Friday, March 30, 2012

998 A Death in Florida

998 A Death in Florida

What the hell is wrong with us, anyway?  How did we get to the 21st century and we’re still getting stories like the killing of Trayvon Martin.

First let’s clear up some stuff:  

1.  Martyrdom serves no purpose.  And young Trayvon’s trip to martyrdom  has been put under some clouds.  In an era when everyone is a victim, a real victim can get lost in the static and noise.   And Trayvon is a real victim.

2.  George Zimmerman, the low rent neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the boy, was not held, was not arrested, has -- so far -- not been charged because of a quirky law supposedly enacted to allow prospective mugging, carjacking, robbery, burglary, rape and murder victims to defend themselves.

3. The “Stand Your Ground” law allows deadly force in some circumstances instead of requiring you to run for cover.   But it does not prevent you from running for cover, and Zimmerman shot first and ran later.

4.  Zimmerman said Martin was “acting suspiciously.”  By doing what, walking while black?

Here are some of the other clouds confusing this case.  First the “who cares” variety:

1.  Zimmerman “cried for days” about the incident.  Who cares?

2. Martin was suspended from school because the pot gestapo found “traces” of marijuana (not actual marijuana) his backpack.  
2a. What 17 year old doesn’t do an occasional joint?
2b. Who cares?

Now for the legalistic and cultural clouds:

1.  Zimmerman called the cops and then disobeyed a direct order to stay back. Later he claimed he shot the kid in self defense.  Huh?

2.  Early reports say Zimmerman showed signs of injury and his back was wet in a way that made him appear to have been lying on the ground.  He had a head injury and a bleeding and possibly broken nose.  It sure didn’t seem so in this video courtesy ABC News.  (Sorry for the pre-video commercial.)

3.  Authorities performed a “tox screen” on Trayvon, looking for the presence of drugs and alcohol.  They found none.

4.  Authorities did not do a tox screen on Zimmerman so we’ll never know whether he was “on” something that day.

5.  Zimmerman’s lawyer paraded a black “friend” of the shooter to swear by all that’s holy that Georgie is not a racist.  And in truth he might not be.  But again, who pulled the trigger and for what reason?

6. Here come the civil rights profiteers, Jackson and Sharpton, to turn this horrid thing into a national incident.  Which it should be.  Maybe it would grow better in the sunlight of popular support and doesn’t need these guys to tell us what to think.

And there are questions:

1.  Who started the conflict.  The best answer is Trayvon Martin and he did that simply by being a young black man in a dark hoodie carrying a package of what turned out to be candy and juice, and then having the audacity to be on the grounds of a gated community where he had every right to be.

2.  Should Zimmerman have been arrested?  Probably.  But he should have been detained and tested, not just given a cursory interview by a police department that gets called on roughly three murders a year.

3. Where are the self described and so-called “pro lifers” in this mix? Does a murder count only when it concerns a fetus?  We see plenty of demonstrations for Martin, but not from these guys.  They formed a mob of screaming banshees when another Floridian died and the jury acquitted her mother of murder.  Is this loss of life different?

Readers of this post may be interested in an excellent story told by Dianne Thompson Stanciel linked here.

Shrapnel:

--Magic Johnson buys the Dodgers and radio WBLS, New York.  Not bad for a guy who only a few years ago thought he was dying of AIDS.  Let’s hope he can do better with both properties than the previous owners.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

997 The Hillbillification of America

997 The Hillbillification of America.

We are turning into hayseeds.  We worship at the Church of Wal-mart where we get our groceries and our costumes.  We vote hayseeds into high office (Carter, Clinton, Bush II,) and we choose from mostly among hayseeds for the next round of guys who will lead our slalom down the mountain and into the sea: Newt, Santorum, Paul.

Oxycontin, hillbilly heroin, is the modern drug of choice along with meth, most of it made at former moonshine sites.

To be clear:  there’s nothing wrong with living in the country if that’s what you choose.  But both public and private power want to make sure that IS what we choose.

We confuse “American Values” with “Hick Values.”  We replace thought and evaluation  with “common sense,” which is neither common nor sense, often enough.

All of this is kind of ironically funny, because of the claimed values have nothing to do with the values practiced.

Love they neighbor as thyself?  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?  Thou shalt not covet?  Rich men passing through the eyes of needles? Tolerance?  All the “blessed are(s)...” in the Sermon on the Mount?

What’s the difference between today’s Republican Party and Iraq’s Party of God?  What’s the difference between the sleazy corrupt Soviet Communist Party and its sleazy corrupt American politicians who don’t see the ties between religion and communism but preach the excesses of the former as the antidote to the excesses of the latter?

The powers of state and the powers of industry want all of us to wear bib overalls, hate science as they claim to hate the Satan they created, and most of all want us to live in widely scattered little places so we don’t band together for the common good.

All this in the name of “freedom.”  Freedom to do or be or from what?  

Make us stupider than we already are and we’ll do what we’re told and at the same time think we are making choices.  



Shrapnel (Bert Sugar edition):

--Bert Sugar died this week at age 75. Sugar was probably boxing’s greatest historian and always a great “get” for radio and TV interviews.  He edited or wrote about 80 books which people read, edited at least three different magazines at various times, and left us more well ordered words about sports and sports memorabilia than the next ten guys down the list.

--Sugar was right about most things, but not entirely right when he ranked the 100 greatest boxers of all time.  He correctly put Sugar (no relation) Ray Robinson as number one, but he put Muhammad Ali only at number seven.  And ranking Tyson on the list even as #100 was just plain wrong.

--The guy was not limited to sports.  He asked great questions.  One of his best:  “Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?”

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

996 The Sit Down

996 The Sit Down

The two of them used to meet four times a year, alternating at each others’ apartments. One time here, one time there.  As they got older and traveling got harder, they made it twice a year, which is how they do it now, only they meet on neutral territory in midtown.   Hard traveling.  


Schlomo Tzedaka the Last Bronx Jew and Augie Galiano the Last Flatbush Italian got together at Ronnybrook Milk Bar at 9th and 16th.  Usually, they pick somewhere on the D line because it’s convenient.

So here they are at Ronny’s for the spring sit down, where the real problems of the real world get solved by these two old coots from different cultures that aren’t all that different.

“We’re here because of Dr. Oz,” says Augie.  “Yeah,” ads ‘Mo.  “That guy wants us all to go green, so here we are at a (expletive deleted) milk bar. Got milk?  Got granola?  Got crunchy stuff you don’t know what it is dipped in goo you also don’t know what it is?”

Augie says “the guy Oz gives me the creeps.  Skinny guy.  Doesn’t know how to eat!  Runs around on stage.  Says he’s a big time professor at Columbia.”

‘Mo:  “I wonder if he runs around his classroom like he runs around on TV.  Plus when does he have time to teach, he’s so busy telling us what we should be doing that we’re not.”

Augie: “The ladies love him.  Exotic guy.  Turkish or something. Looks great in scrubs.  I gotta tape it for Fortunata if she’s not home to watch.  Personally, I don’t see it.  I don’t get it.”

‘Mo:  “You can’t get a decent hot dog and a cup of real coffee in this joint.  Let’s get out of here and find a cart.”

Augie: “Deal.  We can find our own ‘exotic.’  A dollar says the first cart we come to, it’s a skinny guy... speaks only Arabic.”

So the Spring Sit Down turns out to be a Spring Stand Up.

Augie wins the dollar.  “So who you voting for President this time?”

‘Mo:  “Gotta be that kid from Kenya with the funny name.  You?”

Aug:  “I wanted Bloomberg.  Get him the hell out of City Hall.  But I guess it’s going to be that Moslem guy, same as you.”

‘Mo:  “Think we could get Dr. Phil to run?”

Aug: “You mean Dr. Oz, right?”

‘Mo:  “Yeah.  Him, too.”


Shrapnel (Dick Cheney edition):

--Conservative activist Dick Cheney’s new heart wasn’t cheap, but fortunately as a retired member of congress he has pretty good health insurance.  Still, his friends are worried about his finances and will hold a contest and fundraiser.  The winner gets to go duck hunting with him.

--Previously, Cheney had one of those electric shock things installed, the gizmo that sends out an electric charge that re-starts your heart when it stops.  What happens, do you think, if a guy with one of those gets Tasered?  Don’t know... but it’s a nice thought.   

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

995 Efficiency

995 Efficiency

There’s nothing like a little immobility to make you more efficient.  What?  Yes.  Think about it.  You’ll realize you’re doing much less moving around but probably getting as much done.

If every step hurts, you’ll figure out how to take fewer steps.

Example:  Turning down the bed, a queen or a king, something that can take half a dozen trips around the mattress.  You have to fold back a comforter and then blankets and a sheet after removing the decorative pillows. (Aphorism: if you have decorative pillows on your bed you’re either married or gay.)  Instead of stacking the pillows in the corner or putting them on the chair -- that requires at least one unnecessary walk-around -- push them off the bed.  Fold down half the comforter.  Walk to the other side, turn down the rest of the comforter, then stack the pillows.  Saves you one trip.

Example: When checking out of the supermarket, put all the cold stuff in one bag and when you get home, plunk that bag down right in front of the refrigerator.

Example: finish the wash and put it all in the dryer.  Don’t bother sorting or hanging unless the hanging rack is close at hand.

Think of the discomfort you’ll avoid if you really think about your moment to moment movements over the course of a day.

This, of course, won’t help those of us who are habitual pacers.  But somehow, pacing the floor doesn’t provoke the same kind of nerve bending, Advil craving pain you get while having to walk a lot and accomplish something at the same time.  A mystery.


Shrapnel:
--Associated Press CEO Tom Curley is retiring next July and will be replaced by Gary Pruitt, now chief of the newspaper company McClatchy, publisher of the Miami Herald and other dailies, large and small.  While Curley first seemed a bad choice in bad times, he rode the horse reasonably well in retrospect, considering how important a post his is and how dependent the rest of the world of news is on it.  Pruitt has done some good journalism and reasonably good corporate stuff at McClatchy, one of the few publishers that still takes news seriously.

--Whitney Houston, high on coke, accidentally drowned in her bathtub?  That’s what they’re saying.  How long before the conspiracy theorists get hold of this and start talking about the evil cabal that filled the tub for her then filled her nostrils with nose candy?

--You have to hand it to the Cook Islands in the south Pacific for ingenuity, and not just because they’re a tourist magnet.  They issue a lot of gold coins which look like legal tender, but they use the New Zealand dollar for commerce.  The gold coins, commemorating anything and everything from Koalas to the Titanic are meant for and sold pretty much exclusively to collectors and somehow that seems inauthentic.  

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

994 Siri Exposed

994 Siri Exposed!

So you have one of those new iPhones with the built in talking woman you’ve taken as your personal assistant, Siri.  Well, there are things you should know about her.You think she’s this innocent thing who lives inside the telephone and is ready at all hours to do your bidding... to find your location on the map... to lead you to a gas station in walking distance... to remind you about tomorrow’s dentist appointment.  

And, yes, Siri does all that.  But Wessays™ Investigations has discovered the truth about her, and it’s not pretty.   Well, it IS pretty, but not in a g-rated sense.

Siri is a retired porn star.  And nude pictures have emerged!



click here for picture: Siri circa 2003. (Photo courtesy of Thatsmyebabe.com)



This of course shows an R rated picture.  She still has her top on.  But she shows a lot of leg.  So you get the idea.  

Siri started life as a poor little girl from a small town in Wisconsin and worked her way to the big city, Palo Alto, by waiting tables and practicing her second language, Monoto-speech.  And as anyone who has her trapped in an iPhone knows, that’s what she understands best.  A good Midwestern upbringing helps.  Of course, you have to train yourself so she can understand you, too.

One myth that circles around Siri is plain-not-true.  She is not related to the woman working inside the Garmin GPS.  But it is possible she’s related to the woman working inside the Verizon phone GPS.  We’ll let you know.

Siri is underpaid.  But not as badly underpaid as you think.  Some people believe because of her name, she’s from Sri Lanka or some other slave state where Apple makes its electronics... places where people are REALLY underpaid.  Siri is short for Sirinonomous.  But they have not as yet trained her to either say or recognize that name.   Tough on a poor farm girl from Wisconsin.  (Or was it Nebraska?)

Anyway, the porn career is beginning to haunt her and Apple may have to find a new girl.

Shrapnel:

--Here’s another annoying little “improvement” from Google... in the “docs” application.  The vertical cursor starts level with the line you’re typing and as you move down the page, it sinks lower and lower until the top touches only the bottom of the word.  You can’t turn this “feature” on or off, but they can... and do... at what seems like random times.

--Here’s another annoying little fact about Sears, the soon-to-be REIT/RIP.  Not only do they do not attract enough customers to make a decent buck, but they paid their CEO about $10 million including stock options.  That doesn’t include the private jet that takes him from his home in Philadelphia to his office in Hoffman Estates, near Chicago, for which the bill last year was about $800,000.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012
 

Monday, March 19, 2012

993 Bill Ahearn: Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished

993 Bill Ahearn: Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished  


This goes back to 1971, which is a long time ago by today’s standards.  This tall, lanky, pipe smoking guy, Bill Ahearn, is back from ‘Nam and he’s working what they called “The Early” at the Associated Press.   The early was AP-ese for overnight.  Everywhere in news, overnights gather both the very quiet and also the very rowdy types.  Kind of gets them out of the way of “regular” people.

Ahearn was -- and is -- the former.  Have a cup of coffee and a conversation with him and later you realize that he didn’t say much, even though you thought he did while the coffee was going on.  Gotta watch those quiet types.  

Long story short,  Bill rose through the ranks at the AP to become executive editor, the top news job and only one step below president/CEO.  When that job showed signs of opening up, most of us thought Bill was in like Flynn.  By then, he was a fixture of around 30 years service.

Instead, they canned him.  No reason given.  He said at the time and for years afterward he didn’t know why.  Quiet guys are like that.

So what’s a guy do who gets axed from the most important job at the most important news agency?  Goes to the competition.

When all this happened in 2003, Bloomberg News swooped in and hired him.  But there wasn’t really a job opening and they didn’t know what to do with him.  They made work.  After all, this was a star catch.  “We’ll figure out what to do with him later.”

Now, here it is 2012 and Bloomberg News fires Ahearn.  But this time we can at least make an educated guess about why.

Seems he was managing an investigative story that the headless chickens of the executive suite didn’t much care for.  The writer was a guy called Craig Copetas, previously from Rolling Stone magazine and the Wall Street Journal and another star catch for Bloomberg News.

Copetas was nosing around allegations of human rights abuses in Dubai.  Ahearn was handling the New York end as editor.  Evidently, the people running Bloomberg’s main business, the financial data and trading terminals, raised a red flag.  Those terminals are each good for up to around $1600 a month in rental fees and there are a quarter million in service, many of them off shore, many of those in Dubai.  Quite a revenue stream.  “Let’s not upset the customers” can be an operating phrase.  A person with knowledge of Bloomberg practices says the company would disagree with  this account. A spokeswoman for the company is quoted by journalism blogger Jim Romenesko as saying Bill “...has left the company.  We wish him well.”  That’s Corpspeak for “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.”

Those stubborn journalists on the news side of the company may have been “encouraged” to drop or change the story.  And they may have replied with some impolite variation of “no thank you.”

Thing about investigative journalists and wire service-trained editors is the fanciful belief that there really is a wall between the sales guys and the news guys.  There may be at traditional wire agencies.  Elsewhere, no way.  And when it’s a matter of income vs. outcome, there’s no contest.

Meantime, the news company that just had to have both of these guys suddenly realizes it can live without them.  And it can, but at a loss.  And the loss is ours.


Shrapnel:

--What goes around comes around. McDonald’s has apologized to the government of China for selling outdated chicken.  Take that, you lead-painting, pet food-poisoning commies.

(善有善報,惡有惡報。麥當勞中國政府道歉,賣老雞。拿去,鉛畫,寵物食品中毒黨員.)

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

992 The Sun Never Sets on the British Encyclopaedia

992 The Sun Never Sets on the British Encyclopaedia

Somebody call Susan Boyle.  We need to mark the end of an era that isn’t over until the fat lady sings.  Boyle isn’t exactly fat, but close.  The era of Encyclopaedia Britannica isn’t exactly over either, but close.  And since both Boyle and EB are the best the UK has to offer, it seems like a good idea.

Britannica is getting out of the printed book business and going internet-only.  What always seemed off key was the sleazy way they sold the book, which itself was the absolute standard of refinement and class.  Door-to-door commission-only sales representatives.  Screaming ads in lowlife magazines.  All that elegant scholarship, all that gorgeous printing and binding and all that carnival barker marketing.

The worst of Avon, Amway, Fuller Brush and the Electrolux man combined.  And it didn’t work.  They hardly sold any of those books.  And today, research isn’t done in books.  

Good News: Today, we have a completely democratic way of researching... anyone can find anything.   Bad news:  we have a completely democratic way of writing the material with little or no editorial supervision.  Do you trust Wikipedia?  The blogosphere?  

The Britannica is a dinosaur.  It belongs in a museum, along with the real dinosaurs.  But still, ending a print run of 244 years is hard to grasp.  And somehow, the website isn’t an adequate substitute for the same reason on-line dictionaries aren’t adequate substitutes for the printed version.

When you look up a word in the on-line dictionary or a subject in the on-line encyclopedia, you put something in a search box and poof! it appears.  When you use the printed version, you have to leaf through a lot of what we now might call extraneous stuff.  But the extraneous stuff was part of learning, too.  You’d stop at a word or at an item that caught your attention as you tried to locate what you were seeking.

Okay, so no one was buying the thing.  And, yeah, a book -- any book -- can become outdated even before it reaches the shelf.  So Britannica was a throwback to a slower and possibly less informed era.

We’ve seen this transition to the internet before:  US News & World Report doesn’t print.  Neither does the daily Christian Science Monitor.  Does that work for you?  Have you ever thought to go to those sites for anything?

Somebody, call Susan Boyle.

Shrapnel:

--Scientists are struggling to find a name for a newly discovered species of leopard frog apparently known to live only to New York City and its surrounding counties.  Our suggestion is “Great Kills,” because the frog was first seen on Staten Island, which gets no respect as a borough.  Or maybe “Meadowlands” because like the “New York” Giants, the frogs are there, too.

--Last week we sang the praises of American Idol contestant Jermaine Jones, and we stand by that endorsement, though he’s no longer on the show.  Seems the guy had trouble with the law which he didn’t report on his application to perform... so when the producers found out, they got rid of him.  That’s America’s loss, but probably a gain for the four counties in which there are warrants for his arrest because now they know where he is... and where he isn’t.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

991 Made In U.S.E.

991 Made in U.S.E.

The United States of Europe is a flop.  And since the United States of America is following its lead, what can we expect over here?

The states of the US united around principles.  The states of the EU are uniting around money and that doesn’t work.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.  The EU states seem also to be coalescing around one principle -- a wrong headed one, austerity.  While it’s true you can’t spend yourself out of debt, you also can’t belt-tighten your way to prosperity.

Iberia is in trouble.  Ireland (the austerity capital of western Europe) is in trouble.  Greece is that circle of water you see circling down the ...um... sink, to be polite about it.  They haven’t yet understood over there (or over here) that austerity doesn’t work.  Not when it produces a 20% unemployment rate.  

It’s nice to be able to cross “national” borders at will and with minimal paperwork.  But that’s the only advantage to the EU, and that’s only an advantage to business and tourism.  They don’t need a “European Union” to do that.

What they also don’t need is the fake currency, the Euro, which really is nothing but the Deutsche Mark wrapped in a coat of many colors.  Guys, you don’t make a country out of a continent by taking down border crossings, inventing a court no one listens to and printing monopoly money.

