Friday, January 27, 2006


What do a Doc and a marmot have in common? They are both new links to the side, for those of you inclined to check out other local blogs.

Doc Larry, co-producer of "Street Talk," runs Lost Chord. And Amy Sholtis, a Springfieldian who has come home again, runs the Snarling Marmot. You can tell she's a long-time resident, because she refers to the Springfield paper as the "News and Leader." That's not out of date. That's whatcha call OLD SCHOOL cool.

Check them out on a regular basis.


If we have learned anything from Vietnam, it's that we should support our soldiers whether we agree with the reason they fight or not. Look no further than the Iraq War. Many rational, patriotic Americans have protested the war, noting fabrications of the reason for the invasion—you know, no WMDs, no connections to al-Qaeda, that sort of thing. However, those same patriotic protestors have supported the soldiers carrying out the President's dirty work.

As they should, the Mailbox says. Whether we agree with the motive of their leader, soldiers have volunteered their lives to protect us. Regardless of who is in charge or what they order those soldiers to do, the Mailbox will always respect that sacrifice and be eternally grateful.

However, some soldiers take issue with that point, saying that if you support troops, you have to support what they do. Now, Joel Stein of the L.A. Times follows that logic and takes a contrapositive position in a controversial column. The first five words: "I don't support our troops."

I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

The Mailbox doesn't think the position is wussy at all. What's wrong with "throwing a parade" to recognize the sacrifice they made? It takes a different kind of person to give up families, loved ones, lifestyles, careers and who knows what else to serve the country. We haven't had a draft yet—those soldiers over there right now volunteered to be there. But, to lump them in the same group as those who support the President's ill-advised motivations turns those soldiers into nothing but remorseless, sociopathic mercenaries.

The Mailbox disagrees with Stein on this one. Big time.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Chatter's chief word processor and gadfly extraordinare Ron Davis is starting a new TV show with Doc Larry, another outstanding Springfield blogger. And this show should make John Stewart and other fans of real conversation excited about talk shows again. Called "Street Talk," it will feature good conversation about real issues beyond the talking points of the parties in power. Here's more from the producers:

STREET TALK will be the region's only locally produced program focused on conversation. Real conversation, not the shouting heads on most cable news shows. We remember a time when talk shows actually featured real conversation. When interesting guests engaged in a stimulating exchange of ideas with the show's host. That's what STREET TALK will be.

STREET TALK is deliberately not your standard television public affairs program, with flacks and hacks shouting opinions at each other on whatever subject comes up. Nor will we try to ape the corporate news services by paying phony lip service to the false idols of balance and objectivity as if there were only two points of view and we are above both of them.

Instead, STREET TALK seeks to promote mutual understanding of many viewpoints. We start with the understanding that there are many points of view. We have guests acknowledge where they are coming from, and talk about what they know through research or personal experience. The discussion will be civil, but lively and smart.

Joe Hadsall, the Mailbox's meat-constructed puppet, will be a guest alongside KSGF's Vince David Jericho. Should be an interesting show. It will air Wed. Feb. 1 on Cebridge channel 6 (I think) at 6:30. Should be a good show--a good chaser for right after the evening news.


With that, the Mailbox would like to introduce the Mailbox's Book Club. Look about a thousand pixels to the right and you'll see a nifty little sidebar of some reads. The Mailbox's interests are pretty varied, so be ready for an eclectic mix of tomes that Oprah wouldn't ever have the smarts to read.

Enjoy. Send feedback, if you want, to


In a stunning display of researching the obvious, MU has released a news report releasing the results of a psychological study. The results found by MU professor David Geary, you ask? Poor chicks dig good-looking rich guys for flings. Didn't see that coming, did you?

The findings show that the most preferred characteristic in a long-term mate was commitment, followed by kindness, intelligence and looks. For short-term mates, the most preferred characteristic was looks, followed by money and kindness. The women who focused more on a short-term mate’s money were more poorly educated, more likely to require government financial assistance and had more children.

“For the women in the study, a long-term mate’s status was not as important as is found in more affluent samples, perhaps because few potential mates with status are available, and a significant subset of the women assessed in the study appeared to view short-term mating relationships as a means to secure money and not ‘good genes,’” Geary said.

Researchers sampled 460 women, located with the help of Kanye West pointing out gold diggers. The women completed a mate preference survey, placing their own priority on values such as looks, money, status, commitment, intelligence and kindness.

The study was important to do because of findings that have shown men place high emphasis on looks in women, while women traditionally trade looks for status and resources. Geary's study, in the long run, really doesn't do much except tell us what guys have really known for years. What's puzzling is why Geary focused on just low-income women. By doing that, his study doesn't look like it's clarifying stereotypes as much as creating them.

The Mailbox can't wait for the results of MU's next study, which is expected to tell us that rain is comprised mainly of water.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


In tonight's episode, we learn why Liam went to Australia and that he demolished Charlie's sense of family, leaving him alone with a drug habit. Through his past, we learned why Charlie feels so attached to Aaron and Claire--they were the closest thing he's had to a family for a while, and when Claire ends it, Charlie goes a little nutters (as they say across the pond). Charlie's secret stash of heroin is seized by Locke (who is getting strangely righteous) and stashed in the gun safe. Only Locke knows the combination.

The Mailbox's gripe: Why keep the heroin around, anyway? If Locke is so concerned about Charlie's drug use, it makes more sense to destroy it. Throw the angel dust in the fire Charlie started. Maybe Locke needs some smack of his own after smacking Charlie around?

Tonight's episode does get two serious props, however: Hurley called the tail-section survivors "Tailies" and Libby made a crack about the modern-looking washer and dryer. Fans have been writing about those anachronistic appliances and using that nickname for weeks. The producers must be reading the official Lost theory board, eh?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


"Turn to the light; don't be frightened by the shadows it creates."

"Are you justified in taking a life to save life?"

The Mailbox does a lot of raving and fawning over Dream Theater. One of their songs, "The Great Debate" from 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, deals with an issue that Missouri is facing now: Stem cell research. Read the lyrics for yourself.

In a nutshell: The advocacy group Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures is circulating an initiative petition to place a stem cell research issue on the ballot. If passed by voters, the bill would allow many forms of stem cell research while banning human cloning and providing governmental oversight of research. Read the ballot language here. The petition needs about 145,000 signatures to make it on the ballot. Claire McCaskill, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, mentioned her support of the petition while stumping.

At the same time, Missouri legislators are getting together to discuss stem cell research. The Republican-led General Assembly might go in a completely different direction when putting an issue to the people (if the initiative petition gets enough signatures, this will be a moot point). Legislators will host a forum Feb. 16 in Jefferson City for members of the Missouri Press Association to discuss the many facets of the issue.

There, that catches you up. What is being left out of the debate right now is a pretty crucial component: What exactly in the tyen-shiao-duh is stem cell research, anyway? Opponents will use the public's ignorance and general unwillingness to learn things to compare stem cell research to a much more touchy issue.

If you believe Wikipedia, stem cells are primal undifferentiated cells which retain the ability to differentiate into other cell types. This ability allows them to act as a repair system for the body, replenishing other cells as long as the organism is alive. Researchers believe that such cells can be programmed and grown to help repair damaged tissues and organs, thus promising the potential to radically change treatments for disease. The problem is these special cells come from undeveloped humans. Babies in the womb.

Does that remind anyone of another polarizing issue? Such as abortion?

The Mailbox thinks that most people will vote with their hearts instead of their heads on this issue. They will do so because of comparisons to abortion--killing embryos, created by God with the potential to live, just to harvest cells for some old guy with Alzheimer's. What proponents need to start doing is educating the general public about what stem cell research actually is.

Let's face it: The medical benefits of abortion are few and far between. The medical benefits of stem cell research are much more promising and applicable. It's incumbent on supporters to tell the public exactly how those benefits can be obtained, and at what moral cost.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


The Mailbox would never think that something Gallagher said is wise. But dammit, that melonhead was right. How come our third fingers aren't good for anything?

I've been learning to play bass guitar. As I've discovered practicing scales, the ring finger is critical for hitting crucial notes. As I've also discovered, I'm going to need a lot of practice. Whenever I use my ring finger to play a note, my bird finger curls up like I've developed arthritis. It can't look cool at are the ladies supposed to get all up ons when my finger is pulling a Linda Blair impersonation? Just ain't right.

I've been sharing my pain at the Dream Theater forum for bassists. Seems I started a fight between fellow bass players about the best fingering. And I thought we were all cool and laid back.

But, did you know that some pretty nice basses and guitars are made right here in Springfield? Check out Conklin Guitars. Pretty shiny gitfiddles, there. Local boy Dave Wood, formerly of the Groove Tube (how the Mailbox misses that band) plays an 8-stringer Conklin. A guy at a local music store tried to sell me a beautiful 5-string Conklin bass. Since I'm still a noob, I felt like an idiot. He's pointing out all these features, and I don't have a clue how I'm supposed to react. I might as well have been a girl being sold an electric shaver.

Friday, January 20, 2006


So, two of the most beautiful people on Earth are having a baby. Many have speculated that their progeny will be uber-human: So beautiful and attractive that every human born afterward will pale, every mother will be baby-poo green with envy and every father will commit hari-kiri in shame.

The Mailbox knows this because it heard the baby say so itself on its blog. Of course, the baby has a blog already. It's Brangelina's baby, hello? Keep reading all his embryonic wisdom.

Can't wait to see what the kid thinks of breastfeeding.


If a bill proposed by Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield, passes then all Missouri Div. 1 teams in the NCAA would be required to play each other once a year.

"It's all about rivalries," Wright said. "The in-state and cross-town rivalries are what makes sports what it is, so let's get it going."

Whoa there, Marky. Universities have no problem finding rivalries. And requiring universities to play each other makes scheduling a lot more difficult.

The Mailbox is pretty sure why Mizzou opposed Mo. State's name change—UM can't beat Kansas or Kansas State, so they don't want a THIRD area team whipping their butts regularly. That's as it may be, these teams will play each other when the time is right. Let's not waste our legislative time passing a law that will take care of itself.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Washington state conservatives are protesting the filing of a civil rights bill in that state that would include the phrases "sexual orientation" and "gender expression or identity." For a while, religious groups have threatened boycotts of companies who back such bills, such as Ford.

Microsoft is the next target.

Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond said he said consumers should boycott Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and other companies that have come out in support of a gay civil rights bill. Companies have underestimated the power of religious consumers, the Rev. sez.

Um, Reverend Hutcherson? The Mailbox thinks you may have underestimated churches' reliance on computers. Church office workers use them to track tithes, communicate, make bulletins, keep track of members and a whole bunch of other office functions. So, what are they going to do? Whip out the old lithograph? Buy Macs?


The Mailbox is getting into a debate about the greatest guitarists over at Ron Davis' Chatter. For those of you who think three guitar virtuosos on the same stage is a good thing, take your broadband connections and stick 'em here to watch a video of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and John Petrucci rip up Jimi's "Foxy Lady." Um, ignore Joe's singing...the solos at the end will reward you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Tonight we learned a whole lot more about the Others. We learned that there are a whole bunch of 'em, "Zeke" has some sort of leadership role and they are only letting the survivors of Flight 815 stay on the island. We also learned that Sawyer and Kate are falling for each other (maybe) and why Jack's wife left him.

The Mailbox's gripe: So what did the Others have against the Tailies that they don't against the original 48? Both groups got a spy, but only one group got nine people stolen from it? All the Others have wanted from the original group is Walt and Aaron. What, were the Tailies more convenient? Sheesh.

Other than that, great episode.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


For all who say GOPers are shooting themselves in the foot politically, we regretfully have to point to Dems doing the same thing. This should be a perfect time for Dems watching Republican Congressmen quickly distancing themselves from Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. Instead, Dems are doing their own stupid things.

Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans, used to be the Mailbox's favorite mayor. Not anymore, since he pulled a Pat Robertson and said that God punished America with hurricanes for the war in Iraq. That, and a weird comment about New Orleans becoming chocolate. Then, there's Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with her comments about the House being run like a plantation--dissenting voices in Congress are squelched. Um, Senator? The Mailbox would like to remind you that YOU are a Senator. Doesn't sound like your voice was squelched.

Meanwhile, the moderates in Congress are doing nothing to keep American policy on the track of common sense, allowing the President to keep up his spying, war-mongering, freedom-killing ways. Republicans like Sen. Rick Santorum get to spew their intolerant idea of theocracy, while Republicans who offer the mildest dissent, such as Sen. Arlen Specter, who suggested impeachment over the President's wiretapping, are hushed.

The Mailbox has long believed that a third party is necessary. One that promotes fiscal responsibility, personal freedom and is free of religious bias or judgment. However, a moderate set of Democrats or Republicans could accomplish the goal of breaking down our meme of extremist politics and steer the country back in the right direction.

The upcoming election in November is a perfect chance for moderates of both parties to separate themselves from the idiot extremists. Americans are not like Sens. Clinton or Santorum. Or, are they?

Friday, January 13, 2006


It's Friday the 13th. And there will be a full moon tonight.

Full moons are associated with insomnia (huh, what time is this being typed?) and insanity. Perfect for making words like lunacy and lunatic. In the Rider-Waite tarot, the Moon card talks about secrets. But man, the world looks positively magical when lit up in the blue glow of a full moon. And have you ever seen the woman in the moon?

Friday the 13th got it's legendary lucklessness from a variety of myths, including the Last Supper's number of attendees and Loki, the uninvited 13th guest who barged into Valhalla. If you fear the day, then congratulations: You have paraskavedekatriaphobia. And you'll have to face it again in October, an even spookier month. But, if you are in Spain, Tuesday the 13th is what you'll fear. The Mailbox wonders if the Spanish versions of the Friday the 13th movies were appropriately changed...

Personally, the Mailbox is a fan of the number 13 and of full moons. The weather should be beautiful tonight...go out and enjoy that beautiful moon. Or, stay inside and ponder the mathematical magic of 13. It's a prime number and a Fibonacci number (which are associated with the Golden Ratio). If you want unlucky numbers, try these out: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Last night, Gov. Matt Blunt delivered his State of the State address. He painted quite the rosy picture, saying money was so much better than when he took over after that dumb ol' Democrat governor. When last year, he was talking cuts, cuts, cuts, this year he's all spend, spend, spend.

During his speech, however, he issued a challenge to Democrats and others who disagreed with his policy of cutting from Medicaid and other state services to give more to elementary education:

"For those who continue to clamor for a return to the old way I ask that you be candid. Be honest with the people of Missouri and tell them what programs you would cut or what taxes you would raise. Do not pretend that we can spend money in a vacuum with no resulting harm to schools or Missouri taxpayers."

The message: "What would YOU have cut?" And Dems would be hard-pressed to answer.

The GOP's message for the last few years (before Blunt ever got to the big chair) has been to control spending. As Blunt said several times last night, his budget and policies are all about legislators managing money the same way we balance our checkbooks. Hear hear, says the Mailbox. We have to have money to take care of the people who need it. But now that the state appears to have money, Blunt wants to spend like crazy. More for education. More for Medicaid. More for a crime lab. Tax credits for Kansas City stadiums.

Not once did he mention a SPENDING CAP. You know, a limit to ensure the state saves enough of our tax money so that we don't have to endure cuts like we have over the last four years.

And the Dems aren't catching on. Sen. Maida Coleman delivered the Democratic response—filled with as much party posturing as the Governor's speech. From the speech of doom-and-gloom:

"Missourians are tired of hearing about trickle down economics and corporate welfare and the creation of yet another task force of Matt Blunt’s campaign contributors to figure out what is wrong. We know what’s wrong. The governor’s policies don’t work."

The Mailbox would like to remind you that if you want to know the state of the state, don't listen to any speech that begins with "State of the State Address." These are not accurate representations of how things are going—they are just political opportunities to cloud people's minds with empty rhetoric and kneejerk talking points.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


A brief intro: The Mailbox is hopelessly hooked on Lost. The Mailbox loves the show. Ergo, considering how we treat the ones we love (you know, get nitpicky, wish they were a little bit better, that kind of thing), the Mailbox will bring you a new gripe with each episode. Starting with this week's episode, which ended not 15 minutes ago:

#1: Lost Revelation. This whole show is the Mailbox's gripe. We get two hours of Lost tonight, but one hour is nothing but recaps? After showing us reruns since November? Just show us a second gorram episode! We know what has been going on, cuz we've been talking about nothing but!

#2: Eko's past. During the flashback, we learn that he was a stone cold Nigerian gangsta trying to get heroin out of the country. He commandeers a plane and dresses up as a priest, thanks to his brother's (who is a priest) help. Before takeoff, Eko's brother comes running up, telling him not to go. Eko figures out his brother turned snitch. Long story short, Eko gets surrounded by soliders while his brother gets on the plane.

The Mailbox's gripe: The soldiers that surrounded Eko ask, "Are you OK, priest?" These same soldiers are the ones that took the tip from his brother! They didn't remember what he looked like? The Mailbox is willing to suspend disbelief, but not for that steaming pile of flubbery.

The monster was cool. But what the heck is Claire's problem?


Let the gossip cease. Brad's gonna be a dad.

The Springfield News-Leader has confirmed a report from People Magazine that Angelina Jolie is pregnant with Brad Pitt's baby. Brad's brother Doug set the record straight, saying that Jolie and Brad are "ecstatic," and he hopes that the press just leaves the couple alone.

Angelina has been in Springfield already to meet with the Pitt family, less than a year after Pitt divorced former wife Jennifer Aniston. Of course, we will see Brad and Angelina around town as much as we saw Brad and Jennifer.

A morsel of juicy henpeckery told to the Mailbox: Jennifer hated it here in Missouri. A local chef once served dinner to the former couple and reported that Jenn was a control freak—ordering entrees for Brad, fussing over him like a child and laying out his agenda for him in a bossy manner. "She looked like she hated to be attached to this area," they said. Here's hoping Angelina is a little more friendly.

The Mailbox wishes its congratulations to the new parents, and really hopes for a sequel to Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Monday, January 09, 2006


If you want to pick up a good read, get Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel." It's about the factors that allowed Western civilization, including capitalism, to progress while other civilizations did not. It's being made into a PBS series and it won a Pulitzer Prize.

If you're looking for the sequel, however, avoid "The Victory of Reason" by Rodney Stark. It's not a continuation of the topic; rather, Stark credits God Almighty for the west's success at running things.

"The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians," he argues in his book. "All of these remarkable developments can be traced to the unique Christian conviction that progress was a God-given obligation, entailed in the gift of reason...While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth."

The San Francisco Chronicle thinks that the book won't further discussion as it will polarize proponents of both sides.

Most of you are probably chuckling about that part about the gift of reason. Most scientists during the scientific revolution were indeed devoutly religious, including Newton, Kepler, Darwin, and Linnaeus. But don't forget that while they were Christian, they followed the scientific method to reach their conclusions. Sad that reason and logic are not traits found with creation-scientists, intelligent design supporters, fear-mongering homophobes and other poor examples of Christians today.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


So says a study from CNN. Stewart-viewers scored 60 percent on average when presented with a brief current events quiz. Leno and Letterman viewers scored 49 percent, better than the general public.

