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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

“Jeez, I hate Shakespeare.” I can easily remember many of my high school classmates saying that or something not quite so charitable while trying to read and/or understand Hamlet or Macbeth. I won’t try to kid you, there were many times I was just as confused as most and reacted in much the same way. Now, in my dotage, and thanks to a couple of English faculty at Northeastern, I can enjoy much of what The Bard had to say. The question is, “Why is William Shakespeare more famous today than he was more than 400 years ago?” I guess it depends on the source you use since time travel is a bit of a bitch. The various sources that I have researched state that “…his friends said that he was the best writer of his time.”  Today we know that he may well be the greatest writer of all time. You may not enjoy Elizabethan English any more than I do, but think of some of the quotes that still roll off our tongues and for which we must give credit to Will…”what’s in a name;” “we band of brothers;” “something’s rotten in [the state of] Denmark.” All in all, there are many reasons why Shakespeare’s fame has lasted for more than four Centuries.

Come we now to today’s famous folk: Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Sam Peckinpah, and a number of wonderful film directors; movie actors, singers in several genre, writers of note and you can pick fiction or non-fiction, songs or shows…take your choice. There are sports heroes and others out the wahzoo who will have their moment of shining glory before fading into obscurity. Who remembers Ken Jennings, Mae Sutton Bundy, Moe Berg, Joan Weston, or Victoria Woodhull? These people, among others, all had a moment in the sun, and when we look them up, we say, “Oh, yeah, I remember now. Just don’t ask me a month or a year from now.” Fame is earned and fame – sad to say – is fleeting.

Now, here comes the $64,000 question: What the hell makes Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Richard Hatch, or – and this one is the kicker – the Kardashians so friggin’ famous that  we hear their names damn near as much as we do the President of the United States [Barack Obama for those of you who have been hiding under a rock]. Okay, I understand Conrad Hilton and his hotels, and perhaps his descendants are cashing in on his fame. It would be one thing if she had talent other than living an outrageous lifestyle and hanging out with other wannabees but I just don’t understand the media attraction to her anymore than I do to Nicole Richie. I guess fame can also be an inherited thing. Hatch is now pitching crap on television, but the first Survivor winner is rapidly on his way to obscurity.

I have dug and dug and dug – a classy word for research…or not, and I really do not understand what makes the Kardashians such a big deal. A lawyer for a dad who had a big case; a sex tape that I have no desire to see, a friend of Paris Hilton – gee, that impresses me…NOT – a camera hound who is enamored of her own face…I can’t say “and body,” because the body and maybe even the face are not really her own, and as she indicates, “…a brand.” And the media just sucks this stuff up.

Call me crazy – as many have in my day – but there are people out there who deserve ‘fame’ whatever that is, far more than some of the idiots the media dote on. When Brittany Spears ‘forgot’ to wear panties as she climbed out of a car, the media went wild; as did Brittany’s fans, as did members of Congress, as did priests, ministers, rabbis, and, for all I know, the top imam in Jordan. What were people expecting, a Harley to drive out of her vagina with the reincarnation of Evel Kneivel on board?

In another decade there will be tens – oh please not, God – maybe hundreds of these fame grabbers. They will come and they will go, and the people of their time will ‘oooh,’ and ‘aaah’ over their actions and their antics. They will be bright shooting stars and just like shooting stars, their fame will be fleeting. I will bet, however, that people will still be reading William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, and Dr. Seuss; people will still be watching Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz; people will still be listening to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, and Ella Fitzgerald. Good is good for a long, long time. Pretenders, for all that they try, are soon found out and forgotten. I wonder why it takes so long for us to see through the phoniness of these people.

You may not care for Shakespeare, his plays, his sonnets, his phraseology, or his themes, but ya gotta admit, the guy has a hell of a lot better staying power than Violet Gibson, Annie Edson Taylor, John Montague, or Matthew Henson. Who of your generation will be remembered 400 years from now?

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You know what I haven’t heard much about lately…the “left-wing media.” Newt certainly hasn’t been talking about it and he was one of the most vocal critics. Santorum, Romney, and Paul don’t care; they’re getting their coverage; it’s not all good, but the coverage is there. I guess that radical left-wing media group must have left town for the winter. I am certain, however, that they’ll be back just as soon as the presidential campaigning begins. It won’t matter who the Republican Party candidate is, that horribly-biased, crazy radical, left-wing press will be out to get him – sorry Michele, it’s going to be a him.

Sure the press is biased. You’re biased; I’m biased. We all have our prejudices toward or away from certain things. You want to watch a Democratically-biased news program, you turn to CNN or MSNBC; you want to watch some station that is biased toward the Republican point of view, you watch FOX or one of their affiliates. I have been watching stations that are, obviously, anti-military recently. They are continuously lambasting the accidental burning of the Quaran at some base in the Middle East. Get over it people; you’re continuing your rioting because the media is continuing to film it and the media is continuing to film it because they’re looking for more blood. An apology has been issued. It’s a closed story; build and bridge and get over it! And if you can’t get over that, you’re a hell of a lot more ‘religious’ than I honestly believe you are. It’s not dissimilar in many ways to the ‘occupy movement’ here in the States. Some of you get truly pissed because it was sacrilegious to you. Perhaps you can accept it as an accident; perhaps you voice your protest. Then, suddenly, you’re joined by a group of radical Islamists and bums who have nothing better to do. They yell and scream and start fires. Then one of them produces a weapon and begins shooting wildly, perhaps even hits and kills one of the demonstrators…something else to blame on the Great Satan. What a crock of crap. Yet, you same people think nothing of desecrating an American flag. We have so many religions over here that burning a book doesn’t mean quite the same thing. Matter of fact, quite a few of us have issues with our own religious teachings. However, you fuck with my flag; the colors of my country; now you have really pissed me off. The media call that freedom and it’s not particularly newsworthy…bullshit!

I watch these talking heads on newscasts and they make me sick. They can tell the same story three days  running and still sound excited about it. Unfortunately, they have some trouble pronouncing words like “equestrian,”  “brick,” “beach,” and a few others. Local stations try to stay away from anything dealing with Iran because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Ma-mood Ah-ma-din-i-jad) is an absolute bitch! What is the matter with these ‘news’ channels? Is it that they can’t find people who can read?  Is it that they can’t find talented reporters who go out and search for stories? I know they use police scanners because they’re on top of every murder and fire before the body is cold or the smoke has died away. I know the locals get feeds from networks, but it just seems that good old journalistic effort to ‘dig up’ a good news story is a thing of the past. “If it bleeds it leads” certainly seems to be the mantra of all of the Boston and Rhode Island television stations.

Recently, I watched the testimony of a former Boston meteorologist and newscaster. She was appearing before the Massachusetts Senate regarding a bill that would permit children to attend public school without requiring that they receive the full range of vaccines that are now required. She and the “Canary Party” having researched the effects that some vaccines can have on some children, e.g.,  autism and more severe allergies, have tried to make the general public more aware of this situation. As a former newscaster and “star” in Boston’s media firmament, Mish Michaels was well positioned to propose this as a news story to her former stations. Only one thought the story to be newsworthy, When FOX 25 ran the story, it went national. It’s difficult to understand why Boston’s three ‘major’ news channels didn’t see the value of this as news. One station said that it wasn’t news; another called it a “fringe” story; heaven only knows what the third station had to say. While I don’t happen to be a big fan of FOX, at least they had the good sense to recognize a big story when they saw it.

It’s almost time for some real political battles to occur. When they do, I’m certain that conservatives across the country will once again be screaming about the left-wing, radical news media. Liberals will also do their share of screaming. Before that happens, perhaps the media should examine who and what they have for news-gathering reporters and develop a staff that is willing to dig for real stories affecting real people. Attention assignment editors….the 2012 race for the Presidency does not mean you can sit on your collective tushies and pretend there is no other news out there. Get with the program or get the hell out of the business.

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Colonel Gadhafi’s 42-year dictatorship appears about to crumble. John McCain (R – Arizona) and Phil Gramm (R – Texas) publicly congratulated France, Great Britain, and NATO, and omitted any reference to the part played by their own Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. This just shows you have far we have come as a country. Congressmen from the opposing party won’t acknowledge anything good that might have been, in part, due to someone from the opposing party. This is just plain childish, nasty, and hateful. Oh, and by the way, McCain is the same John McCain who warned against undercutting President Obama at what could be a critical time in the push to oust Col. Gadhafi.

In my 77 years on this earth, I have never seen a time when our national political system has been in such flux. The Democratic President holds the Republican-led United States House of Representatives of being uncooperative. The leader of the House of Representatives accuses the President of “political grandstanding” and violating the War Powers Act by being the first of the NATO nations to allow air cover to protect the civilian population of Libya.

No one expects Congress to be a rubber stamp for whatever the President wishes to do. Discourse and discussion, consensus and compromise, argument and agreement are all part of what everything in life is about…even Washington politics. However, what I’m seeing today is so black and white that it’s no wonder little is being accomplished that benefits the American people as a whole.

According to an Associated Press news release, “Top executives from some of France’s most successful companies including L’Oreal, Total and Danone are following the lead of billionaire investor Warren Buffett by offering to pay a one-off tax to help their government tackle its worsening debt load.

“The 16 executives, also including the heads of car maker Peugeot-Citroen and Air France-KLM, said in an open letter that “at a time when the public deficits and the prospect of worsening government debt are threatening the future of France and Europe” they consider it “necessary to contribute.”

It’s unfortunate that Warren Buffett is the only wealthy American who is willing to step up to the plate to help his own nation. Why haven’t we heard from Bill Gates on the subject? After all, he is the richest of Americans. Granted, his foundation does some wonderful things here and abroad, and he’ll never have to worry about his next meal, but why aren’t you backing Buffett on this one Bill?

Four members of the Walton family are among the top ten richest Americans. Every day, their Walmart Stores continue to grow and grow and grow. How many toys do you folks need? How about climbing on board the Buffett bandwagon, or are you party loyalists who believe this financial crisis should be laid at the door of the President whose only fault is that he inherited a mess that began during the Reagan years. Oh, how narrow-minded can you people be?

According to Forbes, Larry Ellison of Oracle is worth $27 billion; Charles Koch of Wichita has $21.5 billion as does David Koch of New York. Rounding out the top ten is Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, with $18 billion. Mr. Mayor, I know your charitable giving record – all tax deductable by the way, but just think what you and your eight colleagues could do if you joined Mr. Buffett in a one-off tax to help your country.

While you may find it difficult to believe, there are still more than 175 American billionaires, worth anywhere from 15 to 2 billion dollars who I have not named. Despite this, members of the Republican Party absolutely refuse to raise taxes on the super rich while people like multi-millionaire Eric Cantor (R – VA) want the average man on the street to pay more. Is Cantor the only multi-millionaire in Congress? Absolutely not, but there are any number of extremely wealthy men and women who are voting the fate of Mr. Joe Average.  Of the 50 richest people in Congress, the top spot goes to Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) at $294.21 million. The bottom slot belongs to poor Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) who is worth a measly $6.21 million. Are there Democrats in the top 50? As Sarah Palin might concede, “You betch!” Eighteen of the top 50 are from the Democratic Party, the leader being Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts whose net worth is listed as $193.07 million and who ranks third. Approximately one-half of the members of the United States Congress are millionaires. How in the hell can you and I ever believe that we will catch a break from people who cannot possibly understand what we go thought on a daily basis? It’s just not going to happen!

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“If it happens west of the Mississippi,” you don’t hear about it.

The speaker was Juli, my partner, and she is absolutely correct. Boston newscasters and even those who purport to be reporting on news of a wider sort rarely discuss news making events in other parts of our own country. Oh, sure, we see the running of the bulls in Pamplona or catastrophes in other parts of the globe, but we are totally dependent on network news to cover other stories. Lately, however, the networks appear to be focusing solely on the debt ceiling crisis and the economic downturn in America’s fortunes. Why this wasn’t considered a crisis when Reagan raised it 18 times or George II raised it five times I can’t quite understand. One of my morning tasks – assigned to me by me – is to watch BBC from 7:30 – 8:00. It’s fascinating to gain another perspective of what’s taking place worldwide. There are times when they cover stories in the United States that aren’t being covered by local or national stations in our own country. Isn’t that a strange situation?

It’s unfortunate that New Englanders, in particular, are so parochial in their thinking. I find, for example, that NBC’s Boston affiliate, WHDH, Channel 7, when it runs a one-hour newscast, repeats its first half hour nearly verbatim. The same can be said for New England Cable News which, I’m convinced, loops much of their news based on the earliest news broadcast. For example, I would have like to see John Blank’s interview in Los Angeles over why Europe is to blame for the U.S. market drop yesterday. It looks like it would have been a good story, and it appeared on an LA NBC affiliate. It wouldn’t bother me in the least to know that I’m not alone in suffering through a couple of summer heat waves. My local station, if it’s going to do an hour of “news,” should not repeat the same old stuff, but rather let me know what’s happening in a wider area of the country. “Local news” may be a poor choice of words for stations today.

