birdie's blog

....they're baaaaack!

The NYT has a piece on the return of the 17-year cicadas and their rush to reproduce in the three weeks that they have to live. I remember them well growing up in DC. Here's a rather unappetizing story that might end up in a lawsuit for one publisher.

The Master Has Become the Slave

I heard this phrase on the radio the other day (NPR), and I think it applies in great degree to email communications. What was once a useful and sometimes efficient way of communicating with friends and business associates is turning into something that is just the opposite. Just as pollution is the air we breathe, spam is ever-present in our email. However, it's gotten beyond the level of just an irritant...it is threatening the usefulness of what was once an easy method of being in touch.

A reporter's view of Baghdad

Read a very interesting report from a young free-lancer for the New York Times on how reporting the war, or rather life as an American journalist in Iraq, has changed since Saddam's capture. Christina Asquith's story is very compelling.

Subject: Walmart/on Talk of the Nation

Heard a very interesting TOTN on NPR yesterday about Walmart, whose wealth as a company matches that of the country of Switzerland (over $250 billion dollars). Here's the link if you'd like to listen: from the audio transcript.

I was very surprised to hear Walmart acknowledged as a contributing sponsor on a different program on NPR.

What is News?

Well, it's obviously different things to different people. Today the big news is how a cast member of the 'reality' show The Apprentice is accusing fellow cast-members of calling her names. A completely artificial grouping of heretofore unknown and not very likeable people cast together for the purposes of so-called "entertainment" and one calls another a name. The headline is repeated from coast to coast. What am I missing here?

ready.gov

Well, the Ides of March have come and gone. So many dates now signify a horrific event that happened in our world; September 11, December 7, November 9 and now March 11. I will never be "ready.gov" for untold horrors yet to come. Preparedness for annihilation...what a concept.

Interview with Walter Cronkite

Wanted to share this great interview with WC in the San Francisco Gate . Quite a guy at age 87; makes Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Larry King, Peter Jennings even, look about as substantial as flotsam. Check out what he has to say about Janet Jackson, gay marriage, Bush, etc.

Tix for The Passion

Churches and bible societies all over are buying up jillions of tickets to Mel Gibson's move to donate to the public. Too bad they can't spend the money on canned food for the hungry or winter coats for the homeless. Meanwhile, I haven't decided if I'm going to see the flick...I did like "Maverick" ...and I don't mind subtitles...but if I see it, I'm spending my own ten bucks!

friends & foes

Since this is the weekend of all things romantic, I thought I'd muse on this "relationship" thing on Slashdot/LIS News. I've had a lot of fun annointing complete strangers as friends (virtual strangers? virtual friends?), but I haven't wanted to call anybody a foe as yet. Recalls the days of the two sides of the playground in second grade. Also, the neutral guy looks a little more threatening than just "neutral." Have you designated anyone as a foe, and what transpired after that? Your opinions are welcome...and have a happy V-day.

Nipplegate

So "nipplegate" continues. The chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell, is outraged. He tells the broadcast media to "clean up their rooms." Well, you know what really is an outrage? This whole hullabaloo (nice word, huh) over JJ's bodice. Who do they think they're kidding? The Superbowl is all about SEX. Big bulky jocks in tight football uniforms (yeah, look at those tight ends!!) and perky, bubbly cheerleaders shaking their pom-poms and whatever else they've got. Commercials selling whatever they're selling with sex (oh yeah, and drugs). Sometimes I wonder about our culture. Let's just hope that none of my tax dollars go into an inquiry about the wardrobe malfunction.

More on the Wardrobe Malfunction

Story here from The Economist, with photo for those who care, about the difference between Britain & Europe and the good old USA regarding Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction." According to the Economist, Miss Jackson's breast topped internet search subjects after the incident was reported.

A crazy country (USA)

United States of Absurdity. Sometimes I wonder what the world really thinks of us. Now the big flap is over Janet Jackson's half-time show. A woman is suing over the "injury" she suffered while being exposed to Janet's exposed breast. story here We're litigious and exasperatingly immature. When are we (USA) going to grow up?

