Thursday, November 02, 2006

Letters, Oh, We Get Letters

I've been terrible lately at keeping up with my email correspondence in a timely manner. At one time, I prided myself on keeping my inbox up to date, and even emptying it at the end of every week by sending off replies and tucking away messages I wanted to save into various folders for future use. No more. These days I've always got a hundred or so backlogged messages sitting in there, and it can get real frustrating. So today I'm going to try to alleviate some of the congestion by posting links and replies and such here.

*Let's start with a message from my pal lecram, who is one of the principal forces behind Fresno's version of the Fringe Festival, the Rogue Festival (see the banner ad over on the right). This is actually a mea culpa on my part, because I received this message over a month ago, and now the applications for the Rogue are closed. My apologies, to lecram and to all you creative/performer types who might have wanted to be a part of this. Hey, there's always next year!

*From my friend Pete in Seattle comes this link to a Japanese game show that will make just about any man wince and cringe at the misfortune of the contestants who can't properly pronounce a tongue-twister. I'm crossing my legs just thinking about it. Ouch!

*We've got national elections in less than a week, and I want to proclaim myself as cautiously, guardedly optimistic that there will be a surge of Democrats voted into office, who will then begin to conduct some long-needed oversight of this criminal administration, launch investigations, issue subpoenas, etc. etc.; but then I read articles like this one from Mark Crispin Miller, and my hopes sink back into a tepid miasma of abject and utter depression... Sorry, I'm just too much of a cynic and a pessimist to believe that we're really going to escape the current nightmare we're in just by electing a few more Democratic Representatives and Senators. Of course I'll celebrate if one or both houses of Congress are wrested from Republican rule, but I'm not holding my breath. And I'm waiting to be convinced that just changing a few faces in Washington will really be the panacea we need.

*Robert Greenwald's film Iraq for Sale is available on DVD now. Make it a gift to one, five, a hundred friends!

*My friend Peter in Southern California raised some questions about Steve Irwin's recent death by stingray -- like, did he essentially cause it himself by removing the barb and not waiting for medical attention, and why did the media not ask this question? Here's a comment from him on that same subject, which actually brings up a larger issue in my mind:

Last night, on the PBS NewsHour, they were interviewing a doctor about the man who was stung by a ray that leapt onto his boat, and the doctor made the point that the man survived in this case because he left the barb in place, and that Irwin most likely bled to death because he removed his barb.
Now, the funny thing is that up until yesterday, I still hadn't heard any other media outlet report on that point. So, why wasn't anyone asking that question? That seems to be the odd thing about the media -- that something so obvious could be overlooked by thousands of so-called independent journalists, the same way in which journalists operated with a herd mentality in the build up to the Iraq War. The difference in the case of Irwin's death is that there was no ideology or patriotism involved to skew the journalistic response. It was simply a case of no one doing any straightforward reporting.

To me, this is an issue that has been weighing on many of us for the past six years or more -- why doesn't the press do its job? Why don't reporters ask the hard questions, or follow up when given evasive non-answers by professional fabulists? It seems to me that the media in general has abdicated its duty of investigating corruption and criminal behavior and disseminating information to the public in favor of providing entertainment trivia, inconsequential sideshows and manufactured fear-mongering. It's no wonder that the average American today feels that he is not only entitled to his own opinion, but to his own facts as well. No one challenges Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or Tony Snow (or, heaven forfend!, George Bush) when they spew forth blatant lies and misstatements designed to obfuscate and deceive, so why shouldn't a trusting public believe them?

*For the follow-the-money wonks out there, here's a blog tracking finance, the housing bubble, unemployment and other related economic subjects that could make you feel less rosy about our current situation (if, indeed, you do feel rosy about the American economy right now). Big hat tip to my fellow BARBARian paperwight for this one.

*A scientist friend of mine here at work forwarded this thought from Mahatma Ghandi that he wishes the Democrats would use in their current campaigns for the House and Senate:

In 1947, Mahatma Gandhi, just shortly before his tragic death, listed seven specific blunders that he believed caused the violence plaguing the world.
They are:
wealth without work
pleasure without conscience
knowledge without character
commerce without morality
science without humanity
worship without sacrifice
and, politics without principles.

I'd say the Republicans have most of them all sewn up already.

*My pal Dean in Connecticut passes along this anti-Joe Lieberman site that features plenty of videos and sound bites condemning Bush's favorite Democrat. The last I read, Joe was cruising to a fairly easy victory -- unfortunately -- but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep putting his feet to the fire. Especially if he does get his job back next week, Democrats nationwide should demand some accountability from Traitor Joe. Here's some ammunition for you.

*My good friend Scott sends this link to a site purporting to display the Worst Political Web Sites on the internets, and it's pretty amusing. It skewers Republicans and Democrats alike; the only criteria is that the website must be really, really lame -- or "under construction" for months at a time.

*The Freeway Blogger is offering, free of charge, a graphic meant as a counterpoint to all the yellow "Support the Troops" ribbons out there. This is guaranteed to stir up controversy, but personally, I think it's right on the money. It looks like this:

And for more from the Freeway Blogger, check out this post about his latest project and his subsequent appearance on Hannity and Colmes.

*Finally, Pete in Seattle sends this link to the great Keith Olbermann's take on the John Kerry tempest in a teapot that the media is having a field day with right now -- to the detriment of any real news that might be out there. Olbermann is one of the few -- very few -- pundits today who actually seems to get it, and is not afraid to say what he thinks. Given the current climate of fear and demagoguery, one has to wonder just how much longer he'll be allowed to keep criticizing the president and his criminal maladministration before the powers that be get just a bit too uncomfortable with his commentary and pull the plug. The fact that his ratings are soaring lately is bound to make a few people in high places just a bit trepidatious. Let's hope he continues to fight the good fight and give voice to the truth that too many Americans don't want told.

Okay, that's it for now. I promise to try to keep up with my email a little better in the future.
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