Tarheeltalker

Name Calling or Am I Really a Freak?

Based on a couple of things I have recently read, I am a freak, hate intellectuals and am just  downright ignorant. I may be even worse than that since those characterizations come from  just two sources. A brief elaboration on the intellectual  comment. Not only do I hate intellectuals  but I probably don’t  even want to associate   with them since there is no room for them in the Republican Party, or so says Chris Matthews. Oops,  I wasn’t supposed to mention his name. Should I  not quote him as saying that Rick Perry is  a clown?

I realize that politicians have to accept a certain level of name calling as part of the territory but I so wish that those in the media who make their living with their words, could describe a candidate or office holder without the use of epithets.  This applies to both ends of the spectrum  since both are guilty of using this tactic and I just cannot stand it. It reminds me of  one of my  #1 pet peeves, tearing down another to make oneself look good.

I could probably be  called lots of things but I am relatively  certain that freak is not one of them. That was the name applied to Rep Louie Gohmert just a few weeks ago. and it has been amplified with the word crazy among others. And, since I  like the  congressman, while not always agreeing with him, guess I am a freak by association.

So, is there a cure  for this political name calling?  I really doubt it since the practice is time-honored in American politics as far back as he days of George Washington. In fact, the names used to describe some of our  earlier presidents were generally far more creative than those used today.

In fact, if I hear another conservative  called  Nazi, I think I might have a fit. What makes  this epithet so abhorrent to me is the person using the name has got to know better, He or she has to know what Nazis did and i daresay that none of those so described have done things to equal those.

So, the next time  you see fit to “attack”  a politician, try to use an appropriate word.

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September 26, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bone to pick with Michael Wilbon

A USPS van on Cambridge Street in Harvard Squa...

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I am a regular viewer of the ESPN show, Pardon the Interruption or PTI as it is known.The program is co-hosted by Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. The program consists of the aforementioned gentlemen good naturedly  arguing and/or discussing sports and sports related issues. I have long enjoyed the show and  in particular those times when their discussions meshed sports and non sports issues. Of course, there is an inherent risk in that approach.One could actually postulate on issues well beyond one’s expertise.

From my point of view that is exactly what took place on a segment that aired  on either Thursday or Friday of last week. The segment was set up with the question about what person one would like to see on a postage stamp. Mr Wilbon launched his answer with a boisterous comment that “stamps are irrelevant.”  At that point, I no longer  cared about the rest of their ” discussion” since Mr Wilbon had ( in my mind) cast aspersions on my profession.

As  a letter carrier, stamps are an integral part of what I do and I heard his statement as yet another example of  bashing the postal service and sort of dismissing us completely.  Dismissing the postal service dismisses its employees as well.

From my perspective, we are not  totally outmoded and outdated and ready for the scrap heap. Try this thought on for size. People often complain about so-called junk mail, particularly if it is unsolicited. There is an analogy in the internet world known as spam. Which of these two, if opened, can potentially ruin your computer and potentially compromise your identity? Hint, it isn’t a letter.

A more learned source puts it this way.  A recent study in the Journal of Marketing  discovered that mail  is the most effective means of direct advertising and is even considered less intrusive. Truly amazing, huh?

Just one last thought. This comes from  a recent Verizon commercial that actually  gave me  a warm feeling. A person dashes to their mailbox  at the end of the driveway and upon opening the door discovers a box from Verizon with their  eagerly  anticipated cellphone. It is hard to top the excitement of receiving that long-awaited or even expected letter or package in one’s mailbox. For me it sure beats that unexpected email.

September 9, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The greatest celebrity couple ever

… or they will be when, not if, they  get together.

Celebrities fascinate many of us. Even those of us, like myself, who profess not to be as interested, take notice from time to time. And, face it, they are important to the good of the country. After all, how would  People and Us magazines stay in business not to mention Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, the late night talk shows and innumerable blogs and websites.

Of course, our fascination is nothing new, but with the myriad ways to disseminate celebrity information it sure seems that way. So I  wonder in my weaker moments who are the greatest  celebrities? Bear in mind, this is totally unscientific and probably reflects some of my own biases( I know you are completely shocked by that!)  both pro and con.

