Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Media Bias

It's getting old. The more I read, the more I see the bias in what people write. For instance, just this morning as I was going through a stack of accumulated newspapers, I read the following sentence, which stopped me in my proverbial tracks:

“Coleslaw doesn't have to be a mayonnaise-laden mess of shredded cabbage and carrots.”

It's not as though I found this unkind comment on some undisciplined blog either. The comment appeared a week or so ago in the Island Packet in an AP article by one Alison Ladman. Regardless of the writer’s experience with coleslaw, characterizing the mayonnaise-dressed version as a "mess" is wrong, wrong, wrong if one expects to maintain an appearance of objectivity. Whatever her personal feelings about her salad history, a credible writer would in my opinion not indulge them.

Imagine if the writer had said “Those with erectile dysfunction don’t have to be lecherous old fools.” Would no one take offense? This article appeared in the Packet, where everyone takes offense (and where some readers support government subsidized Viagra but not government-subsidized lunch), so of course someone would take offense. Therefore, I am puzzled at the lack of outrage with regard to coleslaw defamation. Media-bias brainwash, I believe.

So having used a journalistic hatchet instead of a suitably sharpened culinary blade, at least Alison Ladman continued with a presentation of three tempting recipes for what she says are better alternatives to the slaw she so disdains. Actually, they sound pretty good. I have no idea why I couldn't find a link to the Packet's article and had to go with one from California. Maybe the Packet saw the bias and rejected continued association with this particular offering of the Associated Press. Doubtful.

For those who wonder, the slaw recipes are for "Fennel, Pea Shoot and Green Grape Slaw," "Apple and Celeriac Slaw," and "Beet Slaw."

Note: As I reread the Beet Slaw recipe, I think I'll try using fresh instead of canned beets. Very thinly sliced raw root vegetables offer a resistance in the mouth that I prefer. On the other hand, they can be hard to digest. So we'll see.

Monday, May 31, 2010

House of Revenge

I don't think this all started last night. More likely, these feuds are ongoing, with only occasional noticeable engagements.

What happened last night is that I saw a large, really large, "palmetto bug" crawling up the wall beside my back door, which I had inadvertently left open a crack. It quickly scuttled behind a mirror, and even though I was grateful to be alerted that the door was open when I'm usually careful to deadbolt it 24/7, my gratitude did not extend to coexistence with such a large intruder. At the next commercial, I got my spray tank and shot the door jamb and all nearby corners, baseboards, etc. Sadly, the pb succumbed. But wait, there was another one ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER! EWWW! So the next thing was to remove all the countertop items and spray all the wall-backsplash-countertop joints. More death. Now I realize that it's been a while since I sprayed the whole house, so I head for my bathroom, and of course found another one. This one was kind of sickly, as pb's are supposed to be in a well-sprayed house, but I gave it a dispatching shot and did that whole room too. Back to the tv.

So this morning, I'm thinking I'll have a swim and as I usually do, I get my pole skimmer to remove the night's accumulation of toad and frog carcasses, but suddenly I realize that there are a couple of those little guys who are alive and trying very hard to evade my reach. As I chase them, I suddenly start to feel like a powerful tyrant cleansing my world of "the other". Hitler comes to mind, and I remind myself of Godwin's law about the overuse of Hitler references. Anyway, I am relieved to see the froggies hop away after I dump the skimmer thing. And I'm thinking that I'm on the side of Good after all. Didn't I check on the crazy wren who crashed into my sliding door yesterday? Yes, I did.

But apparently some little body disagrees and has decided not to live peaceably in my queendom because as I walk around my pool, I see that all my portulaca blossoms are gone and so are my green pepper blossoms. The last time this happened, I blamed it on deer, but now I'm thinking it's whoever dug the holes in the same area. Deer I more or less tolerate because they come and go, but critters who take up residence will rue the day. They may try to avenge all the critters whom I have dispatched, but it'll cost them. I am plotting retaliation as I type this. St. Francis, please look the other way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Where's my honeymoon?"

"What happened to my honeymoon? Aren't I supposed to be getting one from you media guys?" With these nonsensical questions as he tries to clean up after his May 19th appearance on Rachel Maddow's show, Dr. Rand Paul reveals a smudge on his pure individualist principles. Although both Drs. Ron and Rand Paul have whiny singsong voices, I've never heard the dad complain like this.  Does reason really require media acclaim?  If you're right, you're right.  No need for affirmation.

Dude! You stepped in it. You voluntarily came to a national cable-tv interview. You were asked a direct question and you couldn't come up with an answer that would satisfy the masses who vote and yet be consistent with your extreme libertarian views. Welcome to the world that exists outside of theory, where we find that human beings do not behave as theoreticians desire. Ayn Rand's mental gymnastics are interesting but her thinking was often wrong. Her own life proved it. So does the recent life of fellow traveler Gov Mark Sanford, by the way. Life on the planet Earth requires more imagination than simply labeling people as "productive" and "other". Human beings are messy and complicated and while some people soothe themselves by denying the fact that they themselves are messy and complicated, anyone who desires to govern human beings had better prepare himself to have his mellow harshed at times.