Just as our world has shrunk with the advent of innovative technology, so our country has also shrunk. What was defined as news a decade or two ago, is no longer the definition we should be applying to today’s “news.” I have to admit that I don’t need to hear – morning, noon, night, and the next morning – about mothers and fathers beating their children. Okay, you got the story; don’t milk it to death. You want to tell me something? Tell me how this compares with behavior in other parts of the United States. Tell me that this is an increasing problem nationwide. Show me and tell me. Give me a broader perspective on this story, but don’t show me, over and over and over again the same damned footage. That’s when I start switching channels.

Admittedly, I do not know the first thing about the economics of media. I am not a part of the Nielsen crew who show what attracts advertisers for the local channels. I’ve been told that ‘reality shows’ are big money-makers because they require very little expense. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say. My own thought would be that if one did “local” newscasts to appeal to a broader viewing audience, they, too, might become economic assets.

Do I want to watch CNN, Bloomberg, or FOX all day? No, of course not; however, by recognizing there is a new definition of what constitutes “local,” perhaps we could gain a new perspective of what’s taking place locally and how it applies on a more far reaching basis.

Allow me, if you will, to give one example of what I would like to hear about: How does Boston compare with similar size cities regarding crime rates? Is this a “special report?” Yes, possibly it is, but why don’t some of these channels do more of this special reporting. Are they dependent on the national network to do this type of thing? Every station seems to have, as do our two local papers, a “special investigative team,” but what they investigate is so local that we have nothing by which to judge the reporting. We are totally dependent on “our” investigators. Their reports could be so slanted as to appear vengeful. I’m not certain what level of intelligence or grade level to which channels are appealing, but I often have the feeling of being treated like a child. Hopefully, the stations are vastly underestimating the intelligence of the viewing public.

Perhaps it’s time for “local” news to actually become national in scope and “national” news to become more worldwide in their approach. Who knows, it might create more interest in Americans, most of whom are so caught up in their own small lives that they don’t give a damn about the rest of the world or how we are affected by it.

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When 56 members of Congress can hold the rest of the nation hostage, that is a form of terrorism, period, end of report.

Recently, one Ryan Rhodes, founder of Iowa’s Tea Party, confronted President Barack Obama in the rudest, crudest, most malicious, vicious, and ignorant manner possible. The President was, in fact, stumping in Iowa; okay, I’ll buy that. It was a meet and greet session; shake hands, kiss babies, and make certain everyone knows that the straw poll was just that…straw and a poll which cost ten bucks per vote. Mr. Rhodes – oh, I’m being so charitable here – didn’t understand the purpose of the Obama visit. He appeared to want everyone else to go away. He wanted Obama one-on-one. He behaved like an idiot and FOX News thought he was a hero.

Upon returning from the vomitorium after watching Rhodes inane questioning of the President, I watched the FOX News interpretation of what had taken place. I know that FOX is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. I know that Mr. Murdoch is an arch-conservative who is also a muckraker of the first order. In addition, or perhaps this should be an aside, I know that I received telephone death threats for allowing Rupert Murdoch to be a speaker at Babson College many years ago. That’s correct, I received several calls that told me to personally (yeah, like I had that kind of authority; I just ran that particular event) cancel his appearance or both of us would wind up on slabs. I never told Mr. Murdoch about this but there were a number of Massachusetts State Police on campus the day of the event. This merely proves that there are nuts on both the liberal and conservative sides.

Back to Ryan Rhodes; His behavior was rude and disrespectful toward the President of the United States of America. You may not agree with Obama politically. You may want to see him as a one-term President. You do not, however, under any, repeat; any circumstances disrespect the Office of the President of the USA. That’s what Ryan Rhodes did. In that one moment when he attempted to dominate a conversation with the President of the United States, Ryan Rhodes showed his true colors. He’s green with envy; red with anger, and yellow with cowardice because he refuses to hear any view other than his own. He’s purple with rage and brown from kissing Michele Bachman’s tush. I could go on, but I believe you get the picture of what Mr. Rhodes is all about.

Mr. Rhodes has a Facebook page. It’s frightening! After reading the number of right wing organizations to which he belongs, the only surprise was that the John Birch Society was a part of his group affiliations. I’m going to make a small wager that Mr. Rhodes would consider Genghis Kahn a liberal. If he’s as much of a Christian as his church affiliations and other organizations would assume, he never would have behaved in the manner captured on television the other day.

President Obama, I have some advice for you: Do not dignify people like this with anything more than a handshake and invitation to write to you at the White House. In fact, leave out the handshake; you might catch something unpleasant. You were far too much of a gentleman the other day. I keep telling you, sir, to take off the gloves. Your opponents are beginning to win on points. It’s time you threw a few knockout punches.

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“If it happens west of the Mississippi,” you don’t hear about it.

The speaker was Juli, my partner, and she is absolutely correct. Boston newscasters and even those who purport to be reporting on news of a wider sort rarely discuss news making events in other parts of our own country. Oh, sure, we see the running of the bulls in Pamplona or catastrophes in other parts of the globe, but we are totally dependent on network news to cover other stories. Lately, however, the networks appear to be focusing solely on the debt ceiling crisis – why wasn’t this considered a crisis when Reagan raised it 18 times or George II raised it five times – and the economic downturn in America’s fortunes.

One of my morning tasks – assigned to me by me – is to watch BBC from 7:30 – 8:00. It’s fascinating to gain another perspective of what’s taking place worldwide. There are times when they cover stories in the United States that aren’t being covered by local or national stations in our own country. Isn’t that a strange situation?

It’s unfortunate that New Englanders, in particular, are so parochial in their thinking. I find, for example, that NBC’s Boston affiliate, WHDH, Channel 7, when it runs a one-hour newscast, repeats its first half hour nearly verbatim. The same can be said for New England Cable News which, I’m convinced, loops much of their news based on the earliest news broadcast. For example, I would have like to see John Blank’s interview in Los Angeles over why Europe is to blame for the U.S. market drop yesterday. It looks like it would have been a good story, and it appeared on an LA NBC affiliate. It wouldn’t bother me in the least to know that I’m not alone in suffering through a couple of summer heat waves. My local station, if it’s going to do an hour of “news,” should not repeat the same old stuff, but rather let me know what’s happening in a wider area of the country. “Local news” may be a poor choice of words for stations today.

Just as our world has shrunk with the advent of innovative technology, so our country has also shrunk. What was defined as news a decade or two ago, is no longer the definition we should be applying to today’s “news.” I have to admit that I don’t need to hear – morning, noon, night, and the next morning – about mothers and fathers beating their children. Okay, you got the story; don’t milk it to death. You want to tell me something? Tell me how this compares with behavior in other parts of the United States. Tell me that this is an increasing problem nationwide. Show me and tell me. Give me a broader perspective on this story, but don’t show me, over and over and over again the same damned footage. That’s when I start switching channels.

Admittedly, I do not know the first thing about the economics of media. I am not a part of the Nielsen crew who show what attracts advertisers for the local channels. I’ve been told that ‘reality shows’ are big money-makers because they require very little expense. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say. My own thought would be that if one did “local” newscasts to appeal to a broader viewing audience, they, too, might become economic assets.

Do I want to watch CNN, Bloomberg, or FOX all day? No, of course not; however, by recognizing there is a new definition of what constitutes “local,” perhaps we could gain a new perspective of what’s taking place locally and how it applies on a more far reaching basis.

Allow me, if you will, to give one example of what I would like to hear about: How does Boston compare with similar size cities regarding crime rates? Is this a “special report?” Yes, possibly it is, but why don’t some of these channels do more of this special reporting. Are they dependent on the national network to do this type of thing? Every station seems to have, as do our two local papers, a “special investigative team,” but what they investigate is so local that we have nothing by which to judge the reporting. We are totally dependent on “our” investigators. Their reports could be so slanted as to appear vengeful. I’m not certain what level of intelligence or grade level to which channels are appealing, but I often have the feeling of being treated like a child. Hopefully, the stations are vastly underestimating the intelligence of the viewing public.

Perhaps it’s time for “local” news to actually become national in scope and “national” news to become more worldwide in their approach. Who knows, it might create more interest in Americans, most of whom are so caught up in their own small lives that they don’t give a damn about the rest of the world or how we are affected by it.

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