File under "Drastic Overreactions": The president of Turkmenistan has sacked 30 employees of a TV news station because of one cockroach.
According to Britain's Guardian newspaper, as viewers were watching a 9 pm broadcast of the popular news show "Vatan" on state-run TV last week, a large brown cockroach appeared and strolled calmly across the anchor desk.
"The cockroach managed to complete a whole lap of the desk, apparently undetected, before disappearing," The Guardian reported. "The program, complete with cockroach, was repeated at 11 pm that night."
When Turkmenistan President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov found out about the cockroach caper the next morning, he went completely ape and ordered the firing of 30 employees, including reporters, directors, camera operators and technicians.
Since becoming president of the former Soviet republic in December 2006, Berdymukhamedov has built a reputation as a reformer who wants to modernize Turkmenistan and bring it into greater contact with the outside world. He's taken measures to boost tourism and opened Internet cafes in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat.
As for why he has such a powerful aversion to cockroaches, The Guardian could only speculate that it "may have something to do with his previous career as a dentist." No, we didn't get it either.
No Crock Like an Old Crock
File under "More Chutzpah Than Anybody Should Be Allowed to Have": General Motors executive Bob Lutz is standing by his statement that global warming is "a crock of shit."
The 75-year-old Lutz, GM's vice chairman in charge of new product development, made the "crock" remark to reporters in Texas a month ago and has been under fire from environmentalists on the Web ever since. Last Thursday, in a post on his own blog headlined "Talk About a Crock," he refused to retract the statement and said his critics were missing the point.
"What they should be doing in earnest is forming opinions, not about me but about GM and what this company is doing that is ... hugely beneficial to the causes they so enthusiastically claim to support," Lutz wrote. "My thoughts on what has or hasn't been the cause of climate change have nothing to do with the decisions I make to advance the cause of General Motors."
Crock or no crock, Lutz said GM is moving ahead with development of alternatives to conventional gasoline-fueled, internal combustion engine vehicles, including the plug-in Chevy Volt.
Lutz has rubbed environmentalists the wrong way before. In 2006, writing in opposition to higher fuel economy standards, Lutz wrote in a blog post that requiring automakers to sell smaller cars would be "like trying to address the obesity problem in this country by forcing clothing manufacturers to sell smaller, tighter sizes."
Back to the Books
The best part about winning is the whole not losing thing. At least that's the way Upfront was raised. But unless you're Tiger Woods, Roger Federer or that one guy who's really good at bowling, you can't win all time. And even those guys lose once in a while. And Upfront has done his fair share of losing. (Our youth sports teams pretty much wore out the consolation bracket)
So it was not unfamiliar territory when the Source team got bounced out of the Education Foundation's trivia bowl in the first round Saturday night at the Tower Theatre by the Bend Oil team. (Who knew that Eric Heiden was the first guy to win individual gold medals in a single Olympic Games.) And we're still kicking ourselves for forgetting that the late Heath Ledger named his daughter Matilda.
Thanks to organizer's effort to pit like businesses against each other when possible, we competed head to head with our cross town news rival. Working with strict orders from our publisher to vanquish the daily rag, we could only muster a tie with six questions answered correctly out of a possible 12. (Is 50 percent still an F?)
We promise that next year we'll study harder. Regardless we doubt that we could have topped the team from Cascade Middle School (sponsored by Advisory Services and Investments), which walked away with the title. (Upfront learned a long time ago never to trade trivia with middle school teachers - their lives are filled with it.)
Win, lose or tie, the Education Foundation put on a great event with an estimated $40,000 raised for local classrooms. Congratulations to all those who came out to support schools.
Festivals for the Rest of us...
Last week the Rothbury festival was announced for the 4th of July weekend on the shores of Lake Michigan. The new fest boasts a mind-bogglingly awesome lineup including Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, 311, Modest Mouse, Thievery Corporation, The Black Keys, and about 50 other bands you probably want to see, but what we found most interesting about the event was one particular rule for campers.
Within the list of "What Not To Bring" reads the following: "NO MORE than 3 cases of beer per person (in cans). Large amounts of alcohol will be confiscated."
Three cases of beer per person...yeah that makes sense - that's a case of beer per day, per person. Makes you wonder exactly what they mean by "large amounts of alcohol." Needless to say, upon hearing about Rothbury's lineup and kind (and likely un-enforced) beer policy, Source staffers immediately began scrambling for cheap airfare to Michigan and arranging for a U-Haul to carry our beverages.