Sunday, April 30, 2006

Liberal News Media

Liberal News Media.

Several years ago, I read a book called, “What Liberal Media?” by Eric Alterman. I really enjoyed it. One point that Alterman made was that, while the rank and file of the frontline beat reporters may be liberal, the editorial board of most media outlets, along with the ownership tend to be moderate, if not conservative.

Alterman made a great point about the fairness doctrine. Back in the day, you had to provide equal time for political commentary. In other words, when Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity apologize for the administration for six hours on the radio, under the old standard, ratings or not, the station would have to provide six hours for people to counter their partisan ramblings. The point is that, at one point, fair and balanced reporting mattered more than ratings. And, just to pre-empt you, dear reader, just because someone says that they are “fair and balanced” does not make it so…no matter how many times they say it!

I think that if there was any doubt whether the news media was tilting to the right came last week when news commentator Tony Snow was named White House Press Secretary. Off the top of my head, I don’t know that I can remember a sitting member of what is reported to be the national media being named press secretary. Further, I think this is more evidence that commentary and opinion are now passing for news.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hows the weather?

How’s the weather?

I learned a long time ago that you should avoid talking about religion or politics if you want to keep conversations civil. It has always been pretty safe to talk to people about the weather. That is, until a few years ago when people really started talking about global warming. Suddenly, a discussion of the weather could degrade to fisticuffs.

Here’s my take on global warming. I agree that there are great trends in the weather cycle. In Kansas City, winters were bad in the 1950s (according to my dad) mild in the 1960s (again…my dad) and bad in the 1970s and early 1980s (I remember deep snow all winter and ice storms about every other year). People who agree with global warming point out this year there was virtually no snow in Kansas City this year. However, we may be in the middle of a cycle. However, are there very unique trends. My sister lives outside Fairbanks, Alaska. My brother-in-law pushes snow (like lots of people). However, my sister said that he only had to push snow three or four times all winter. Sometimes he has to push snow three or four times a week! I guess my issue is that I can accept that there are cycles in the weather. However, I would be shocked and amazed if Fairbanks ever had a winter like this last one.

I think that climates may be shifting. I think there are changes in the weather. There are problems and issues with our stewardship of the planet. I guess the safest conversation in the future is to discuss how poorly the Royals play.

Monday, April 17, 2006

And yet...

And yet…

I’ve recently discovered an author I really like. I’m not much of a fan of fiction. However, I really like Max Barry. The author of Jennifer Government and Company, Barry is fresh and original. Several reviewers point out that his stories often run out of originality and “steam” before the end of the novel. I’m willing to cut him some slack. Frankly, his stories are so original you don’t mind coasting to the end. Although, he could use some work on how he transcribes dialog.

The first book I read from Barry was Jennifer Government. This story takes place in the near future where companies have become so important that people give up their surnames and take on the names of their employers. There are several storylines; Hack Nike, Billy NRA, and of course, Jennifer Government (who works for an agency like the FBI).

Company is wonderful. As you start reading, you are sure it is the ultimate satire in the tune of Dilbert, Office Space, or The Office. One man is obsessed with who is parking in his space. Another man has a favorite coat hook. Then there’s a guy who knows some stole his doughnut. You follow around a new guy, Jones, who finds that there is much more about Zephyr holdings than meets the eye. They are the Alpha and the Omega. It is a great cautionary tale for people in senior management (like me).

Barry is a near futurist, telling stories about a world that is not unlike this one. Much like Orwell, Barry’s world is a troubling one. Although, I think I laughed much more at Barry’s world than George Orwell’s.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another Day on the Farm

Another Day on the Farm

Leigh Anne and I went to the farm to visit with her parents yesterday. Our treks to the farm are always enjoyable, but becoming even more so! We always start by stopping by “At Sarah’s Table” in Kearney. Sarah and her husband are good friends and it is always fun to see them and chat a little. Besides, as Leigh Anne has testified to everyone, Sarah makes “most excellent pancakes.”

We went to the farm, on up to Bethany to shop and eat, and then back to the farm. There was a huge power outage in Bethany. Of course, that really didn’t stop anyone from shopping at Wal-Mart…they just couldn’t cash out!

Lee and I went to the farm pond to try our luck. A while back, I caught my first bass in that pond as I reacquainted myself with fishing. After a pretty short amount of time, I landed a decent sized bass. Lee moved around the corner and caught a nice sized bass, too. After a while, we had caught several bass, bluegill and crappie. Most were small, so we released them and vowed to get them another day.

We decided to stop for the day. Then, the wind picked up, and Lee started getting some impressive strikes. He pulled in two really nice bass. At his urging, I cast back in again a couple of times. I got a very strong strike! It pulled and fought. It was easily one of the biggest fish I had ever caught! I pulled and reeled. I could hear Lee becoming more excited as the fish came closer in. In fact, at the time, he seemed more excited than I was! Once we got it in, we saw that the fish was not one of the large bass. It was a sixteen inch long crappie and weighed two pounds. Lee said he had never caught a crappie that big, and proclaimed that I would never catch another crappie that big if I fished for another forty years. We had a very impressive string of fish. Fortunately, Leigh Anne had just come over to the pond and we had our photographer.

We returned to the farmhouse and then went along the treeline to look for mushrooms. All along the way, he and I talked about the adventure along the pond. Lee kept saying that we had a day we could talk about forever. How can I disagree?