Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Christmas Message from Huck
Santa' Gift
A New Christmas Story

Dedicated to the T. M. Hardy Family

It was just before Christmas
You could see all the signs
There was tinsel and eggnog
And frost on the pines
But amongst all the hubbub
And the standing in lines
Little Tom Junior
Was trying to find
A gift for young Matty
His brother, just five

As he shopped through the stores
He thought long and hard
Maybe Matty would like
A ball to play in the yard
Maybe a toy train
Or a soldier that guards
Why is choosing the right
Gift always so hard

Tom Junior decided
To try a new store
Maybe the right gift
Means searching some more
As he stepped outside
And looked 'cross the street
Young Tom caught a glimpse
Of a face he should meet

There on a bench
Bundled up from the cold
Was a man in small glasses
Who looked pretty old
His beard was all gray
White, truth be told
Maybe this nice man knows
Were good gifts are sold

Tommy stepped up
To give him his name
When he said, "Hello Tommy,
It's nice to see you again."
Tommy was surprised
At the extent of his fame
How could this old man
Know his name just the same?

The old Man just smiled
And said, "I know many things
I know the toy wishes
That this season brings
I know the meaning
Of the five golden rings
I hear every time
The church choir sings
'O Holy Night'
And I've met the Three Kings."

Tommy was a brave
Precocious young child
And there was something familiar
When this old man smiled
Beneath all the gruff
The old man’s spirit was mild

So Tommy spoke up,
“I need the perfect gift
Something my little
Brother Matty can lift
A toy he enjoys
And plays with, so if
You have a suggestion
I will give him that gift.”

The old man leaned back
And squinted his eyes
Saying, “The best gift at Christmas
Is a word from the wise
And is not purchased with money,
You may be surprised.”

Tommy cried, “What is this gift
And where is it found?
I’ve searched in every
Store that’s around.”
The old man said, “It’s not
In any store” as he frowned.

“Make sure you remember
And to your brother pass on
Christmas has meaning
That goes far beyond
Trees and tinsel and garland
And presents at dawn

It’s more than reindeer
More than the good food
It’s bigger than carols
And the holiday mood
It’s even more, than your
Gathered family brood

Christmas exists
For only one reason
That has little to do
With the time, place, or season
It is the joy we are given
By the birth of the Son”

“Now I am an old Saint
And there is but one thing I fear
That young children forget
To hold Christmas so dear.”
Tommy nodded and whispered
Into the old man’s ear
“I’ll never forget
The meaning won’t disappear.”

The old man smiled broadly
And patted Tommy’s head
He rose quickly up
To his feet as he said,
“Your gift is for me,
Because I no longer dread
That Christmas is lost
To Songs, Stuffing, and Sleds.”

Tommy smiled back
And turned to move on
The worry he had
About gifts was now gone
His thoughts were now
On the Christmas beyond

As he looked again for the man
To wave him goodbye
The old man had vanished
In the blink of an eye
Tommy now understood
And said with a sigh,
“Merry Christmas Santa
I’ll remember my whole life.”

A Gift to Remember
Merry Christmas

- Huckleberry

© 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Root and the Stem
You Gotta Serve Somebody

The political season is in full swing and the mud and muck fly about. Through the artifice of carefully dissected and tested phrases and freshly defined terms, politicians seek to slice and dice the voting demographic into pieces big enough to carry the day. All we are left with is a philosophical gerrymandering without core, principle, or cohesive ethos. My home state of Arizona has enough of its own—I do not normally need to look beyond the state borders to find examples of this craziness worthy of comment. But an ad put out by Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill and starring (if indeed “starring” is the correct term) Michael J. Fox certainly gives us pause for a whole slew of reasons beyond the stains left by election year rhetoric. The topic? Embryonic Stem Cell Research (
see the video).