This is a time that should be (Deutsche) marked by spending, even if the borrowing rates are sky high.  Don’t worry about your grandchildren having to repay the debt.  If they don’t incur it, the grandchildren will have much more to worry about than debt service.  Like where to get a loaf of bread and how to pay for it -- or heating their live-in refrigerator boxes during those freezing USE winters.


Shrapnel:

--Larry King coming back to TV... sort of... with an internet-  only interview show.  Says he misses his daily grind, as do many viewers.  Wish CNN would take him back and get rid of the stuffy Brit twit who replaced him and who no one watches more than once... or should.

--Remember how Gingrich and others on the right kept saying Bush wasn’t responsible for the previous round of gasoline price increases?  They told us no President can control that kind of thing. These same people are now blaming Obama for the current gasoline price increases and we have them on tape saying both things.

--A belated piece of news that will interest fans of the late Chet Atkins:  We note with sadness the death of Paul Yandell, guitar session man, player with every big name in country music and designer of guitars for Gretsch.  Paul was Atkins’ right hand man for many years and carrier of his legacy with grace and warmth. Yandell (pronounced YAND ell) was 76.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

990 Semiannual Time Rant

990  Semiannual Time Rant

It’s daylight saving time, dummy.  Not daylight savingS time.  You’ll find this kind of post here twice a year, no matter when the Gods of Time inflict the clock change on us.  They keep changing it, and it’s hard to keep up with.

Especially when you have a million clocks as we time compulsives tend to.  

There are three kinds of time compulsives.  The most common is the perpetually punctual.  This is followed by the perpetually late, people who know when they have to be somewhere and no matter how carefully they plan, no matter how many watches and clocks they own and use, just can’t be on time.  The third is the perpetually early and most of those don’t need a clock at all.  Early is in their DNA.

The house is full of watches and clocks.  One evening is not enough time to set them all when we switch to or from daylight saving time.

This time, the only clock in the place that didn’t get reset was the one that’s supposed to set itself and didn’t.  It relies on a radio signal which comes in only through a window facing east.  This one has to be reset by putting it on a windowsill and that’s tough to remember.

Other self-setting clocks -- the phones, the computers -- rely on internal brains or cell towers.  Takes the sport out of this time of year.

There are a number of approaches to the resetting of the ones you have to reset yourself.  

The Scientific Approach:  Start at one end of the place or on the highest or lowest floor if you have several and work your way across, up or down.

There’s the Random Approach:  change each clock as you walk past in the course of ordinary walking around.

There’s the Really Random approach which will have you resetting clocks over the course of several days.

Going from standard to daylight is easier than the reverse, because every clock sets forward easily.  But some still need special attention.  Example:  a mechanical analog watch that also shows the date.  You can’t set these between 9pm and midnight on any given day because it will screw up the date mechanism.  So you have to be compulsively early with them, or compulsively late.

And some digital watches just don’t want to be set at all and send you through all kinds of hoops at time change time.  Even when you follow the directions which you now have to find on the internet because who keeps those microscopic instruction sheets that come with the watch and which are harder to refold than even an old fashioned road map.


Shrapnel:

--Bob Nardelli is falling up again.   After failing to win the chairmanship of General Electric, then putting Home Despot on the rocks and helping Cerberus Capital nearly destroy Chrysler, he’s leaving his post as CEO of another Cerberus subsidiary, “Freedom Group,” the huge manufacturer of guns.  You’d better hope this guy doesn’t get elected President of either this or any other important country.

--All this fuss over birth control pills raises an interesting question.  Why isn’t this stuff available over the counter like vitamins and headache remedies?  Oh, wait … it’s because that would eliminate many unnecessary doctor visits which help keep both MDs and pharmacists in a recurring stream of bucks while lovingly turning women dependent in an age of liberation.

--Gov. Cuomo proposes giving more money to municipalities this year in return for less this year as a way to soften financial crises in Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Utica, and the city.  So what'll happen next year? One way to solve this problem is to fire every deputy commissioner of anything and remove relatives and cronies of every official from the payrolls.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

989 American Idolatry Blinds the Ear

989  American Idolatry Blinds the Ear

This year’s “Idol” probably is the worst shriek- fest in all eleven of its seasons.  But from under this vocal toxic waste dump emerge two contestants with more talent than a human being can have a right to expect.

First is the huge voiced, huge bodied Jermaine Jones of New Jersey.  He’s 25 and they’re comparing him to Barry White and Luther Vandross when they should be comparing him to Paul Robeson and James Earl Jones.  When this guy sings on his porch, his bass-baritone rattles windows all the way to Delaware.

Jones got voted off the show, but through some quirk of rules, the “judges” brought him back.   And had they not, a good chunk of the Vast Television Audience would have cried “foul.”

The second major is Jessica Sanchez, the huge voiced, tiny-bodied Filipino-Mexican 16 year old from San Diego.  16?  Yeah.  And she knows how to use a song to tell a story.  Singing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” in much the same way as Whitney Houston’s huge hit cover version, she made you believe.

The rest of the contestants constitute a screaming slag heap.  If neither Jones nor Sanchez doesn’t win this competition, either the voters have the worst case of tin ear on record, or there’s something wrong about the way the votes are counted.

Of course, it’s “Idol” so screamers are always more welcome than talent.  And this year, they have their usual retinue of standard types:  The chubby blonde girl who couldn’t get a date to the prom, the thin black song-and-dance man channeling Sammy Davis Jr. (except you always understood the words Sammy was singing,) the Justin Bieber wannabe, the Motown aspirant who forgot everything about Detroit except the sound of a car horn, the third carbon copy of Reba McIntire (except you always understand what Reba is singing,) plus the token Hispanic and the token Asian neither of whom can sing and neither of whom will be around much longer.

After two hours of this -- even with Jermaine and Jessica -- your ears glaze over.

Shrapnel:

--The Bloomberg terminal now includes a “countdown clock” to time breaks taken by employees.  The company says it’s to “encourage punctuality.”  But you have to wonder if the information gathered is stored in a database somewhere for future use by supervisors to decide whether an employee is “punctual” enough to remain on the payroll.

--Sue Simmons is history at WNBC.  Good run, 1980-2012.  Comes from the Comcast school of fire the good help and use her annual $5 million salary to hire two dozen well paid 21 year olds who don’t know collectively what a Sue Simmons knows all by herself.

--Latest in “NYPD vs. Terrorists”: Cops are said to have kept files on businesses owned by second and third generation Muslims based on religion alone.  The AP reports some of the spied on “terrorists” are “American citizens whose families have been in this country for the better part of a century.”  And the FBI doesn’t like the NYPD snooping around off the reservation... jurisdictional conflicts, evidently.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

988 Now Who's the Roundheel?

988 Now Who’s the Roundheel?  

First, an apology to Rushbo the clown of radio fame.  And it’s offered freely and voluntarily and without pressure from employers (there are none,) sponsors (there are none) and affiliates who threaten to drop this blog (there are none.)

Sincere and heartfelt apologies for calling you a radio clown, considering calling you a recovering or recovered drug addict and thinking about making fun of your erectile dysfunctionality, the number of wives you’ve had over the years and your yo-yo like weight gain and loss.

You have set the tone for this by offering your sincere and heartfelt apologies to Sandra Fluke who tickled your funny bone to the point that you called her a slut, a prostitute and a round-heels because of her … um … position when she testified before an all male congressional panel gathering information with which to torpedo subsidized birth control.

What’s as troubling as the name calling and as doubt provoking your apology is the reaction of some of your major boot lickers, one of which will be the Republican Party’s candidate for President, unless someone qualified comes along.

The candidates’ responses show who’s in charge of the party, a bunch of political sluts, prostitutes and round heels.  They’ve left the republicans without a real leader.  Power abhors a vacuum, and yours is the hot air that fills it.  You are the real puppetmaster, a job usually reserved for people who actually work for a living.  Yes, even some Republicans work for a living, even if the end product is dangerous to life and health.

No one in supposed power read you out for the slut-prostitute thing.  They didn’t want to offend you because you’re going to elect the next President, as you did the present one by skewering the Republican party’s candidate in ‘08, hoping the democrat would win -- which he did -- and screw up, which he did.

“Not the choice of words I would have used...”  “An entertainer, don’t take him seriously.”  These are the thoughts of the party’s current sorry roster of candidates.  Not one of them stood up and howled as he should have.

Even the creepy Ron Paul, whose libertarian views should have clicked in with something like “keep Limbaugh out of our bedrooms” was relatively silent.  Newt?  No one understands anything he says, anyway.  That’s the smokescreen that makes him seem smart to dummies.  Santorum tried to shrug off what you said, and -- as usual -- bungled it.  Romney tried to weasel out of it.  No one wants to offend you, Rushbo, or get on your bad side.

And that’s dangerous, even for a bunch of political sluts, prostitutes and roundheels, which is what they are.


Shrapnel:

-- (STATE COLLEGE PA) -- It’s spring break time here in God’s Chosen Capital of Education.  That means the scenery is less attractive.  But it also means you can get a parking space downtown and a table at a restaurant without waiting.

-- (NEW YORK) -- Car wash workers are trying to organize a union, saying they make less than minimum wage and are cheated on overtime.  You can tell there’s something to their beefs when owners respond by saying they treat people well and pay them fairly.  And then, they won’t give their names.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

987 Your Virtual Miss Grundy

987  Your Virtual Miss Grundy


Miss Grundy was the featured teacher in the Archie comic strip.  She was a summary of the strict classroom martinet (or martinette) who made you toe the line.  Word is the Miss Grundys of the world have devolved a more touchy-feely-cutsie-fuzzy kind of teacher who reminds you kindly to toe the line in a way that will not stunt the growth of your self esteem.

But for those who revere the Good Old Days, there are internet programs that’ll do just fine, thank you.

Let’s start with that new web browser, Maxthon.  It’s fast, its slick.  It’s not ready for prime time.  But it IS ready to beat your knuckles with a ruler when you commit some typographical felony, like putting two spaces between sentences.

Originally, the two spaces served a purpose, but now they don’t.  In the days of manual typewriters it made clear that a sentence had ended and a new one started.  With the development of proportional spacing, there no longer was any doubt, so exit the two-space rule.  

Except those of us who have been writing since the advent of papyrus still want to put two spaces between a period and the start of the next sentence.  Maxthon will let you do that,  but not without putting the red-line of death (spelling error!) under the extra space and the first word of the new sentence.

These posts are written first on Google Docs.  Maxthon competes with Google Chrome in browserland.  Therefore the competitor’s product becomes an automatic spelling error.  The red line of death.  Docs also declines to allow contractions.  Hence, “couldn’t,” “wouldn’t” “ain’t,” and the like  are spelling errors unless you manually add them to your personal “dictionary.”

Once posted, the Wessay is copied to MS Word, which forbids punctuation in its file names.  A great many of these posts have -- or should have -- periods, commas, apostrophes, colons, even (shudder!) semi-colons (all used properly, by the way) in their titles.

Word’s grammar check is one of the worst virtual Miss Grundys of them all.  A frequent device used here is the sentence fragment.  The red line of death.  Fragments, real and imagined give Word grammo-plexy.  Oh, Wordgrundy is good for stuff like using a word twice in a row without meaning to, stuff you might miss when proofing.  It’s good for spotting dropped letters in a word.  But it is super persnickety when it comes to a host of other sins, especially the intentional bending of a rule.

Eliminating grammar check would be a hardship for the grammatically challenged.  But here’s a modest proposal:  Levels of strictness.  High for the writers of formal stuff, medium for most of us and low for the highly skilled.  (Yes, you can turn it off.  But that’s impractical.)

For writers of academic claptrap, things get even worse when you put your work through the computerized Miss Grundy of APA or MLA style, used by many colleges as writing standards.  Then, not only do you get notifications of your slovenliness, but detailed explanations of what you should do about it.

Academic writing really isn’t writing at all, it’s mechanics.  So having a mechanical computer program to keep you on the straight and narrow is good for your grade point average.  But sometimes these style machines go extremes.  Like when they completely outlaw the passive voice.  (Or when the passive voice is completely outlawed by them.) (So, there!)

Do you miss the real Miss Grundy?


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012
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