Sunday, March 23, 2008

I'm wrapping it up here at Blagojevich and, as befits a late adopter, moved to LiveJournal. You can find me at nerdypapi60625
See you there.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm beginning to check out options for planning a trip to Nashville, TN and then to Kentucky. My dad lives in Benton, about 30 minutes from Paducah. Alex has convinced himself that it will be charming, like cottage country in Ontario.

Paducah manages to be both rural and charmless, like a little hunk of Northern New York State. I went looking around You Tube and discovered the apparent phenomenon of William Sledd who has a popular series of You Tube videos on the theme "Ask a Gay Man" if, in fact, you want the opinion of a 23-year-old gay man who lives in Paducah what he thinks of the man-purse (he's pro).

My favorite descriptive passage from a video synopsis:

Before there was Virginia Tech, before there was Columbine, there was Paducah!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm not doing such a good job of the posting to the blog of late. New job, long hours, family health crisis, etc.

But you know who is totally blogging? Jimmie "J.J." Walker. You know, the "Dy-no-mite!" guy from Good Times. Check it out. Ellipsis up, paragraphing down! From JJ Facts:

The term "maximizing one's potential" could have been coined to describe the life of Jimmie Walker

You'll note that he includes posts from November and September of this year, months that have not happened. From this we can determine that he has traveled to the future and concluded that Barack Obama is not all that and that if one is in the sunset years of one's comedy career, it's better to be the entertainment on a cruise ship than to tour comedy clubs.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm sad that Tammye Faye Bakker/Messner has died although I'm grateful for the news for two reasons:
1) There is a different, non-Iraq story that isn't about dog fighting and intense cruelty to animals
2) Tammye Faye's death from colon cancer comes on the same day that Bush had some polyps removed from HIS colon so perhaps the two will end up linked photographically for a new cycle or two and I'm sure that annoys the White House.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

In my mind, Bush is almost gone. But of course he still has heaps of time, plenty of opportunity to do enormous, terrible things.

If I was a White House advisor looking to shore up the Bush legacy, I might suggest that the president steal an idea from Bob Barker and push for a national program to spay and neuter pets.

Of course the way this would play out would be that the administration would outsource the job to private contractors who would end up staging public drownings of baby animals.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I'm newly fascinated/horrified by the story of Tennesseean Georgia Tann.

Tann, who died in 1950, was something of a pioneer in the field of adoption. One of her innovations was to create entirely fictional biographies of the children. According to Tann, all of the birth fathers were accomplished professionals, all the birth mothers were college graduates. These were lies but it helped her to market the adoptees for hefty fees, as much as $5,000 at a time when Tennessee law mandated a $7 fee for adoptions (fun fact: Christina Crawford, who wrote of her experiences in being adopted by Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, was a Tann baby).

Georgia Tann acquired children by kidnapping them. She had a few strategies. At the time it was common for laboring mothers to be anesthestized during delivery. Poor women would wake up to be told, "Sorry, it was a stillbirth," when in fact the infant had been taken off to Tann's orphanage.

Tann also had friends who were politicians, judges and social workers. These people worked as "spotters," identifying adorable children whose parents were too poor and powerless to fight back. According to the new book "The Baby Thief," by Barbara Bisantz Raymond, these spotters sometimes received a free baby for their efforts.

Apart from these horrifying elements (I could go on and on) I'm interested that Georgia Tann essentially invented the modern practices of adoption. Adoption, as we know it, was practically non-existent in the early 1920's. The Boston Children's Aid Society arranged as few as five adoptions per year. By 1928, Tann was arranging over 200 adoptions annually. Ultimately, she arranged over 5,000 adoptions.

She accomplished this by commercializing the process, advertising nationally and charging those hefty fees. She also introduced the concept of the falsified birth certificate which presented the adoptive parents as the birth parents. At the time this was described as a way to protect the children from the shame of illegitimacy; it certainly served as a mechanism to destroy the paper trail.

Fun fact: Tann gravitated towards the world of social work after being barred from practicing law (a profession that was "too masculine" for a woman).

Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm into this artist's work. Chris Jordan uses photo illustration to convey large, abstract statistical numbers.

For instance, Americans use 2 million plastic beverage bottles every five minutes. So there is one big-ass photograph that shows 2 million bottles. Another shows 426,000 cell phones (the number discarded every day in the U.S.) another shows 29,569 handguns (the number of gun-related deaths in the U.S. each year) and on and on.

Smart, effective, if it looks this good on my monitor, I can't imagine how intense these must be at full size.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Two things:

1) Last night I took the last class of my undergraduate career. After I pay the school that outstanding $0.75, I should be receiving my degree in journalism.

2) So, a degree in journalism...from today's Los Angeles Times:

James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the Pasadena Now website, hired two reporters last weekend to cover the Pasadena City Council. One lives in Mumbai and will be paid $12,000 a year. The other will work in Bangalore for $7,200.

The council broadcasts its meetings on the Web. From nearly 9,000 miles away, the outsourced journalists plan to watch, then write their stories while their boss sleeps — India is 12.5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

"A lot of the routine stuff we do can be done by really talented people in another time zone at much lower wages," said Macpherson, 51, who used to run a clothing business with manufacturing help from Vietnam and India.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

One of the ideas that they really hammer in journalism school is the evil of PR. I have heard relatively little about public officials or corporate executives who may mislead reporters but I've heard a lot about the inherent wickedness of the press kit.

The press kit, for those who don't know, is to journalism what Lunchables are to a meal. A press kit has some pictures, video or sound if that's appropriate for the recipient, and a complete pre-packaged story, ready to go.

Using the packaged story is way bad in journalism circles, but it's frowned upon to use any of the other materials as well-the pictures, the video, the audio, etc. Because then you are buying into the agenda as packaged by the PR firm. You will hear a lot of high minded talk about this, talk that I agree with, actually. Uncritical use of the press kit is sloppy, it gives away a free advertisement, and it gives the imprimatur of authority to the idea being promoted in the press kit. If a political campaign sent a press kit with video showing the candidate discussing a proposal, television stations would be right to ignore it.

Sorry for all the set-up because the idea I want to bring up is Cho Seung-Hui and the Virginia nightmare shootings. I hadn't thought about it this way until listening to Tom Zengotita on the radio who described the package that Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC as being a press kit.

  1. Is it okay to use a press kit in your legit journalism as long as it comes from a batshit crazy dude and not from, say, GE?
  2. Batshit crazy killer dudes make press kits nowadays?

Friday, April 13, 2007

I realize that the world does not need yet one more blogger weighing in on Don Imus but these two things are on my mind so I'm putting them down here:

1)I am fully aware that one can turn on the radio and find any number of ineptly-bleeped mentions of hoes, nappy headedness, etc. in contemporary popular music. This, to me, is an unconvincing line of argument.

If you make fun of your mother, that's your business. If I make fun of your mother, you are likely to take offense. This is intellectually inconsistent, but it's also human nature. To observe that the rules are different for, say, Li'l Kim and Don Imus when discussing black women and their hair or alleged sexual procilivities is to betray a lack of understanding about basic human nature. Inside the group-say what you want about the group; outside the group-show some respect, no matter how insincere.

2)This is not a freedom of speech issue. Don Imus is absolutely entitled to make a ginormous sign decrying nappy headed hoes and join the other goofballs on, say, Michigan Avenue like the guy with the meticulously lettered signs that explain why it is that Hillary Clinton is, in fact, a clone working on behalf of the Russians or the guy who wears a propeller beanie and waves his "Hi" sign at me when I'm in a bad mood. Don Imus can act like that guy on State Street who stands with a loudspeaker in front of the Old Navy railing against sodomites. Don Imus can even act like Louis Farrakhan and rent out baskeball arenas to talk about whatever reprehensible garbage he wants to talk about. He's entitled to do all of those things.

But he is not entitled to have a radio show or a television show. No one is entitled to have a radio show or a television show, not Ann Coulter, not Michael Moore, nobody.

People who find Don Imus offensive don't have to just wait around for their diminished attention to reflect itself in the arbitron ratings, they are entitled to protest, to give fair warning to sponsors that they face backlash and boycott. It's a business matter, not a free speech matter.

Disney is offering commitment ceremonies for gay couples and I haven't even bothered to Google this, I just assume that the religious right has called for public action against Disney, it's corporate parent, the sponsors, etc. You think Disney hasn't taken that into consideration? Disney clearly thinks that the money to be made from same-sex couples eager for a Little Mermaid ceremony outweighs the losses from people protesting same. It's lovely to think that this represents a deeply principled stand on the part of Disney but I don't think that's the case.

CBS and MSNBC took the pulse and decided that, as a matter of fact, they didn't think that there was enough money from the pro-Imus folks to outweigh the negative baggage that comes from Imus's history of offensive talk. They made a business decision, in the same way that the companies who broadcast Rush Limbaugh made a business decision after, say, Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox and shrugged.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Last week was spring break so I should have been a blogging fiend but no such luck. Seven weeks until I am a degreed bachelor and until then, here's a handy quote:

"You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner, and no half-way measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That's what I always do. Don't think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That's a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one - well, at least one and a half, I'm sure. When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities."

- Winston Churchill

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Alex is in town and we spent a good chunk of last night discussing the upcoming Chicago mayoral election. Alex's question was, if Daley's administration is so corrupt, why is he such a shoo-in for re-election?

I guess I've gone native because 1)The question seemed strange to me-corruption? Yeah, so what's your point? and 2)I compared it to Clinton/Lewinsky where part of the country was outraged that he got blowjobs and lied about it and the rest of the country shrugged and ignored it. But it's one thing to cheat on your wife and another thing to oversee tons of graft, a crumbling mass-transit system and wretched public schools, to name three things off the top of my head.

The aldermen are up for election as well and this year, according to the LA Times, (and why do I have to go there to read the story rather than locally?) there are 4 guys on the ballot who were aldermen, got arrested and served jail time for political corruption and now are out of jail, running again.

Fun fact from the story: Chicago has more FBI corruption investigation units than any other city. We're number 1! We're number 1!