As most everyone knows by now, Mr. Fox suffers from Parkinson’s Disease for which Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) is claimed to hold some promise. He is certainly sincere in his beliefs and he demonstrates a superior ability to deliver the message that, in Mr. Fox’s opinion, the good people of Missouri should unseat their current senator, Jim Talent (a Republican who generally opposes at least the ‘embryonic’ part of ESCR) and put Claire McCaskill in his place (as ostensibly she supports it).

By now I should think that a great majority of the voting public has some sort of an opinion about ESCR. The quality and make-up of those opinions is a different matter. This is not the fault of the electorate. Much has been done by the various interest groups to distinguish and/or blur the lines (rather, blur the genes) between the different types and methods of harvesting and researching stem cells. And, depending on who you speak to, the potential of the medical research is either enormous or hardly worth the effort. I think that each of us now probably has one ‘bucket’ of thought in their heads labeled “Stem Cells, Misc.” into which all related tid-bits are tossed regardless their nuance. The contents of this bucket are blended into a semi-homogenous pool of thought that tastes like an opinion, but lacks the substance to fully satisfy intellectually or otherwise.

On the “pro-ESCR” side we are asked to consider the promise of therapeutic benefits for those of us who suffer greatly—lives saved, horrible symptoms diminished, diseases cured, organs regenerated. We are given the complimentary assurances that embryos are not yet life and that they will, in most cases, be discarded anyway as the by-products of in vitro fertilization, etc. To deny such things, we are told, is to deny science itself. This is the “all flesh is the malleable mechanics of life” argument. Certainly this position is a little solipsistic—marginally cannibalistic—but it is still a tenable argument in a cold, Darwinian sense.

On the “anti-ESCR” side we are told that we will be creating an economic “market” for the better embryos. After all, if there is a market, there will be those who are discerning as to quality. One can therefore imagine special and/or custom orders—perhaps the equivalent of a designer label version for the well-healed sufferer. We hear that the benefits of ESCR are questionable at best and that, in any case, we can use stem cells from other, non-embryonic sources with little or no detriment to the quality of research. This is the “all life is sacred and begins at conception” argument. This position suffers from the strong perfume of religiosity that surrounds it (the closest thing we have to a sin of public discourse these days) and the seeming unwillingness or inability of most proponents to take a stab at a more intellectual defense.

So the general confusion persists. The only things that we can say with any relative certainty are that we want to cure vial diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but we don’t really want to kill any anonymous third party in the process. It gets muddier still. Clear philosophical thought is always—I repeat, always—hampered by money and emotion. There is most definitely money to be made in all this. I can speak first-hand that there is no amount of money or effort that a loving family would not spend in order to restore Grandma’s or Grandpa’s ability to count through the names of their progeny one more time with knowing and recognition. This is a higher level of opacity—our emotions. Our love and humanity are themselves Sirens that obscure our view and call us to sacrifice a few thin layers of principle to ease the emotional and physical pains. The pharmaceutical giants know this and the promise of lucrative cures is a Siren that they are not practiced in resisting. Thus we step forward into the brand new world in a tentative alliance of inharmonious, yet parallel objectives.

It’s a shame, really. Because there is something deeper here that needs our attention. It is far too easy to get ourselves caught up in resolving what amount to our deepest of philosophical ponderings by staking our claims solely in the realms of temporal specificity. By this I mean that we can spend so much time arguing about those damnable nuances and specifics that we lose sight of the whole. There is a whole here, after all. And it is a whole that lies at the root of many of our evils, some of our sanctities, and many of our most controversial topics.

What are we willing to do—and not do—in the service of ourselves?

Who Do You Serve?
Bob Dylan famously wrote and performed a song called You Gotta Serve Somebody that distilled this question down nicely. We, individually and collectively, must decide if our comfort, convenience, and even our individual survival is, in itself, the ultimate good.

Veal may serve (so to speak) to make a point. Unless you have kept yourself in a state of abject denial you are aware that veal is the meat of young cows. The tradition of “slaying the fatted calf” is biblical and stretches back literally thousands of years. This is, obviously, because young cows plumped by a steady diet of grain generally provide more tender and better tasting meat than their older, range-fed counterparts. But the Israelites also abided by a strict set of laws that not only dictated what and how they ate, but also stipulated how the animals were to be treated in life and the manner in which they were to be slaughtered in death—namely, they were instructed in the manners providing the least amount of distress and discomfort as possible to the animal.

Reflect this forward to the present day. Some veal ranchers discovered that young cows kept largely immobile in small pens produced an even better end product. However this treatment is indisputably unpleasant for the animal. Society is rebelling against such treatment. Many people have thus determined that there is a portion of their desires that is transcended by the moral. An animal—though good for food (unless you are a Vegan)—should not be treated in a manner that causes unnecessary suffering even if there is a personal benefit to the consumer.

To a varying amount, we as a society agree. We have determined that, in the case of veal and animals in general, complete and totalitarian service to self is wrong….Here, here.

Amongst humanity, we hail our highest heroes as those who have offered up life and limb in their service to others. Police, Firemen, Soldiers, other professions, and even the common everyday citizen daily provide us with fresh examples of self-sacrifice. Hostages are rescued, total strangers are pulled from burning buildings, and soldiers charge into terrorist enclaves—all at great personal risk and often real loss for them and their clan. We honor those who fail and those who succeed—those who escape unharmed as well as those who pay the price—because we recognize that it is indeed the highest order and calling of man that he lay down his life for his brother (scriptural references become unavoidable in discussions of morals and ethics). This holds true even if the “brother” in question is a total stranger. And honor them we should.

If we focus on the specific meal or on a particular animal (in the case of veal) or if we try to appraise the value of a particular human life against the heat of a particular fire (in the case of a fireman) we will befuddle ourselves with so many specifics that we will become paralyzed well beyond the window of decision. So the decisions are no longer decisions. Our greatest heroes are the ones who hear an anonymous cry for help and leap into the flame with a diminished self regard.

So now we have real-world examples of the exaltation of moral values when we do (the fireman) and do not (veal). A bit simplistic? Yes—especially considering the complexities of ESCR. But then there is much emotion and money in our path.

Perhaps Sometime soon…
As we come back around to the topic at hand, we once again confront this philosophical demon in the blinding glare and white walls of an operating room, perhaps not far into the future. In this starkly white and sanitary environment, a neurosurgeon is preparing to implant stem cells into the correct portion of a patient’s brain in the hope that these cells will learn or decide to buttress the patient’s ailing hypothalamus to produce more dopamine, thus easing those terrible tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease. The procedure sometimes works, often fails and must be attempted again, and occasionally results in a blossoming tumor that carries its own crisis and additional surgery. As the patient is being efficiently prepared for the procedure, he is asked to sign several pieces of paper from a full clip board containing all the usual insurance forms, medical disclaimers, and legal releases incumbent with 21st Century medicine. Maybe that patient will be Michael J. Fox himself as he has becomes further dissatisfied with the level of relief afforded him by medications alone.

Whoever that patient is, I wonder if he will think back upon the day he placed the order for his stem cells a few months back and try to picture the young coed who regularly contributes to the tissue bank in order to fund her classes. Perhaps he will be grateful for the tissue-match and the coed’s history of successful stem cell extraction. Maybe our patient will think the whole affair to be a noble capitalistic exchange—one being relieved of the symptoms of a terrible disease, the other financing her college tuition with less debt and trouble.

Or perhaps the patient will wonder if the capitalistic exchange contained much nobility at all and cringe at the market for human flesh. He may remember that several cloned embryos were created—most failed—and a few have been kept as spares pending the success of the procedure. If the procedure is successful, the remaining will be destroyed and the doctors and egg donors will move on to the next case. Perhaps the patient will marvel at the miracle of modern science within the context of the miracle of life itself to realize his personal lot with a different perspective. In so doing, he may well know that medical science had found a cure for his ill, but in this new light he may wonder if it should have found another way as he sets the loaded clipboard aside, runs his fingers across the rosary left by his mother at the bedside, and remembers the heartache his sister felt as she miscarried her first child—his own niece or nephew—at the time only a few short weeks older than the cells he is about to receive.

