Will Egypt be another Iran?

The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is in its sixth day with no obvious end in sight and it is far too early to know the outcome. Perhaps  even informed speculation is  premature. But speculate we do for many reasons. Egypt is a major American ally and has been for  several years, at least back to the Carter presidency.( More on the  Carter connection a bit later.) Egypt is the most populous and probably most influential Arab country with a very large army and air force and is  a very close neighbor of Israel. And so we  wonder about many things. How did this uprising or revolution begin? Was there a trigger event? What ( not if) outside influences are involved?  Vice-president Biden’s comments to the contrary, Mubarak seems unlikely to survive. If he goes, then what or who? Who do we  favor, the government or those opposing the government?

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article today  stating that we have backed Egyptian dissidents who have worked on regime change for at least three years, ostensibly trying to bring about a democratic government. Of course in its 6,000 year history Egypt has never had such  a government  and is unlikely to have one any time soon.

Much of the above referenced speculation is drawing parallels between this uprising and the Iranian hostage crisis  of 1979. The result of course was an Iran with which we still have issues. Some are calling this a Carter moment for Obama, i.e. Carter”lost” Iran and Obama could be well on his way to “losing” Egypt.

Meanwhile the turmoil, including  rioting, looting, organized prison breaks etc continues. And at least three countries, Israel, Turkey and the United States have begun evacuating their citizens with others preparing to do likewise.

The turmoil will eventually end  and answers to most if not all of our questions  will come. But what kind of outcome will that be?


January 30, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Am I insane?

I have heard it said that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting  a different result. Based solely on that criteria I may be crazier than I  sometimes seem to be. I shall attempt to illustrate my situation by virtue of three examples, two of which can be grouped together.

          Exhibit A

From time to time while delivering mail, I will stop at a fast food establishment for some refreshment. Today was one of those days. My mistake, alas,  was in the place I chose. Hardee’s  and  I have not had a very good relationship in recent years primarily due to the excruciatingly service that seems to be their trademark . And so it was today. Here I am,the only customer  in the building and I waited almost 5 minutes, finally departing with no beverage. Having had these experiences several times, it begs the question, why do I continue to subject myself to this?  See title.

Exhibits B & C

Our next two examples fall into the same category. In our little town of Elizabeth City one is frequently encouraged, nay admonished to shop at home. The  multiple benfits to the local economy are extolled, etc. However, although I agree with this sentiment to  a point, I have had two instances  withinh the last severral days that  are changing my opinion, On the verge of runbning out of  ink on our computer printer, we went to  our local Office Max only to discover that they had every kind of Dell ink cartridge imaginable save the one we needed. Wal-Mart, same result, Ordered it from Dell, got it in 2 days. The secpnd example concerned my faothful companion, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, which I have bought the last few years. Lo, and behold, no one locally seems to have it, Yet another, aarrgh!!!

So, do my behaviors indicate a  problem severe enough to require me to never shop again? Or, do I resort exclusively to the online world( except for food)? Yet another unfathomable dilemma.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Business, Culture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Senator who saved Gunsmoke

West and Gordon

…………..  and the one who tamed The Wild, Wild West. On Tuesday evening we were searching for a viewing alternative to Obama’s State of the Union address. Lo, and behold we discovered a great choice on PBS, of all places. Seems that the network has a series on The Pioneers of Television. Tuesday’s  episode dealt with television westerns and was a real treat to watch. Westerns were a viewing staple in my childhood and as it turned out in my wife’s as well.

The show was composed of interviews with many actors who appeared in  the shows, clips from the shows themselves and wonderful historical trivia that delighted me no end. Where to begin? Guess that an explanation of the title would be apropos.

During the 1966-67  season CBS noted that Gunsmoke was showing its age and the program that had been s0  dominant was slipping. After all, 12 seasons should be enough, right? Not necessarily. The outcry was significant and even reached to the U S Senate where Robert Byrd expressed his displeasure. Now, that may or may not have had any impact, but  at the least it allows me to think  just  a little more positively of the late senator. Shucks, he liked Matt Dillon, just as I did.

On the opposite side lies another senator who brought about the demise of what remains as one of favorite tv shows ever,The Wild, Wild West. Who was the offending senator and why did he go after Messrs West and Gordon?  The senator was Rhode island Democrat John Pastore. In his place as head of the Senate subcommittee on telecommunications, he held hearings on the effect of tv violence, particularly on children. The Surgeon General testified at these hearings as well. Shortly after the hearings CBS issued a mandate  to all its shows to tone down the violnce.When The Wild, Wild West did not satisfactorily do so, it was summarily;y cancelled in  early 1969. ( No, I was not scarred by the violence.)

There were a number of other enjoyable things  from the PBS show. I was struck by how many actors  talked about the biggest stars with such fondness. Acotrs such as James Arness( who got his role courtesy of John Wayne) Barbara Stanwyck and James Garner were lauded for their kindness and how they set such  a positive tone behind the scenes.

There were some priceless interviews with actors now deceased  such as Arness and his brother Peter Graves. My #1 was the Robert Conrad interview of course. I learned from him and the shows narrator what a genuine tough guy he was, even suffering a concussion when a stunt when awry. Then there was Ross Martin, his running mate,an erudite man who spoke 5 languages and added such finesse to the show.

The show revived some wonderful memories of my teen years and has created a wish to do some dvd shopping. Think the wife may have liked Bonanza better though.

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Meet the Sheriff

The tragic events that took place in Tucson, AZ about two weeks ago have garnered much attention and have generated   a lot of commentary and analysis. Sadly, the event draws our attention, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. There are an almost innumerable  number of ways to discuss the event and I have pondered just how to do that. I have noticed that at least one media source focused on just one aspect of the tragedy(Sports Illustrated) and I shall attempt to do so as well.

Having said that, it is still exciting to see the great progress made by Rep. Giffords who headed to rehab today. Our prayers go with her as well as for all those adversely affected by the shooting

But the aspect that I want to  focus on is a person who has been quite visible and quite outspoken since the event took place. That is Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Like most people outside of Arizona and probably law enforcement circles I had never heard of the sheriff until a  few days ago. But now methinks I have heard far too much.

But, first a little background. Sheriff Dupnik was first appointed to his post in 1980, then elected and re-elected six more times. He is a native Texan, aged 75. Although I heard him say that he graduated from the university( presumably Arizona) with a degree in psychology, he actually got his degree from Keeler Institute in Chicago which is probably a fine institution even though he failed to mention it by name.

Until being silenced by the local district attorney’s office a couple of days ago, he has been the “face” of the investigation or maybe the voice would be more accurate term.I haven’y been fortunate to hear or read all of his  statements but some of which I am aware have been real humdingers. Before  elaborating, this makes one wonder about his media experience. It would seem that in a county as large as Pima, there would have been a number of somewhat high-profile cases, requiring his interaction with the media. Admittedly, there were probably none this high-profile. But with someone who has been described as fond of the limelight, how he could he say some of the things he has said.

This statement came on January 8, the day of the shooting when he opined that Arizona was the “mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” Bet the chamber of commerce and tourism people cant wait to use that one. Or, a comment that the Bush-era tax cute and their recent extension (which Obama favored) was some  kind of motivation for violence. In the same interview with  Sari Horowitz on a Washington Post blog he maintained that rush had published his office’s email address, nearly crashing the system. Only problem, Rush didn’t do it. Of course, he had had already blamed Rush by name, before it was learned that the shooter was an apolitical guy.

There are calls for his recall(no pun intended) but I think there are misguided. The voters of Pima County have voted for him 7 times, they surely should get their money’s worth. Makes one wonder how that happened, huh?

January 22, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Media | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Troubling Topic

I write this post with a bit of trepidation as the topic is somewhat personal to me. It brings back memories from many years ago,all the way back to what was then known as junior high. My junior high years were hands down some of my hardest. Truth be told, they probably were my hardest. I rarely dwell on those times   but some recent events have brought them to mind once again.

The topic referred to in the title is that of bullying. My wife mentioned today a recent example of what is popularly called cyber-bullying. The young people in question were asked why they posted such critical information online, some of which may have been fabricated.(That I do not know for  a fact.) Their response was that no one liked the girl in question anyway and besides, it was fun. Thankfully this particular young lady did not commit suicide, although several young people have done just that.

I  am well aware that bullying is not new and went on far earlier than my own experience. You can find some  quite apropos examples in the Bible. Try Jacob and Esau or Joseph and his brothers and see if those accounts seem comparable to our culture.

What bothers  me is that acts of bullying today are on a much different level  than what I  experienced and the bullying can become somewhat exponential as it is disseminated through various social networking  media. No wonder that the effects are greater and both the act and its impact are so widely publicized.

I really  have no solid answers, but I am unsure whether more and more laws are helpful. I have tried to draw analogies with my own personal experience, the specifics  of which I have never shared with anyone. What might have happened to me had those events from long ago  been published for the viewing “pleasure” of others?  I just don’t know, but shudder to think of the possibilities.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Technology | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments