Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Future of the News Media, Part 3

Laurence Simon has an outstanding post today on the crew required to produce TV newscasts. It tells you part of the reason that the Mainstream Media (MSM) is a failing business model.

Profits are income minus expenses. Laurence's post tells you how high the expenses are for the MSM. Compare that to your standard blogger, such as those on the MilBlog Wire Service. A digital camera, an internet connection and a computer are all a subject matter expert (SME) needs to become a content provider.

Yesterday I went and took photos and did interviews at a local Special Olympics event for my next World of Good post. Cost to me: 10 miles on my pickup truck and 5 hours of my Saturday. I will provide equal or better coverage of the event than the MSM. There just isn't that much expertise required to cover a Special Olympics.

The Internet gives us access to all kinds of SMEs. We can compose our own newscasts sitting at our PCs any time we want by surfing over to our favorite blogs or message boards. I spent much of yesterday reading the New Orleans Saints boards to learn about the NFL draft. The MSM can't compete.

This tells us that there is no longer a high barrier to entry to become a news content provider. In the past, everyone needed the personnel, gear and expertise Laurence describes in his post. Such a market is called an oligopoly and it gives the providers great discretion over pricing. Another example of this is the oil industry. It takes billions of dollars to set up a refining and distribution system. That's why there are so few oil companies.

Instead, news content providers are quite nearly a perfect free market. There is very little barrier to entry and the consumers have access to a huge selection of providers. Companies built to compete in an oligopoly are doomed in this case. They just can't cut their expenses enough to survive.

I recently cancelled my subscription to the San Diego Union. It had nothing to do with politics or any kind of boycott. I just don't need them any more and I don't want to spend money on them. I will never go back. meanwhile, they still have to run printing presses and pay reporters and editors and a large cast of characters.

There are still a few portions of the MSM that have high barriers to entry and cannot be replaced easily. One would be helicopter video coverage of natural disasters. Anything requiring specialized equipment and knowledge. Other than that, the MSM's decline should not stop for a long, long time.

Previous essays on this are here and here. Random posts on stories the MSM completely screwed up are here and here and here.

I also wonder if bad news really sells.

The Anchoress has a great post discussing the obsolesence of the MSM with respect to the conflict in the Middle East.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Reggie Bush a Saint!

The New Orleans Saints got the best player in the draft today! Totally cool. I didn't expect him to fall to us and had hoped for the Saints to trade down and get some more picks, but this is fantastic.

In the second round the Saints traded for Cleveland's starting center, something we needed and then picked a solid, if unspectacular safety. I would have preferred an offensive or defensive tackle, but I can live with this.

Reggie Bush. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Scott52, a member of the SaintsReport message boards made this bumper sticker. I love it!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Blogging Forecast

A high pressure system is expected to sweep through The Scratching Post today, making blogging much lighter than normal. As this front moves on through, it will take with it all of the bloggers' time and energy. Expect clearing late tonight followed by a sunny and pleasant weekend with lots of posting and commentary, just in time for the NFL draft where the New Orleans Saints pick second and really should take D'Brickashaw Ferguson with their pick, hopefully trading down with the NY Jets to get some more draft choices.

Licking Stamps

During a recent game of charades here at The Scratching Post, our Maximum Leader stumped us all with this one.


Furry Paws at I Love Catnip (and who doesn't?) is hosting this week's Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The MSM Blows Two More Stories

I just saw another short bit of TV news. One story was about girls in violent, all-girl gangs. With mouths agape, the reporters tried to answer the question, "Why are so many girls turning violent?" They interviewed an ex-gang member and some current gang members. The girls had very little insight to offer. The key question was never asked. "Where's your father?"

The second story was about George Clooney bringing attention to the genocide currently occurring in Darfur. Good for George, he's trying to help. The press were utterly lost as usual. No context, no mention of the Islamofascists doing the mass murder, no linkage to the wider war on militant Islamic terror. More of the usual tsk-tsk-tsking and shaking of bewildered heads by the reporters.

I wonder how many of the reporters were using crayons to take notes.

The MSM Blows the Exxon Story

I usually don't watch much TV news. Today I managed to catch a few minutes of it. It underscores what I said before about the Mainstream Media (MSM) being incompetent rather than conspiratorial.

Exxon posted a higher profit today. The MSM reports are all breathless about this and mention it in the same sentence as "price gouging."

Demand for petroleum is rising and supply is relatively fixed. That makes prices and profits go up. It is very basic economics. Exxon's profit is up 7% from last year. Sounds pretty reasonable, but for the MSM even these simple concepts cause them to flounder.

The MSM sells information and analysis. If they can't handle something as simple as the Exxon story, then they deserve all the lower ratings they get.

The ACLU and Child Porn

Visit this link to get the story.

This is madness.

Thursday 13, Things I Can't Live Without Edition

If I had to start life from scratch, what would I have to have? Here's my list.

1. My daughter. She's irrepressible. Fun and curious and kind hearted and loving and thoughtful and energetic and loud. She's amazingly resilient. She makes me smile.

2. My son. He's brave. Giving and self-sacrificing and smart and talented and hard-working and thoughtful and quiet. He is tremendously supportive. He makes me smile, too.

3. Coffee in the morning. I don't need great coffee, just strong, black coffee.

4. The Internet. I love connecting to the world. I watched some CNN and FOXNews this morning and I had such a deeper appreciation of it because of the blogs I read. Thanks to all of you!

5. New Orleans Saints football. Every man needs at least one sports obsession. Mine is the hapless Saints. I used to be a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan, but a couple of strikes and outlandish ticket prices have soured me on baseball.

6. The ocean. I snorkel and boogie board and would someday like to scuba and surf. I like to sail, too, but I haven't done that in years. I love the look and sound of the ocean, too.

7. Harmony in life. I love a peaceful, easy, relaxed, fun life. Criticism and harsh words are a poor substitute for understanding and cooperation. And no, you don't need to remind me of my harsh words on this blog. Sheesh! :-)

8. Harmony in music. The Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, Electric Light Orchestra, Abba, the Busboys, I love layered vocals and cheerful music. My son likes Pink Floyd, but we both joke about how depressed they always are.

9. My parents. Successful in the face of adversity. Honest and creative and loving and firm and caring and smart and moral. They have been just what this blogger has needed in difficult times.

10. Cats. When I was young I was allergic to cats, so I came by them late in life. I can't imagine life without them. I love giving them the freedom to go anywhere they choose, in or out. I love the subtleness of feline social graces. Sometimes they need to feel you pressed up against them, sometimes they just need to be in the same room, sometimes they need to be alone.

11. The library. I like Amazon and the Internet and a well-stocked bookshelf at home, but there's nothing like having the literary works of the world available nearby to hold in your hand.

12. A good kitchen. Good food is crucial. I am discovering that going out to eat is not much of a treat any more. It is more expensive, takes more time, is less intimate and doesn't taste as good as what I make at home. Socializing in the kitchen is always deeper than socializing at a restaurant. I love sharing this with my kids, too. They are both developing an interest in cooking.

13. Friends. A couple in particular. You know who you are. Some don't live nearby. My joy is fuller when shared with friends. Wise counsel is best served with affection.

Other Thursday 13 Sites

Barbara doesn't have to visit or leave a comment. Her latest birdcam shots are amazing as always. Go see them now.

Just Expressing Myself has a fantastic list of software available on the Internet.

Almost an Angel has her 13 up.

TLC goes shoe shopping for her Thursday 13. Er, yes, well, shoes. Hmmm. Yes. Very nice. Did I mention I'm looking forward to the NFL draft this weekend? :-)

Francesca Gray has a very gentle and heartfelt post for hers.

TNChick shows off some great photography.

5 Minutes for Mom has a list of reasons why it's good to have a twin.

Karin at Heartsongs has a post about her little angel that makes you go "Awwwwwww!"

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Immense Gratitude from the Feline Theocracy

Let the tuna be poured into the crystal goblets! Let the petting commence! Today we honor several bloggers who have done great service for the Feline Theocracy.

Our World of Good posts have become the most popular features of all here at The Scratching Post. This is in no small part due to the following bloggers, all of whom are granted the title "Holy Scholar of the Feline Theocracy."

Mark Shea from Catholic and Enjoying It.
Georgette from the Chronicle of a Meandering Traveller.
Eric from The Daily Eudemon.
Happy Julie from the Happy Catholic.

Bless you, my children. May God reward you with tuna, catnip and sunbeams.

If you want to display it, here's our coat of arms drawn by our Court Artist, Justin:

World of Good Blogburst, Chiapas Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post. This one was inspired by our family pediatric dentist.

Now this won't hurt a bit.

Sorry, just a dentist joke there. While she was caring for my son, she told us about some volunteer dental work she has done in Mexico and how she really wants to do more of that. Some of her colleagues go to Haiti (I think it was Haiti) every year to do the same. A very easy search on the web revealed hordes of charitable organizations of doctors and dentists who donate their time to help the poor in countries all over the world.

Kind people are plentiful. I could do WOG posts every day and never come close to running out of stories.

Today's story is about The Chiapas Project.

The Chiapas Project seeks to provide free medical and dental care to the indigenous Zoque people of the State of Chiapas, Mexico while encouraging volunteerism and personal growth amongst young people and medical/dental professionals.
The Chiapas Project started when 16-year-old Nick Brody spent a summer in Tuxtla Gutierrez as a volunteer at an orphanage run by the Salesian Sisters. Nick’s parents are medical professionals. One thing led to another and working with the Sisters, the family organized semi-annual excursions to bring modern medical care to the people of Chiapas.

Here are just a few of the photos from their site detailing their work and the people they help.

The Chiapas Project has many inspiring stories from their visits. Check out them out at this link. I just read a couple. Wow!

This weekend I’m going to combine citizen-journalism with volunteer work at a Special Olympics event. I’m looking forward to sharing photos and stories with you next week.

I’m starting to think we need a slogan or catch phrase for the WOGs. How about “Do you WOG?” Leave a suggestion in the comments section, please! If I get any suggestions, we might have a Feline Theocracy award for the best one.

All photos are from The Chiapas Project website and are used without permission.

Joe from A Tic in the Mind's Eye give us a slap shot of goodness in his WOG post this week.

Previous WOGs at The Scratching Post:

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style
WOG, MS Style
WOG, Amy Hawkins Style

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

People Unclear on the Concept

A few days ago, I posted a protest piece about a certain right wing blogger. We'll call her Madame Ego since I have pledged never to use her name or link to her again. One way or another, it came to the attention of a left wing blogger by the name of Patriot Boy. He delightedly included it in one of his posts slamming Madame Ego. He completely missed the point of the post and this blog.

The Sratching Post is a libertarian, Catholic, hawkish, flower child blog with a writing style strongly influenced by P. J. O'Rourke. We believe that God made people in his image to do kind things for each other free from the tyranny of local or distant governments.

The whole point of my post about Madame Ego was that she was contributing to the Balkanization of the blogosphere. Madame Ego is clever, venomous and spiteful. Patriot Boy is simply deranged with hate.

The title of his post is "Moving Malkin-Belsen." Three words into his post he fails the reasonability test. He not only calls his opponent a Nazi, but a death camp operator. You know you've lost the argument when you call someone a Nazi. Patriot Boy doesn't just lose, he gets blown out on word three.

Sports analogies usually involve baseball or football. Even my beloved New Orleans Saints couldn't lose that bad that fast. This is like a swim meet where you trip diving into the pool, smack your head on the cement and then swim in little circles near the starting line while everyone else is racing away.

PB's post is written in the form of a letter to Madame Ego, suggesting places where she might wish to move. He addresses her like this.

Michelle Malkin
Our Lady of the Concentration Camps
More of the same.

You can see right away that there's no need to include much more of it here. I'll throw in a little more and then move on. Madame Ego is called a racist.

Well, if I were you, I'd be looking for a community where nearly everyone shares your views, a place like Almost Heaven, Idaho. Although now in decline, Almost Heaven was once the promised land for men who hate brown people as much as you do.
Is there anything more tired and overused than racism? Predictably, PB goes for the jugular with a KKK reference.

So how do you get around not being seen in a very small town? A burka is out of the question. Burkas haven't been given Our Leader's seal of approval yet. You're left with only one option until that finally happens, the Tancredoic robes of the Ku Klux Klan.
If you're going to be hate-filled, you might at least try to be entertaining. PB isn't entertaining, he's just mundane. Nazis, racists, the KKK, it's the standard, overworn bag of tricks for PB. Novelty and imagination are quite beyond him.

PB even includes a picture of Madame Ego with a KKK hood photoshopped on. Technically interesting, but about as clever as sticking your tongue out at someone.

Thanks for the link, PB. I would have hoped you would have read the post and gotten the point, but after reading your blog, it's obvious that you'll need to start with something simpler. May I suggest The Children's Book of Virtues? Look under politeness and kindness for starters.

And spare me the Bill Bennet immorality comments, please, it would only embarass you further. Thinking people can separate messages from messengers.

By the way, PB, you might be interested to know that your readers are very similar to you. To provide a contrast to people like Madame Ego and yourself, at the bottom of my post I linked to one of my World of Good posts about a woman who is paralyzed after saving her children from a tornado. Only about 10% of your readers followed that link. Once they had supped on my criticism of Madame Ego, they had no appetite left for a request for kindness for a beautiful person.

How telling.

Monday, April 24, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Amy Hawkins Style

This post will stay on top for a time. I faked the date in blogspot to keep it here.

Thanks to TNChick, we have this story.

A local woman in Hendersonville (which is the city next to Gallatin that I’ve posted about in case you weren’t aware) was home with her two children (ages 3 and 6). Her husband is a firefighter (and baseball coach, too). He wasn’t home during the storms as he was out protecting others. Anyway, she protected her children by puttin’ herself over them and in doing so, she was seriously injured. The tornado destroyed her house. She laid herself over her two boys and when the bricks fell, they fell on her and they broke her back. The children were fine, however, Amy will now be paralyzed and may never walk again.
Please visit this woman's website and see what you can do for her.

I did a little research. The story looks genuine. Here's the local newspaper story on it.

For those of you new to The Scratching Post, we do a weekly World of Good post along with several other fine blogs. Here's our most recent one. This particular topic was so compelling that I thought it worth a special post.

K T Cat

The Future of the News Media, Part 2

Last time we examined the business of TV news. Today we look at what's news and what's not.

Today, Yahoo has the following headline in it's "In the News" box.

Bin Laden says U.S. waging war on Islam

Is that news? Yahoo rated it as one of the top 8 stories in the world. Even our friends at stoptheaclu posted about it. Here's something I'll bet you didn't know that is much more important.

India and the US have been holding successively larger and larger joint naval exercises. In 2005, they performed cross-deck flight operations with US and Indian aircraft carriers. That's where aircraft from one nation land and take off from the other's carriers.

A US Seahawk helicopter landing on the deck of the Indian destroyer INS Mysore.

Here's some key sections from the story Joint Indo-US Naval Exercises Continue in the Arabian Sea in Daiji World.
The Malabar 2005 exercises began...INS Viraat and USS Nimitz are the major warships participating in it...

"We had seven seven such exercises in past. This will help in improving naval ties between two countries,'' said Captain S S P Chima, INS Viraat's commanding officer.

"Both the sides match skills. The warships like Nimitz and Viraat participating in the exercise indicates their seriousness,'' said Capt Chima.

The exercises attains significance as first time fighters of two nations are operating together. The Indo-US exercise had anti-submarine exercises and boarding exercises which are mandatory to counter terrorism.

The naval officers talking about the exercise said,``both Indians and Americans have benefitted mutually from the exercises conducted in the first phase. Particularly beneficial were the gains from the first ever interaction between fighter aircraft operating from the aircraft carriers Viraat and Nimitz.''

Besides various other exercises, fuelling of INS Mysore and USS Chafee by INS Aditya, a tanker, was also conducted.
The bold above is mine.

That's an Indian tanker refueling a US ship.

Combine the Anglo countries of the US, England and Australia with India and you get a very formidable group. This is a big development in geopolitics and will have long term benefits for the US.

Did you know about it? Yahoo told you about bin Laden's zillionth home movie where he rambles on about crusaders and zionists, but have they been keeping you up to date on how we're getting along with one billion Indians?

India is up to speed on this. This is something very important to them. I did a Yahoo search on "joint us indian naval exercises" and many of my hits came from the Indian press. If globalization hits the news media, the Indian press will be able to impact the people at Yahoo. That might be coming.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This Week in the Theocracy

Hi! It's Jacob the Syrian Hamster, the loyal beadle of the Feline Theocracy with another edition of the best of the Theocracy for the week.

Let's get right to the posts, shall we?

Heidi, still on the Protected List, liveblogs the MilBloggers conference. Awesome job!

Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish Kukka-Maria has another photo shoot and the results are predictably gorgeous!

Lawman, Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls has an open mind and plenty of experience when he weighs in on the Duke Lacrosse case.

The Grand Almoner of England takes a much needed break.

The Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses gives us some stellar photography!

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring has a great, but very short post.

Monsignor of the Breweries has an entry for the Finding Rain on a Sunny Day contest.

Our Most Faithful Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media gives us her weekly brilliance.

The Anchoress hasn't sent us a WOG link in quite a while. Hmmm. This week she tells us about a real hero.

Finally, the Artist of the Theocracy, Justin, gives us a post about the ineffable, er, well, pretty effable MM. (We refuse to mention her name on this blog.)

See you next week!

The Future of the News Media, Part 1

Today I got up, got my coffee and surfed around for a while. I found some news about Iraq. Iraq had elected a new government after months of stalemate. It was a big deal. Hugh Hewitt and Iraq the Model covered it. So did the AP and Yahoo News.

Hugh and Omar focused on the elections and what they meant.

Yahoo focused on death and destruction. As of 0630 Pacific Time on April 23, 2006, Yahoo News' Iraq section featured the following headline: "Attacks continue after new Iraqi PM appointed." On Yahoo's front page news section, the only Iraq-related link was this: "3 GIs Killed by Roadside Bomb in Baghdad."

Anyone who says the news isn't colored by the editors is an idiot.

I was very angry about the way Yahoo chose to portray the news. I have many friends and colleagues in the Marines and Navy. They have worked very hard and the new government in Iraq is a big success for them. The media ignored their efforts and focused on their setbacks. Then something occurred to me about the news media's bias. This, too, in time shall pass. The news media is inexorably changing, becoming more fair and balanced as it were. The market will force it to do so and there's nothing that can stop it.

Let me explain.

Here are the last election results.

That is the market for news consumption. There are two ways to look at the way news stories are covered. Either news media organizations slant their stories to match their audience or the audience chooses the organization based on the way they slant the news. Either way, the result is the same. Here's where we are today.

The same demographic group is being served by five organizations while the largest group is served by one. Broken down by name, you get this.

I didn't bother to find the real breakdown of audience share, I was just trying to show the concept.

Of course, that's not where we are right now. Fox has nothing like that kind of audience share. However, what are the trends? Here's what I found on's news media year in review.

Network evening news ratings continued to fall in 2005, another 6% November to November.

...only one of the three main cable channels is growing: Fox, which now commands more than half the cable news audience at any one time (55% daytime and 59% prime time).
That is right in line with what you would expect if the audience charts above were true. Fox currently has a monopoly on the largest section of the market while the other five fight over the smaller group.

Does the news media understand what is going on? Yes they do. Again from

In our inaugural report, we suggested that the heart of that declining trust was a “disconnect” over motive. Journalists see themselves as acting on the public’s behalf. The public believes they are either lying or deluding themselves. There was further evidence of that skepticism in 2005. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 75% of Americans believed that news organizations were more concerned with “attracting the biggest audience,” while only 19% thought they cared more about “informing the public.”
The italics above are mine.

The only fault I can find with this is that other than Fox, the news media is clearly not interested in attracting the biggest audience. I would argue that they are simply too incompetent to do so. If I had shown you the analysis above and had concealed the industry from you, you would conclude that the management of the five companies fighting over the smaller share were morons and needed to be fired. It's immediately obvious.

Corporations have cultural inertia that has to be overcome before a change can occur. Eventually, however, the market forces will drive one of them to change the way they report the news and become more conservative in their reporting.

Either that or Fox will simply crush them in the ratings. Either way, the market will take care of the problem.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My Feline Inbox

"Miss Grundeschmacher, please hold my calls. I have very important business to attend to in my inbox."

Photos from the Hamster Shoebox Playset

Previously we detailed our plan to set up a maze and play area for Jacob the Syrian Hamster. We tried it last night with five shoeboxes and a carpet tube.

Jacob loved it. However, the walls were too short and he quickly vaulted over them and ran off to romp around the room. A good time was had by all. Tonight we'll try it with cardboard boxes that we will cut to a reasonable height so we can photograph him, but he can't get out. The cardboard boxes will also be easier to get. Visits to six shoe stores resulted in five shoe boxes.

Here's our photojournalism of the event.

Jacob is nearly impossible to photograph with our digital camera. He moves in rapid spurts and the camera reacts slowly to the press of the picture button. Here is a typical shot. For every 4 shots you take, you get one good one.

This gives you some idea of the playset.

Jacob reenacts one of his favorite movie scenes. "I'm king of the world!"

After exploring the playset for a short time, he planned his escape.

No jail can hold me!

Check one way.

Check the other way. The coast is clear!


I won't surrender, coppers! You'll have to come in and get me!

The fugitive was eventually apprehended. We'll post more photos when we try our next hamster playset.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Guest Post from Oorg

Today The Scratching Post is proud to welcome its first guest blogger, Oorg. Oorg is a blogger who just made $1,000,000 blogging from the ads on his blog. It took him 22,831 years.

Like those of us at The Scratching Post, the ads on his blog earned him very little, even on days when he received tons of hits. Recently there was a Wall Street Journal article about how bloggers can make big bucks.

Rather than suggesting that this is utter nonsense, we did our homework and found an example of such success. Oorg.

Take it away, Oorg.


Oorg remember early days of blogging. Oorg blog with burnt stick on cave wall.

Here, Oorg blog with partner Gormok and show Trondar's animal. Animal barf on Trondar during special dinner with Morg. Caption under drawing say "Heh."

Trouble come when Korgar leave comment calling Oorg a bad name. He call Oorg a piece of sea-filth. Oorg and Gormok find Korgar's cave address and leave it in comments on Kreegar's wall-blog.

Korgar get mad and try burn Kreegar's cave. Tribe gets big laugh. Cave rock! Cave no burn! Tribe all blog about it for weeks.

Oorg tired now. Tiny screen too small for Oorg to blog. Oorg fill screen with burnt stick writing. Oorg go now. Oorg happy to blog with kitty cat and small furry. Oorg say thank you and leave fresh meat with kitty.


Thanks, Oorg. We'll be hosting you again as soon as we can get the charcoal off the monitor.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Malkinization of the Blogosphere

Update 2 - We keep getting tons of hits on this piece and it makes us sick. My suggestion to readers is to visit our latest World of Good post, get inspired, dedicate yourself to being kind to others and tell Patriot Boy and Michelle Malkin to just shove it. Go see what loving, caring people are doing in this world and then compare that to an egomaniac who publishes strangers' contact information and a hate-filled clod who photoshops KKK hoods onto people and finds humor in genocide. Oh yeah, they've got your best interests at heart. Not.

Update - Patriot Boy readers, please try this link first, then come back and read this post.


I am very disappointed with Michelle Malkin. I used to like her site. Not any more. Here's the scoop.

Military recruiters went to UC Santa Cruz to do some recruiting.

A group of students got together to throw them off campus through protests and vandalism.

Michelle posted about this, complete with photos, links and commentary. All well and good. Then she went and published the names, phone numbers and emails of the student organizers on her blog.

The lefties went bananas and published her information on their blogs. They did some gumshoe work and published her family's information as well.

Blogs formed into alliances. Comments and emails flew. Screaming and threats and racial epithets followed. Everyone defended their side's bloggers and protesters. Michelle batted her eyes and and acted innocently wronged, publishing some of the more vile emails she had received. Then she acted tough, telling everyone she wouldn't be cowed by the threats.

The right side of the blogosphere went wild. Hurrah for Michelle! She won't bow to those moonbats! We'll defend you to the death, milady!

Not here.

I read those original posts from Michelle. Posting the contact information accomplished nothing in furthering her arguments. You could have left it out and her prose would have actually been better. What information can you draw from the names of a couple of UCSC students you've never met? Just what would you do with their phone numbers and email addresses? Ask them for a recipe?

The only reason I can think for publishing the contact information was to intimidate the students and anyone else that might consider doing the same in the future. Malkin gets over 100,000 visits a day, mostly from right wingers. What would you expect to happen to these students given that?

Now instead of the recruiters, the whole discussion is about...Michelle Malkin. I can think of three ways this happened, none of them complimentary of Malkin.

1. Things escalated out of hand in a way she didn't anticipate. She never expected her family's information to get published in retaliation. That's not the smartest thing in the world. Once you escalate things and make them personal, what else can you expect? With 100,000 visitors did you expect none of them to be from the left who would then rally the moonbats?

2. She did it on purpose. As long as people are talking about her, who cares how it started? "Enough of me talking about me. What do you think of me?"

3. She sees herself as a martyr in some great cause. She's willing to be stalked or worse for the cause of...recruiters at UCSC?!?

Whatever the reason, she'll get no more mentions at The Scratching Post. That kind of hostility and antagonism we can do without.

I'd like to coin a new phrase. Instead of Balkanization, let's call it Malkinization. Big Brother isn't the Department of Homeland Security. Big Brother is each other.


Here's a story that deserves more attention than all the raving moonbats and wingnuts combined. Ignore the political hate and find the good in people. It's out there everywhere you look.

What are They Doing with the Shoeboxes?

We came up with a brilliant idea for Jacob today. We wanted to make a maze for him to run around in. Then we hit upon the idea of taking shoeboxes, cutting door holes into them and clipping them together to form a warren of chambers he could explore. We could put treats in some, his wheel in another, and various odds and ends for him to play with. Since they would be shoeboxes, the maze could be disassembled easily and stored.

We went to Mervyn's to look for empty shoeboxes, but they looked at us strangely and told us they don't give them out.

They're shoeboxes. How valuable can they be? What do they do with empty shoeboxes?

Payless was much more helpful, but they had just gotten rid of their boxes, so we couldn't get any from them, either.

It's a new crusade. Shoeboxes for Jacob.

Incidentally, Jacob is almost impossible to photograph. He moves in rapid spurts and doesn't like being out in the open. I think the shoebox warren will be great for him. Interesting and new, but comforting and enclosed.

I'll post photos when I can get the boxes.

Thursday 13, New Skills Edition

Welcome to another Thursday 13 at The Scratching Post. This week, I'm listing 13 things I'd like to learn.

1. Spanish. I live in San Diego. 'nuff said.

2. Scuba Diving. I love snorkeling in tropical waters. Scuba diving would be even better. I've wanted to do this ever since I was a wee lad.

3. Carpentry. I can fix anything in the house and make some very basic things like shelves, but that's where my skills end.

4. Drawing. Whenever I go on travel I have plans to do some sketching and practicing, but I never do it.

5. Java programming. I'd like to add some live elements to my blog.

6. Drywall repair. OK, so I can fix almost anything in my house. My drywall seams always stand out. Large hole repair is out of the question.

7. Metalworking. Ugh. Me weld. Me have large fire in hand! (Insert Tim Allen grunting noises here.)

8. Gemcutting and rock sculpting. A very good friend of mine turned me on to rockhounding. I found a place around Ocotillo where the quartz is just laying around. I collected some pieces and he showed me how to use the rock saw and polishers. Cool! I need to post some photos of that. Now I'd like to do more with it. Another friend was in the shop at the same time polishing a geode. Way cool!

9. Get my MBA. I've wanted to do this for a long time, but I can never see how I can swing it. There's just not enough time left to go to school after taking care of my kids and working. It's just not realistic. I might try one class at a time and see how it works this coming year.

10. Indian cooking. I love Southern and Cajun cooking, but Indian food is something I've always wanted to do. I've got a cookbook, I just need to do it.

11. Write Poetry. This is one for retirement, clearly.

12. Sculpture. Dittos.

13. Blog. Wait a minute. I do this one! I can cross one off the list! YAY! :-)

Other Thursday 13 Sites

Barbara doesn't have to visit or leave a comment. Her Thursday 13 is simply incredible. Go see it now.

Ardice checks in with hers.

Dawn tells us about where she wants to go out.

Ivory Frog has a list that reminds me of times when my kids were younger. What fun!

Karen posts her list of things to do. Get cracking, Karen!

Feathers has a list. Feathers. Hmmm. And I am a cat. Hmmm.

Suzy teaches us all about crayons!

Fragile Musings lists some movies that changed her life.

Pink Chihuahua is a wonderful person, but her Thursday Thirteen is a feline house of horrors! :-)

Absolutely Average is above average when ELO shows up on the Thursday 13.

Ahh, for the old days. Back when we were kids. Lauren gives us a list of what was different.

TNChick has her list up, too.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, MS Style

This one's for you, Mog.

Update: Mog gives this a very nice introduction. Be sure to read it. It gives a context to the rest of this post.

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post. This week we mosey on over to the Dakotas to give thanks for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, North Central States Chapter. Please visit their website and learn how you can join the people whose acts of kindness we will celebrate below.

MS is a debilitating disease of the central nervous system that inhibits communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Cures and treatments are being actively researched and progress is being made. That progress is in no small part due to the work of volunteers who work with people with MS and help in fund-raising.

What are you doing this weekend? If you're anything like me, you've got a list of things to do that exceeds the time you've got. That laundry won't do itself and the screen door broke again. There's a good movie you want to go see and if you can get enough things done during the day, you'll have time on Saturday night to go to the multiplex and see it.

The folks that organize and host and participate in and clean up after the MS fund raisers have those lists, too. They just choose to make their neighbors with MS a priority for a little bit. MS fund raisers take many forms, but the one most commonly associated with it are the walks. Here are some scenes from walks by this chapter.

Each of these people had something pressing to do this day and they chose to devote their time to others instead.

She didn't do anything to deserve MS, but she got it anyway. Seeing all the other people in these walks makes me want to participate in the next one just for her.

One of the things that struck me in assembling this post was the large number of people participating in the walks. Makes you feel good about your neighbors, doesn't it?

I got choked up when I found this one.

Teaching your children about charity through example. Ya gotta love it.

They skipped the movie and helped others instead. Any bets on which was more fun?

For me, the point of this post was not the heroic nature of the participants. Quite to the contrary, it was the ordinary nature of the participants and the vast number of them. In a world where the news media inundates us with stories of violence and cruelty until we begin to believe that's the way the world is, the reality is quite different. Just look at the number of people particpating and draw your own conclusions.

All photos from the NMSS-NCSS webstie, used without permission.

Our good buddy in WOGs, Joe over at A Tic in the Mind's Eye has his weekly WOG up, too. Check it out!

Susan Walker has a very touching story over at Susan's Blog as her WOG post for the week.

Suggestions for future WOGs are always welcome.

Previous WOGs at The Scratching Post:

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

French Students and American Journalists Jump Over Same Cliff

Never use conspiracy to explain a behavior when simple ignorance will do. I’ve been wondering why the Mainstream Media (MSM) behaves in a way counter to their economic interests. Then I came across an outstanding chat transcript on the Washington Post website about France’s economic problems. There were some interesting similarities. Let me set the stage for you.

The New York Times stock price is heading south, symptomatic of what is going on in most of the MSM. Here’s a 3-year chart for NYT.

France’s economy is tanking and will only get worse. Unemployment is high and the economy is stagnant. Students graduating from college have a hard time finding jobs.

Meanwhile, there are examples of similar organizations that are doing well. FoxNews is growing rapidly. From the State of the News Media 2006 at

The network evening newscasts had a harder time. Two of the three programs saw revenues decline in 2004 (ABC grew), though projections indicated a possible 10% increase in 2005.

The situation in cable news in general was more robust, but here there was a clear winner. Over all, pre-tax profits in 2005 were projected to grow by 21% to $579 million. CNN, still the financial leader, was expected to account for more than half of the total, $304 million, up 6%. But Fox, gaining fast, was expected to see profits grow a striking 31% to $248 million.

The revenue picture was similar. While CNN led with projected revenues of $878 million, up 5% Fox was expected to enjoy growth of roughly four times that rate, to $615 million.
Ireland is an economic dynamo.






Growth Rate



Per Capita Income



Public Debt

66.5% of GDP

27.5% of GDP

What’s the difference? FoxNews offers a more conservative approach to the news. Whether or not they are truly “fair and balanced” is irrelevant for this post. More than 50% of the country voted for George Bush in the last election. Regardless of his poll numbers now, that gives you an idea of the size of the conservative population in the nation. FoxNews is the only one marketing to this demographic. The others are fighting over a smaller set of customers.

Ireland used to be a socialist basket case and then they lowered taxes and removed onerous regulations on business.

How could you not learn from these examples? Especially when it hits you in the wallet? The answer came from the Washington Post piece.

Arlington, VA: France just guaranteed that they will become even more irrelevant to the rest of the world as their economic power continues to wane. How did their youth develop such a high level of entitlement? Do they not realize that they are competing against firms throughout the world?

Steven Pearlstein: No, they don't realize it, because they don't really want that to be true. They yearn for the days of a relatively closed economy in which France compete only with other countries that have similar systems, with exports such as wine and couture and tourism that have no substitute.

As for the sense of entitlement comes from their parents, who were lucky enough to live in an era where it was affordable, and their teachers, who have the biggest sense of entitlement of all, and from an early age drill into their heads that markets are mean and inhuman and need to be tamed and managed by government. In fact, one of the big initiatives of the Villepin government has been to try to get a more balanced teaching of economics into the schools, which are now bastions of socialist thinking.
In Mr. Pearlstein’s reply, replace the term “France” with “MSM” and you get an equally valid answer.

I’m beginning to think that, like the French students, the MSM is just too dumb to come in out of the rain.


A group of milbloggers are trying to help the MSM out of it's wheelchair. Go check out the Milblog wire service.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nanotechnology Gone Very, Very Wrong

Glenn Reynolds - "As part of my work in nanotechnology and evil, I have invented this android to eliminate the Easter Bunny and terrify children. I call it the Rab-Bot!"

Explanation here.

American Newspapers

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country - if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandulous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minority, feminist, atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

HT: My mom.

The French Stock Market Rises?

Inspired by one of my favorite blogs, No Pasaran, I was doing some research this weekend for a post when I came across an anomaly that I can't explain. The French stock market has risen 30% in the last year. That is a huge increase. By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up about 10%. Here's the comparison chart.

Comparing the two countries, it makes no sense at all. France has double the unemployment, one third the growth rate and no substantive increases in productivity. In short, there is no reason why an investor would put his money into a French company.

Then I took a look at the price-earnings (PE) ratios of French companies compared them to American companies. They seem pretty similar. Accor, which runs hotels in Europe has a PE comparable with Marriot. Carrefour, which runs the supermarkets, has a PE comparable with Safeway. Peugeot and Renault have PE ratios normal for car companies.

The only thing I can think of is that the French stock market was very undervalued a year ago.

Other possiblities:

1. The French government is printing money like there's no tomorrow. The money is being used to buy stocks, driving up the prices. If I were in France, I would rather put my money in the stock market than try and start a business myself or hire workers for one I already had. However there is no inflation in France. If the government was going wild with the printing presses, you would expect inflation.

2. Speculation. There is some odd confluence of speculation in the market. This is not unreasonable when you consider what happened with Amazon is essentially a discount retailer. It makes almost no money at all, regardless of how much it grosses. It's stock price is overvalued compared to someone like Dollar General which has a similar business model. People buy stock because other people are buying it. Remember when it was around 110? It didn't make money then, either.

I'm running out of explanations. The large increase in the CAC-40 simply doesn't jive with the financial data and the news out of France. I don't get it at all.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is Risen

A happy and blessed Easter to all of you. May you find redemption and renewal in your lives.

We'll be back again on Monday.

Best wishes,
K T Cat and Jacob the Syrian Hamster

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another Lost Weekend

It looks like our Maximum Leader is heading for a major catnip binge!

This Week in the Theocracy

Today we start a new weekly feature at The Scratching Post. So many people have helped us blog. We want to highlight some of the great work they're doing. Our Maximum Leader has instructed me to surf their blogs and pick out what I think are their best posts for the week. As the loyal beadle of the Feline Theocracy, I hear and obey.

Heidi, who was placed on the Protected List, makes a good point about multiculturalism even if it's not mentioned in her post. How are we to share our ideas and cultures with each other if we don't speak the same language?

Feline Empress Kukka-Maria, Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish, is properly worshipped and stroked. I love the picture where she is getting it under her chin. Sublime! The post just above about Tom Cruise is great, too. It was a tough choice.

Lawman, Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls, has a wry post about his work. After reading it I felt like I had taken him and his comrades for granted. Godspeed, Sir Knight.

Internet Marketing Novice, the Grand Almoner of England, continues his transparent education process as a service to the rest of us. He has a post this week that asks for your opinion. Go over and give it to him straight!

Romeo Cat, the Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses, must have known that our Maximum Leader loves Rube Goldberg devices!

Lady Jane, aka Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring, echoes our thoughts here at The Scratching Post. We were also touched by her Good Friday posts.

Ogre, the Monsignor of the Breweries, staggers in with his endorsement of the Send A Brick project. He also has some good posts on spending our way to a mediocre education.

Peggy Noonan, our Most Faithful Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media, writes a characteristically beautiful piece about immigration. One of the things I love about Ms. Noonan is that she comes at her subjects through warmth and caring.

The Anchoress, aka The Anchoress, highlights the importance of asking for forgiveness. Her blog is filled with other treasures as well.

Finally, Justin, Artist of the Court of the Feline Theocracy, has an excellent summary of the South Park-Mohammed censorship affair.

Justin is the author of this graphic:

It's free for all to use!

Best wishes until next week,

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Apocatlypse Is Nigh!

Judgment Day is coming! The Apocatlypse will soon be upon is as Evil Glenn ushers in the time of the Twelfth Imameow! The final sign has come.

Instapundit linked to The Scratching Post!

Muuuuhahahahaha! Abandon all hope, ye who enter the tuna mines! While the faithful play with catnip mice and pull them to shreds, sinners will toil day and night opening those tiny cans of Fancy Feast and pouring them into crystal goblets!

Some of the favored few have secured themselves a place in sunbeams through loyal service. Click on the logo for the original Feline Theocracy post.

Others shall face the Harvester of Souls in his most dreaded form: the warm, golden, furry hamster!

Wail and grind your teeth in the darkness! Or better yet, get some candles and one of those mouthpieces which protect your teeth from nighttime grinding! In any case, things look dark for those who have not yet linked to The Scratching Post!

Looking for Help from Bloggers

Every Wednesday The Scratching Post does a World of Good (WOG) post.

I am looking for bloggers to link to these when they are posted.

I believe in the power of personal kindness. The foundation for my belief is my Catholic faith, but it has been nourished through years of experience.

Recently our company was presented with a choice between attacking a business competitor who was about to fail in front of a customer or correcting his mistakes in private and helping him succeed. We chose the latter. The customer rewarded us both handsomely when he was presented with a solution endorsed by both competitors instead of a public argument where the truth was too complicated for the customer to make out.

I also believe in the power of suggestion. I think that by sharing these acts of kindness we encourage each other to emulate them in our own lives.

The news is filled with stories of destruction and harm. It can be a demoralizing affair to sit down and watch the network news. However, when we see stories of our neighbors or fellow citizens involved in acts of heroism or self-sacrifice, we marvel at them and wish we could do the same. After all, who doesn’t want to be admired? The more examples we see of such acts, the more we will be encouraged to do them ourselves.

That’s the whole point of the WOGs. If you would like to know when we post new WOGs, please send me an email and I’ll be sure to let you know. If you would link to them on your blog, I would very much appreciate that.

Here are the WOGs we’ve done so far.

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style

Thanks to an unquenchable source of good deeds in the human race, we will never run out of WOG posts. Maybe we can work together to make them more common in all our lives.

Operation Bookworm Has Been Foiled!

We’ve been caught red-handed! Operation: Bookworm will have to be scrapped. Ohio State University professors are on to us and have filed sexual harassment lawsuits against one of our minions for his book recommendations.

Early Indoctrination – Jingoistic librarian Millicent Gorbdoodler wears an American flag while brainwashing children at the Tom Delay Memorial Re-education Camp.

As you know, the plan called for one of our mind-numbed robots to recommend a couple of mainstream conservative books to the frat boys and sorority chicks at OSU. The students would take the flyers with our list of four books and use them to write down the phone numbers of the total hottie they just met in English Lit class. After a night of binge drinking and anonymous sex, they would associate conservative principles and family values with the orgiastic fulfillment of gross bodily pleasures. They would belong to us forever!

Constant Surveillance – Librarian and CIA Superspy Constance McGreedle runs data fusion software on her massively parallel supercomputer to track citizens who have checked out Noam Chomsky books.

Like rats in an experiment that push down the lever that causes stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain until they starve to death, our recruits at OSU would vote Republican repeatedly until the country was a fascist dictatorship under the jackboot of Karl Rove.

And our plan would have worked, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling, hypersensitive, lunatic professors.

Law Enforcement in the Library – No talking is the order of the day at the public library in Northwest Buzzards Gulch, Wyoming. Archconservative robot GORMOK-III monitors the situation.

In a related story, no lawsuits were filed over Comedy Central showing cartoons of Jesus Christ defecating on the American flag.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday 13 – Odds and Ends Edition

The Carnival of the Cats and the subsequent lessons learned took most of the energy out of my blogging, so this week’s Thursday 13 will be a hodgepodge of topics.

1. I should be at work right now. I was supposed to participate in an 0830 ET teleconference. That makes it 0530 my time. I’m doing the work pro bono and I just don’t feel like going in, so I’m blowing it off. I’ll go in later, download the slides and review what’s being discussed, but the odds are that my days of going in at 0530 for these things are just about over. We found another fellow at work to travel back east and participate in these things live, so it’s time to wrap this up and call it a success.

2. The folks on the east coast mentioned above have been delighted to have free expert advice in these teleconferences, so there’s no way they’ll be upset if we miss one of them. They’re just happy to have us participate at all.

3. I’ve got to get my car fixed.

4. I didn’t spend any time with the Jacob the Syrian Hamster last night. Usually I bring a book, put his cage down on the ground and let him run around while I read. He really likes that. He was a Christmas present for my daughter and we’re gradually taming him. Tonight I need to spend some time with him.

5. I missed the Alliance’s call for posts this week after having told Justin I was in. My time is stretched pretty thin and when the Carnival of the Cats turned into a forest fire, all my other posts went out the door.

6. I got my first Instapundit link yesterday! Glenn linked to the Carnival of the Cats. It was a proud moment for the Feline Theocracy. It resulted in about 300 or so hits.

7. I am a strongly typed ENFJ.

8. I like strong coffee, particularly the Café du Mond coffee from New Orleans.

9. I was listening to Hugh Hewitt’s radio show the other day and they played the theme song from F-Troop as bumper music and then went to an interview with Lileks. Lileks said they should have used Green Acres’ theme song as Green Acres was the most surreal show ever put on TV. I didn’t remember it like that. I had remembered it as a silly, standard, 60’s sitcom. I began Tivoing episodes of it off TV Land earlier this week and it is hilarious! It’s Monty Python before Monty Python. Some of the episodes are pedestrian, but some of Python’s were, too. Most of the Green Acres episodes I’ve seen have been terrific.

10. A friend recommended Two and a Half Men to me, so I’m going to Tivo the next one and see if I like it. I’m having a hard time finding a modern sitcom to watch.

11. George Lopez isn’t it.

12. I considered moving from Adsense to Blogads this week because Adsense only pays you when visitors click on the ads and Blogads pays for the space used by the ads. A little more research showed this would probably be a bad idea. Looking at the Blogads website, there is a lot of unused ad space available on Blogads sites, meaning they have fewer advertisers than advertising space. Even if I got into it, I probably wouldn’t get any takers for my ad space.

13. This was easier than I thought it would be.

Other Thursday 13 Sites

Attila the Mom. Attila should get a link just for having one of the all-time greatest blog names ever. Check out her fierce visage, too! :-)

Dariana, who is Almost and Angel, has hers up.

More Angels. Undercover Angel has her Thursday 13 posted.

Emily Rose checks in with hers.

Novelist in Training has hers up and it's filled with wisdom.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Boy Scout Style

Thanks to A Tic in the Mind's Eye, we have the World of Good Blogburst on Wednesdays.

Today's post comes with a fairly oblique introduction.

My parents are staunch conservatives. Catholic midwesterners both, my father was a combat pilot and career military officer and my mother was a homemaker who raised four children. Without thinking, you could classify them as stereotypical Republicans. Like all of us, however, they are very complex and thoughtful people.

Both of them are naturalists in the strictest sense of the word. Their property has been designed to preserve the native flora and fauna and they have taken great care to grow endangered, native plants and feed and care for native birds. My father even has a system for raising from seed some native plants and planting them in the wild when they have matured.

Today I give you a story that also defies stereotypes, but one that will not surprise anyone who has been involved with the Boy Scouts.

The only time we hear of the Boy Scouts in the news these days is when someone is protesting the fact that they refuse to have gay scoutmasters. Their opponents paint them as a reactionaries in need of enlightenment.

Today's story is of a Boy Scout troop that works to help endangered sea turtle hatchlings make it from the nest to the sea. The full story is here. Here are some excerpts.

The 11 Scouts from Troop 171 (chartered to the Williamson's Chapel United Methodist Church, Mooresville, N.C.) were on their annual mission to help save loggerhead sea turtles. They carried buckets to use in assisting newly hatched baby turtles on their perilous journey from nest to ocean, and huge calipers for measuring any mother turtle they might encounter nesting in the remote setting.

For Troop 171, the trip has been an annual event for most of the past eight years, thanks to former Scoutmaster and current committee chairman David Nagy, a 24-year Scouting veteran. Ken Teeter, who succeeded Nagy as Scoutmaster, says the Scouts enjoy this special adventure, which for some can be a life-changing experience.

