January 29, 2006

20 years

The space shuttle Enterprise on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Udvar-Hazy Air and Space annex.

Darla and I were talking in disbelief yesterday that it's been 20 years since the shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff. All of a sudden, we've got a son on the way and we're remembering things that happened 20 years ago. Yikes!

Over at Il Filosofo, Austin reminds us that "We are farther removed in time from the Challenger explosion than that day was from the moon landing. Yet we’re still flying the same shuttles, which one astronaut recently called a 'deathtrap.' "

That's really hard for my young mind to believe.

Check out Austin's post to read part of President Reagan's speech on the night of Jan. 28, 1986.

A breakdown of what happened to the shuttle is available here.

Posted by JRC at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2006

Sidebar update

After several months of following my favorite blogs using RSS technology in Thunderbird, I'm finally updating my sidebar to reflect my latest blogroll.

New to the list via RSS are the following blogs:

Cogitations: A society buddy from college
The Collegian: BJ's newspaper
Faith and Practice: A group blog by some college friends
to Give an Answer: A techie BJ blog
Il Filosofo: A society buddy from college, now in Boston philosophizing
The Litabug Phlog: Il Filosofo's expectant wife, a former BJ coworker
Meanderings: A cousin of my wife

Some other blogs I check in on, but that haven't made it into my RSS feeds are:

The Just Shall Live By Faith: Husband and wife former classmates, at London School of Economics
PyroManiacs: A new group blog, an offshoot of the popular PyroManiac blog
The Sherflets: The blog of a former BJ coworker who has three-month-old triplets

Posted by JRC at 09:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Putting the "trust" in BB&T

I was interested on Wednesday afternoon to see this press release come across my desk.

BB&T Corporation today said it will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.

The commercial lending policy change comes in the wake of Kelo v. City of New London, a controversial Supreme Court decision in June that said governments can seize personal property to make room for private development projects.

The court’s ruling cleared the way for an expansion of eminent domain authority historically used primarily for utilities, rights of way and other public facilities.

“The idea that a citizen’s property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it’s just plain wrong,” said BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison.

This is another interesting development in response to the Supreme Court's poor judgement. I hope other banks take BB&T's lead.

That, coupled with legislation on state and federal level, should get the message across that the court's decision infringed on people's right to own property--and the people didn't like it.

Reuters ran a story on BB&T's stand which struck me funny. As a newsman, I'd love to see a transcript of the interview.

"I view it as a pragmatic issue rather than a political statement by the bank," said Thomas Merrill, a law professor at Columbia University and eminent domain specialist.

"I would be nervous that the political surroundings could explode, and derail projects that look financially sound on paper," he continued. "That would create delays and uncertainties, and keep banks from getting their money back because the projects are not generating revenue."

Ken Chalk, BB&T's credit officer, in an interview said the new policy should have only an "insignificant" effect on lending volumes.

Still, he said BB&T is sympathetic to concerns about eminent domain expressed by some clients. The bank wants to show government officials its "opposition to the encroachment on private property rights," he said.

The reporter went out and got a bonified expert, who proceeded to step out of his expertise on the subject and talk about the business ramifications of the move. Merrill's point may be valid, but how about talking about the legal or eminent domain aspects?

Posted by JRC at 08:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

It's going to be ...

... a boy!

Yesterday we went to the doctor, where we watched our son on a sonogram. As the practitioner checked the baby, she gave us a "money-back guarantee" that it was a boy.

The practitioner looked the entire baby over, showing us the four lobes of the brain, the four chambers of the heart pumping away, kidneys, stomach, spine, and a femur. Everything looked good to her. Our boy is in the 73rd percentile for age, weighing probably 1 pound 4 ounces.

While we were watching the head (pictured below), we saw hands moving around the head, and then while watching from the side, we saw a yawn. VERY cute!

Everything is on a VHS tape, so we can enjoy it again.

Below is a split-screen image showing the head.


Below is that same image, with a crude overlay to help you pick out the facial features. The video image was much easier to see, but I don't know if that was quality or context.


Posted by JRC at 08:28 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

Busy days

I'm about six weeks into my new position as managing editor, and already people -- important people like employees, bosses, readers and newsmakers -- are noticing improvements at my paper. Maybe I can share details later. It's satisfying to hear people noticing the improvement.

It's fun to the boss, but -- no surprise -- there's a lot of plain old hard work required in the background.

I'm working six- and six-and-a-half-day weeks to get the paper done. Right now I'm still in what we're calling survival mode, which means I'm doing what I can to get a quality paper out each week. Estimates from those who should know are that the survival mode will last right up to the time our baby sees the light of day.

I'm pulling a lot of hours now, and commuting 45 minutes each way, which is tiring. When I'm home, blogging has little appeal. Nonetheless, I've got several items I hope to blog about when the time is right.

As I've said before, stay tuned.

Posted by JRC at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Photo of the day


This is a shot from my commute Thursday morning.

Posted by JRC at 07:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 04, 2006

Journalism nightmare

Depending on where you live and how early your newspaper prints, the headlines you read this morning were likely completely different from reality. Most of the daily papers in my area blew it, although at least one went with a more tentative headline that minimized the error.

Thankfully my weekly paper didn't face that issue as we went to press last night; we don't cover national news, unless there's a local face we can put on it.

Nonetheless, the confusion over the mining tragedy is horrifying, and printing such mistaken headlines is sickening for those responsible for them. I worry a great deal about possible mistakes in my paper, and I'm thinking typos or minor errors.

If you look past the wide array of reliable sources that evidently failed reporters on this story, there are some amazing stories of newspapers going all out to get the right story on the streets this morning.

Over at his NewsDesigner.com blog, Mark Friesen details how newspaper covered the disaster. He's got several front pages that got the news wrong, but he's got others -- mostly West Coast -- that got it right. But most interesting are the stories that he relates about newspapers halting the presses to swap out stories and headlines with the tragic news.

Today's "All Things Considered" on NPR also had a story examining the erroneous reporting, with another story of a halted press run. Click here to listen to that story.

Other links:
Newseum: Front pages from papers around the world. Updated daily, so you may need to surf to an archive page to see Wednesday's pages.

Posted by JRC at 10:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack