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trusted media & news

Nouveaux médias! a.k.a. death by a thousand paper cuts

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Unwittingly, the prestigious men of letters at the Columbia Journalism Review have discovered a few reasons why the newspaper industry is dying.

The overriding motif in a recent issue of CJR is the angst felt by newspaper reporters as their industry shrivels into a black hole. A staff editorial called “More Than a Job” weeps:

Losing any job can be traumatic, and we are not suggesting that this emotional toll is unique to journalism…

O! But they are.
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books & writingeducation

I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon …

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… than the way students at our Early College High School were passing time and pursuing studies, yesterday on the Midland College campus – reclining on the grass, in the shade of trees, reading one of the great works of American literature. [Read more →]

politics & government

Arizona’s Harsh New Immigration Law

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Translated from Los Tiempos de Nueva California, dated June 17, 1840:

Arizona Governor Don Fernando d’Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza — in response to the wave of illegal immigration coming from the United States — signed into law a controversial bill that will allow Mexican authorities to check the documentation of foreign workers residing in the territory and arrest those who are without such documents.

“We sympathize with Americans who come to our country to escape the poverty of their cities,” the governor said, “and we certainly appreciate their work on our farms, haciendas, and gardens — taking the jobs that no Mexicans want. But they must do so legally.

“But rest assured,” the governor concluded, “we will not racially profile gringos before we arrest them.”

art & entertainmentmovies

This week I am digging The Lemonheads and the work of Shane Meadows.

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I have and will always love The Lemonheads album It’s A Shame About Ray. Came out in 1992 and yet I still listen to it on an almost weekly basis. It was a simpler time then — Kurt Cobain was still alive, mix tapes were literally cassettes, and the only person I knew with a cellphone was Zach Morris. Every song on the album is so good, and it brings me back to my days of stressing over girls and being almost solely responsible for keeping Oxy Cream’s stock up. Ahh, my teenage years! [Read more →]

books & writing

Fan Boy Says: I Drink for a Reason, the audiobook is, meh

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I’ve been a fan of David Cross since the late 1990s when his sketch comedy show, Mr. Show with Bob and David, aired on HBO. He is a harsh, vulgar, and insightful comic who calls attention to serious issues through exaggerations so extreme most people are instantly offended. I remember one sketch that assaulted America’s public schools by juxtaposing Hitler and Anne Frank — brilliance. So, when I saw his book, I Drink for a Reason, I was psyched to download the audio book from iTunes and give it a listen. Wow! Does it suck! The comedy takes a turn for the worse about two hours in; it moves quickly from amusing social critique to the trite ramblings of a tired comedian. 
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terror & war

Oliver North’s Vietnam War lesson on the 35th anniversary of the fall of South Vietnam

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Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North offers us a Vietnam War lesson today on the 35th anniversary of the fall of South Vietnam.

The highly decorated Vietnam veteran explains some facts about the war that I fear our children are not being taught in school and he compares Vietnam to our current war in Afghanistan.

You can read his column here.

politics & government

Grandma vs. the SWAT team

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The website FirstThings.com has an interesting story up, one I’m sure a few of you have seen.  It is entitled “Obama and Big Sis call out riot police on Quincy TEA Party patriots“.

Apparently someone felt that a bunch of little old ladies posed a significant threat!

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environment & naturepolitics & government

First they came for the bath water

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Congressdude James Oberstar, whose last name in German I think means either “superstar” or “cow dung” is trying to amend the Clean Water Act, which allows the EPA to regulate navigable waterways; that is, places through which boats can pass. Oberstar wants to get rid of that inconvenient “navigable” part, which will allow the EPA to regulate any and all bodies of water.

Which would include pools. And bath water. And perhaps even that perspiration forming underneath your arms. [Read more →]

books & writing

This one will probably end up on my bookshelf

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Books from politicians, and from those who are a part of their aspirations and achievements, are common enough … but not many of them find their way onto my shelves.

This one might … [Read more →]

on thrillers and crime

On crime & thrillers: Conspirata – crime, conspiracy and political intrigue in ancient Rome

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Conspirata opens like many crime thrillers. There is the discovery of a dead body.

But Conspirata (Simon & Schuster) is different than most crime thrillers, as the dead body in this novel is a slave who was murdered more than 2,000 years ago, and the person called to investigate is Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great Roman orator and statesman.

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books & writing

Exaggeration Nation: Nincompoops

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The good folks at the Illinois Humanities Council pass along this collection of the best author-vs-author insults in history. Below, I offer metacommentary.

1. Mark Twain on Jane Austen:

Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.

Yet the words “every time” suggest otherwise. Just how often do you read this book you claim to despise, Mr. Clemens?

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photography

Picture This: Sharing a link and a laugh

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I’ve always thought my yearbook photo looked a little dorky, with the haircut and the glasses that were on the cutting edge of fashion back then, twenty-million-or-so-years ago. But then, along comes this post from aceonlineschools.com … and I get to thinking, “maybe my photo isn’t so bad, after all” … well … at least not as bad as SOME of what they’ve labeled “30 Awesomely Bad School Portraits.”

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Fred's dreams

Late

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April 6, 2010
I dream I am about to leave on a road trip to shoot a television show with my brother. We are late. We rush to the bus station on our bikes and a young man is inspired to see us because he, too, is on his bike and he plans to make it to his location on time. He asks us if we feel positive. We say we feel pretty good, but we don’t know for sure if we will make it. The young man is disgusted because of our lack of certainty, and he lectures us because we don’t think positively.

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politics & government

Hugo Chavez tweets

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You may have heard that Hugo Chavez, el Supremo of the People’s Republic of Venezuela, is now on Twitter. But as you might not be following him, I’ve decided to publish some of his recent tweets here:

just tortured dissident. no more speak out. no tongue.

finished building camp. germans send us ovens. real xperts.

like AZ law. try it here. instead immigrants arrest everyone.

pogrom in jewish community. much fun.

twitter good. must ban it.

Gail sees a moviemovies

Gail sees a movie: Kick-Ass

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 According to nerdy Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) a superhero is a “perfect combination of optimism and naiveté.” Of course, skill with lethal weapons and a fearless nature are also required.  In Kick-Ass, however, the powerless become unlikely superheroes.  The film is a parody of superhero movies, but I was still invested in the characters and story. And most of all, Kick-Ass is a hoot. [Read more →]

health & medical

Addendum

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The marvelous Mr. Cohen has written a chilling piece here tonight, The end of privately held medicine.

In the piece, he tells the tale of a Senator’s quest to ban medicine in your home, for the purpose of, drum roll please… Saving the Children!  The surprise is overwhelming!

But I’m not sure how up-to-date Mr. Cohen is on the technological front…

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drugs & alcoholpolitics & government

The end of privately-held medicine

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Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey is calling for the FDA to ban dissolvable tobacco products. These products, which include pellets, sticks, and strips, are marketed as an alternative to smoking.

And lung cancer. And certain death.

But Senator Lautenberg, that great defender of small children and furry animals (or is it furry children and small animals?), finds something nefarious about this. He argues that if young children were to see these concoctions as candy, and swallow a whole bottle of them, they could get sick.

However, when told that any pill or medication could be misconstrued as candy, the senator decided to take the ban to its logical conclusion, by calling for the end of all privately-owned medicine. [Read more →]

television

Tacky House and Food Revolution: The perfect television shows for our times

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It’s rare for a television reality show to perfectly capture the American cultural zeitgeist, except on those all-too common occasions when it actually does, which is frequently. These shows hold a mirror to our own reality (“reality” shows), by reflecting back to us who we are, what we’re doing, what are our shared interests. American Idol is a perfect microcosm of our culture’s pursuit of musical success (a “recording contract”), on which so many of our young, I-want-it-now-mp3-downloading children place so much importance. Then there is Survivor, which glorifies the reveling in the cut-throat world of deserted island back-stabbing in the pursuit of filthy lucre (“dirty money”), in the form of a $1 million prize. This is the type of greed typified by the current Goldman Sachs situation; I’m not sure of the specifics on that, but I know that a greedy win-at-all-costs attitude was the motivating factor.

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books & writing

Lisa reads: Heresy by S. J. Parris

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These days, we talk about Banned Book Week and we talk about censorship in school libraries, but in the 1500’s, they were serious about censorship.  Get caught reading something on the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) and your prize was an appointment with the local Inquisitor.  Based on the true story of Giordano Bruno — an Italian monk, excommunicated and on the run from the Inquisition — Heresy casts Bruno in the role of investigator, helping to solve a series of grisly murders while spying for Queen Elizabeth. [Read more →]

politics & governmentrace & culture

Imagine if the Tea Party was black?

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Well, first of all, it would be “Imagine if the Tea Party Were Black,” because the verb would be in the subjunctive mood.  But leaving that aside for a moment, imagine if someone took the punchline from a pulp legal thriller that was treacly and hackneyed ten years ago and turned it into a way-too-long post about how Tea Partiers are a bunch of racist redneck rubes.
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