Your Virtual Front Page, April 6, 2018 — Beach Edition


Sorry I haven’t had a chance to blog. We’ve brought four of our grandchildren down to the beach for a couple of days, since they’re on spring break from school. That keeps you busy.

This will be an actual news-free post. Although maybe someone will take an interest in one of the things that have interested me the last couple of days…

I saw a whale from the beach for the first time ever! — This was pretty exciting, and totally unexpected, even though I’d read about sightings in the area. I’ve been coming to Surfside Beach for six decades, and I’ve never seen a whale out in the water before. Yesterday, we had taken the kids out onto the still-busted Surfside Pier (you can go out about halfway), and just as we got to the barrier that marked our limit, my wife said “Look at that black shape moving through the water!” It looked like it was just a foot or so beneath the surface, and it was moving at an amazing speed. It streaked past the end of the pier, maybe 100 feet away, and headed parallel to the beach toward Garden City. It looked to be about the size of a school bus. Within 10 or 15 seconds it was out of sight. Absolutely amazing.

Have you watched “Detectorists” on Netflix? It’s great — We watched both seasons recently, and it was fun. The comedy, about some Brits who are really, really into metal detecting, is written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, the guy who played Gareth Keenan on The Office. He costars with Toby Jones. In some ways it’s vaguely like “The Office” (we’re talking the original, not the American copy), only kinder and gentler and easier to watch. The humor is low-key and not as cruel — you don’t have to watch the over-the-top, painful humiliation of a David Brent. Anyway, yesterday on the beach we ran into a trio of kids who were real-life detectorists, searching the sand. At the very moment we met them, my grandson, 5, announced he’d just dropped his Lucky Penny. The detectorists pitched in and tried to help, but to no avail. Still, they were nice kids and we appreciated the effort.

Debris on the lawn.

Debris on the lawn.

Who even uses phone books anymore? — Later in the day, we were walking back toward the house when my wife remarked how something, perhaps a carelessly manned garbage truck, had strewn debris all down the street. Then, she noticed it was white plastic bags, and she supposed they were those freebie newspapers everyone throws away. Both guesses were wrong — they were phone books. Yellow-page-style phone books that probably no one on the street had asked for, and probably no one had ever used. But someone had convinced people to advertise in it, which is what such publications are about. Would it pay off for any of the advertisers? Seems doubtful. Who uses phone books?

Meanwhile, perfectly good books get thrown away — This was also yesterday. We were playing around on the public tennis courts when a lady from the Surfside library came wheeling out a loaded book cart, took them straight to a recycling bin, and threw them all away! After a moment, I went over to see what I could scavenge. By the time I got there, a lady who lived across the street had beaten me to it. This was a routine for her — she said they throw away books every week. Most, but not all, were books about writing — how to write a novel and such. I grabbed the two you see below. I thought my mom would enjoy having a manual to help her get the most out of her iPad. I couldn’t resist the title of the other one: As someone who has never been tempted to become a runner, it entertained me on a couple of levels. (No offense, if you own this volume…)


33 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page, April 6, 2018 — Beach Edition

  1. JesseS

    Last night a friend and I were chatting about his childhood in Surfside and he mentioned that he had only seen a whale there once, well in his case a mother and a calf. Well the only time he saw a live one, after that it was one that beached. Said he never smell something so bad.

    Need to get back down there some time, myself. Get a drink at Neal & Pam’s and listen to the surf.

  2. Doug Ross

    Agree on The Detectorists. Waiting impatiently for season 3 to show up on Netflix. Beautifully filmed, too.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, it is. I like the theme music, too.

      When we first saw the kids with the detector from a distance, I said to my wife, “Is that Simon and Garfunkel?”…

  3. Rose

    Genealogists and historical researchers use phone books, which is why archives and special collections library still collect them. They provide a snap shot of where people lived and businesses were located that you don’t get with the ever changing web.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Except that they don’t any more.

      My parents did away with their landline at their beach house several years ago. And if THEY did that, practically everybody must be doing it.

      By the way, I just ASSUMED those were yellow-page-only-style phone books. As I was walking out the door Sunday to come home, I picked up that plastic bag (I had brought it in in case my parents wanted it), thinking it was something packed to go into the car, and noticed something — there were white pages, too!

      Yet they were dropping them off at houses that didn’t have landline service. That’s either because the company has assured the advertisers that EVERY household will get one, or because my parents still get their internet service from the phone company. I need to ask and check…

      1. Norm Ivey

        That’s the promise they make, or did make. I delivered phone books way back in the 80s once. After you return from your delivery, they call 4 or 5 numbers to make sure you really delivered them. It was a miserable way to earn a few bucks. I did half the route and rather than pick up the remainder of the books, I just called and them how far I got. Whoever finished the route got credit for the books I delivered. I was happier with no pay for what I did than full pay for having to continue it.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Reminds me of a “product” the newspaper used to offer, called “TMC,” or Total Market Coverage. Basically, it involved throwing the paper, or an ad insert, onto everybody’s driveway, whether they were subscribers or not. I suspect the nonsubscribers found this hugely irritating.

          To publishers, phone books were competitors. We print journalists thought of our competition as being other newspapers, and to a somewhat lesser extent broadcast media. But to a publisher, a competitor was anybody selling advertising.

          The thing is, over the past generation (with the trend starting with direct mail, before the Web was a thing), businesses have changed the way they market themselves. They’re no longer as interested in entire local markets. They’re more about reaching out to individual customers…

          1. Norm Ivey

            “I suspect the nonsubscribers found this hugely irritating.”
            We do.

            “They’re more about reaching out to individual customers…”
            Speaking of which, I’m not seeing Google ads on your pages recently. I just see the one in the upper right for ATT where you sometimes have a political add or one of the credit unions.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Really? I wonder why that is… I’m still seeing the Google ads at my end.

              Anyone else not seeing the Google ads?

              I only have two direct advertisers at the moment, both long-time customers — Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union and AT&T. I hope they’ll be joined by some campaign ads soon. But that won’t happen unless I get off my duff and reach out to some candidates, which I HATE doing…

              Anything else you see is a Google ad.

          2. clark surratt

            Brad, these free shoppers (ads only) are still thrown in peoples’ driveways or in the roads in our neighborhood. To me it is pure littering, throwing unsolicited paper out of a car window. Police say newspapers not bound by litter laws. The State, of course, don’t give a damn that non-subscribers are irritated. Not too much about the paper annoys me. This does, a lot.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Ancestry gives me a lot of “hints” about people that are actually only city-directory (those things, which used to be very valuable to journalists, that served as a kind of “reverse lookup” via phone numbers and addresses) listings.

      I find those to be of limited value. First, they don’t give enough data to be sure it’s the same person. Then, it doesn’t offer me a lot of knowledge about a person to have a record that he or she lived in a certain city in a certain year. Although put together with some other datum, it could at some point prove useful…

  4. Doug Ross

    Several millionaires running for Governor. James Smith is the only candidate who did not turn over a copy of his tax return.

    “Republican attorney Catherine Templeton of Mount Pleasant and her husband, Morgan, averaged nearly $1.1 million in 2014 and 2015. Democrat antitrust attorney Marguerite Willis of Florence earned $1.7 million in 2015 and $1.4 million in 2016. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife, Peggy, made nearly $433,000 a year on average from 2014 to 2016. GOP Greenville businessman John Warren earned an average of nearly $480,000 for the same period.”

    Interesting that the two highest paid individuals are women. We’ve come a long way, baby!

  5. Doug Ross

    This is good news. I know Sherri Lydon though church (taught her son in Sunday School). This has to be considered a good move by Trump (the misogynist, remember).

    Trump nominates Columbia lawyer Lydon to be SC’s first female US attorney
    Sherri Lydon, a Columbia criminal defense attorney and former state and federal prosecutor, has been nominated to become U.S. attorney for South Carolina by President Donald Trump.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          The headline says Trump named her “to be SC’s first female US attorney.”

