Memorial Day 2004

Don’t Blame the Media

What this country stands for …

1. May 29, 2004 – Visiting an old friend

I visited an old friend over the weekend, and part of the catch-up activities was the old familiar “what do you think of [insert current event here]?”

There were no shouting matches, but there were some spirited discussions on “WMD” (Weapons of Mass destruction, still not found in Iraq), what kind of a man Don Rumsfeld is, and how much of courtroom proceedings witnesses ought really to be allowed to hear.

In fairness, my old friend thinks civil unions for gays and lesbians is a good idea. I was content to say I just want equal civil protections before the law, and I don’t give a rat what it’s called. But it is clearly important to him that it not be called “marriage” and we did not go there.
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Suitable for Framing

Suitable for Framing

As Jay Leno says so often, “Oh I know we’re WAY out of line, WAY out of line …”

But we received a mail solicitation the other day, from the Republican National Committee, for money. And we have no idea why. If this is how your campaign donation is being spent, the Republicans will lose in 2004. A free color glossy of Our Leader was included. It seemed such a shame to waste so fine a photo opportunity.

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Geheime Staatspolizei

How far is too far?

If you know enough German to recognize this title, you know where this is headed. And we certainly hope it isn’t.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1933Here is a theme people have been eying nervously for over 50 years: the omnipotent and unaccountable state, flanked by its unassailable secret police. It is easy to over-sell. We don’t advocate Chicken Little histrionics. But the twenty-first century Big Brother model sports not only omnipotence, but the electronic and digital wherewithal to become omniscient. Are we closer than ever before? Just how close to the edge are we?
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Rhetoric 001

Smoke and Mirrors: Protecting Yourself from Time-Honored Fallacies.

A rhetoric primer.

The Internet has brought a resurgence of instant and universal public dialog. No longer is it necessary (or even possible) to walk down to the town square or commons. No longer do families huddle around the household radio to hear the great scheduled debates. Today, one can walk from the dinner table to the PC keyboard and plunge instantly into crude or sophisticated debates over most any topic in the world.
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Pogo

Walt Kelly and Homeland Security

What would Walt Kelly have thought? Who would have thunk it?

We’re going to be posting a few “Pogo” political cartoon panels that Walt Kelly copyrighted in 1952 and 1953. We certainly have no intention of ripping off Kelly’s estate, or whomsoever may legally be trying to eke out a living reprinting his books.

click this image to view the scanned 1952 Pogo cartoon sequence. Our point is to assert that if Kelly were still alive, he would feel right at home in our brave new world of investigations, security screening, legalized snooping, and suspension of constitutional rights. Even his cartoon characters could be the same, and might not need facelifts to symbolize contemporary 21st century players. The bad guys even look the same!
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Corporate “Free Speech”

Do corporate First Amendment rights trump individual rights?

Pac Bell, on who really owns your personal data:

David Lazarus wrote an interesting column on Pacific Bell and consumer privacy in the Business section of today’s San Francisco Chronicle. In a nutshell, like so many other corporations, Pac Bell is arguing in court that any information they collect from us in their business dealings becomes their private property.

Never mind elective “opt-in” or “opt out” plans, which most of us ignore because we shouldn’t have to mail in denial of permission forms to each of thousands of corporations looking to make a fast buck reselling confidential information extracted from us for the privilege of, say, renting a telephone number.

Lazarus writes: Continue reading

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The Night The Martians Came

media self-discipline

“Oh my God, the whole tower just collapsed!”

Over the past two years we have spent an unusual amount of time listening to one of the local “all news, all the time” radio stations. We will catch news updates on current event, but, principally, we strain for traffic information affecting our own one-hour commute across the San Mateo Bridge.

Mainly, we try to be watchful for road debris, or a forest of red tail-lights representing a panic-stop situation ahead of us, or the errant signs of road-rage in any one of many stressed-out drivers obviously around us at all times.
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Quickly Noted

Quickly Noted: We added a page for short comments and observations. “Notes In Passing” (the goal was a paragraph or so) will be a single scrolling page of datelined notes, gratuitous observations and snipes, cudos, caveats, cheers and catcalls. Thursday, March 21, 2002

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Enough Already: John Walker

telling it like it is: Jacoby Armchairs John Walker

Following is commentary on a Boston Globe column by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. It was published December 13, 2001. Normally, we will only provide a link or quote excerpts from syndicated material. For archives, the Boston Globe wants $2.50 per article and you must open up an account to get the article. This effectively seals Globe commentary from public commentary after an arbitrary grace period, so the full text of the forwarded article is reproduced below my “Letter to a friend”.

Letter to a friend:

Interesting article. I will admit that none of the evidence I’ve seen so far leaves me any sympathy at all for either Walker or his parents. Between you and me, yes, you could probably see it coming (if you were there, which Jacoby was not), and thanks for sending it.

Jay Leno said it first: Continue reading

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Clock Radios For Troubled Times

“I’m so mad that I would write the Mayor a letter, if I could only write, if he could only read.” – Al Capp

We have one of those new clock radios that does almost everything.

It’s light, portable enough for travel, and it plays AM, FM and CD. For those who can figure out how to program it, it also offers built-in sound tracks for waterfalls, rain showers and a variety of natural sounds to sooth. The sound quality is good, and it’s reliable. It has a battery backup, which saves an hour of figuring out how to reset everything if the power goes out.

The function buttons are small and hard to read. Some of the programming function key sequences are diabolical. I keep the instructions in the nightstand drawer, folded upon to the page on “how to set the time”.
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