The First of Many
This is neither the first or last time we will bump up against our medical ethics and self interests to see that they are not aligned. Time and again the specific cases and anecdotal evidence clouds our decision making and the loudest, richest, or most photogenic interest carries sway. I am pressed to find evidence that we, as a society, even agree that there are some things—anything—that we should not do to prolong or improve our own individual lives. Left unresolved, we will continue to be cursed with a series social constructs that form a socio-philosophical tradition with a schizophrenic bent—possessing multiple, often disconnected and opposing ethics. A tradition so formed is quickly recognized by new generations as holding no traditions at all. What remains for them is to recognize only the self and selfish as they make their own choices.

Is the potential of medical research such as ESCR enormous? Well, it may be Pyrrhic in that what we gain may be equaled or outweighed by what we lose—even if we are too busy staring into our mirrors to understand the loss. We can say with certainly that politicians like Clair McCaskill will cynically continue to ensure that we do not.

- Huckleberry
Read the Lyrics to: You Gotta Serve Somebody By Bob Dylan, circa 1979

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Play in Three Acts — Election 2006

Muck-raking is a time-honored political tradition. The muck this year is already up to our necks and there are still three weeks remaining before the election. Most recently, CNBC—with some apparent glee—grabs onto Rep. Kolbe of Arizona in some sadistic attempt ride the coat-tails of the Foley affair (pardon my word choice,
read for yourself). It appears that some ten years ago Mr. Kolbe invited two former (at the time) pages on a rafting trip along with other staff and family members. On this openly discussed, non-secret trip, the following is alleged to have occurred:

  • Rafting
  • Not much else

So we must ask, why is this news?

Well, the answer is that Mr. Kolbe is guilty of being a gay Republican during an election year in which another gay Republican sent communications to Congressional pages with narcissistic indiscretion and childish naiveté—ergo; Mr. Kolbe is a convenient target in a climate where desperate Democrats are grasping for the brass ring. There are two places where it is particularly unsafe to be: One—between Michael Moore and a buffet table; and Two—between unscrupulous liberal minions and the halls of power.

MSNBC suggests a “federal investigation.” To which the natural reply is, “Of what?” Nothing has even been alleged. Evidence? There is none—and, again, of what? But there is, however, much to question in the origins of this seemingly contrived pseudo-controversy. Is this another Foley? Only in the cynical political fantasies of election-year operatives seeking to perpetuate a story with mal intent. I would much rather we investigate the entire Congress for failing to restrict Federal spending—but I digress.

My message for Mr. Kolbe? Find a local dry-cleaner specializing in political muck removal (it is far stickier than normal BS). Shake off these desperate election-year antics and rally to the conservative cause. Rest assured that we will be watching for real wrong-doing and malfeasance (
Harry Reid, anyone?). When and if we find it amongst Republicans, we will clean out our own house.

- Huckleberry

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

BOOM!... or Rather (boom?)

So it appears that North Korea either fired off a small nuke or they shoved a couple of M80 Firecrackers into the nuclear toilet to make a big noise. The scientific data over the next few days will tell the tale for certain. But making a big noise was point of the whole exercise, wasn't it?

And make a big noise they have. For those who practice moral equivalency out there (Example: Let's just say that Ted Turner is an ass. I mean if you are so "out there" that Jane Fonda can't take it anymore--then you are a real ass.), this is a good thing. After all, we have nukes, so why shouldn't Kim Jong Il (aside from the fact that his name is Kim Jong Il)?

I will, for now, side-step the us vs. them mentality of the election cycle. We flagellate ourselves every two years at the polls. Fair enough. For those who may be reading this that call themselves moderates or undecided, let us make a balance of the scales.

Who do we want to have Nukes or other Weapons of Mass Destruction?

