Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Daylight will remain during daytime hours, and it will get dark after sundown

When I was a kid, there was no television. There were three radio networks. Each had a fifteen-minute world newscast in the late afternoon, followed by another fifteen minutes of weather news and sports from the local affiliates. As I recall, the weather and sports news took less than five minutes, total, and the local news was delivered in about ten.

Now? Ow!

Maybe some viewers “need” all the local weather reporting that goes on. But it can be annoying for a curmudgeon.

We get the same “facts” delivered repeatedly over ten minutes or so, with three slightly different “maps” showing the same fronts, clouds, and temperatures. We also get a meteorological lesson with each broadcast. “And when moist air from the gulf moves up from the South and is met by a cold front moving down from the North, that is when precipitation usually forms all along the front.”

The worst part is enduring the redundant blather of the weather forecasters who obviously do not hear themselves. Or, if they do, they are so captivated by the sounds of their own voices that they do not listen to what they say.

“Currently now the temperature at this hour stands at 90 degrees at this time out at the airport here at the six o’clock hour.”

“There are high clouds all around in the immediate vicinity area, but they will be moving on off.”

Most recently I heard, “Temperaturewise, as we speak, the current temperature now stands at 88 degrees, at this time.”


I don’t need that. Just tell me how hot it was, how hot it is, and how hot it may be tomorrow. If there is a good chance of precipitation, tell me that. If we had precipitation, tell me how much. Throw in wind direction and speed if you must. Then get off the stage!

Whatever union may have made it mandatory for weather broadcasters to get equal camera time with news people could improve their members’ images by also requiring that weather reports be professionally written, revised, edited, and then “read” by the meteorologists. After all, news reports are prepared and read by the anchors, not ad libbed in front of photos.

I suppose if the repetitious wordiness were removed from their sentences, the weather people would either have to talk slower, or go over it once more, with yet another graphic, in order to fill their time on camera. That would mean even more times along a line from “there” to “here,” with winds possibly shifting aloft, bringing clouds and a chance of precipitation during the night.

Or, worse, we might have to listen to another lesson on how clouds form, fronts move, or what shifts in the winds may or may not do.

Still, requiring prepared scripts to be read might eliminate the semi-literate redundancy so many weather broadcasters now spew without thinking. . . or listening. I might be able to take the rest if we could eliminate the babble.
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

we made fun of them, but they were right

I'm sure the timing is a coincidence.

The House restaurant recently restored the name "French Fries" to the menu after the potatoes had been listed as "Freedom Fries" when it became "unofficial" that we hated France.

Remember that nonsense? The Bush League's lies, misrepresentations, and manipulations convinced a majority of both parties in this country that a first-for-America, pre-emptive war was necessary. There were many who did not go along with the notion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, had ties to 9/11, and posed an imminent threat to the region and world. But they were shouted down in this country by patriots in both parties who then believed their President.

Bush was not believed in much of the rest of the world, including France. The French government doubted the intelligence the Bush League was quoting as slam dunk assurances. The French decided not to go along with America. They refused to become a part of the coalition of the willing, unwilling to send their youth to stand along side Americans in the desert to kill and be killed in a war that should not have been waged.

So we hated them. They were not merely arrogant about their language. It was more than their expecting tourists to speak French. More than their rudeness, their different notions of personal hygiene, and their liberal views of love and life. The French were cowards who would not fight in Iraq.

Never mind that the French were the first to support our own fledgling nation. They were overrun twice by German armies in World Wars one and two, showing they were unprepared for those onslaughts, though hardly cowards. The French fought valiantly, and those who were able to escape German capture fought again another triumphant day. The French underground operated bravely throughout the German occupation. More than once the French risked numerous lives to save one downed American flier or escaped prisoner. Their courage was never called into question then.