          Whom did he nominate to be our regular U.S. attorney?

          As I’ve mentioned before, Malcolm X was sick and tired of demographic “first” stories in the 1940s. That was 10 years before I was born, and I’m still reading them in my 60s.

          One of these days, society will decide, “OK, we’re past getting excited about Identity Politics.” But will I live to see it? Probably not….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            As long as I’m being a curmudgeon and finding fault in every direction…

            Did you watch the video with that story? I did, just because I never do, and I was curious….

            The video is just under a minute long. It contains no actual video — it’s a series of still photos with superimposed text.

            In that minute, you read about six sentences of information, a fraction of what is provided in the regular text story it accompanies. Only it takes longer than it does to obtain that same information from the story.

            Yeah, I know — people who still have jobs working for newspapers have to come up with multimedia to go with their stories. It improves their numbers. And mind you, I’m not one of these word people who hates images. I love a good photo or video or sound clip, and one of the reasons I started blogging 13 years ago was that the form allowed me to add such things.

            Also, this provided an opportunity to sell a video ad, which is nothing to sneeze at if you’re in the news biz these days.

            But it added nothing — nada, zip, zero — to what I learned from the story. Except, of course, for underlining that she’s a young-looking 56.

            Here’s the cherry on top: That 58-second video that adds nothing to our knowledge has credits at the end

  6. Doug Ross

    Your fascination with age somehow equaling capability is disappointing. I imagine when you’re 75, you’ll be claiming that 55 year olds are too wet behind the ears. At least for me, I was probably at my best as a programmer from ages 25-35…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      So you haven’t learned anything since then?

      I don’t have a “fascination with age.” I’m just a practical person who believes that more experience is better than no experience.

      It’s too bad we can’t all combine the energy and quickness of youth with the wisdom of experience. I suppose the people who accomplish the most in the world are those who CAN do that to some degree — ones who have an unusual, intuitive wisdom in their youth, or are blessed with unusual energy and quickness when they’re older…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I had me a senior moment the other day — or several of them.

        It was when we were at the beach. I had noticed we were low on coffee, but when I was getting ready to go to Walmart to get some groceries, I neglected to put that on the list that I had created in the Notes app on my phone.

        Then, as I was turning into the parking lot, I remembered — and told myself to add it to the list as soon as I parked. When I had parked, about 30 seconds later, I thought, “Time to add that thing to my list!” But I couldn’t remember what “that thing” was. I sat there a moment. It didn’t come to me. So I decided it would come to me while in the store — either I would see it and remember, or I would see something else that reminded me.

        Eventually, I had everything on my list in the cart, and hadn’t remembered it yet. I went up and down a couple aisles to give it time, but it didn’t come to me.

        So I decided that maybe it wasn’t in the grocery area. So I set off to explore other parts of the store. And then, when I was passing through the men’s clothing department, it hit me: Coffee!

        So I turned and raced back to the grocery area, and… I had forgotten it again.

        I am not making this up.

        I stood there and started looking wildly around me, and then, just a second before I saw coffee on a shelf about 20 feet away, it came to me: Coffee! I kept my eyes on that shelf while I wheeled the cart over to it.

        I’m still not entirely sure I remembered. Maybe my peripheral vision caught sight of the coffee before I was conscious of seeing it. Whatever. I got the coffee, and headed home in triumph…

        I called this a “senior moment,” but that’s not entirely accurate. I’m pretty sure I did this kind of stuff when I was young. I just didn’t admit it back then…

        1. Norm Ivey

          Are you certain it was coffee you were trying to remember? Maybe it was something else entirely, and your mind seized on coffee as a substitute.

      2. Doug Ross

        I’ve learned plenty.. because I’ve had to reinvent myself every 10-12 years with technology.. But I deal with plenty of people half my age who demonstrate a level of intelligence, aptitude, and clear thinking that exceeds that of plenty of people my age or older. My biggest problem is dealing with people over age 55 who are either too set in their ways (“this is how I always have done it”) or too focused on their retirement (“why would I want to do something new?”) or have years of experience in one very narrow subject that they are useless when asked to do something else.

        Give me intelligence and attitude over experience any day.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I don’t understand people like that. These people, I mean:

          …who are either too set in their ways (“this is how I always have done it”) or too focused on their retirement (“why would I want to do something new?”)

          In my work life, I’ve always been eager to charge ahead of everybody else on the newest technology.

          Of course, look where THAT got me. 13 years ago, the cool new thing was blogging. And I’m still doing it, years and years after I stopped getting paid for it.

          Twitter was worse. It’s like a drug for me….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s an interesting idea. Of course, some roads already have a much lighter finish. I wonder if that would achieve the same thing much more cheaply…

  7. Doug Ross

    We have a frontrunner for the dumbest editorial of the year from Cindi Ross-Scoppe — -who blames all of US for Dan Johnson’s excessive spending

    Headline: “Why wasn’t anyone supervising Dan Johnson? Good question. Why WEREN’T you?”

    “That’s where we the voters come in. It’s our job to provide that judgment, to let an elected official know he’s getting close to a line and then, if he stumbles across the line, to allow him to find a new line of work.”

    Really? I didn’t know we had access to Mr. Johnson’s expense reports — until Dick Harpootlian made the effort to get them…

    If you, Cindi, REALLY want me to hold elected officials accountable, then why don’t you write an editorial pushing for complete access to all expense reports of all public employees? If we get that, I promise I will look at the data every week.

    Also, it is very interesting to read this comment to the editorial:

    “Rebecca Deen Shea · Works at Stay-at-home parent
    Ms. Scoppe, How dare you. To borrow from your last paragraph, you ARE one of the ones who makes it “easier for some of our charges to get away with things they shouldn’t.” I have a paper trail showing the number of times I begged you and your colleagues to please expose Dan Johnson. You could have made the public aware of the corruption endemic to that office over two years ago, but you refused to do so. Remember that you said that you “editorialize” the news vs. reporting the news. If you need a reminder, I’ll be glad to post the e-mail. The truth is that “The State” consciously chose to shield Dan Johnson until “The Post and Courier” forced the issue by first publicizing these findings. “The State” is still protecting other local politicians and will continue to, until once again, an unbiased source forces the issue. Get a conscience.”

    Wow… now, will Cindi respond to this charge? I am 60% sure she probably doesn’t read the comments and I’m 95% sure she is not interested in engaging with actual readers in a public forum.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, do you have ANY idea how much work Cindi does in a day? This is a woman who works long hours doing as much of the work that nine people used to do as possible (obviously, she can’t do all we used to do, but she does as much of it as one super-smart, driven, dedicated person could ever be expected to do). Then she goes home, and spends her evenings and weekends reading bills, reports and other excruciatingly complex, boring documents so that she can provide you with the best-informed, most insightful commentary you can find in South Carolina.

      So no, I would not expect her to spend time reading the comments on the content she just barely has time to create and post.

      Oh, and if you ever find yourself typing “dumbest” and “Cindi Scoppe” in the same sentence, you should pause, think a moment, and realize that you are almost certainly mistaken in that judgment…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and it wasn’t an editorial. It was a column.

      Finally, I just read it, and saw nothing wrong with it. In fact, I saw a lot right with it.

      You do understand the point of it, right? The point is that solicitor is one of many positions that should not be elected. Because the fact that it’s elected means there is NO check, other than the voters, on what legal use the official makes of the funds at his disposal. And, as she clearly says, it “is not reasonable is expecting the voters to provide the oversight for such a long list of elected officials.”

      Oh, and if we don’t have access to official’s spending reports, that WOULD be a good idea for an editorial. Or a column. But I think we do. Which was why Dick could get it by filing an FOI request. If I find out otherwise, I’ll correct that….

      1. Doug Ross

        It shouldn’t take filing a FOI request to have access, Make them all available – it’s public funds being spent so we all have the right to see it. I’ll even host a website to let people search the data. It’s not hard to do.

        So no response to the commenter who claims to have sent her and other The State reporters information about the spending two years ago?

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