The loggerhead sea turtle was named a threatened species by the federal government in 1978, when the mortality rate for newborns was nearly 100 percent. Since the turtle protection project began in 1982, more than 2,500 nests have been saved on Pritchards Island alone, and—thanks to the program and volunteers like Troop 171—60 to 80 percent of newborns—more than 240,000—saved.

The Scouts focused on their job for the night: escorting the hatchlings out to the sea.

Scouts combed the nearby grasses, looking for stragglers. One boy found a baby turtle tangled in a prickly pear cactus and removed a number of inch-long needles from it. As the hatchling then squirmed on its way as if nothing had occurred, the Scout looked on with pride.

Another boy happily rescued another turtle struggling in a deep depression with a three-foot yellow snake lurking nearby.

Read the rest. What a great group of kids and parents and volunteers. Scout organizations all across the country are similarly charitable.

When I came across this story, I immediately thought of my parents. A socially conservative organization committed to environmentalism. People are complex, aren't they?

Previous World of Good posts have involved the US Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, a Catholic High School in Nebraska and Hospice.

More good next week!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Happy Announcement from the Feline Theocracy

With the successful, if somewhat noisy, completion of our first hosting of the Carnival of the Cats, the Feline Theocracy is pleased to recognize the faithful work of one of our close friends.

Justin of Justin's Random Thoughts is hereby named Artist of the Court of the Feline Theocracy for his outstanding work on our new coat of arms.

Please feel free to download it and post it wherever you wish, recalling the dictum of the Theocracy that this graphic should be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the genius that created it, Justin.

All hail the Theocracy!

A Customer Satisfaction Study in the Blogosphere

I recently hosted the weekly Carnival of the Cats. You would think that it would be an innocent enterprise to generate traffic and links. It turned into a disaster when I disappointed a customer. It was a terrific example of how a single piece of poor customer relations can turn into a major loss of revenue.

In this case, revenue is defined as blog traffic.

The blogosphere provides a look into customer motivations impossible in the retail industry. In retail, when a customer is dissatisfied, you may never even know about it as they go home and tell all their friends in private what a pig you are. In this case, my porcine properties were published so that people in Papua could peruse them. Global self-destruction as it were.

Here’s the story.

I had looked forward for weeks to the Carnival of the Cats. As a new blogger, it was a chance to generate traffic to my site and perhaps create a few returning customers to build my readership. I worked through a couple of candidate themes that I thought might be witty and finally decided to use my Feline Theocracy series as the foundation for the post.

I spent a great deal of time that week dutifully going through the emailed submissions, reading the posts and writing unique text about each. Some of them were just fabulous. Almost all of them were really cute. Then I got to Sissy Willis’ posts. Here they are: post 1, post 2 and post 3. I had no idea who she was and didn’t take the time to carefully read her blog to learn more about her. My first reaction was that these were bait-and-switch posts.

I decided to run with my Theocracy theme in what I thought was a comical fashion. I was careful not to mention her by name. Here was my comment about her posts:

Someone sent in three links to posts with photos of cats and topics that were totally unrelated. The Feline Theocracy declares thee an apostate! To the tuna mines with you!
I was delighted with my prose. How many times do you get to use the word apostate on a blog? Additionally, the mental imagery of my cat sentencing people to toil away trying to mine for tuna has always been funny to me. (I may be alone in that, but it’s my blog, not yours and if you don’t agree then you can just go trawl the seas for catnip.)

It was a total disaster. I insulted and deeply hurt Sissy and the viral marketing of doom was started. Sissy went to the mattresses and blasted away at me on her blog. Laurence Simon, the godfather of the Carnival of the Cats, weighed in on his. Comments flew. Bombs were dropped. I posted in response and commented and emailed everywhere I could in an attempt to put out the flames, but I know I was not 100% successful.

Who knows what the end result will be? Certainly not what I had intended. Anyone who claims that bad press is better than no press is an idiot. Bad press sucks. Michael Dukakis found this out when he got his clock cleaned in the presidential election a few years ago after failing to respond immediately to negative stories.

In all of this there is a lesson. Well, many lessons, actually. The blogosphere allows you to see the precise mechanisms of customer dissatisfaction. A retailer may go a long time without ever knowing that some of his employees are driving customers away through bad behavior. Blogs make customer motivations transparent. I was immediately able to see how I had screwed up. I was also able to watch the progression of the bad press as it passed from one blogger and commenter to another.

I have read about this in books and heard about it in seminars, but it is another thing entirely to watch it happen live.

Another lesson I learned from this is that I needed to get on the problem right away and show that I sincerely cared. Each time Sissy's post was read, another person left with the idea that I was a jerk. Looking at her statistics on TTLB, I saw later that she gets about 500 hits a day. That's a pretty large set of enemies to generate.

Had I waited, no matter how sincere I really was it would have appeared like I was being mercenary and responding only to the pressure like when a company makes changes after a local media ombudsman rats them out. Had I fired back, even slightly, I would be forever lost to those readers and everyone they could reach.

Like a new forest fire, it is much easier to stamp this kind of thing out early than to stamp it out later. I was incredibly fortunate in all of this because as soon as she saw that I was sincere in my regret, she posted a very nice piece about my blog and those 500+ people saw me in a different light.

In his book, A Touch of Wonder, Arthur Gordon has a superb essay entitled “The Far Side of Failure.” He describes his meeting with Thomas Watson of IBM where he was taught that success lies on the far side of failure. “You’ve got to put failure to work for you,” admonishes Mr. Watson. I’m trying to do just that with this experience with the Carnival of the Cats.

I would like to thank all of the people who made this educational experience possible, including Sissy, Laurence, Tara, Justin and in particular, Kukka Maria.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Feline Theocracy Searches for Converts

The Feline Theocracy and The Scratching Post are all about kindness and how it affects our world. In light of this, we would like to respond to Sissy Willis.

Let all who seek enlightenment from our Maximum Leader learn the ways of apologies and forgiveness. For as K T herself has said, "purrrr purrrr meow purrrr."

Who could hear these words of eloquence and not be moved? Let us bury our claws in the furniture of peace and dine together on the wet food of brotherhood and let all past hissing and spitting be forgotten.

I encourage all to visit Sissy's submissions to the Carnival of the Cats. Here are the entries I would have written had they been included the first time.

Tiny tries to teach us a lesson we have struggled with throughout history.

Baby finds herself a way to be more influential.

Tiny has some interesting comments about some public figures that coiuld learn a thing or two from cats.

One last thing. Kukka Maria, Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish is innocent in this whole affair. I would appreciate it if she was treated with respect and was left out of this controversy.

Let there be peace and tranquility in the Theocracy once more. And tuna. Lots and lots of tuna.