For my purposes, I drew very random and  totally meaningless, almost, criteria. Who are the greatest celebrity couples? Well, there was Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, a childhood favorite. There was Marilyn Monroe and fill in the blank ( probably Joe DiMaggio). We have had Elizabeth  Taylor and Richard Burton and in the minds of many the elite of the elite, Mr Pitt and Ms Jolie.

But I believe that the Couple of  couples has yet to pair up, that is with each other. They are very famous of course and each has and still has, high-profile relationships. They are of course Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney. Each is beginning to age, he better than she, I think. Just think of the headlines and star power and she could finally have revenge on Brad Pitt for dumping her. Perfect! There is one minute problem. People Magazine has a picture portfolio of Ms Aniston  that numbers  504  images while Mr Clooney  has only 280. Perhaps, that would need to be addressed.

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Entertainment, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anonymity

I remember well a scene from the first Mission Impossible  movie in which Tom Cruise (aka Ethan Hunt) meets “Job”   wonderfully played by Vanessa Redgrave, and asks about the name Job. She  responds that ” anonymity … is like a  warm blanket.” Been  thinking about that quote a lot recently in the context of  blog/article comments made on the internet.

Most of the comments that I read are made by a person under a name other than their own. ( I know, so is my blog.) It is interesting to notice the screen names that people choose and speculate about why they were chosen. My thought has long been that these names are often used as a cover to make comments or observations that the person would never make using his/her own name. But, you might say that one uses a screen name to keep one’s identity from falling into the wrong hands, so to speak. I think that is only true in a minority of  instances. My reasoning goes thusly. The comments on polarizing figures or issues such as President Obama or Rush Limbaugh or Michele Bachmann or healthcare or any number of others are filled with such vitriol that one is almost embarrassed to one’ s self identified with them.

Even when I read comments that mirror my own, I am chagrined to note the level of anger that is involved. I can make comments ( and so can you)  about a political figure or issue without becoming tarred with my own brush and still be effective.

It is amusing to note that newspapers  and I suppose magazines have long-held to the policy of  rarely if ever publishing an anonymous comment and I like that. The few  times that I have written  in response to a newspaper article  were not situations where I  minded being identified.

In the wild, wild west of the internet the rules, such as they are much different. Makes me wonder if I need to rename my blog?

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You can learn amazing things from Good Housekeeping

I confess, from time to time when there are no viable options, I read Good Housekeeping magazine. That;s probably another reason for needing an IPhone. Just the other day I read an article that seemed rather innocuous. A lady is going about her day which is going great. So great that she is able to tuck in behind  a state trooper and just motor along at whatever speed he goes. No problem, right? Wrong! Said trooper manages to sneak in behind our unsuspecting motorist, pull her over and tell her that he has clocked her speeding; as high as 83 mph.

The lady is predictably astounded as I would be until she learns two( or is it one?) facts. The trooper asks if she knows he has 360 degree radar and can track her speed even she is behind him. When she protests that she was just driving the same speed as he, the big news comes. Said the trooper in so many words, I can go as fast as I want ( there was no emergency in the situation). But isn’t that entrapment she asked? Answer, a slightly enigmatic smile.

Amazingly I read several  different blog posts that commented on this issue and the civilian and police responses were about equally divided as to whether they can or cannot speed. Even better, some civilians defended the police and some police did not. Once again, I stand in awe of GH. They are much more than their institute.

August 6, 2011 Posted by | Media, Transportation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Gaggle of Republicans

As of today, there are officially 10 republicans in the running for the party’s presidential nomination. There are at least 4 other  potential candidates. This is definitely a case for that old baseball axiom that you can’t know the players without a scorecard.

At this stage of the process, anything is possible and hope springs eternal  as in baseball’s  spring training. While it is early, of course it is not as early as it might seem. President Obama will obviously run for  a second term and among other advantages that he has are an excellent fund-raising apparatus and a significant advantage in name recognition over most of  his potential  opponents ( other than Palin and maybe Bachmann, who will still only the second most well-known Michele-hint, hint).

It is fascinating to me to see the interaction among those already declared and the coyness of those on the sidelines. And, let us not forget the curse of the front-runner. Mitt Romney is probably still in the ” head lead” as a childhood friend of mine said. But, Michele  Bachmann is closing fast and may actually lead in Iowa polls.