On the Right side of the scale we have your choice of recent American President: Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (GHW), Clinton, or Bush (HW). You also have certain foreign leaders such as Blair (or his immanent successor), Chirac, other Euro, et al.

On the Left side of the scale you have Ahmadinejad, Jong Il, Saadam (thankfully in a cell), Castro, al-Bashir, Quaddhafi, etc.

As the scale teeter-totters back and forth in your imagination, decide for yourself if there is any difference or if the scale is better when balanced by nukes on both sides. If you hate our current president--I don't really understand that, but OK for you--decide who you would prefer holding the nuclear football. Do you see a difference?

In the meantime, North Korea is making noise. The timing of which seems un-naturally close to our bi-yearly exercise in messy democracy. It is as if the rush to pop that cork was to be in some way a distraction. Hmmmmm......

In the final analysis, let me just say that I see a difference between the likes of the United States and the Nuttier Korea--and Iran, and Sudan, and the rest. And even if you think that the term "Axis of Evil" is a stretch, at least the expression is on the Right side of the scale. Take a look at a picture of Kim Jong Il and decide if you are comfortable with his finger on any button more important than a PlayStation (I hear his favorite game is DOOM). Further…ask yourself if we should be doing something about it.

- Huckleberry

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mr. Foley

What more is there to say? Although I am rarely known to be at a loss for words, the events of the last week cause my jaw to hang slack and agape. Suffice it to say that if there was any coddling amongst the Republican leadership—for personal difference, professional courtesy, political expediency, or any other form of complicity—there will be hell to pay. I do not wish ill upon the Grand Ole Party. Far from it. But repercussions will have been well earned and will no doubt be enthusiastically netted out by the media, the left, and (our normal and natural allies) the righteous. I will remain confident in the long standing GOP tradition of taking out our own trash and dealing relatively swiftly with those who stray too far into kook-ery, crook-ery, and vice (oh, my). If only the left side of the aisle had such decorum and sense of propriety. Rather, they think us fools that we cling to such things and constantly attempt to use our own morality and--at times as this--shame against us.

It is yet to be determined what number of victims and/or underage collaborators there may be. They will need healing as well and a measure of justice appropriate to the offence. As for the wayward Mr. Foley? I do wish him peace and healing. But it will be a long time before we can forget and recover from the damage he has so foolishly wrought upon individuals, his office, and his party through his narcissism and self-destructive tendencies.

- Huckleberry

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bubba Doth Protest Too Much, Y’all

Well, well. It appears that we all get to finally see the beginnings of one of former President Clinton’s famous “purple rages” for ourselves. Fox News has the scoop and Chris Wallace (son of the famous Mike) does a fine job holding the interview together. Fox has posted details and clips

Incoherent babbling aside, Mr. Clinton let’s fly with a few mis-statements and half truths that others have covered ever-so-well. I will let their comments covering the historical accuracies (and/or lack there of) and logical refutations suffice.

We all have our hot-buttons. I expect that every leader—and former leader—will have theirs. But as we watch Bill Clinton defiantly wag his finger at Chris Wallace and go about his self-serving tirade, I cannot help but transpose the image of his famous speech (referenced in an unrelated blog a few days ago) where he promises us, with great concern and firmness, that he “did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinski. (And he) never asked anyone to lie, ever….” Deja’ vu all over again, I think.

If you have not read enough about this already, here are more links for your reference:

Little Green Footballs

- Huckleberry

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Devil Is In The Details

The most recent dust-up at the UN gives us pause. Hugo Chavez, the erstwhile President of Venezuela, calls our President “The Devil” to applause and school-girl giggles from the crowd. The day before, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran gave us his best Bill Clinton impersonation (“I do not intend to make weapons with that enriched uranium. I never lied about it and I didn’t inhale.”). President Bush takes his opportunity to speak before this world body to call for freedom and liberty for all of mankind.

Who are we to trust and believe—Hugo, Mahmoud, or George? Perhaps the details can shed light upon our choices.

Among certain circles George Bush is best known for having committed the crime of “Presiding While Christian” (the punishment for which stirs no debate among the otherwise anti-death penalty crowd as all lefties agree it is a hanging offense). He is also known for his dedicated prosecution of The War on Terror. There are those who disagree with his methods (some obviously believe that saying “War on Terror” is sufficient and actually conducting a War on Terror is disproportionate and unfashionable). It is reasonably allowed that some reasonable folks might be able to arm-chair quarterback mis-steps and plausible improvements as the rear-view mirror allows. Other rather extreme lefties concoct theories that Mr. Bush or his alleged “cronies” are profiting by the whole mess, though none has been able to demonstrate a financial or economic tie.

Hugo Chavez is best known for being a Socialist rabble-rouser. Perhaps he is best thought of as Fidel Castro’s understudy—waiting in the wings for the star to become ill (or die) so that he can get his big break on the world stage. He is also known for suppressing free speech in his own country—not in the American media sense of suppressing free speech by snubbing at parties or (gasp!) criticizing the press—we’re talking about the threats, imprisonment, and mysterious “disappearances” kind of totalitarian suppression. Definitely “old school.” Where the George Bush Team is regularly harangued for having an understanding of the Oil Industry and having loosely defined “ties” to the companies that pump it up form the Earth, Hugo Chavez wields his country’s government-confiscated oil reserves as a political bludgeon—giving it away here, over-pricing it there, and generally using it to stay in power by exploiting the limited inherent wealth of the Venezuelan people.

Where do we begin? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is well known for:

  • Denying the Holocaust—definitely, partially, with equivocations, and then definitely again.
  • Desiring Israel to be “wiped off the map” —moving it to Europe if we must. Since most of the rest of us would at least marginally object to killing all of the remaining Jews, he has compromised into sort of a “no Jews in my neighborhood” anti-Semite. Perhaps he is worried about property values in the Middle East?
  • He has what I would call an “unhealthy” affinity for calling for the end of the world during his tenure as leader of Iran and as an out-growth his brand of fervent religiosity.
  • It is alleged by some of our former embassy hostages that Mr. Ahmadinejad was one of the hostage-takers back in the day. I do not consider this to be a resume’ enhancement or qualification for civilized international diplomacy.
  • This is getting far too long for our Blog format so the above listing will have to suffice.

My opinions are made plain. But any attempt by reasonable folks to sift through the details should help us easily determine who the Devils at the UN are.

- Huckleberry

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Iraq--A Clean Shoot

Intelligent people of good character are free to quibble over details and incidentals. But now, five years after 9/11 and four years into armed conflict with Afghanistan and Iraq--amongst all off the rancor and rhetoric--reasonable people should come to one conclusion:

The invasion of Iraq was a clean shoot.

Let me explain by analogy.

When a police officer approaches a suspicious person, the officer will order the suspect to "show his hands" or something to that effect. The officer may give further directions to the suspect to provide reassurance that there is not an immanent threat. If the suspect makes threatening gestures; if the suspect conceals (or reasonably appears to conceal) something in his/her hand; if the suspect makes statements that cause the officer to believe that the danger is mounting; if an innocent is coming into supposed danger; if the suspect commits further crimes or other actions that escalate the situation: any or a combination of these circumstances may cause the police officer to use force--even deadly force. This use of force is justified under these circumstances.

Bush lied? Come now. The word lie infers conscious intent. We can reasonably agree that the minds within the administration were wrong (whatever your estimation of the quality of those minds). However, we have much to say that the Bush Administration made a call based upon the information that they had at the time and came to a conclusion--one that was shared by most of the free world at the time--that Iraq posed a WMD threat. Saddam was evasive, brash, had used WMDs previously, and there is evidence that he himself believed that he had some WMDs at his disposal (he may have been deceived by corrupt scientists and military men within his own government).

Think that America is prosecuting the war poorly? Let's talk. Think that the whole affair was the wrong call to begin with? Fair enough--your opinion is as good as mine. Think that the police analogy I have constructed is apt and we should not be the police force for the world? OK--I can understand your argument. Want to spend your time as the Administration's perpetual "armchair quarterback" second-guessing every move from the intellectual safety of hindsight? Not fair.

You may not like the call made by the Bush team and you may dread the result, but in the dim light, stress, and trauma of the seedy back-alley that is the Middle East--the Iraq invasion was a clean shoot.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Katie Couric--A Sign of the Times?

It may be a bit too much to ask, but couldn't we have found a journalist? I am not a "Katie Basher" per se. But how does a cute, hair-bobbed, cherubic, dilettante go from cooking segments and good morning wishes (which she did arguably very well) to anchoring the evening news? Even the word "Anchor" implies a sense of weighted intellect, experienced judgment, and even-handed repose sufficient to form the nucleus of serious journalism. For all of Katie's talents--real, supposed, or imagined--there is little to convince us that she has the right stuff.

Well, the answer is an easy one and a common lament--ratings. Katie has been an early morning ratings juggernaut and the brass at CBS are hoping that Katie's debut at the helm of the evening news--long after the effects of morning coffee have worn-off the bleary-eyed viewing public--will drag a subset of her loyal followers into CBS's prime-time lineup. Actually, this is pretty good marketing. But it is not good journalism at all.

There will be unending hype and a slew of underappreciated "producers" who will serve as her galley-slaves--rowing the ship of serious news (or as close to serious news as CBS can muster) while Katie wears her new string of serious pearls, a new "do", and a wardrobe of carefully chosen "grown-up" clothes which still feel and look a little foreign on her. Maybe she will even succeed. But the measure of success is not likely to be taken in real journalistic achievement. Rather, it will be measured in rating-book basis points and market share.

All of those folks doing all of that rowing--and so the word "anchor" takes on a whole new meaning.

I cannot resist one parting dig before I sign off: It is not that Katie Couric and CBS look at the world through rose-colored glasses. It is that their glasses are missing a lens on the right side--and the left one needs to be cleaned. Good luck Katie.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrinic Nostalgia

I get a sense from the papers and the television that the proverbial Talking Heads are wishing for another Katrina. Maybe this is to be expected. The Heads make their living off of news. The bigger and splashier the item the better the ratings. This creates a classic imbalance of incentives. Since tragedy and misery love ratings as well as company, the Heads have an incentive for such things to be--and therefore a natural inclination to perhaps inflame what they are charged with simply reporting (does anyone else remember the reporter-in-canoe-in-four inches of water?).

Katrina was bad enough all by itself. Still, the hyperbola persists as we are barraged by reports on the "One Year anniversary of the Greatest Disaster in American History." Greatest Disaster? Hardly--not by any measure that I can think of. Still it was bad and it was the biggest story of last year. What is worse, there has not been a bigger story (In the media sense, that is. I would argue that the proxy war with Iran is a more potent drama, but the fact that it is a "proxy" war dims the headlines. But I digress).

Ernesto? A mere blip of a rainmaker captures the imagination of all of the "Stone" wanna-bes hoping for a seminal event to make or brake their journalistic careers. We are left to sift through this drek and egotistic pandering and play-acting. Nothing short of another "Real" disaster will satiate the medias appetites--red in tooth and claw as it is. So they sit, haplessly waiting for tragedy to come to us again. Feeling glee when others face hardship and encouraging them to suffer more.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hello. This is the first post of my new blog. There is not an author around that does not possess at least a bit of ego. Bloggers are no exception. Readers of this blog will accompany me as I attempt, on a daily basis, to "rise above the noise and confusion, just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion" (Kansas)--to bring some order to the media chaos--to shine a bit of my unique insight into the matters and issues that surround us. There is certainly a need for it, and I think that I am the right guy for the job.

I have chosen a crowded field to be sure. But I think that there is enough room on the Web for me as well. I welcome comments and suggestions--but be prepared for a response. I will generally be polite and fair, but that doesn't mean I will suffer foolishness easily.

Let's start, shall we?