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

Congressman Unleashed

Anonymity is like a warm blanket. So said  Vanessa Redgrave,aka Job to Tom Cruise in the 1996 movie Mission Impossible. Betcha that Rep Bob Etheridge  from North Carolina’s second district would pay dearly for a measure of that sort of invisibility  about now.

The 7 term Democrat has been caught  in the full glare of the media spotlight due to an event  that occurred just last week. Here’s a guess that it is his first appearance on Drudge and  he hopes his last. What did the  still part-time farmer and former  Superintendent of  Public Instruction for North Carolina do to garner such attention?

Seem sthat last week he was on his way to a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser when he encountered a couple of college students  with  a video camera  who asked him if he supported  the Obama agenda. He demanded to know who they were and when they declined , he grabbed the camera from one person and grabbed the other by the wrist. He persisted in asking for identification and when they did not resond he grabbed one by the  neck and shoulders, refusing to let go. The individual finaly slipped away.

Today, a  few days later, Etheridge finally released  a statement. ( WTVD, the ABC  affiliate in Raleigh had previously left 11 messages requesting comment.)  He acknowledges having seen the video and expresses his regret for his reaction and apologizes to all involved.

Now what? The aforementioned tv station confirmed with DC metropolitan police that no charges had been filed,  which is quite fortunate for Rep. Etheridge. Was it an a ssault ? Follow the link on Drudge and watch the 1: 11  for yourself.  I watched and was disturbed by Etheridge’s reaction, regardless of whether he was provoked. He had a rather tight grip on the wrist of one individual and refused to let go when asked. This is the same congressman who has encouraged college students to get involved in politics.

Granted, there may have been an element of entrapament, emphasis on maybe. That in no way justifies a physical confrontation. Very curious as to what the  reaction will be inside the Beltway. Any doubt that it will be partisan in nature? Good thing Rush will  return tomorrow. This is right up his alley!

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Top Gun is one of my all time favorite movies. Maverick and Goose, Ice Man and Charlie, Cruise and Kilmer,etc. Near the end of the movie, shortly after the climactic dog fight, Kilmer and Cruise meet on the deck of the carrier. After a brief stare down, Kilmer tells Cruise, “you are still dangerous,” adding that he could still be his wingman. Then we have the macho man  hug and action continues.

According to some well-known folks, there is  a dangerous person running amok around the country today. She has been to Ft Bragg, to Roanoke,Va, to Columbus and Cincinnati, Oh among others. Organizing for America director Mitch Stewart calls her dangerous as does well-known style arbiter Martha Stewart, presumably not related. Ms Stewart, apparently with her verbal claws sharpened also threw in the descriptive words confused  and boring. Doubtless Tina Fey had something to say also, but I don’t care.

Of course, we speak of Sarah Palin as she tours the country to promote her book which sold some 300,000 copies on day 1. I will say up front that unlike a number of my conservative brethren, I am uncertain as to whether Ms Palin would make  a good president of presidential candidate even. But I am certainly enjoying the angst that is surfacing  among those who are not fans. Is she dangerous? Dangerous to what and to whom, don’t know. I don’t really think so. It was amusing to note Martha Stewart’s comments. I  am unsure how one can be boring and dangerous simultaneously. If you are dangerous, you are certainly not boring are you? Why does Martha even care?

Anyway, the Obamacare folks should applaud her media attention. She is probably diverting some attention from all the machinations and payouts occurring in the Senate to obtain the votes of wavering Democrats. Whatever it takes, though. Sen Schumer said, we can’t not succeed. Parse that phrase, all you grammarians.

Last note. McCain has read her book and liked it. Obama says he probably will not read it.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Beauty of Anonymity

Anonymity  can be a great thing. There was a great scene in the first Mission Impossible movie in which “Job” tells Ethan Hunt, aka Tom Cruise, that it is  “a …warm blanket”. Of course, Vanessa Redgrave delivered the line quite well. And so it is, warm, comforting, even valuable at times.

In cyberspace, anonymity is much more prevalent than in the real world . I am even an example given the name of my blog. Why, no reason, not trying to hide anything, but perhaps just to promote my pro Tar Heel feelings. Many blogs are writen under the real name of their authors while others like the nom de plume approach, as my brief blogroll indicates.

But, when we enter the brave new world of comments, it seems the warm blanklet theory is by far the dominant appraoch. And, we often, put cute little pictures beside those comments. Once again, that defines me.

One interesting thing about that approach is the comments one can read about various online articles. I frequently read online . articles in the Daily Advance , our local newpaper. Mnay of them provide room for comment and receive comments, they do. All are anonymous, of course, some are crude, some are vicious, some are uninformed and some will make you laugh or even reduce you to tears.

I have done a very informal, unscientific survey of theses comments. For example, an article about proposed changes in school food service drew 80 comments, while one about about a plastic bag ban drew 68 . An unfortunate accident that resulted in a vehicle crashing into and through a storefront drew 13.

Now, does any of this mean something, maybe yes, maybe no. In the olden days when I walked uphill both ways to school , newspapers would not publish  a comment without a name and that may still be the case. Theory, if you are willing to say it, own up to it. Now, from time to time, I see an online comment  in the paper’s print edition, nameless of course.

Only half jokingly, I have mentioned to my wife that some online comments that I have read argue for  a literacy or at least a civility test to be applied. But today, we largely serve as our own filter or editor, if you please. Perhaps  the time has come for an online writing motto.

Caveat Scribus – let the writer beware.

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Media | , , , , | 1 Comment

Can we Stand the Truth?

In the movie  A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson tells Tom Cruise that “you can’t stand the truth”. Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat,Vt. is betting otherwise or sort of,depending on what the truth is and who determines it. Sen. Leahy is floating the idea of a truth and reconciliation  commission to investigate abuses of the Bush years, including  but not limited to issues related  to the Iraq war. It would not be set up to punish or humiliate but to find out the truth or  so he told a Georgetown University audience.

Verrry interesting, but stupid to quote Arte Johnson from the tv show Laugh-In. Wonder who pick the committee and would it be balanced(sure it would). Guess it would skip the last 2 years when the Democrats controlled Congress since they had it all under control. Wait,they didn’t did they? Never mind, investigate and impeach or shoot first and ask questions later. Since Bush and Cheney already are vilified  as the two most heinous occupants of their respective offices,how could Sen Leahy find  an honest broker to run such a committee.Here’s an idea, let him as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee do it since in an Obama Administration there will nothing for the committee to oversee or investigate anyway. How about Ted Kennedy as vice-chair- can’t get any more balanced, huh?

February 9, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment