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October 30th, 2002:

The secret is revealed!

Dwight Meredith points me to this startling revelation about the DC snipers from NewsMax:

On Wednesday night, shortly before the capture of Muhammad and Malvo, Chief Moose acquiesced to the sniper’s demand and read publicly a statement:

“You asked us to say, ‘We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose,’ ” Moose said, swallowing hard. “We understand that hearing us say this is important to you.” …

A caller to Ed Martin’s talk radio program on WGY in Albany, N.Y., says if you take the first letter of each word in the phrase “like a duck in a noose.” and exclude the last ‘a’, the acronym spells “L-A-D-I-N.” Now, that’s not exactly the way bin Laden’s family name is commonly spelled, but Muhammad and Malvo apparently never won a spelling bee.

You just can’t argue with logic like that. I prefer to mock it, myself, so I’ll present you with this bit of relevant dialog from M*A*S*H:

Frank: (Nervously) “Huhuhuh….”
Flagg: (Takes magazine) “This won’t look good on your record.”
Frank: “But sir, it’s only Reader’s Digest, I..”
Flagg: “Not when you eliminate the third, fifth, and sixth letters. Then it’s Red’s Digest, comrade.”


New home for The Poor Man

Andrew Northrup has moved to his own domain and Movable Type. Drop in, say Howdy, and update your blogrolls.

Go get ’em, Ann

Ann Richards is in Austin campaigning for the Democratic ticket. The story contains some interesting tidbits about polls and female voters:

In November 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, 3.3 million men and 3.7 million women voted in Texas.


In a poll conducted for the Dallas Morning News two weeks ago by Blum & Weprin Associates, Cornyn had 45 percent of the female vote to 39 percent for Kirk, while Sanchez had just 33 percent of the women’s vote to 51 percent for Perry.

The poll showed Cornyn and Perry with double-digit leads overall. The margin of error was plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

Ben Tulchin of California-based Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates said his polling for the Democrats shows the race much closer, including among women. Democrats contend Republicans are overrepresented in that poll.

Tulchin said 10 percent to 15 percent of voters are undecided, and 60 percent of those are women.

Generically, Tulchin said, women identify themselves 40 percent as Democratic, 34 percent Republican and 20 percent independent, but their support depends on the candidate.

Perry pollster Mike Baselice’s figures are a bit different; he also noted they can change with individual races.

He said surveys he conducted this spring and summer show male voters identify 52 percent Republican to 34 percent Democratic, while the female split is 44 percent Democratic to 43 percent Republican.

For all the caterwauling I’ve done about minority voters, if women don’t push the button for the Democrats they’re doomed. I don’t believe that DMN poll any more now than I did before, but we’d better keep our eyes on this particular ball. Both parties are doing their usual stuff, but since the story line this year is Dream Team vs. Team Bush, it’s mostly been below radar.

UPDATE: To be clear, in the above paragraph I’m saying that the Democrats are doomed unless a majority of women vote for them. Sorry for any confusion.

The wreck of La Belle

I attended a lecture last night at the Houston Museum of Natural Science with Tiffany and her parents that was about the excavation of the ship La Belle, which wrecked in 1686 in Matagorda Bay. It was a part of the four-ship fleet that French explorer La Salle brought to the New World to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Unfortunately for La Salle, he missed the delta by 400 miles. He went ahead and got his colonists ensconsed in Fort St. Louis, then tried to hike (!) to Quebec for assistance from other French forts. (Amazingly, one of his men made it all the way there; his journal, which tells the story, survives to this day.)

The lecture and slide show by Dr. Jim Bruseth was outstanding. Here are some pictures from the excavation. The ship basically ran aground in shallow water without breaking up, so its artifacts were all in one place. The water is very murky, so diving was not a good option. Instead, a “cofferdam” was built around it. It’s basically a dry oasis in the bay – they enclosed an area and pumped the water out. Cost a bunch of money, but the payoff was fantastic.

I knew who La Salle was, but I knew nothing about La Belle or Fort St. Louis. If you ever get a chance to see Dr. Bruseth give this presentation, it’s definitely worth it.

Doing homework

Alex Whitlock compares the policy statements on Rick Perry and Tony Sanchez’s web pages. Check it out, he’s done some good work.

Suspense list snafu

Apparently, the “poll books”, which list all 1.9 million registered voters in Harris County, are missing those who have moved and not updated their addresses. This is an issue because you’re allowed to vote at your old polling place for up to four years.

Suspense list voters are supposed to be marked so poll workers can identify them and update their addresses.

But because the 319,000 suspense voters are not noted, poll workers will have to refer to new lists being printed this week by the county tax assessor-collector’s office, which also serves as voter registrar.

That extra step could lead to longer lines at the polls just as the county kicks off its new $25 million eSlate electronic voting system.

An electronic voting machine the size of a legal pad, eSlate has been used only for early voting since the county bought the system last year. Some officials, such as Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Sue Schechter, are concerned the system could confuse voters and lead to delays at the polls.

Some fear the problem with the poll books, which were prepared by a private company hired by the county, could exacerbate those problems.

“It’s an unneeded complication,” said Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt. “Anytime you have a complication in procedures, you’re going to increase the likelihood of a problem.”

This is probably not that big a deal. I never did update my address after I moved in April, and all I had to do when I voted early was tell the poll worker my new address and sign a form.

Doesn’t mean I don’t find this story annoying, though:

Votec Corp., a San Diego company paid $70,000 a year by the county, was supposed to ensure the information in the poll books was accurate. Although Votec was given accurate information, [County Clerk Beverley] Kaufman said neither the company nor her office caught the error until after the books were printed. She said they were more concerned with ensuring that all voters were listed and that the books were broken down properly for each precinct.

“We’re certain (Votec) has learned its lesson, and we know we’ve learned ours,” she said.

Kaufman said there was not enough time or money to print up new poll books after the error was discovered. That’s why officials decided to have Bettencourt’s office generate a new list.

Bill Bilyeu, president of Votec, said the problem will not be repeated because his company will work directly with Bettencourt’s office to maintain the voter roll.

“Learned its lesson”? What’d you do, make them sit in a corner and write “I will not forget the suspense list” a hundred times? Sheesh.

Trick or treat

Tim Dunlop has been enjoying his first Halloween season, as has his six-year-old son Noah, who’s quite excited about trick-or-treating. Dunlop and his family live in the DC area, which led to this observation:

You want to know another reason the region is sighing with relief that the snipers have been caught – Halloween is it. No-one I know was particularly thrilled at the prospect of their kids wandering around in the dark with those two murderers still out there.

You’ve all heard the legends about poisoned candy and razor blades in apples, almost all of which are pure bunk. Unfortunately, they still tend to ruin an otherwise perfect holiday for kids. Tiffany tells me that trick-or-treating essentially stopped in Houston for several years after Ronald Clark O’Bryan murdered his son by spiking some of his Halloween loot with cynanide in 1974. Didn’t matter that it was one sick bastard who deliberately targeted his son in order to collect life insurance money, the fact that it happened was enough to scare people into keeping their kids at home on Halloween.

So I’m glad to see that people are looking forward to Halloween, as they should be. Our neighborhood makes a big deal out of it every year – the folks across the street have more decorations up than some houses have for Christmas. We get so inundated with trick-or-treaters that I always feel compelled to give a heads-up to new arrivals. It’s pure chaos, and it’s a lot of fun.