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April 2008

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Do you ever watch television and in the credits you see Special Guest Star and then the person’s name? Then after all they list all of the special guest stars they list the people that are Guest Starring. My question is, when you’re an actor, when do you go from being a “guest star” to a “special guest star?” Is there like a check list worked into the SAG contracts? “Once the actor has met these qualifications they move from Guest Starring to Special Guest Star. Do actors aspire to make this leap? Is there a pay increase with this change in title, and if so, is it a percentage, or how is that worked out? I get that the actors that are deemed special are usually more well-known, but I can’t help but wonder, who makes the decision on when you can make the switch. Who decides that you are now mainstream enough to be classified as special? One person may be more well know to some than others. In fact, I know I’ve seen television shows where the special guest stars weren’t all that famous, but had been around (Hollywood, the producers, directors, or writers of the show) long enough to be deemed special. It’s things like this that keep me up at night (not really).

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I would like to state that who ever designed the widget interface in WordPress 2.5 is a complete moron. A retarded monkey could have done better. Gone are the days where you just drag and drop widgets. Have more than one sidebar or widgetized area? No problem, just drag the widgets to the corresponding widgetized area. No, in 2.5, you have to select which sidebar you want to edit from a dropdown, then add the widgets to that sidebar. Then you have to click save and choose the next sidebar from the dropdown. Oh wait, you want to move something from sidebar 2 to sidebar 1? Ok, instead of dragging and dropping like you did before you have to go to sidebar 2, remove it, save, go to sidebar one, add it, save. What a pain in the ass. EDIT: Also, if you go to a theme that has less sidebars than your previous, the widgets mess up. It’ll display whatever widgets you have in sidebar 1 from the previous theme, but when you change it and hit save, it removes them all and puts widgets from sidebar 2, making you do the whole process over again.

For the past several months I’ve noticed I’ve had a regular visitor to my site that would hit random pages multiple times throughout the day. Yes, it was a bot. The bot was indexing my site. The IP resolved to a company called Searchme. I went to their site but it was just a plain page that gave a little information about the company. I naturally wondered what they had in store and if I should be worried. There was no search field on their site so I wondered if they were just harvesting my content and republishing it somewhere or if they were actually going to launch a search engine. That question was answered this morning thanks to h0bbel.

What Searchme has done is take results of your search term and present the webpage results in an Apple-like coverflow format. Not only that, but it highlights where on the page your search term comes up. It’s pretty nifty. I don’t know if I’ll continue to use it, it all depends on how relevant the results are to what I’m looking for, though I’d imagine being able to see the site before I go to it might help me determine the relevance before even clicking it. Check out my results here.

I received a flyer in my mailbox at school this morning for the University of Missouri’s online Master’s degree programs. One of the programs quickly grabbed my attention: Educational Technology. This is something I’ve really been interested in the past few years. I’m always looking at new tools that may be useful in the classroom, whether they be historical map overlays for Google Earth, timeline creators, or webquests. There are so many tools out there that would be great in the classroom. It motivates students in ways that standard lectures and worksheets can’t. So, after doing some research on MU’s site, I’ve decided this is definitely what I think my Master’s degree should be in. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to pay for it.

I haven’t made a history post in a while, so I thought I’d post another little known fact about St. Louis history.

On August 26, 1856 Benjamin Gratz Brown, a newspaper editor, future United States Senator, and future governor faced Thomas C. Reynolds, a United States district attorney and future lieutenant governor, on the field of honor. The duel was the outcome of several years of bitter political disagreements resulting from editorials published in the Missouri Democrat.

Brown strongly supported the emancipation of slaves and Reynolds sympathized with the slaveholders. The first planned duel was never fought because the near-sighted Reynolds could not agree to Brown’s choice of rifles at eighty paces.

A year passed, and tempers flared again. Brown accused Reynolds of not honoring the first challenge. Reynolds retaliated by “posting” Brown and publicly charging him with cowardice. Brown challenged and Reynolds accepted.

“But because dueling was now against the law in Missouri, the two men agreed to take boats to a small island in the Mississippi River, nicknamed “Bloody Island.” The two met in the morning and held their duel. But this was interesting in ways that we can’t understand in the 21st Century, it was truly an affair of honor,” said CEO of the Missouri Historical Society, Robert Archibald.

Brown was shot in the leg and limped for the rest of his life. Reynolds sustained no injuries.

Brown was elected to the United States Senate in 1863 and became Governor of Missouri in 1870. In 1872, he ran as the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket with Horace Greeley and lost to incumbent Ulysses S. Grant and Henry Wilson.

Reynolds was elected Lieutenant Governor of Missouri in 1860 and later served as second Confederate governor of Missouri.

Bloody Island continued to grow through the early 1800s and threatened to land-lock the levee and the harbor of St. Louis. So, the Army Corps of Engineers under Captain Robert E. Lee devised a system of dikes and dams that did away with the western channel and joined the Island to the Illinois shore. Throughout the nineteenth century, Bloody Island had been a popular rendezvous for duelists. The island appeared as dueling became popular in Missouri, and sank back into obscurity as pistols ceased to be an acceptable means of settling differences. (via KSDK)

Don’t you sometimes wish dueling was still legal? I could thing of a few people I’d like to challenge.