Sunday, March 26, 2006

The New Star

OK, here's your chance to let me have it -- hope you saw the new Star.

Questions: What do you like? Dislike? Favorite new feature? Least favorite new feature? Anything else?

I appreciate your feedback.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Religion run amok

I was surprised that this editorial in Thursday's Star didn't generate more discussion. Any comments?

Major early spring snow in mountains

Hard to believe, but if you are headed to the mountains this weekend, be prepared for a winter wonderland -- could be as much as a half foot of snow widespread, with even more on higher peaks.

It's not out of the realm of possibility that we see a few flurries mixed in with light rain showers even down in the piedmont.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Does this bother you?

I received this e-mail today. Approaching this from a journalist's viewpoint, anybody have a problem with this? I'll see if anybody comments, then give you my thoughts.

CHARLOTTE – March 17, 2006 – The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute will host the first in a series of ongoing seminars around the topic of "Reporting on Growth & Open Space," on May 23 at UNC Charlotte. The three-year program is funded through a $225,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and reflects the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to both journalism excellence and open space protection in the greater Charlotte region. The program is designed to assist reporters, editors and other media professionals in exploring ways to effectively report on open space and land use planning issues in the Charlotte region.

The May 23 seminar is titled "Environmental Journalism for the 21st Century: Out of the Woods, Into the Great Wide Open." As the first of a scheduled nine seminars to be held over the next three years, this first seminar will explore the growing importance of growth and open space-related news in both the nation’s and the region’s media. The keynote speaker is Stuart Leavenworth, associate editor of The Sacramento Bee, and a nationally-recognized environmental journalist. Leavenworth previously worked at the Raleigh News & Observer.
In recent years, open space and land use-related news has become increasingly important due to Charlotte’s rapid population growth. This growth, coupled with the Charlotte region’s ongoing pattern of low density development, has had a pronounced impact on the region’s physical landscape and quality of life. In particular, the rapid conversion of land into suburban-style subdivisions has contributed to traffic congestion, reduced air quality, diminished tree canopies, and school overcrowding. Many new government policies and grass-roots initiatives have emerged to preserve open space and to plan for better development. Local media need to report not only on these policies and initiatives, but also on the connection between land use and other public policy concerns, such as education, economic development and public health.

Through these seminars, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute will work with journalists to enhance their understanding of complex land use planning issues, including the legal and political framework within which open space and land use decisions are made. The Institute will draw upon the experiences of other journalists around the United States to identify effective and innovative approaches to reporting on open space and land use planning issues. As part of the Knight Foundation grant, the Institute is also conducting a regional survey of citizens to help journalists assess public opinion on open space and land use issues. The results of this survey will be presented at the second seminar to be held in late summer/early fall 2006.

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute has long served as an objective resource for reporters in the Charlotte region on land use issues, according to Jeff Michael, the Institute’s director. "Rarely does a month go by that we don’t get at least one call from a reporter in the region seeking clarification or a better understanding of a land use issue," Michael said. "The quality of any public policy debate, whether it concerns land use, education or economic incentives, is dependent upon having a well-informed public. Obviously, the press plays a critical role in educating the public about complex policy issues and their relevance to people’s daily lives. With the Knight Foundation’s generous support, we hope to assist the region’s media outlets as they strive to fulfill that role."

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan applied research and community outreach unit of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte that, among other things, conducts research and public education on regional land use planning issues. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Homeland security? Hardly

As this story from Reason Magazine details, the idea that the homeland security budget actually goes to homeland security is a joke.

THIS is what is wrong with the country right now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Now THIS is a cool site

Everybody is always posting about cool Web sites, but this one I found actually meets the definition.

It's called "" and it's a place where you can go make a prediction that is a minimum of two years away from being proven or disproven, and can then accept bets on whether you will be right or not.

Here's how it works:

One person has made the following prediction:
"By 2030, commercial passengers will routinely fly on pilotless planes."
If you think he's wrong, you can attempt to get him to bet (minimum of $200) against you.

Here's another prediction:
"By 2020, bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event."

And another:
"By the year 2020, the tickets to space travel - at the least to Moon, will be available over the counter."

So, my question to you is this: All betting aside, what is your long-term prediction for the future of the planet (or just right here at home)?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why the need for speed?

Regarding the Scott Darnell fiasco, I guess the question I'm hearing the most is: Why was there such a need for speed? Why not make one more effort to work things out? That is an especially pertinent quetsion given this big trip he was about to take at the invitation of the N.C. Sec. of Commerce which, theoretically, could have been a high-profile event for Cleveland County.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Scott Darnell

Well the shocking firing of the Chamber's VP for economic development, Scott Darnell, is certainly the talk of the town today. We are working on a story for Friday's paper on exactly what happened and why.

At the least, it appears that the Cleveland 20/20 program is encountering some rough seas.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Confessions of an American Idol junkie

Love the show. LOVE IT!

I love that I can watch it with my kids (although, it's a heckofa note that the dangerous part of letting kids watch the show is the COMMERICIALS, not the show itself!).

On the girls side, I must have been listening to a different Kelly Pickler performance than the judges. I thought she was very weak. I'd love for her to win, being an N.C. girl, but it ain't going to happen. The other blonde is terrible, too.

The only ones that can win on the girls side: The 2 16-year-olds, the large woman with one name and the one that went first last night and last on the first show.

Not as familiar yet with the guys, but clearly the gray-haired guy is fun. I'm not sold on Ace, but the short, bald-headed "rocker" is very strong.

The great thing about the show is that everybody has an opinion, so fire away!

Just plain nice

Every year for the last few years, everyone in The Star's newsroom who has won a North Carolina Press Association award has received a homemade card from the kind folks at the Life Enrichment Center.

As my wife would say, "That's the nicest thing!"

Those acts of kindness say so much about an organization.

Thanks to LEC for lifting our spirits!