Alfred (Nobel) would turn over in his grave

...if he heard about President Bush and Prime Minister Blair being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. AP story here . I thought I was hallucinating when I saw the headline.

Who's Your Governor?

Upon reading about the Florida state library and its proposed exile by Governor Jeb Bush, I've concluded that there are a lot of strange governors out there. How did they get elected? Well, we sort of know how Gov. Schwartzenegger got elected (at least it hasn't left our collective memories as yet)... Same goes for my governor, George Pataki, former mayor of Poughkeepsie ...how did HE make it to the Governors mansion? Who's your governor, and how's he/she doing? Please add your comments...especially you Connecticut residents.

"Poor" candidates

What is it about growing up in poverty/depravation that appeals to the American voter? Those of the Dems who can attest to being from modest beginnings are screaming it from the rooftops. Ok, so Dean and Kerry are affluent. Their parents were educated. They were privileged as children...they were probably read to each night at bedtime! Why apologize? I can't imagine any other country on earth where candidates for the highest office would be ashamed to have sprung from comfortable beginnings. What is it about modest means that appeals to us Yanks?
On the other hand, President Bush
of course grew up with a diamond-encrusted platinum spoon in his mouth. Hey, maybe that's why he has so much trouble talking.

anti-war lyrics after 40 years

My 16 year old son put together a collection of anti-war songs at my request and even though these lyrics are 40 years old, I realize that they have as much significance today vis-a-vis the war in Iraq as they did when my friends and I protested the war in Vietnam. Check them out: Bob Dylan's Masters of War lyrics here and P. Sloan's Eve of Destruction here, not to mention Country Joe McDonald's Fish cheer and Fixing to Die Rag
lyrics, except on the version I have, the word spelled isn't exactly FISH. I think my son, a fan of classic rock, and a peacenik like his mother, really enjoyed hearing these songs for the first time.

information overload

Just ran across a fascinating tidbit in a book I'm rereading*.

A footnote on page 152 reads "Researchers at Bell Laboratories estimate that there is more information in a weekday edition of the New York Times than a person in the sixteenth century processed in a lifetime." Pretty interesting to think about.

...and this (1979) was before the NYT added Weekend, Circuits, Dining and World Business, etc.

*The book is Lawrence Shainberg's BRAIN SURGEON (Lippincott, 1979). It's the psuedonominous biography of Dr. Joseph Ransohoff, MD, now deceased, whom I knew in the early '90s.

The cost of "free"

I've been thinking about our crazy society, and how Americans are wildly attracted to anything and everything that's FREE. Surely people must realize that there's always a cost somewhere along the line, if not directly from their pockets, then from somewhere along the supply chain. Case in point being the new "free" AM newspapers being handed out at NYC subway stations, published by none other than Rupert Murdoch. Likewise, "free" samples given and sent by advertisers,"free" e-greeting cards, "free" subscriptions of print magazines and "free" offers from those ridiculously greedy prescription drug companies. If anyone has other examples, please chime in.

2004 - a wish and a silly afterthought

Here's my wish for a good new year; for the economy to improve, for Iraq to recover, for Osama to be unearthed, for a new administration in the White House, for people to find a little more peace, understanding and brother/sisterhood.

Wow - just had an inspirational thought: let's put Saddam and Osama in adjoining courtrooms (maybe in Jersey City), and have Judge Judy and/or Judge Marilyn try them both. Cut court costs and increase viewership...I'd watch...provided Walmart didn't sponsor the show.

In memory of Wallace Kuralt, a David among Goliaths

Read yesterday of the death of Wallace Kuralt at age 64, former owner of Chapel Hill NC's Intimate Bookshop and brother of journalist Charles Kuralt.
He ran the store for over thirty years, but had to close it down in the late '90s due to the growth of the mega-chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders. He was a hero among indies (independent booksellers) for launching a suit against the chains; regrettably the judge ruled against him, but an appeal is planned(see website:
lawmall.com/rpa/rpa_whk1.html
Here's his obituary:
wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20031216/APN/312160705&cachetime=5

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