Monday, September 26, 2005

Wisdom and Aging

I haven't reached the point of wisdom. Old people seem to eventually accept their fate - the same fate that we all share - and in doing so become wise. Or at least they appear to. Maybe they just become delirious, and I only wish I was joking.

An electrician-friend pulled my fat out of the fire this weekend, talking me through some electrical work that I had never done before. I can now add "has installed a sub-panel" to my list of things I've done. I then wired in a whole bunch of light fixtures, and punched that new circuit into my new sub-panel. It was quite a weekend. Fixed two sinks and a toilet, did all of that electrical work, buffed out some scratches (keyed) from the Honda, waxed the hood of same. Entertained guests on Saturday night, and had a house full of screaming children, good wine, and fun. Enjoyed my kids. Even had time to see a comedian on Sunday night.

This is the marrow of life. This is the high water mark. To have the knowledge, skills, opportunity, and means to do all of these things - this is what you dream about when you are 18.

But what you don't realize is that you can already see the other side of the hill. it's a nagging feeling that's starting to whisper in my ear, early in the morning.

Shane died last weekend. You didn't know Shane. To me, however, he's the son of a good and dear friend. I first met Shane when he was 5 or 6 years old. A tow-headed kid with blue eyes, who was crazy about soccer. He referred to me, always, as "Mister," even when I wasn't used to being called that by anyone. He was a great kid. Polite, funny - magnificent.

Shane died in a motorcycle accident. No known cause; no other vehicles involved. Maybe he swerved to miss a deer; maybe he fell asleep (it was late); maybe anything. His father and mother are exactly how you expect them to be. I only hope their marriage holds up. I've seen this before, when my wife worked with Cancer Patients, and even very, very good marriages routinely buckle under the guilt/anger/desolation of losing a child. We'll see.

I just had another friend I work with rule out ovarian cancer. It's benign, but we didn't know that before she went in to have the tumor removed. Ovarian cancer is very, very bad news, and my friend will now be screened for it every year. She is a "candidate," and will have to live with that knowledge. Perhaps this is where wisdome comes from. Perhaps hearing the footsteps when they are still very distant is where it begins.

I'm not looking to be morose. Just reflective. The hard part about aging isn't the occassional ache or pain. It's finally seeing your dreams really come true while, simultaneously, realizing that it's borrowed time. Realizing that your time here isn't eternal and that you must give way so that your children can walk the same path.

I'm a Christian man, as you probably know, and it's certainly sinful to mourn your own aging. It's the sin of pride. The sin of "me." It's the original sin, in fact. Guilty as charged, I suppose.

But it's quite a Monday when you look back at all of the amazing things you've done over the past two days just to hear that a 21 year old man-child, who had finally done the first adult thing he wanted to do (he was the captain of his team), won't be home for Thanksgiving.

He was an only child. The only child my friend and his wife had. Both of the women I know who have just ruled out CA were under 40, each with quite a few children.

Keep the Faith, ladies and gentlemen. Life *is* good, but it's not easy. That is for sure...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Quick! More rouge for the Gray Lady!

The New York Times just announced a 4% staff reduction across all of it's papers. I can't say that I hate hearing that All The News That's Fit To Spin is slip-sliding away. I'm not sure if I'm gloating, mind you, but I'm not sad.

I hate hearing that people will be unemployed, if only for just awhile, but this is an interesting phenomenon for these people. There's no denying that media, on the whole, is expanding. A lot, actually. The fact that you are reading these words, here, is a testament to that. Between the many web-based outlets, satellites, Pod-casts, etc. - the pie is getting a lot bigger.

A larger pie normally bodes well for people who make their living from that pie, and I sincerely hope that the displaced workers are quickly employed elsewhere.

But let's focus on the institution, and not the people. Let's focus on the NY Times. Why is the Paper of Record shrinking, when the overall media pie is growing?

