Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- August 8-14, 2004

This page includes posts from August 8-14, 2004 in the usual reverse order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

August 14, 2004
John Kerry, Saturday Night Live comedian

John Kerry has done a “Christmas in Cambodia” shtick for nearly 20 years, as many bloggers and others have already commented.

Matt Drudge is reporting that Douglas Brinkley is busy writing a New Yorker piece “correcting” a misimpression about exactly when Kerry allegedly found himself under enemy and friendly fire in Cambodia. According to Drudge, we’re now going to be told that this purportedly momentous event in Kerry’s conversion from Vietnam fighter to Vietnam protester actually occurred in January.

I presume the new story will place him in Cambodia sometime after January 20, 1968 when Nixon was inaugurated. No sense compounding the original “error,” eh?

If Kerry’s not careful with this, he’s in danger of making people choose which of two Saturday Night Live comedians he most resembles.

Is he the second coming of Jon Lovitz? Recall, for example, Lovitz’s character Tommy Flanagan, 12-step member of Pathological Liars Anonymous, with his famous catchphrase “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Or is Kerry more like Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella? At what point will he try to quiet the uproar with a muttered “never mind”?

Perhaps he should leave the comedy to the professionals instead.

August 12, 2004
Straight talk? Not yet.

I listened to Governor McGreevey's press statement this afternoon on the way home from work, and was impressed by a few things.

First, for someone whose ambitions clearly ran roughshod over his judgment, leading to a resignation from high office, he maintained a remarkably strong voice throughout his address.

Second, his continued concern for the citizens of New Jersey has, shall we say, certain limits. In fact, I quickly concluded that his election campaign promise to provide "straight talk" is beyond ironic at this point.

For example, one would think that the state government and its citizens don't really need a three-month transition between an outgoing governor and a caretaker replacement from the same party.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that his current resignation schedule has a blatantly obvious, different goal in mind--the preservation of the office for the current party until the next general election in 2005.

I also think this is a pretty short branch.

August 11, 2004
Not just for the rich

Geitner Simmons is a transplanted North Carolinian who writes thoughtful blog posts when he’s not too busy writing editorials for the Omaha World-Herald. 

Today he agreed with a short post by Jonah Goldberg about how golf has become ever more middle-class. On a recent cross-country drive, Goldberg noted the following:

[T]he extremely modest towns dotting Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota etc. … boast public golf courses. I may be one of the world’s worst two-armed golfers but I have lots of friends who play, including folks from decidedly blue collar upbringings who’ve played since they were teenagers, and certainly college. It’s a tiny example, I think, of how Americans are becoming richer even if the[y] don’t always feel richer.

Simmons added his own anecdote:

A relative of mine once complained that at a golf course in a rural North Carolina county, she saw men golfing without shirts on.

As one might expect, I have some interest in this topic.

The National Golf Foundation publishes some handy data that backs up Goldberg’s notion. Of the nearly 15,000 golf courses in America, only 4,300 or so are private. Another 2,200 or so are municipal-owned layouts, with the remaining 8,300 golf courses privately owned, but open for public play.

In other words, there are far more golf courses catering to less-expensive tastes than the relatively small number of high-end private layouts. 

Furthermore, plenty of middle-class golfers belong to private clubs that are not priced according to Augusta National or Shinnecock Hills standards. For example, the country club I belong to charges a not-so-blistering $1,500 or so in annual dues. The pick-up trucks in the parking lot always outnumber the BMWs.

About 10% of all Americans play golf, and that percentage has not increased drastically over the last 30 years. With that continuing level of participation, however, there’s only one thing to do when someone says golf is just a rich man’s sport.


August 10, 2004
The French and St. Paul, speaking as one voice

Glenn Reynolds posted a short link joining Juan Non-Volokh in praise of the French government’s decision to classify wine as nourishment.

Of course, the benefits of wine have a long, documented history. One of my personal favorites is from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

Some advice is timeless.

August 10, 2004
Nobody ever said menhaden were smart

The News-Journal’s Jeff Montgomery wrote a short piece about the fish kill in the lagoon where we dock our boat.

As he reported, the most likely explanation for the incident is in line with what I assumed from last night's reading about prior fish kills in the same region of Rehoboth Bay:

low oxygen levels in dead-end or slow-moving water.

I stopped by this afternoon to take a few pictures, shown below.

Readers should be glad this site does not come equipped with Odorama scratch’n’sniff cards.

Trust me when I tell you the odor can gag a maggot.

Breathing through the mouth helped, but not much.

While I was there, a WBOC-TV camera crew and reporter were there doing a remote broadcast.

I did not envy them.

Routine dredging of the mouth of the lagoon is a potential preventative solution, but that kind of fix usually generates its own environmental opposition. Until then, however, or until someone learns how to educate menhaden of the dangers of being trapped in dead-end lagoons, these fish kills will continue.

Unfortunately, nobody ever said menhaden were smart.

The wind pushed the dead fish into a pile along the northern shore of the lagoon.
Too much sushi can be a bad thing.
The fish piled up against the rip-rap. Thankfully there were no waves.

August 9, 2004
Fish kill

Yesterday afternoon we had a pleasant bit of crabbing and fishing. We tied up at our floating dock in the lagoon leading out to Rehoboth Bay without incident at about 7:30 p.m.

Tonight we returned to the boat to go back out to the Bay and pick up the crab pots.

This time, however, things weren't normal.

Several thousand dead fish were floating in the lagoon, swirling around at high tide. They appeared to be shiners, juvenile menhaden about 3 inches long.

I talked to a DNREC official I know, and they'll be investigating.

A cursory look on the Internet points to a similar incident a few years ago, when a half-million juvenile menhaden died in nearby Arnell Creek. Low oxygen levels appeared to be the primary culprit for that massive kill.

I'll update this post when I learn more about it.

Right now, I'd say only the crabs will be enjoying this.

August 9, 2004
Not exactly Happy Anniversary

On August 9, 1974 I worked my usual 9-10 hour day cutting grass, hauling trash, and otherwise trying to keep Brandywine Creek State Park somewhat presentable, at a sparkling $2.40 per hour.

That evening I drove over to a friend's house, just in time to watch President Nixon give his now-famous resignation speech.

We stayed for the entire address, while not resisting the urge to hoot at some of the more maudlin, Nixonian patches of oratory sprinkled throughout. I think my favorite passage was this one:

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.

Unlike some aspects of my young adult days, my attitude about this part of our history hasn't changed much since that time.

Nixon simply had to go.

On the other hand, in retrospect I'm not quite so gleeful about it.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969


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© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2004