Akai Buranko

What is news?

thriving“The highest form of reporting is the ability to understand and fit together certain isolated and apparently unrelated trends before they become news. The public knows what news is after it becomes news. Only the accomplished and skilled reporter or editor knows what it is before it becomes news.” — A Handbook of Scripps Howard (1948)

Protected: Miscellanea

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:



The release of the Chilcot report made me wonder whether my long-ago rants about the Iraq war held up. This one,  published April 13, 2006 when I was editor of a fading alt-weekly, betrays an optimism that seems, regrettably, ridiculous 10 years later. 


art2469.1751.t1.0Last time I filled this space, it was in the edition of Illinois Times that appeared just before Christmas and Hanukkah. In that commentary I suggested that Congress should impeach President George W. Bush. I was angry that the president directed the National Security Agency to spy on U.S. citizens. That action fit a pattern of lawlessness, considering that Bush and his administration lied about Iraq, imprisoned people indefinitely without charges, and countenanced the use of torture.

My suggestion, of course, was impractical, counterproductive, and a tad ridiculous: Congress is led by members of the president’s party, and impeachment would leave us with Dick Cheney as the commander in chief. And nobody wants Cheney in charge.

But friends and readers who shared my viewpoint were gracious enough to overlook the fact I’m not always grounded in reality, though everybody appreciates a good rant now and then. Read more of this post

First uses

Apparent first use of certain words in English-language newspapers, based on a review of online archives. (Does not include variant spellings.)

“… some liberal minded judge permits a continuance and turns the criminal loose on the street to revictimize the victims.” Interview with Maj. Henry J. Wolff of the Indianapolis Police Department. [The National Road Traveler (Cambridge City, Ind.), May 3, 1972]

“And the problem we face now is how to operationalize the concept of Black Power.” Interview with activist H. Rap Brown. [Delaware County Daily Times, Aug. 8, 1967]

image“The United States went into a serious ballistic missile program only in 1961, with the decision to weaponize the Army’s JPL Corporal rocket and to develop the Redstone.” Associated Press interview with “leading American missile expert” Dr. Wernher von Braun. [Logansport Pharos-Tribune (and other newspapers), Nov. 10, 1957] Recent uses of ‘weaponized.’

“I believe that the struggle toward this ideal is itself an education for woman. In a sense it publicizes woman gradually.” [Indianapolis News, March 26, 1901] Read more of this post

‘Factious, flippant and reckless’

Frederick Law Olmsted  (Library of Congress)“Questions of the most momentous importance come up daily, and exact grave consideration from all. The experience of most persons will confirm the assertion that the manner in which the daily newspapers deal with these questions is most defective and unsatisfactory. Their false prophecies, their abandonment of all attempt to sift evidence — often unavoidable, it is true — their constant sacrifice of the truth to the demand for startling effects, the factious, flippant and reckless way in which many of them deal with the most serious topics, constantly remind their more intelligent readers that they are prepared to suit the requirements of the greatest number, but not by any means the best qualified, of those whose judgment goes to make up that force in human affairs called public opinion.” — “Prospectus for a Weekly Journal,” June 1863, from the collected works of Frederick Law Olmsted, a co-founder of The Nation.

We keep entering ‘a new and dangerous phase’

The week-long offensive to retake the ISIS stronghold (of Fallujah) has now entered a new and dangerous phase. [CBS News. May 30, 2016]  The Palestinian president today accused Israel of provoking a danger“religious war” … amid mounting concerns that their long-running conflict is entering a new and dangerous phase. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 11, 2014]  Declaring a victor before a negotiated settlement could mark a new, dangerous phase of the crisis surrounding the vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai. [The National Journal, September 11, 2014] The 48-page report released Tuesday is grim, Read more of this post

The armadillo in all of us

Weigh inIt may be small-brained and shortsighted, but the armadillo has managed to take over most of the Americas.

Only one armadillo showed up for this year’s “World Famous Armadillo Festival” in Hamburg, Ark., and it couldn’t have cared less.

After a ceremonial weigh-in and photo shoot with the reigning Teen Miss Armadillo (a local high school beauty), the creature was released in the designated “racetrack” — a makeshift chicken wire enclosure — where it immediately began to nose around for bugs and grubs. Read more of this post

Jinx Rag


1911 clip“Dedicated to the famous cartoonist Jean Knott.”

Knott (1883-1937) worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he drew the popular “Penny Ante” strip and other cartoons. In 1916, he joined the Hearst syndicate.

Recent accounts say Lucian Porter Gibson of St. Louis (1890-1959) wrote “Jinx Rag” in 1915.  But a clip from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, published on Oct. 8, 1911, says Gibson and Jesse Dukes “jointly composed” the song. Little is known about either man. Copies of the score includes the instruction: “Not Fast. Don’t Fake


Spring Pests_edited-2 (2)