One obvious answer is the internet. Bloggers are clearly eating some of the Times' lunch. Katrina was only the most recent example of that.,, and all of the others did their best to report minute by minute, but Michelle Malkin (who is going to be a very, very wealthy woman - if she's not already - because she "gets it") had links to literally dozens of sites that were "on the ground, and blogging by the minute." Where did I go for my Katrina blow-by-blow? I'd keep an eye on foxnews, cnn,, etc. , but my main source was

As for the Times, who really wanted to wait a whole day to read a newspaper? Waiting for the Times was never even an option. I wanted information now, and that meant bloggers.

Bloggers Downside: Bloggers don't screen what they report as rigorously as the MSM does, at least not in real time. Is this a huge issue? Not really. It seems as if for all of their screening, the MSM isn't much (if any) better. Off the top of my head, for example, I'm pretty sure we've put the whole "cannibalism in NOLA" thing to rest, and that was a MSM blunder.

Bloggers Upside(s): Bloggers get news reported many orders of magnitude faster. And if a widely-read blogger is found to be spinning/lying, it might take a day or two for the other bloggers to expose it - but it will be exposed. If it becomes a pattern, that will be exposed, too. (See "HuffingtonPost," or, better yet, don't). Who corrected the MSM's cannibalism-idiocy? You guessed it...

But can we really say that the NY Times is shrinking because of Bloggers and iPods? Is this really enough to explain the beating that the whole MSM is currently receiving?

No. The overall media market is getting bigger, and smart players are profiting. The NY Times is massively capitalized, and has the inside track on capitalizing on the new channels. Yes, Bloggers have some distinct advantages, but the NY Times could easily become, like blogspot (which you are reading now), a home to bloggers. They could profit from it, and grow. Many MSM outlets already are.

FoxNews is clearly one of the big-boys these days, and I grin whenever they refer to the MSM as if they weren't part of that very club. They are - and they are growing. Is The Weather Channel part of the MSM? In a broad way, yes, and they're doing great. At what point does Matt Drudge cross the line? And what about Michelle Malkin? At some point her blogs and portals will have critical mass. It will be mainstream. She's close now - and she's growing like a weed, as is Drudge.

So why isn't the Gray Lady?

Oh, if you're here you already know why: Backlash. It's not just that the bloggers have out-performed the NYT - they've successfully attacked her. They have exposed her, and other outlets like her, as being anything but objective. As more and more people come to realize just how badly the Times spins, slants, distorts, and even lies (see Geraldo for that one)... well... who wants to read that?

Ann Coulter, alone, is publishing best sellers specifically about this. And the irony of her books being "New York Times Bestsellers," is lost on nobody.

I don't subscribe to a newspaper. I haven't for many years, and it's not because I don't enjoy the ritual of sitting down and reading a paper over a cup of coffee. I grew up doing that, and I enjoy it. No, my non-subscription is a very intentional boycott. I refuse to subsidize the NY Times, or others of it's ilk, specifically because I refuse to put money into the pockets of people who are actively trying to bulldoze my opinions.

Interestingly enough, I was at a hotel this weekend and they gave me a complimentary copy of the Sunday Times. I took it home and put it to excellent use: I laid it out on my walkway and spraypainted some rusting iron furniture on it. Sincerely, I did. And I made a conscious effort to put the cover page, "above the fold," right on top so I could see it disappear in the blackness of the paint.

The headline had the word "abortion" in it, and that's all I needed to see.

"Hssssssss..." went the Rust-o-leum, and that famous "Times" font disappeared.

Three days later, I read that the times is falling on hard times. I don't think I'll spraypaint over that. I might not gloat, but I surely will pay attention.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Who do I get to punch?

If there's one thing that Katrina has clearly shown: we are a nation with far too many idiots.

I'm not talking about the victims of Katrina, I'm talking about the people making hay from it.

As you know by now, Senator Mary Landrieu (D- LA) committed a felony a week ago by stating that she would "have to punch him (President Bush) - literally" on national TV.

A few days after that I read an article by a NOLA survivor who is also threatening to punch anyone who dares to defend Bush or FEMA.

Last night Geraldo Rivera stated that he'd like to punch Alessandra Stanley, the NYT reporter who he claims has libeled him, but he can't because she's a woman. He still referred to her as a punk, mind you, but is clear that he can't actually punch her.

Welcome to one of the many fine legacies of Katrina. The "who do I get to punch?" effect.

I don't recall anyone threatening to punch anyone other than the terrorists after 9/11. There was talk of asbestos in the air, and all sorts of potential "government failures," but the people - NEW YORKERS, of all people - pulled together. They helped each other. People slept on stairs, benches, etc., unable to get home. Nobody was raped, murdered - or even punched.

There is, in fact, a time to strike at someone. If your spouse or children, or maybe even your dog, are being assaulted or battered the time has come to strike. Punch, kick, whatever it takes.

If you are being attacked, by all means defend yourself.

Mary Landrieu is a United States Senator. For her to stoop to this level is simply unacceptable, regardless of her emotional state.

Geraldo Rivera was doing all sorts of great things down in Louisiana. He, personally, helped save a lot of people. But like Landrieu, his misguided machismo turned a postive into a huge negative. For crying out loud, he has a bully-pulpit of his own to retaliate from. Calling Stanley a liar was fine - it's true! Calling her a punk is a bit coarse, but I'll spot him that. He was angry. Saying that "if she was named Alexander, I'd call her out and punch her."

Hey, why take the high road when it feels so good in the mud?

Just remember that when everyone is in the mud, it's hard to tell the pigs from the people.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Cancer In Our Bones

I've just read another post about Katrina, this one by someone who calls New Orleans "home." They agreed that Ray Nagin had failed pretty much completely. Ditto Blanco. And they said that if "one more person defends President Bush or FEMA, I'm going to punch them."

Another person laying blame all over the place, and then looking to punch people affiliated with the Federal Government. Wonderful.

I want to be clear on one thing that the Mainstream Media is going out of their way not to be clear on: I understand.

I disagree completely, mind you, but I understand.

Blaming people is human nature. Children don't have to be trained how to do it, it just comes naturally. When cornered and there's nobody to blame, we can always blame "I don't know..." Bill Cosby explains this best, and we've all heard it.

The trouble is, Bill Cosby was talking about children - and the implication was that we were supposed to be adults, and reprimand them.

Who reprimands Rita Cosby, who I'm pretty sure is no relation to Bill? As I sat there watching her interview rescue workers a few nights ago, I was stunned at how insistent she was that someone had to take the blame. She moved the microphone from face to face, asking "who do you blame the lack of response on?" Every person she asked stated some form of the adult answer - and the right answer: "This isn't the time for that. Everyone is working hard now, and we have to stay focused on that. We can review what went wrong later."

To which Rita would reply, "Yes, but when the time is right, who do YOU think will be blamed?"

This is the cancer in our bones, and I certainly don't lay all of it on Rita's shoulders. She is but a cell in this enormous malignancy that seems determined to consume us.

Mary Landrieu, US Senator from Louisiana, threatens to punch the President of the United States because federal response hasn't satisfied her. Evidently that's called "leadership" in her world. Lay blame, and threaten violence.

The fact that she, herself, is the most powerful Federal Employee from Louisiana never entered her mind. This is the president's fault, not Louisiana's and certainly not hers. She was merely a spectator. She had nothing to do with the funding that came or didn't come to Louisiana, how it was spent, etc.

Another cell in the malignancy, and a prominent one.

Half of me wants to give Landrieu a "pass" because she is clearly affected by the destruction of her home state. That clearly has to have a lot to do with her emotional state, just like it did the columnist who is also threatening violence.

Unlike the columnist, however, her job is specifically not to act like this. They even have a word for how she's supposed to act: "Senatorial." More than anyone else in Louisiana, she must resist the human urge to blame someone.

The stakes are simply too high, and adults realize this.

Without singling anyone out, common sense tells all of us that pretty much every public official from NOLA shares some part of the blame for the poor government response. The mayor, the police, the transit people - everyone has a greater or lesser share. Ditto the State offices that have anything to do with disaster work. The Governor on down. The State legislature and senate clearly didn't do enough. Landrieu and the rest of the Federal congressional group, ditto. President Bush and FEMA, of course. The LA National Guard, obviously.

None of them were flawless, and some of them were downright horrible.

But an adult would understand that right now these are the people we are counting on to save lives. Right now. Blanco, Nagin, FEMA, Bush, NOPD, NOFD, etc., etc., etc. These are the people, right now, who we are asking to save lives.

Is this the right time to distract them by letting them know that "we're coming to investigate you," like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and that whole Cabal did? Is this the time to tell them "You know, I'm not really sure that we should rebuild New Orleans," like the Speaker of the House did? Is this the time to tell them "It's obvious that you hate (fill in the socio-economic group of your choice)" did?

According to Rob, the answer is a resounding, "Of course not, and shame on you for not knowing this already."

All of these people are cells in the malignancy. Not only aren't they helping, they are actively hurting. They are making the people we are counting on to help "look over their shoulder."

From the left side of their face they tell us to Help, while from the right side they distract the very people who are doing the work by letting them "hear footsteps coming up behind them."

It is the cancer in our bones, and it is a tragedy. It's also, very much, a threat to us as a people.

The only question is: how do we stop it?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Faith In Government

I read a post on Slate by someone stating that the Government's ineptitude in the wake of Katrina can be construed as a breach in it's contract with the citizens.

Yeah, my faith in government is shattered all right...

Who in their right mind would put faith in the government to begin with? With that said, who but the most insane amongst us truly believes that ANY of these politicians didn't do their best, once the crisis was upon us?

Was their best good enough? Of course not. For the most part, these people are mediocre by any scale. None of them are particularly smart, they are only compassionate at times like this, and they certainly aren't very moral.

"Nagin should have had the school buses out and running." Really? Who was going to drive them? A Cat 5 hurricane is coming, you think school bus drivers are going to rally and save the day? For minimum wage?

"Blanco should have activated the militia sooner." Really? And done what with them? Move them into the storm surge or flood, just so we could have nifty footage of Humvees being swept away?

"Bush should have dropped what he was doing and gone to New Orleans." Absolutely. That's what we need right now, more political posturing.

None of these people have done enough, but not NOW. The issue, and it is true for every politician out there, is what they are doing BEFORE disaster strikes. Are they spending tax dollars wisely, bolstering our safety? Of course not. Their eyes are on the next wrung of the ladder.

Nagin should have been making plans on his first day in office. Ditto Blanco, getting the militia better prepared. We all know this, but we also know that they were too busy making public appearances, etc.

They were "doing what politicians do," which is not (nor has it ever been) "the people's business."

Have you heard your congressman/woman today? Without even knowing who you are I can tell you that your congressman is expressing some form of outrage over this, today. As you read this. They are calling for a commission to investigate, they are criticizing FEMA, they are holding themselves up as pillars of righteousness.

That's the right thing to do, particularly since the U.S. Congress is merely a spectator in this. It's not as if they play an active role in how government monies are allocated, right? And the MSM will lap it up, and give them all of the headlines they want. They will bash GW Bush, and Nagin, and Blanco, and FEMA, and the National Guard, and the Coast Guard, and anyone else they think they can spatter this crap on.

Because that's what we need right now. We need to know that Bush, Blanco, Barbour, FEMA, Nagin, and the rest of them... DID THIS ON PURPOSE. They WANTED this to happen. They hate (fill this space with your favorite socio-economic group), so they dragged their feet. The fact that Bush is a white southern male, Nagin is black, Blanco is a woman - hey, don't let that stop you.

To each their own hate-filled motive, right? Or maybe, just maybe, the Press is looking to "sell newspapers?" D'ya think?

I'm not giving anyone a get out of jail free card here, and there are some truly noble people doing a LOT of work right now (and there are even some reporters who are reporting things fairly and compassionately). I'll grant you that FEMA has screwed up by the numbers, and people are dying. The American Red Cross is tripping all over themselves. Blanco, Nagin, Barbour, Bush, NOPD, NOFD, and every other group involved have shown themselves to be inept to some greater or lesser degree.

But to say that, with the possible exception of the press-jackals who even now are feasting on the carrion of this story, anyone did it on purpose is insane. Mayor Nagin is the Mayor of Nothing today - you think he wanted that? Governors Barbour and Blanco now preside over states that are largely bankrupt sewers and hazardous waste zones. George Bush gets to visit mourners each and every day. The head of FEMA is working 24 hour days, only to have Tim Russert ask him "should you resign?"

Yeah, this is how they all wanted to spend their Labor Day Weekends.

They are politicians, people. If you truly believe that they did this on purpose you are a fool. Conversely, if you truly believe that there was a contract between them and you, ensuring that they were working tirelessly before this, getting things prepared "just in case," you are still a fool.

They are politicians, and the look at what they do the same way that you look at your own job. They do what they have to do, and little more. To give them the responsibility that we put on their shoulders - even though they ask for it - and expect them to be noble is madness.

If you owned a department store would you give the Store Manager the combination to the main vault, confident that they would "do the right thing?" Or would you give them an envelope with just enough money to run the store for that day? Would you trust them with your kid's college money, your retirement, etc., or would you be prudent and give them just enough to get things done?

Why treat the government different? Why be surprised to find that they spent your kid's college money on a really nifty "Fact Finding" trip to Africa, or to build a bridge to nowhere, or to build a "research center" in a town where there will never be private research (but they can name the building after themselves...)?

The government has demonstrated that it can build: A military that is strong enough to kill a lot of people, and thereby give those people pause before they openly attack us. Fire Departments that are good enough to rescue people most, but certainly not all, of the time (but not most buildings - those burn down). Police Departments that keep us just one step above what's happening in NOLA today. DPW's that barely keep our roads good-enough, never mind expanding/improving them.

The list of things that they CAN'T do, now or ever, is far longer than what they can.

They can't keep the borders shut, they can't keep drugs from entering our country, they can't guarantee an Ivy League education for each and every citizen (and, in fact, likely can't do as good a job via their preferred system than the private market would do with vouchers), they can't cure poverty, they can't keep people from slipping and falling, they can't cure AIDS or even run cost-effective R&D outside of nuclear weapons, and they CERTAINLY can't stop hurricanes.

To think otherwise is madness.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I guess the K stands for "Krass."

Hey, Did'ja hear the one about Bobby Kennedy Junior blaming the governor of Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina?

Go ahead, read that sentence again. You read it right. RJK Junior actually blogged on the Huffington site about how this, the largest natural disaster we've seen in the USA in at least 100 years, is all because Governor Haley Barbour opposed the Kyoto accords.

And, in case that doesn't make you physically ill, try this one on for size: He actually wrote and posted this DURING THE HURRICANE!

That's right. While the storm surge was carving a path of death and misery unparalleled in Mississippi history; while levees were shattering and destroying the Crescent City - while people were still dying by the score, RFK Jr. was openly blaming Governor Barbour.

And please don't think it was subtle. The title of the Blog? "Those who sow the wind shall reap the Whirlwind." That's right, a quote from the book of Revelations. I'm not making this up.

You'll notice that I can't point you to the Huffington Post (not that I'd want to), because she had to remove it after Drudge linked to it. The weight of scorn was overwhelming.

How crass were RFK Jr.'s actions? It's analogous to somebody writing about Sirhan Sirhan and the rise of radical Islamists while his father's body was still bleeding in the ambulance. It's analogous to someone writing about how non-instrument rated pilots should be allowed to fly during IFR conditions while his cousin's body was still not found.

It is deplorable. Inexcusable. Disgusting.

Yet another Kennedy sews a star on the Flag of Dishonor that liberals love to wrap themselves with.

Free speech? Absolutely. But now it's time for Bobby to reap what he has sown. If he wants to politicize this, let's contrast his actions over the last few days with Governor Barbour's. Let's shine a light on the real truth here.