Right now, Iowa native Bachmann has 22% and Romney 23% in a Des Moines Register poll. If one has any math skills that would leave 55% to be divided 8 ways and that doesn’t  sound so good. Can you win Iowa and lose the nomination oh yeah- and the opposite is also true. It is also true that one can be ruined in the Iowa caucus which will take place on February 6, 2012.

This will be an interesting journey to chronicle so just for the record, I will at least name the 10 who are in and the four who are not.

Hovering  on the sidelines are Sarah Palin, Rick Perry ( Rush’s choice and mine) , John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani.

Those in it to win it, I guess, are the aforementioned Romney and Bachmann along with the following, in no particular order: Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Mitch Daniels and Rick Santorum. ( ” Fringe  candidates not included.)

Perhaps the best candidate would be  a guy who has already recused himself, Jeb Bush. Should be quite lively with Paul, Palin and Bachmann in the fray, should it not?

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Depends on why you are Famous

Conventional wisdom has often said that it doesn’t matter why one is famous, only that one is famous. Sad to say, I believe that Rep Anthony Weiner(D, NY) would hasten to disagree. Until his lewd and salacious actions were made public, the majority of Americans would have been unable to identify him by name or picture. Now, he probably holds the title of our most well-known congressman.

But my interest is not so much with what he did but rather the reactions, both pro and con, that have ensued. Part of my reasoning is that I am not  very surprised with what he did. The internet has greatly facilitated these types  of behavior in and secondly, he is  not the first politician to be caught.in some type of compromising position.

On to  the reactions. Some are almost funny, some surprising (considering the sources) and some  are inconsistent. However, I have tried to avoid comments that are lewd or suggestive in. This mess has even  divided prominent Democrats with Reps Rangel and Clyburn offering support; Rangel even saying that after all he did not go out with little boys. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has urged him to resign, probably the first commonsense statement she has made since taking the job. And former speaker Pelosi  gravely concurred.

New York’s top elected Democrat Chuck Schumer is appalled and disappointed. Besides Weiner is taking over his spotlight. The Clintons are furious and probably for the best reasons of anyone other Weiner’s wife, the former Huma Abedin. You will remember that Bill officiated at their July 11, 2010 wedding. Besides Huma has worked for Hilary for  quite sometime and that the entire fiasco conjures up memories of Bill’s escapade(s). So far there has been no  public comment by the Clintons but one can only imagine what they are thinking.

And then we have the celebrity comments which for me fall under the class of what were they thinking and don’t they have people to forestall these  public comments. Television journalist Rachel Maddow said that Weiner exhibited “bad manners.” Barbara Walters said that the pictures she had seen were “flattering.” Joy Behar opined that the pictures were not the congressman, implying a frame, even after he confessed that they were. And that paragon of virtue Alec Baldwin said that works in a very highly stressful environment and was just letting off steam.

Finally, some comments that alone. They originate with MSNBC host, Chris( Tingles) Matthews. He has made frequent comments about Weiner that express his disgust, wonder at what he was thinking,etc. And then he proceeds to hold Mrs Weiner partly responsible. And finally ne bemoans the political consequences. If Weiner does not go away the Democrats will “never” again control of the House. And see if you recognize yourself in the last  statement.

” Because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian, conservative, culturally-you can say” backward” if you want-they don’t like this stuff.”

Thank goodness I didn’t hear  Bill Maher and Jane Lynch give a dramatic? comedic? reading of Weiner’s text messages. Wonder what Paul Harvey would have thought?

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make friends with a hacker

Hackers seem to be very interesting people. I say this based on what I read since as far as I  know, I have no hacking acquantiances. But as  our society becomes ever more dependent on the internet, there will  be more of these cybercrooks or Robin Hoods, depending on one’s point of view. Or it may depend on whether or not one has been victimized by their talents. For that is one thing on which we can agree. They are quite talented.

Anyone who is  a fan of NCIS is quite familiar with Timothy McGee, aka “probie” and his talents at hacking into systems as complex as the Pentagon  and CIA. Watching the show I marvel at his skill and how Gibbs can employ it to his advantage in solving a crime. But at the same I have often wondered  if  there are actually  people  out there doing what McGee does or at  least trying to do it?

After reading an online article today, I fear that the answer is yes. It appears that online marketer Epsilon has been hacked and its online systems somewhat compromised. Who is Epsilon and why should I be concerned about them being hacked? It might be the fact that among their clients are such names as  Citigroup, College Board, Capitol One, Walgreens and Verizon Communications, names with which many of us are familiar.

