Wednesday, December 27, 2006


And the Mailbox is inclined to agree.

This week's issue of the Christian County Headliner News features an editorial about Presiding Commissioner John Grubaugh and his reluctance to accept a petition of citizens endorsing building codes. According to the commission's legal council, such a petition could be null and void, despite the approval of the county clerk and county prosecutor. However, they won't share a copy of the opinion (which would contain reasons why a petition is null and void) with the public.

The Headliner asks the most relevant question: "Why?"

The Mailbox speculated that the good-ol'-boy network may be headed out the door. Looks like it's putting up a fight. Residential building codes are coming. Along with them, more progressive ideas for managing the county's growth. If Grubaugh can't change with the times, the times will change him.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006


That's what the title of book No. 7 will be, according to her official Web site.

Some uninformed speculations, based on the title: Halloween has its roots in All Hallow's Eve, the day before All Saints' Day. According to, this is the day when souls of those who have died return home. Will "Deathly Hallows" break format by occurring over the fall, and not an entire school year at Hogwarts? Those who read "The Half-Blood Prince" could argue that Harry intends NOT to finish his final year at Hogwarts, going on a hunt for Voldemort (yeah, the Mailbox said "Voldemort"). Does the epic, final battle happen over Halloween? Will Dumbledore return from the dead a la Gandalf the Gr-- er, White? Will All Saints' Day play a pivotal role in the story?

Probably not. "Hallow" is a verb, according to Merriam-Webster. It means "to make something sacred, holy." The Mailbox originally thought "hallows" might refer to a place, but slapped some sense into the Mailbox. So, the Mailbox sees "Deathly Hallows" happening at Hogwarts. Though the evidence in HBP points to Harry going hunting, it's more likely to the Mailbox that we'll learn even more about Hogwarts' history and construction, and that Voldemort will hunt Harry. Besides, Dumbledore isn't dead, remember? Oh, wait. Rowling said he was, and will not be pullin' a Gandalf-type resurrection. Ching-wah tsao duh liao mahng.

ANYWAY... has many more in-depth spoilers and such from fanboy extraordinaire David Haber.

The AP reported that author J.K. Rowling has only recently started dreaming that she is the famous boy wizard. She also said she is "elated and overwrought" about writing the seventh book; which includes scenes she has planned for more than 12 years. Which leads to an interesting writer's conundrum: Everyone knows the "Potter" series was meant to last seven books. But Harry is so beloved that if Rowling broke her promise of seven books, the world would rejoice (except for these goons).

So, should Rowling continue to tell Potter's stories after graduation? Will we read them as voraciously? If she does, will she get so sick of writing about Potter that the moppet will meet Draco Malfoy at Reichenbach Falls for a final problem?

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Football is a cherished sport. The players are blessed with the community's attention. We even have TV shows and movies dedicated to towns and their love of the game.

But this is going too far.

In a nutshell, Brett Karch is an ROTC member at a Washington high school. One of the school's football traditions is to fire a red cannon. Unfortunately, it exploded, almost killing Karch and damaging his leg nearly to the point of amputation.

The community responded with threats, not get-well wishes. Police increased security around his hospital room after people threatened to "break his other leg" and "ban his family" if they didn't keep quiet about the incident.

Huh. Haven't seen anything like this on Friday Night Lights yet.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006


It's about freakin' time.

The Christian County Commission, which governs development in the fastest-growing county in Missouri, has decided to appoint a five-member ad hoc committee that will study residential building codes.

The old Nixa-Ozark rivalry may affect this issue and an eventual election. As reported by the Headliner, a recent meeting was filled with interested parties from the western side of the county, including the fire chief and chamber director from Nixa. Western District Commissioner Bill Barnett, who was not at the meeting, is in favor of building codes. His two colleagues, who reside in the eastern side of the county, are not as quick to agree -- they don't OPPOSE building codes, but they are not sure that voters are going to pass them.

Crikey. Do Eastern District Commissioner Tom Huff and Presiding Commissioner John Grubaugh know who's been moving to Ozark? It's good to see the Nixa mindset of government of progressive planning getting a foothold in the Christian County courthouse. The pace may madden some, but at least this is progress. Maybe that good-ol'-boy, we-know-better network in Ozark is on its way out.

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In 1999, voters defeated Proposition B, which would have enacted a concealed carry weapons law. That didn't matter to a newly-conquering Republican General Assembly, which in 2003 ignored the will of the voters and passed a statewide concealed carry weapons law.

Two Republican legislators seek to repeat that bold act of telling voters that they don't matter.

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit and Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis announced plans to place a "short, simple, straightforward ban on human cloning" on the 2008 ballot. The short, simple straightforward reason: They want to repeal Amendment 2.

They think that embryonic stem cell research is the same thing as abortion. They believe in a political pro-life agenda. They want to cram their narrow moral world-view down the collective throats of the majority.

Bartle and Lembke are giving a bad name to the rest of Republicans in the General Assembly. Even Gov. Blunt distanced himself: "My position on this is well-known," he said at a news conference Tuesday. The AP reported that Blunt said the language voters passed sufficiently bans cloning while allowing research.

In 2005, Rep. Jay Wasson told the Christian County Headliner that voters should be the ones to decide about embryonic stem cell research. "I don't think the legislature can agree on it," he said. "It's a difficult issue-passion gets involved on both sides."

The more Lembke and Bartle do to repeal Amendment 2, the more it will weaken the Republican party's hold on the state's moderates. They should be good, little legislators by shutting up and championing the will of the people.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Found on The story of a San Francisco photographer freelancer/hobbyist who blogs not only about his photography, but also his run-ins with
people who don't like him shooting photos. As Thomas Hawk (a blogging pseudonym) tells Evan Ratliff: "Where I'm different from most photographers is that I'm not going to back down."

Hawk is a career investment adviser -- not the kind of person you'd see making public statements and reminding us of our rights. He shoots photography for art's sake; he tells Ratliff he has a goal of taking 100,000 images of the Bay Area over the next 20 years. His mission is noble, however.

Photographers are grouped into two categories: Hobbyists taking grip 'n' grins of their family and friends, and paparrazi. The Mailbox would guess that the public groups journalists in the latter category. And paparrazi are not too well-regarded, because they are intrusive and flaunt their rights in order to get a shot of Britney's hoo-hah.

Which does not bode well for the citizen journalist, photojournalist, artistic photographer or anyone else who appears to have a working knowledge of a camera and is not telling a crowd in front of the Hard Rock Cafe to say, "Cheeeeeeeese..."

Earlier this year, the Dallas-bound
Granny Geek posted great shots of Springfield using taxpayer resources to protect the President. While citizen journalists often report wearing their biases on their sleeves and in their words, they use the same rights that every American citizen is guaranteed. Granny has written several times reminding us of our freedoms. (She even recommends a perfect camera for bloggers, though the Mailbox is eyeing something a little bigger.)

The problem is that people do not know their rights when it comes to photography. Simply put, if you're standing on public property, you can shoot anything around you. However, most people worry about an invasion of privacy. They invoke decency, and choose not to shoot people around them. They eschew invasive tactics. Maybe they ask for permission and, if turned down, find another option. There is absolutely nothing wrong with decency of that sort.

But, the fear of photographers has increased since we began our war on terror. Now, guards, police and other security personnel are taught that anyone taking pictures is acting suspiciously. Hawk reminds us that this is not the case. And should never be.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The Mailbox dogged him for staying silent, so the Mailbox should give him credit for talking to the very organization he feared: The local media.

Robert Dupont finally spoke to the Joplin Globe. Reporters Derek Spellman and Andy Ostmeyer interviewed him and used his responses for two stories about the Anderson Guest House fire that killed 10 people.

The Mailbox respects the horrifying situation with which Dupont is dealing. Dupont is a human being, and we're sure takes the loss of those 10 victims personally. However, Dupont said in a hardly hard-hitting interview with Sarah Overstreet that he kept a low profile to avoid talking about his past. He didn't think it was relevant.

The Mailbox begs to differ. His past is particularly relevant -- especially when it comes to his role in running the house.

After a tragedy like this, people want to know how it happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Dupont should have opened up from day one about his role in running the house, whether he was really the director or not and why such an electrical fire, which could so completely and utterly demolish a house, was able to occur. Dupont told the Globe that his wife was the executive director. Any documents that show him as the ED are in error, thanks to attorneys' gaffes. But a former board member for River of LIfe Ministries alleges Dupont gave direction to his wife about how to run the facility.

The key issue is responsibility. Who is going to own up to being in charge? An investigation has shown the cause of the fire was accidental -- not arson. It's a tragic accident, but an accident nonetheless. Will the responsible party step forward, or will higher authorities have to point the finger?

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Just when everything was looking good for the Saints, they were hit with a completely unfair suspension.

Defensive tackle Hollis Thomas has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL's steroid policy. A test revealed the presence of substances on the NFL's banned list. He had the support of the Saints and had been challenging the positive test all season, but his appeal lost out. He will miss the final four games of the season.

As for the illegal steroids he was taking: They are called fluticasone and galmetrol. Maybe you've seen these two drugs, which are both in the same product, advertised.

Thomas suffers from asthma, which became aggravated during his first training camp in the south. His doctors put him on an aggressive treatment so that the 300-pound player could breathe. Unfortunately, the NFL didn't take that into account.

The Mailbox is furious with the NFL for this suspension. The steroid policy is to prevent players from using steroids to gain muscle mass or strength. Using steroids for those reasons would be an unfair advantage. But Thomas didn't use steroids to beef up (the Times-Picayune notes that tests for those turned up negative). He didn't use them to get an unfair advantage.

He used them so he could breathe.

Is the NFL telling the Mailbox that Hollis Thomas is so good that if he's able to play AND breathe properly, it's an unfair advantage? PLEASE. And because of the violation, Thomas is now corraled into the same herd as Shawne Merriman and others who DID use steroids to beef up.

Where Major League Baseball's drug policy has been attacked for being too lenient, the NFL's policy should be checked for being too strict. Full disclosure: The Mailbox is a diehard Saints fan and is asthmatic, so you're getting a double dose of bias. But, desiring to breathe while playing should not be considered using drugs for an unfair advantage.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006


There has been plenty of coverage about the group home fire in Anderson, where 10 people, including nine guests of the home, died in an early morning fire Monday. It's a twisted story which has garnered attention from both Auditor Claire McCaskill and Gov. Matt Blunt, who have both made statements.

Since the beginning, group home owner Robert J. Dupont, a convicted felon, has had a chance to talk to the media and address issues surrounding the fire, as well as some questionable things in his past. He wouldn't talk...a Joplin Globe reporter had to go to his house requesting comment, because Dupont wouldn't return calls. And he still wouldn't talk.

But he did to Sarah Overstreet of the News-Leader.

The only reason he would talk to a columnist known for warm, fuzzy stories and sticking up for the little guy is because he's afraid of his past. By going to Overstreet, he's hoping for an ally; that the bad ol' media won't ask tough questions about why he was operating a home that he shouldn't have been operating. Unfortunately, this doesn't help him look any better.

The Mailbox thinks that open is always better than closed. Had Dupont faced the music, been brave and talked to reporters earlier, then his role could be clearly established and he wouldn't look like he has something to hide. Now, he just looks cowardly. His attempt to use the media will backfire.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006


Yeah, yeah, Taylor Hicks guy won American Idol, he has gray hair and sounds all soulful and stuff. But check out his band. Especially the guitarist.

That there is Dave Wood, former guitarist of the Groove Tube, a funk band that ripped up Springfield's music scene in the '90s. He joined the Taylor Hicks band and played at the tree lighting at the Rockefeller Center in New York City before an appearance on last night's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

You can find more of his music and guitar method here.

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