The Mailbox remembers a day when Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, appeared on The O'Reilly Show and was told by the huffy one that his audience was a bunch of "stoned slackers" and "dopey kids." Irony, how delicious you are.

(A classic TV moment happened after that: O'Reilly later appeared on The Daily Show...Stewart suggested he owed the audience an apology, and O'Reilly said, "C'mon, I was stoned when I said that.")

Most frightening: Scores were even lower for those who read a newspaper or watched network news four times a week. The Mailbox presumes that includes "O'Reilly Factor" watchers. O'Reilly really oughtta be careful—ask Tucker Carlson what happens to your show when Stewart is a guest.


As if the play of the Saints wasn't offensive enough during last Sunday's finale at Raymond James Stadium against divisional rival Tampa Bay. During halftime, the team offended home fans with the song selection for the cheerleaders.

"The first song that I hear is 'Rock You Like a Hurricane' by The Scorpions and I thought to myself, 'Is it me, or is this just totally out of place and inappropriate?'"

That was Bob Corry, a Bucs fan talking to WTSP reporters. He wrote the team asking for an apology, saying the song didn't represent the feelings of many other Bucs fans at the game. New Orleans has, of course, suffered through hurricane Katrina, so the distastefulness should have been as obvious as, oh, a category-5 hurricane.

The Mailbox thinks it's most amazing that NO ONE FROM NEW ORLEANS NOTICED. The Mailbox is searching for something—anything—from a ticked-off Whodat. Nuttin'.

The Bucs' fans are usually pretty loud and obnoxious, qualities that are earned after suffering through years of creamsicle-colored disaster that makes the Saints' history look Pro-Bowlish. The team's Web site takes games a step further by showing little Flash animations dissing the opposing team before games.

But, you're telling the Mailbox that John DeShazier of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jim Henderson of the New Orleans Saints Radio Network or any other crazy Saints fan, is so distracted that they didn't notice this? If so, then Satan is downstairs asking if anyone else feels a draft.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Forgive the post-drought, folks. Been a crazy Christmas around Fair Delee (yes, the official home of the Mailbox has a name. Maybe it'll tell the story one day...). In the meantime, 2006 is shaping up to be an interesting year. The Mailbox may be four days late, but it's not too late to join the noise of everyone else making predictions for the new year. What the hey...let's start this go-se:

~ Christian County won't elect a single Democrat. But, it will elect a Presiding Commissioner from Nixa.

~ The New Orleans Saints will not make the playoffs. But they will play a majority--if not all--of home games in the Superdome.

~ Democrats will gain seats in the U.S. Congress. Republicans will begin to distance themselves from Bush in droves, starting a schism between fundamentalists and financialists.

~ A major challenge to the theory of evolution will appear, but neither preacher nor creation-scienist will be the author. It will be another scientist. And his/her theory will drive extreme Christians even more nuts than evolution.

Lost will end its second season with a tremendous story change, but its third season will send the show spiraling down toward the TV graveyard. Meanwhile, Joss Whedon will announce a sequel to Serenity.

~ Sluggy Freelance will gain nationwide popularity through VH1, leading to a surge of interest in the art of web comics. Scott Kurtz and Krahulik/Holkins will have a pay-per-view Nerf weapons cage match, but you'll have to read three pages of news posts to understand the action.

~ VH1 will run a new series, "I Love the Naughts (or "Zips," as this decade is called by Wired)" featuring snarky comments from washed-up comedians about bling and punk boy bands. MTV will consider showing videos again, but forget about it and show us more stupid college co-ed dating shows. Jon Stewart will call out, rip a new one on, and eventually get cancelled, the O'Reilly Factor.

~ Dave Chapelle will bust on people.

~ Two big box retailers will announce plans to build in Nixa, but one will be right outside city limits, prompting Nixa to start an annexation move. None will develop in Ozark.

~ Joe Hadsall will appear on a certain TV show, leading many to believe he has the looks for print media.

Happy New Year, y'all...

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