Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm sorry... what?!

Is this for real? Or is it some belated April Fool's joke?


Anyone? Beuller? Anyone?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Come again, Lamar?

You all should add this word to your online dictionary and personal word lists:


I use Repugnican to refer to Republicans because the things they do, say, and espouse are so repugnant to... well, everyone who can read. I'm currently working on a essay of sorts, that can be summed up like this:

"One cannot be educated, moral/ethical, rational, and republican, all at the same time." The vast majority of Repugnicans are either uneducated outright, or hugely misinformed. The very top ones, of course, are immoral (Rush Limbaugh) and irrational (Sean Hannity, Bill O'Riley). But this will have to wait for some further writing. The topic at hand today is the misinformed, and slightly irrational Lamar Alexander.

In a shocking series of events destined to be forgotten by the bulk of the voting public, assuming any of them noticed in the first place, the Repugnican Party has once again changed course and message in an obvious bid to screw America and line the pockets of their patrons.

This weekend, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) gave the Repugnican Radio address, calling for "100 new nuclear power plants during the next twenty years" while simultaneously dismissing "subsidies for renewable energy from the sun, the wind and the earth." Apparently, we're all supposed to forget that the Repugnicans pretended real hard during the last election to care about "Renewable energy." Even that was quickly co-opted to (what is NOW referred to as) "finding more American energy" in the form of off-shore drilling and drilling in Alaska. Remember the thousands of uninformed, ignorant, and vacant-eyed Republican sheep chanting "Drill baby drill?"

Well that's not good enough, now. Now they want nuclear power plants- 100 of them- all over the country. The whole reason we *don't* have Nuke plants all over the country is because we're so afraid of what happens when the got wrong. Three Mile Island? Chernobyl? Anyone?

And let's not also forget the whole idea of not even *trying* to improve renewable energy, like Solar and Wind. heaven forbid we should get started *now* on building that future, what with nuclear so simple, easy, inexpensive, and perfectly safe. You, dear reader, have at some point been in a bind. You've run out of money, or gas, or food in the fridge. And what one thing do you think we have all learned from being in that bind? We plan ahead. We take steps now to prevent it form happening again.

We save some money.
We buy a jerry jug and keep it in the garage.
We buy some extra groceries.

We start on a solution NOW so we have something in place the next time a crisis hits.

But Repugnicans don't want us to do that. They, like the big American Auto makers for the last 40 years, don't want to look ahead. They don't want us to take steps to improve things now. They just want to make their money, and to hell with the rest of us. Our children can deal with a lack of oil. Our children can worry about gas prices. Our children can worry about polution from coal and expanded drilling tomorrow.

Our children can cope with 100 new possible nuclear melt downs. Because all that matters right now is big bucks for big lobbies.

In three and a half years, the Repugnicans will once again be willing to say "we're all for renewable energy... let's have some!" And as soon as that election is over, they'll do just as they have always done- just what they're doing now: toss all that rhetoric to the wind and screw us out of any real solutions.

They're calling us all dumb. You gonna stand for that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whither Goest Thou, Oh Globe?

Stories are flooding in from all over about the NYT's threat to close the Boston Globe if the paper's 13 unions don't agree to shave $20M from the operating budget. This, even despite years of cutbacks, staff cuts, and layout tweaks.

All of my life, my family has had a subscription to the Globe. And when I was a budding journalist, back when "reporting" meant the person nearest the opening of the cave grunted when the rain stopped, I aspired to working for the paper that, at the time, was the 3rd most important paper in the country.

And now it's at a crisis. The Globe has grown into a hugely respected and needed newspaper. Without the Globe's hard-hitting, in-depth, and well-written news, Boston will suffer a huge lack of depth in what many of us in the area still refer to as "The Hub." The Globe is an integral part of many people's news and entertainment ritual. When we want to get to the truth of an issue, we turn to the Globe to report it accurately, fairly, and fully. We turn to the Globe for entertainment- such as keeping track of what cultural events are happening around our fair city and state, and which movies are playing where, and whether we should see them.

I've had arguments with friends in the past, who actually said out loud that they preferred the Herald due to the shape/layout of the paper. Slightly less important to them, apparently, is the quality of reporting, or accuracy. Not for me. If the Globe says something, I know I can rely on it. I'd hate to lose something I've trusted for so many years.

So what are the options? Some of the ideas floated are, naturally, staff cuts and elimination of the seniority system, the end of lifetime employment guarantees, cuts in pay and benefits. But I'd like to propose some others as well.

The idea has already been mentioned by pundits nation wide, but the Globe should consider moving more of its content online... and charging a small fee for access. Yes, I know its a little risky, but the fact is people are already moving to on-line news sources- that's why the Globe's circulation is down- and if the Globe can offer some unique, as well as high-quality content, people will pay for it.

Consider that, nationwide, people support National Public Radio (NPR) because they can only get their quality reporting/features from NPR. This is a model that many other papers will likely have to adopt anyway- the Globe can set a new standard. And yes, I'd pay for it. (I also think they should consider raising thier subscription price- for what you get, you get a lot.)

The Globe not only has the best reporting in all the Northeast, they have they have the people in the streets to see and know what's going on before any other source. They've got the contacts, the savvy, and most important, they've got the clout. If we lose that (as a nation, mind you!) it would be a huge blow to the fourth estate. Our fourth branch of government has already been crippled by Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, and people like Rush Limbaugh. We can't allow this bastion of reporting integrity be shut down.

I hope the unions and the NYT parent company reach an accomodation, and I hope they also explore options for charging a small fee for online content. Of course, it also means there would have to be some kind of project to bring some more special (and I think older) content online. Think of all the years of microfiche that need to be digitized so we can look through ancient newspapers! But if it meant most of the organization stayed intact, it would be worth the effort.

The alternative, of course, is for us all to ahve to rely on only the tabloid, The Boston Herald, as our source if news, insight, and culture. I for one would prefer not to be forced to read a paper that's the local equivalent of Gomer Pyle. The last things Boston needs is a NASCAR track down town and a suddent infusion of gun racks. The increase in wet-t-shirt contests and "tramp stamps" might be diverting for a while... but I'd still like to know what's happening at the ICA.

Killing three birds with one... stone?

I have a modest proposal. Let's create a new Reality TV show called "To Catch a Pirate."

Rich, stupid, heavily armed Americans can RACE to see who can get their boats and weapons to a point just off the Somali Coast. Then, documentary style, our cameras would catch all the good-natured hyjinks as a motley crew of over stimulated, over caffeinated, spoiled gun nuts try to hunt down a bunch of emaciated, desperate hoodlums.

And of course, you'd have gunfire, boat races, competitions. Maybe the Pirate would even allow a camera to document their side. Or heck- they could even get their own spin off!

Its a win-win-win; We get a great new TV show; we get to ship a bunch of gun-toting nutjobs out of our country, and they get to duke it out "Buccaneer Style" with another bunch of gun-toting nutjobs. And we all get to laugh at the cooky hyjinks!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

What have I done?!

I... I was trying to do a good thing. Honestly.

I was trying to stay informed, and current, and... you know- be smart.

So when I heard someone was giving away free pocket copies of the Constitution, I thought "Hell, I've not had a pocket copy of the constitution since my college reporting days... I'll get one."

So I called the number, or signed up on the website- it was so long ago I can't remember. I meant well. A few weeks later, my copies arrived, and I was really pleased to have them. I've not even had a chance to look through the pocket Constitutions yet... more on that in a minute.

Well I'd given my name and address to the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is an untra-conservative, bordering insane organization bent on humanity's destruction. I might be overstating this somewhat but consider this:

The Heritage Foundation supports, and is endorsed by, and is spoken for by, Sean Hannity. I'm now getting weekly mail from Sean Hannity. And he's asking me for money.

I had planned on writing a blog about some of this... but there's too much material. They've sent me a "Tax Increase Impact Survey" that is laugh-out-loud funny, if I wasn't so busy sobbing at how underhanded and evil they and thier "survey" are. Also a "Survey for Conservatives."

I'm trying to decide what will be more effective; answering them truthfully and sending them back, in the hope that I and others sane respondents will sway the results slightly, or simply gluing the Business Reply Envelope to a brick so they'll have to pay a ton in postage, and thereby cutting into the profits that would otherwise go into further ravaging the Constitution they recently sent me.

Come to think of it, I'd better read through that sucker. Lord knows what kind of creative "edits" they might have made in the constitutions they sent out. Heck- they didn't get to be one of the world's largest, most insane conservative organizations because thier contributors were SMART. Maybe they figure if they send out enough of these, they can get people to think the Second Amendment actually provides for the "right to shoot liberals..."

Stay tuned to this space for more updates regarding my Love Letters from Hannity.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Alternative Transportation

Today is the second day I used my bike to get to work. My job is about 19.4 miles from my house, so I cheat a little. I bike 2.8 miles, catch a bus, and then bike 2.9 miles to my office (all distances courtesey of Google Maps).

The ZOOM bus provides the crucial link between Portland and Biddeford for me. Sadly, like many other public transit agencies, they've been forced to cut back on services and raise their prices. Formerly it was $3.00 a ride, and $58.00 for a monthly pass. It's now $5.00 a ride and $80.00 a month, a considerable hike. They've also cut back a couple of runs. For example the last bus out of Biddeford used to be at 5:55, but that was eliminated, so if I miss the 5:35 bus, I have a long ride home ahead of me, or I can wait until 7:00 and take Amtrak back to Portland.

There may be sound financial reasons for cutting services and raising prices, but in any time, and especially a time of recession, the people it hurts most are the people who need it the most. My decsision to use the bus to get to work is a choice for me. I have a car, and I can afford to maintain it, but there are many who cannot, and these people shouldn't be penalized for not owning a car.