He died of frozen nose hairs, sniff—As most of you know, I begin a eight month tour of duty with the journalism department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks this month, and in fact, leave in a week’s time. Consequently, this blog will be down for the next two or three weeks while I gather my mucklucks, cariboo parka and cans of jellied moose nose. I’ll be back the end of the month with a new, revived blog. This will be my cure for cabin fever. Everybody needs an adventure. The alternative at my age is to walk around on the grass hitting little white balls into holes with a stick, a sport designed for the village idiots of Scotland a century go.
In the meantime, I leave you with these quick thoughts:
- Minnesota bridge is falling down, falling down--Why is the presence of Laura Bush and later her inept husband at the bridge collapse in Minneapolis news? He didn't show up when one of America's largest cities was being destroyed. To be fair, there isn't much he can do about the bridge except make sure there is funding, which he has; it really isn't even his fault that the bridge went down, and the reasons for the destruction of America's infrastructure seem beyond most politicians anyhow. But why is his presence, an obvious photo op, news? It is an attitude of the news media, particularly the press corps in Washington that everything a president does is important. It isn't.
- And yes, the small death toll is wonderful and amazing and it does make you wonder about all the reports on CNN and Fox and elsewhere about a "major catastrophe." In the news business I thought you wait until you get actual facts before you draw conclusions. But what do I know.
- Nomination for the Darwin Prize—Why am I supposed to be sympathetic to 23 Christian Korean missionaries who volunteered to go to Afghanistan, a dangerous and fervently Moslem country? You can still despise the Taliban who captured them and are still using the missionaries as hostages (and killed two) and hope they return to Korea safely and don’t reproduce.
- And while we are on the subject, if you spend $1.25 for bottled water, most of which comes from a public source, you should consider not reproducing either. Or, you have too much money on your hands. Pepsi admits that's where Aquafina comes from, a tap, and so do most of the other non-spring water products. And why do you think spring water is cleaner or tastes better than public water? Most American cities (New York's is world famous for its quality) have superb water supplies, and if there are still too much chemicals for you, you can always filter it. To spend $1.25 for something in a plastic bottle is insane. (My wife refills a plastic bottle with splendid City of Baltimore water through a Britta filter, completely reasonable. And virtually free. And you?)
- Suggestion for Constitutional change—American democracy has worked pretty damned well for more than 200 years, but it doesn’t any more. It’s time to consider a parliamentary system so that when you get an administration that has behaved the way this one has, and a Congress as corrupt as this one, you can vote the bastards out. Oh, and why do Karl Rove and Dick Cheney still have security clearances? I'm not alone in this: historian Robert Dallik has a suggestion in the Washington Post of how to get rid of a president who has failed miserably and lost all hope of redemption. He would have a presidential recall process added to the constitution.
- Suggestion for cruel but not unusual punishment—Airline executives should be required to spend at least 4 hours a week in their own coach sections, in a middle seat, except for those airlines that fly the Atlantic in 757. Those executives should spend 10 hours flying to Vilnius every week. They should be required to bring their own food and sit next to either a fat person or a screaming baby. And every other week, they should have their flights canceled and have to spend overnight in Cleveland waiting for another flight.
- Requirement for an antacid—Rupert Murdoch owning the Wall Street Journal. He has vulgarized everything he touches (and then sells them) and now he has his hands on one of the three best newspapers in America. No good can come of this.
We have become a docile and passive people, capable of putting up with any outrage without much of a protest or revolt. Been to an airport lately? Heard of anyone going bankrupt to pay medical bills or dying because a clerk at an insurance company won't let them have the treatment they need? Don't mind a government tapping your telephone without your knowledge and without a court order? Have schools so bad you have to home-school your kids to keep them safe? We should not be putting up with this stuff folks. Lost your pension? Had to take salary cuts while the guys running your company are pulling in millions? Still getting only two weeks' vacation time? Why are you sitting there?
Whew. I feel much better. Next time from Fairbanks.