Category: Living

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Snow Day

Work blogging has sapped my personal blogging interest, so things have languished here. But I’m looking to generate renewed enthusiasm, and so more posts.

Big week here in Washington, with the presidential inauguration. My wife got a free ticket from the church leader to one of the events, on Tuesday; Bush and Cheney families in attendance. 

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An Encouraging Development

A story in today’s New York Times pictures a U.S. soldier unloading bottled water in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The U.S. $350 million aid commitment and rallying of local resources—in this case the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln—is an encouraging improvement over the earlier U.S. “stingy” commitment to aid.

I’m too young to remember the America of World War II; it’s all just history to me. But goodwill went a long way in Europe and Asia, even turning enemies like Germany and Japan into allies following the war. 

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The Times is Right

In October, I slammed the New York Times for leading off a story about the Bush-Kerry debate with a political ad for Kerry. That was bad form. Good form: Yesterday’s gripping analysis about U.S. aid in the wake of the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. With respect to U.S. aid response, the story’s headline makes the point: “It’s About Aid, and an Image.” I agree, and I contend that the country’s response so far has been slow and, yes, stingy.

Even viewed from the most selfish perspective possible, public relations, the Bush Administration missed an important opportunity in the hours following the horrific disaster, which, I might add, based on the number of missing Americans, might have a death toll close to the Twin Towers disaster. 

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Small-minded American News

I am in one of my ticked-off moods at the U.S. news media. This morning’s seaquake off the coast of Indonesia has wreaked untold devastation, not that you would know anything from U.S. news outlets. Kudos to BBC for taking charge in delivering painstaking, breathtaking coverage.

My fear is that sometime during the next 12 hours that someone will figure out there are probably a bunch of U.S. tourists missing or found dead. Then, suddenly the story will tick off some headlines, but I’m sure nothing like the 24-7 coverage that followed 9/11. Right now, the estimated death toll—in six countries!—is more than 10,000, or more than three times the horrific loss from the attack on the twin towers. But, of course, America the small-minded country pays no mind. 

A Summer Story

A cold November day is good time to reminisce about summer past—and to point out that behind every picture is a good story. So, what’s with my daughter and the bird?

On July 6 my wife and I picked up a Styrofoam giant glider plane at the local toy store, which my daughter and I took it out for an evening fly across the back yard. But my daughter’s throw put the plane across the fence and in the neighbor’s lot behind ours. So she and I had to walk round the block. Along the way, as we sheepishly shortcut past some condos, we caught a flash of feathers before a load SMACK of birdie hitting a window. 

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The Raw and the Raw

Oh the stinging raw emotions rumple through offices along the Northeast and West Coast. The Kerry crowd is none too happy about Tuesday’s election results. I talk to lots of really angry people, during the course of a work day. My advice: Drive the speed limit (to avoid road rage), stay out bars (to avoid a table aside the head), and read a trashy novel (to separate from all the post-election anxiety).

Me, I’m ambivalent. I live in the metro-D.C. area and just don’t take politics too seriously. Besides, I didn’t much like either candidate. I’m also pretty emotionless about the election. In the end, I just wanted a winner, whichever candidate that turned out to be. 

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If It Looks Like Bias, Walks Like Bias, Is It Bias?

Oh PLEASE! What is the New York Times doing? This morning, I clicked on a story by reporter Todd Purdum headlined, “Best Defense: More Offense”; I had been reading different stories around the Web about the second presidential debate. Before I could get to the story, a banner ad touting John Kerry’s success in the debate filled a separate page; the Democratic National Committee had paid for the ad.

Now as a former journalist, I do know something about boundaries between editorial and advertising content. In print, placement of an ad next to a related news story is a big no-no. Reputable newspapers or magazines would never place, say, an ad about Microsoft Windows in the same spread—or two-page layout—as a positive review of the product. In politics, this rule is typically more strictly followed in the United States. In broadcast journalism, the now defunct “Fairness Doctrine” helped ensure political fair play. 

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Law and Disorder

Good thing I was interested in live TV last night rather than using the DVR. Disappointing would have been the recording. I turned off the TV about half way through the first of two “Law and Order” episodes, disgusted how one-sidedly political the show has become. Naively, I had hoped for respite with the cast change. No such luck.

Episode one sought to put alleged Iraqi prisoner abuses on trial. The timing and context had to be deliberate given the election year. As if we hadn’t watched or read enough already about the prisoners’ treatment for it to be repackaged as entertainment. Geez. I tuned into episode two during the last 20 minutes, which made nonsense out of people devastated by the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers. 

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For the Gipper

Washington mourned the death of Ronald Reagan this week. While sentimental and opportunity for people to pay last respects, the mourning struck me, as it always does, somewhat misplaced. Why show so much respect for the dead when the living could use it more?

I understand that Alzheimer’s gripped the former president and that maybe he couldn’t appreciate friends or fellowship the way he used to. What about the family? Particularly considering the seriousness of his illness?