Listen, Dr. Rand, I happened to see the Rachel Maddow interview and then watched it again the same night and I tweeted a reply to one of your disciples too, who had already tweeted to a #FreedomFighter, "unfortunately I don't think they'll EVER let him avoid it. This isn't good." I believe she was referring to a #FreedomFighter who had said "Dems are gonna use that transcript to target Dr. Paul. He needs to avoid this civil rights issue from now on."

Our world being what it is, the May 19th Maddow-Paul event took place at the same time that American Idol was airing, and so for those monitoring the "#FreedomFighter" tweets there was the need to comment on both, so that shortly following the above exchange a #Freedom Fighter said, "Crystal is safe! Yay! Go Crystal! (Damn she's hot!)"

Seldom do I agree with Sen. Jon Kyl, but I believe he was exactly right to characterize the nineteen-minute Maddow/Paul interview as "a debate like you had at 2 a.m. in the morning when you're going to college" which is IMO a wonderful thing when you are young and just learning about the world, not so terrific when you are selling your potential to be one of one hundred Senators who make decisions for 300 million Americans.

Grownups who'd like to read a brief and lighthearted commentary on libertariansm might enjoy the Guardian's Michael Tomasky.  He says that libertarianism is kookoo.  To Rand Paul's civil rights quandary, I like what he says in another blog post:
"And by the way, that's very nice, isn't it? Segregated facilities are just the price of a free society. It's free as long as you're not on the receiving end, which is maybe one reason why roughly 99% of Libertarians happen to be white.

For @anniecm and @TonyHaul, and their freedom-fighting (for or against, one wonders) followers, I offer the Ayn Rand Institute Q&A on her own views of libertarianism. Something to chew on between episodes of American Idol and other freedom-fighting events. Or maybe you could peruse it this Sunday morning, now that Dr Rand Paul, Kentucky's Republican Candidate for the United States Senate, has declared himself too exhausted to appear on Meet the Press.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Everybody should have a Dad like Stan Wright

Everybody should have a dad like Stan Wright, but he is apparently the exact right person to be Chely Wright's dad. They both appeared on Oprah today and he struck me as a model of strong solid silence, what we often think typifies men but doesn't really. His silence masked love and support for his child as she told him she is gay and has since shared her truth with the world. How sad that she ever doubted that he would be there for her, but I can understand why. How beautiful that she finally dared to risk finding out who loves her and who doesn't understand love at all. How telling that only two of her peer country singers have contacted her. I guess it's easier to write songs and sing about love than it is to give love.

The Wrights reminded me of the many times I've sat in church and heard homosexuality denounced and wondered how it would feel to be a parent of a beloved gay child and hear such judgment seemingly coming from Almighty God. The Wrights came up believing the preaching to homosexuals that says "the way you are is sinful...God wants you to be some other way...your desires and behavior are are disgusting." And yet, the power of Stan's love overcame all this indoctrination and allowed him to hear his daughter above all that noise.

From Oprah's web site:
Chely's lifelong secret also affected her relationship with her family. "When one lives a closeted life, there's a compartmentalization that happens. That's my experience," she says. "I became a skilled liar, and I lived two different lives."

Then, one day, Chely received a phone call from her father, Stan. "He said: 'Chel, what have I done? Are you mad at me? Is there something wrong? Why aren't we close?'" she says. Soon after, Chely found the courage to tell her father the truth.

After a concert in Missouri, Chely sat with her father and faced her fears. "[I said]: 'I have to tell you something I've needed to tell you my whole life. I've been afraid, though, to tell you because I'm afraid you won't love me, and I'm afraid you'll be ashamed of me. ... I'm gay,'" she says.

At first, Stan didn't say a word. "I grabbed her, and I put my arms around her," he says. "I told her it was all right. It would be fine."

Stan says he was raised to believe that homosexuality was wrong and sinful, but he found out quickly that was not true. "I knew her heart. I knew her mind. I knew her soul," he says. "You hear a lot of times unconditional love. Well, in this old man's world, it's true."

Before passing judgment on others, Stan offers one piece of advice to people in the same situation. "The simplest thing I can tell anyone is, do not close the door," he says. "Open the heart."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dancing with the Starz

The first couple on the dance floor were obviously enjoying themselves and were fun to watch. He was mustachioed, spry and dapper, wearing a long-sleeved white guayabera and tan pants. She was older-looking but still game, wearing a pretty black cocktail dress and black stockings. I really couldn't see their shoes because the ballroom of the retirement community was full, but I'm guessing hers were flats. Anyway, they moved and twirled and soon some other couples joined them. A few in the audience, including me, were dancing in our chairs.

Hilton Head Island is blessed with many good entertainers, but none are better or more versatile than Reggie Deas and the Guyz. This night there were seven Guyz on stage and they obviously were selecting carefully from their repertoire so that dancing was a possibility for people who might not move too quickly. One solo dancer moved unsupported to the music but then used a cane on her way out of the room. Deas-Guyz played on and on and on, for nearly two hours without a break and then returned for another set. They shagged a little, rocked a little, jazzed a little and mostly played and sang music that every American born since 1950 knows. Bless their hearts, there was no homage to Ronnie James Dio, late of Black Sabbath and mourned even on NPR. I love Deas-Guyz no matter what they play.

This was an evening meant to showcase the retirement community in its best light, and certainly it was pleasurable. Nice-looking people enjoying themselves, great music, wonderful food, but something bothered me and it is the same thing that has bothered me for the 20-plus years I've lived on Hilton Head Island: The people enjoying themselves all appeared to be white, and the people creating the enjoyment were mostly brown-skinned. Deas-Guyz is almost all African-American, the servers were African-American, the bus persons were African-American, the visible kitchen staff were African-American, and yet not one single African-American was among the dancers or the other guests.

No matter how nice, how elegant, how safe the community is, there is something distasteful about perpetuating such an obviously skewed division of the spoils. The fact that people like Reggie Deas continue to smile and share their gifts brings tears to my eyes. To suggest that they are victims of an unjust society belies their dignity, and yet something doesn't sit well. May God smile on them and on all the starz who quietly and generously work to provide some modern Tara moments.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Priorities, People. Priorities

As though I weren't already far behind in what I'm supposed to be doing, I see that the people I am voluntarily following on Twitter have tweeted up a storm while I put 700 miles on my car today. Maybe I'm not in the greatest of moods because I was too chicken to pass up the West Virginia gas prices in hopes of a better deal in Ohio, and paid $2.959 only to see a Pilot offering gas at $2.859 a few miles down the road. In Ohio I've been seeing $2.699, only now my tank is three-fourths full. So I'm grouchy.

I was not surprised to read US Senator Jim De Mint's three or four tweets about his border fence bill, as though it had a chance of passing and as though it wasn't completely at odds with his shrunken government philosophy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, some people think that securing the borders is one of very few legitimate government functions, but then again, some people think that the best immigration policy is no immigration policy. The thing is though, Senator, futile tilting at the border windmill might not really be the best use of your time. (I heard on my car radio that Senator Robert Byrd had secured a buncha millions for Homeland Security in West Virginia, which also doesn't fit with your philosophy, but maybe South Carolina could use some securing too if you're spending for a fence someplace in the Southwest? I'm just saying.) And pardon my nitpicking, but would "completing" your 700-mile section really do it for a 2,000 miles of border? According to Whoopi Goldberg, who seems to be as knowledgeable as anyone on this topic, including you, a fence with an end just invites people to walk around it.

But SC Senator Tom Davis' latest tweet tells me all I need to know about why, of all government entities everywhere, the SC State Legislature ranks high on uselessness. Here it is:

"senatortomdavis Compromise bill just passed in the Senate -- the code requirement that all new residences have sprinklers is suspended until January 2014. "

Sprinkler code requirement. Compromise. Suspended. For four years yet. Not even worth a tweet, IMO. OTOH, at least it's fewer than 140 characters, unlike this blog post. one of my favorite Tweeters: Toots, why are you, an esteemed journalist, fixating on Matt Lauer's rumored infidelity? Isn't there a yo-yo man somewhere to be interviewed?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An(other) Unfortunate Incident

If I lived anywhere near the Gulf Coast, and I saw the potential for massive damage to my lifestyle and livelihood, I don't think I'd use a phrase like "unfortunate incident" to describe the ongoing volcano of oil that is erupting underwater following the April 20th explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon off of Louisiana.

American Petroleum Institute Jack Gerard, however, is saying those very words this morning on tv, while an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil is fouling the Gulf of Mexico every day that the spill continues. Yesterday BP Group CEO Tony Hayward appeared, saying that while his company is responsible for the cleanup, the original oil rig explosion was not their fault because BP only leased the rig from a company called Transocean

I am thinking about the hundreds of plays of the BP commercials that tell us "we have the can do, we have the capability" and all we have to do is "find the [energy] solutions here" and I am wondering what it all means. Steven D at Booman Tribune provides some liberal commentary that is interesting, but in the end outrage at the way America is managing its resources to provide needed energy is futile, as are plans formulated by PR firms and lobbyists and politicians. What is needed is thought, serious thought, about what the "can do" and the "capability" of America's energy resources really are. What is not needed is a public so fixated on comfort and ease that we accept the rationalizations and spin and outright deception on the part of those who wish to exploit common resources for private gain.

And, oh yes, another eleven energy workers lost their lives in the explosion of the oil rig. April was a very bad month for those who work to provide the energy that runs America.