently got the message and scaled his activities waaaaay back. He announced last month he was moving a bit farther east, but he's still using the apartment with friends. The dealers across the street were evicted finally, so that stopped. (Although the crackheads keep breaking into one apartment as a crashpad and den.)

But the apartments in the middle of the street, and the house owned by a cop next door, became the new center of drug activity. It's unbelievable down there; worse than almost anything ever was here. It's nearly completely over-run.

But the most amazing thing is the formerly quiet apartment directly across from me. It used to be low key except for some activity by the homeless at one apartment. That guy was grandfathered into the ownership of the building by the former owner, his father! He cannot be evicted in his lifetime and he lives for free. So he's utterly uncaring about anything.

But then some new tenants moved in there and it all quickly went to hell. There's the new single mother who, for inexplicable reasons, began to hang out with and party with the male crackheads on the street. Next thing, they were over there regularly.

Then there's the single mother with two good-looking daughters. One is sixteen and very attractive; she's prone to tight tees and short shorts. The other daughter is a single mother in her twenties and is also attractive. So is their mother. All began to hang out with and socialise with the crackhead population at the apartments in the middle of the block who drifted over once they laid eyes on the trio. And they all chaperone these guys around in their car, as does the single mother.

The men began to hang out on the steps, like cats smelling a female in heat; some even spent the night there. Rumors about the sexual exploits of the mother and youngest daughter began to pop up and, sadly, they are easy to believe based on their public behavior. It's fascinating in that train wreck kind of way.

And then there's the man who has been trading liquor and drug money for sex. He's got some of the crackheads staying over at his place, too. When his stereo equipment was stolen he was angry but his neighbors had little sympathy. Considering who he let visit him, it wasn't a surprise.

Their resident manager in the past week has gotten into three fights with men he's trying to keep off the property. (All crackheads.) He's being advised to carry his gun with him, as we think retaliation might be coming. It's hard to say, though, since he's been dealing with the crackhead zombies and not the dealers. But, he's standing up to them and creating a profile. He may need hammering back down.

The constant circus over there finally reached its limit and now he's evicting the mother and two daughters. The other woman is being given final notice. The man has decided on his own to leave the city. So, I might be moving across the street soon.

And dealing with all this mess has been keeping me away from the computer.

The upshot is that the drug problem might be decimated soon. The downside is the hardline PMs are using the nuclear option to do it, scattering most of us to the winds. And there's little reason to believe they'll patrol and monitor the boarded up buildings sufficiently, meaning those of us who remain might still have druggies but with the added bonus of breakins and fires! Sweet.

The rumor is that the buildings I presently live in will, in fact, be demolished to make way for two or three single-family homes. It wouldn't be a bad idea, given what's happening on the rest of the street. The new house on the corner is quickly shaping up nicely; it's sited well and so far fits in handsomely.

It's hard to know what's happening. The new PMs are being very vague and hard to reach, even duplicitous. They originally sent out notices right after taking over asking us our maintenance concerns and indicating they would be coming around with new lease agreements for everyone. Then mere weeks later, they dropped the bomb. On the day that happened, they didn't answer their phones or return calls. When you could get through, it was "So and so is out / in a meeting / just popped in then left." Leave a message; get no call back. They have a plan, but they don't plan to share it with us.

It's shaping up already as an interesting summer.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Anecdotal Evidence

Take it for what it's worth. The news was full of talk about today's illegal immigrant rallies, but I noticed the Mexican construction workers across the street were there bright and early this morning, maybe 7AM. They left just half an hour ago, about 6PM. They did take a very long lunch though. Some "Day Without Immigrants."

The evening news was hard to take. Lots of talk about crowds but nothing comparing them to the size of the last rallies, an omission that's odd for television news to make. One "rally organiser" doofus even started talking about "our rights as citizens under the Constitution." Hey! You aren't citizens, so you have no rights under the American Constitution. It doesn't apply to you yet.

Join the club and earn the membership benefits.

As for Memphis itself, if there was a rally, I didn't see a mention on the local evening news, either at 5 or 6PM. If there's something later, I'll update.
Lileks on Suburbia

A perfect kind of description of suburbia from James Lileks:
It was held this year in Rosemount, one of those suburbs I never have a reason to visit. Way the hell out there. I ran out of highway after 20 minutes, and grumbled my way through Saturday-shopper traffic. It was the usual photocopy burb, with the Target and the Home Depot and the Krispy Kreme and chain restaurants arrayed along the road – but in a different order and configuration! Why, it’s like Bizarro land. Eventually I found the road I needed, which lead through the tiny downtown of a town that had existed on its own, miles from the Big Bad City, for decades. Not much there now, save a party store in the ground floor of a slumping heap of bricks, and a concrete bar across the street. But the community center up the road where the event was held was rather new, and huge.