But they arrogantly refused to believe the Bush League, refused to allow their own military to take part in the Iraqi war, and so we began making jokes about their cowardice, comments about their willingness to surrender, and called for boycotts of everything French. That included a couple of fuzzy thinking representatives in the House getting the restaurant to change the name of potatoes and toast to "Freedom Fries" and "Freedon Toast." And that really showed the French!

But truth gets out. We now know that the Bush administration had faulty intelligence. They used it to get their war. They said the fighting would be brief, that we would be welcomed as liberators, that Iraqi oil would pay for the war and rebuilding. When all that quickly was shown to be erroneous, they changed their tune to sing that democracy was on the march to the beat of Bush's drum! The world knows how off key that song is, too.

For whatever reasons -- the passage of time, the reasonableness of reflection, whatever -- potatoes and toast are now back to being "French" in the House of Representatives cafeteria.

And almost immediately after that word leaked, it was announced that French and American leaders had hammered out a U.N. resolution together that calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Lebanon war. It has little chance of working in its present form and time, but the cooperation of America and France and the need for a Mid East cessation of the killing will eventually work together to stop this war's slaughter.

As I said, the timing must be a coincidence. But the two events, restoring French Fries, and a joint resolution, may indicate that we no longer "unofficially" hate the French for being right about Iraq. Check Jay Leno for a cessation of ugly jokes about the French to be sure.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

tax dodges, patriots, and killing without plans

You know, if I were one of the nation’s super rich, I would be so pleased my efforts in the land of opportunity had paid off that I would cheerfully pay whatever taxes were due on my mega-fortune. I would undoubtedly have enough left over, were I among the super rich, to live far more comfortably than I do now.

Call it patriotism or gratitude or a willingness to share. Maybe a sense of fairness. Or a lack of greed, maybe. But I really believe I would not seek tax loopholes such as off shore accounts and overseas corporate registrations to keep from paying taxes on my mega-wealth. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are two in that wealthy group who also seem to believe as I do. But all the super rich do not agree.

An acquaintance much wealthier than I complained to me at the time President Clinton got his tax increase bill for the richest Americans through congress some years ago. “Well, we’re going to see our taxes go sky high!”

Without thinking that it might seem insulting, I immediately said, “I wish my income made the bill affect me! You are so lucky if you are in that bracket. I’d love to be making enough money to have the higher tax rate apply.”

The man chuckled, a little sheepishly, perhaps, and changed the subject. The only tax increase I felt under Clinton was the added federal gasoline tax of four cents a gallon. And I really do wish I were in the income bracket to have paid more.

This tirade came about as a new report hit CNN saying that seventy-billion dollars in tax revenue is lost each year in America because the super rich use loop-holes to make it legal to pretend to be an overseas company.

I do not know the particulars. I do know that our budget deficit could use the infusion of seventy billion dollars each year, money being hoarded by the wealthiest among us. And I would like to know to what political party most of those moguls belong. To which party have they contributed how much money? How did their tax dodges become “legal”?

Also, how can they shave without cutting their own throats for pretending to be patriotic Americans?

“But it is legal!” the greedy chant. Right. As I said, why is that?

It may be legal, but it is not patriotic, moral, ethical, or right. I’m no expert, but doesn’t that mean it is also not Judeo/Christian?

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An Associated Press story says that Bush dismisses a call for a Mid east cease-fire that would be simply “stopping for the sake of stopping” without a plan for lasting peace.

Read that again. Bush won’t (at this time, anyway) call for a cease-fire because there is not yet a plan for lasting peace. So the killing will continue on both sides. The US wouldn’t want the killing to stop simply for the sake of stopping the killing, without a plan for peace. Do I have that right? One more time. We will condone the killing of men, women, and children into the future rather than simply ask them to stop the killing for the sake of stopping the killing.

The mind boggles, even after more than five and a half years of that saucer-shallow fellow pretending to be President.

But the more one thinks about it, the more the outrageous Bush League comment seems somehow consistent with the continued killing in Iraq after more than three years with no visible plan for lasting peace there.

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