Epsilon is a unit of Alliance Data Systems, Inc and  as an online marketer sends more than 40 billion ( that’s billion with a “b” ) emails annually composed of ads or offers. But, don’t worry. Some of the companies affected are telling their customers that no sensitive info was released ( at least so far) and as for Epsilon, they are fully co-operating in the investigation. But that cannot confirm which companies have been affected or how many people or what kind of data. Feeling warm and fuzzy yet? Or maybe wanting to scale back  on your online activity?  Maybe I need to check my email to see if perhaps there is  a company on the list with which I have had contact. McGee, I need help!

By the way, would you like to have  Jessica Simon’s job right now? She just happens to the spokesperson for Epsilon. Gonna  be  a busy person for   a while.

April 3, 2011 Posted by | Media, Technology | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Always on the grid?

Several years ago there was an episode of NCIS where then Director Shepard( Lauren Holly) made a clandestine  trip to Moscow in search of information that would either clear her father or help her in capturing ”  la grenouille” . During that time she went off the grid as was bluntly called to her attention by good ole Leroy Jethro Gibbs ( Mark Harmon) , once she returned to Washington.

For my purposes, the key element in that scene was the grid to which Gibbs referred. In this case it was not the electric power grid that  is  somewhat well publicized, but  a different kind of grid.  Holly’s character was the head of an armed federal agency and as such could not  become incommunicado. And in our story she did that very thing.

I was reminded of that  upon seeing a segment of the Today Show that dealt with the death of the telephone. The part that I saw interviewed at least two people  in the know about such things, one of them from Wired magazine, who opined that the telephone was dead and it was about time. His feelings are most definitely shared by  outsidethebeltway.com writer James Joyner. He wrote an article on July 31, 2010  expressing how annoying and terribly intrusive a telephone call actually is. And he made this point that really ties in to the point I am trying to make. The current generation hardly ever makes phone calls because they are in constant  lightweight contact, defined as texting, instant messaging , tweeting, etc.

So, its it a good or necessary thing to be in constant contact. to be always on the grid, so to speak? The majority of us do not need to be always available via  a tweet or Facebook or hundreds or thousand of  daily text messages. I   share Mr Joyner’syner that this is,generally speaking, lightweight communication. Surely a part of my inclination is that I am from  a generation that has not always been  totally wired, but I think/hope it is more than that.

My wife and I have shared many times with one another in  a phone call the  words that” I just wanted to hear your voice” . We do text, but for us, it will never be an adequate substitute for the voice of the one person who means more to  you than any other.

Perhaps, Mr Bell’s invention is on the way out.  But from my  perspective, I hope that it takes the long way.

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Media, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Train Wrecks are never a pretty sight

This holds true whether there is an actual train involved or if  one is describing  a person whose life seems to be spiraling out of control. Sadly we seem to be seeing one of the later before our very eyes in the case of Charlie Sheen. I have not followed his career all that closely although I did enjoy the  movie Major League several years ago.

Most of us are more familiar than we care to be with his bizarre behaviour of late accompanied by interviews and statements that are perhaps even more bizarre. Of  course the tabloids and celebrity magazines such as People and Us are having a field day. I  can hardly imagine the wealth of material that all this is providing for Letterman, Leno and O’Brien. Sheen is proving a gold mine for all these media outlets.

I read one quote from Sheen that basically said if I am insane I have no problem with that. This is not an act. Another one that is already becoming too popular is the reference to himself as having tiger blood. But are those statements any more disturbing in the long run that  people saying they know they shouldnt be watching this but cannot turn away? Or how about the 1 million people who become his followers on Twitter within hours after his account was opened? Are there that many folks who  care that much about what outlandish thing Sheen might do next? And if there are, why do they care?

Perhaps even more disturbing is that this latest batch of actions is something that could almost have een predicted. If one looks back at his  past actions, it is not too hard to see a pattern. Or maybe one could just have asked Denise Richards. And just think about his children. I doubt that they will say about their father what almost inexplicably Martin Sheen  said about his son, you are my hero.

One can only hope that as much as he has recently trashed programs and methods of help that Sheen will actually avail himself of competent , professional help, away from the media glare, far away. And mercifully may the third or fourth time for such treatment actually work.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Entertainment, Media | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment