Thursday, October 31, 2002

A Hallowe'en Story
Trust the lovely Dawn Olsen to come up with a heartwarming Hallowe'en story. Well, at least it warmed mine.

(Aaugh! Even has replaced its logo with a pumpkin carving! Aaugh!)

Monday, October 28, 2002

Sniper subculture?
The "Violence Policy Center" thinks there's a sniper subculture? Encouraged and fueled by manufacturers of "military-style weapons"?

I think that depends on how you define subculture. This seems to require us to define it as "any identifiable demographic that buys things you wouldn't buy yourself." I think there's a simpler answer.

Reminds me of my days working retail bookselling. We carried a handful of those stupid "how to be a ninja" books, but to my knowledge we never actually sold one. They kept getting shoplifted. I now recognize I should have been blaming the "ninja subculture" instead of the pimply-faced adolescent guys that appeared to be responsible.

(Saw it at Instapundit: Didn't everybody?)
Joining the crowd
Okay, there's the ubiquitous WeatherPixie, okay? Now that I've picked her up, she's on Every Blog In The World, I think.

No, I'm just jawin'. If it really bothered me, I wouldn't use it. We'll see what she does...

UPDATE, 4:00pm EST: Is rainin' purty good here, you betcha. Pixie don' know 'bout it. What the heck's goin' on at Hartsfield Airport?

Saturday, October 26, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Bubble, bubble: As in bubble bath. What's your favorite way to relax?
A hot, hot bath.

Twosome. Toil: What's your least favorite chore, and why?
Mowing the grass. Talk about neverending work. It just seems so futile. Just pave the yard and paint it green, or plant a ground cover that looks good without periodic trimming. Why make homeowning more work than it has to be?

Threesome. and Trouble: What do you get into trouble for around the house?
Everything. I'm the Dad.

The Friday Five:
1. What is your favorite scary movie?
I'm not a big fan of scary movies. Force me to a decision and I'll pick M with Peter Lorre.

2. What is your favorite Halloween treat?
Staying home undisturbed. Oh, you mean to eat. I don't know what's specifically a "Halloween" treat as opposed to some other kind, but I like Hershey's white chocolate kisses.

3. Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, describe your best Halloween costume.
I don't.

4. Do you enjoy going to haunted houses or other spooky events?

5. Will you dress up for Halloween this year?
Nope. I hate Halloween. If Halloween had a Grinch, it would be me. What a colossal waste of time and energy.
Nothing is real
Holy cow. It's worse than I thought.

PhotoDude commented on a story originally in the Charlotte Observer. I know this is a blinding flurry of links, but the core of the story is this: "John Boy & Billy" host a radio show syndicated to numerous stations. It's hard to say just what kind of show it is, because different stations get different music. At 6:40 Tuesday morning, right after the news, oldies stations got "But It's All Right" by J.J. Jackson, while country stations got "Wish I Didn't Know Now" by Toby Keith.

And classic rock stations, immediately after a report of the latest sniper attack, played Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust".

[Executive producer Randy] Brazell said that during a break, the morning team discussed whether to address the issue on the air and decided against it. "We decided that if we called attention to it, people who didn't notice it, then would," he said.

People who didn't notice what? This terrifically unfunny accident? Or the fact (rapidly becoming a fact of life) that there is no such thing as a local radio show anymore -- and almost no judgment applied to what you hear?

My point here is not that accidents happen. Of course they do. This program is syndicated to over a hundred markets. There's always the possibility of an unfortunate justaposition with a local news story. One shouldn't read too much into that, per se.

What worries me is that nobody is taking responsibility. Nobody decided to play that song: A computer did it. The DJs weren't even aware of it until the affiliate stations called in. Everyone is sorry it happened, but it's nobody's fault.

How important can the programming be if the programmers are paying so little attention to it? If it's not worth their time, what makes it worth mine?
Playing catchup
It's proving to be more difficult than I anticipated, hence the gap between my last comment and this. A big reason for this is (I shouldn't admit this) I used to gather a lot of source material at work (between 24 hour cable news and a T-1 connection), and I haven't been to work since July. From home, with my measly rabbit-ears antenna and dial-up, a blogger has to be intensely motivated to maintain a regular flow of, well, whatever this is.

So many of the things I'm interested in, other people are monitoring and saying the things I would like to have said. McKinney? Photodude. Congress? WSJ Best of the Web. Bellesiles? Instapundit. The beltway sniper? Everybody.

I even missed my own birthday (Oct. 13, if you must know), and not because I was particularly busy either.

I'm not giving up, though.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

"I'll take the flippin' obvious for $100, Alex" Story of the Week
"I'm not that nice. I'm a very biting, caustic, sarcastic person."

Okay, hands up, who thought Rosie O'Donnell was nice? Anyone?

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Is the scale broken?
No. I am continuing to lose weight at a safe, healthy rate. Earlier I said:

As of 9/18, I am 25 pounds down from my weight the day I had the stroke, 34 pounds down from my first heart attack in July (at which time my cardiologist told me to lose forty, so I�m six pounds from that target � which was supposed to take a year to reach).

As of now, 10/10, I'm eight pounds lighter still. I'm lighter than I've been in at least ten years. I'm down 42 pounds from 7/8 (two pounds past the cardiologist's order). You don't notice how many little aches and pains you've gotten used to, problems that are directly attributable to carrying around too much weight, until you lose the weight and don't have 'em anymore.

This is another thing for which I can thank my long-suffering wife, for (as she has noted) it was she who did the dietary research in order to tell me what and how much I should be eating.

I haven't mentioned specific before-and-after numbers. Do you think I should? Frankly, I was ashamed of my weight, even though my body's tendency to distribute fat evenly created the illusion that I was less overweight than I was. And my current weight, though a great improvement, is still nobody's idea of lithe.

But, you should excuse the expression, I can live with it.

I'm getting stronger, too. Not yet up to pre-stroke levels, but it no longer exhausts me to walk my son to school or climb a flight of stairs. It may not sound like much, but it's progress, and it's very encouraging. Is my wife responsible for this, too? Well, yes. It was she who asked me to start walking our son to school in the first place. It's about a mile round-trip, downhill all the way there (and uphill all the way back). There's that half-hour per day (actually a touch longer) that the cardiologist wanted me to walk.

I still hate exercise. But I can't deny I feel better.

Now if only I could see straight...

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Gentleman's agreement
PhotoDude has made some entertaining observations regarding the wall-to-wall television coverage of the President's speech Monday night -- or, more precisely, the lack of it.

Those who question the need for war with Iraq call for more debate, a slower approach, more talk, and for the President to do a better job making his case.
So tonight at 8 the President was to give a 25 minute or so speech on just that topic.
...None of the Big Three Networks carried the speech.
...I can't really understand why the White House failed to make the request [that the networks carry his speech], nor can I understand why network executives feel they must only act on the directions of the White House, and not use their own brains to figure out that since our nation may soon be at war, covering the President's speech might be A Good Thing.

Oh, Linda Ellerbee spilled these beans years ago in her book, And So It Goes. I'll pick up her narrative as she is in the White House press room in the early eighties:

I covered a briefing by Jody Powell. My assignment editor wanted to know about plans for President Carter's trip to Poland. Powell began the briefing by giving us that very information. I took it down, then listened as he went on to tell is ut was National Sweet Potato Week and later the president would be in the Rose Garden with Miss Sweet Potato and some farmers if anybody wanted to take advantage of the "photo op".
...I didn't think we had all that much interest in sweet potatoes, so I left the briefing before Powell finished, called the assignment editor and told him the plans for the Poland trip.
"How long did Jody talk today?"
"Hard to say. He's still talking."
"What? You left before the briefing was over? That's completely against the rules. Go back immediately."
It seems all those news organizations that took out ads telling you how competitive they are had gotten together and agreed no one would ever leave the briefing before it was over. That way nobody would scoop anybody. Cozy.
In that case, I told him, we were in real luck. I'd already left. The damage was done. Now we could scoop everybody on the sweet-potato story.
Some people don't recognize a gift when it's handed them.
...[After the briefing] a voice over the public addres system interrupted me.
"The lunch lid is on. I repeat. The lunch lid is on."
Now that was the sort of announcement guaranteed to send a reporter back for further instructions, especially one who'd already messed up as a White House correspondent. Another call to the assignment editor.
"Hi. It's me. At the White House. Thought you'd want to know the lunch lid is on. I don't know what that means but it sounds important. Maybe we ought to tell Nightly News right away, in case they want to change tonight's show. Meanwhile, what should I do?"
He said I should go to lunch. The announcement meant reporters could go to restaurants with their sources, or each other, and not have to worry about war being declared while they were away from the press room. No news would happen until after three o'clock. Well, fancy that. Not only did competing news organizations make sure no one would be competitive on the briefing, but the White House joined in the game when it came to the important stuff, like lunch.

I've seen nothing to make me think the prevailing attitudes in Washington -- or anyplace else where reporters are dependent on handout news releases from politicians, which is everywhere -- have changed.

I'd like to think some network might have carried the presidential speech had it been opposite mere reruns, but of course they still would have had to eat some commercials to do it, so it would have been a difficult decision. After all, the president hadn't asked for the time, so it must not be very important. If he were actually going to say anything, he would have told us first.

The lunch lid, after all, was on. (The prime-time dinner lid?)

Or perhaps, in the news directors' open, unbaised judgement, since obviously there could be no justification for war against Iraq (they settled that over lunch, before moving on to split up the check), there was no need to embarrass and confuse the nation by allowing the president to demonstrate his failure to grasp that "fact" on national television. Or am I reading too much into this?

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Medical Her Story
The more I thought about the essays I posted about my recent hospitalizations, the more I realized I'd shortchanged Oreta's perspective. Sure, it's still available in the blog archives, but for convenience's sake I just assembled it (and your lovely virtual get-well cards) into a single document for your perusing pleasure. You'll find it here.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Since I am having to rebuild my AOL pages from scratch, I'm taking the opportunity to redesign them as well, and adding new content. Well, actually, it's old content, essays that previously appeared in the amateur press alliance I edit, Myriad. I've been meaning to do this for a while, and now seems like the time. The first new/old entry is up now, with more on the way.

I'm also trying out CityDesk, the site management software that almost no bloggers use (USS Clueless being the only one I know of). With my iffy eyesight, it was a real adventure to recreate my template in CityDesk, but it seems to work pretty well.