Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Catching Up

Since my last post, there has been a lot of different, non-studio things happen that have occupied my attention. First and foremost was the shootings in Tucson. At present, it appears that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was a lone, literal nutcase. As more details come out about him, the only thing that's clear is that we have no clue as to why he did this. But that has not stopped the discussion on air and in the blogosphere.

The Tucson sheriff started it with his statements that the vile state of politics contributed to the shooting. Others jumped in, some echoing the sheriff and others loudly denying it. From my perch, it appears that Loughner did the shootings for reasons of his own that probably had nothing to do with whatever they say on Fox. However, I also think that the sheriff is right. I've been saying for some time that all sides need to cool down the rhetoric. Calling each other the enemy, putting cross-hairs on maps of opponents' houses, and other such statements are reprehensible. We're all Americans, for God's sake. We disagree about a lot of things, but none of us are enemies of our own country. The only thing divisiveness does is drive up the blood pressure of good, normal people, and pad the wallets of those who spew the hate.

Although it appears that political hatemongering probably didn't contribute to the Tucson shootings, the discussion about it is still very worthwhile. I've found two video clips and one blog that, I think, were very well done.

One is Jon Stewart. It's a helluva thing when a comedian is one of the most respected political commentators around, but Jon is. (Another of his ilk was Will Rogers, back in the '30's. One of Will's pithy observations: "I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat." Still true 80+ years later!) This particular clip is long, and you need to get past the first attempt at humor with John Oliver, but Stewart's comments are worth it.

The other video statement came from Keith Olbermann, the liberal voice on MSNBC. Keith denounced the tone of politics, apologized for any role he had in contributing to it, and called on others (with specifics) to do the same. It was a "have you no shame" moment for the new decade, powerfully done.

The blog post came from Paul Krugman, an op-ed contributor to the New York Times. Paul said he was not surprised that something like this happened. I agree. Even though Loughner is a nut job, it's the nut jobs that go over the edge first.

On the other side of the coin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have been loudly denying any responsibility for anything whatsoever. They remind me of little boys standing beside the broken vase, crying "I didn't do it!" when you know damn well they did. Bill O'Reilly, to my knowledge, hasn't said anything. Sarah Palin has taken down some of the more inflammatory posts on her blog (good on her) and then went on to deny any responsibility like Beck and Limbaugh (bad on her). None of them have the guts to stand up, like Olberman did, and help move this country forward.

Okay, enough politics. I've been working away on applications for public art projects and art show submissions because I haven't been able to get away from the house since Thursday. We've had round after round of snow over the past month and, as I write this, it's still coming down. I'm getting a workout by shoveling the driveway every couple of days. Frankly, I'm getting sick of it - tell me again, when will spring get here?

Finally, we had a scammer target my wife's cell phone. Somebody (we have no idea who) managed to sneak a $9.99 charge for "premium data messaging" onto our cell phone bill the past two months. I talked to an Elizabeth at Verizon this morning (very helpful lady) who reversed the charges for me and blocked all other such charges in the future. An interesting twist: to stop the incoming messages, you're supposed to send a text message saying "STOP" to the number sending them. When I did so, I got a bounce-back saying that the number did not accept any incoming messages! Since I've blocked all premium messages anyway, no big deal, but that's their trick: send you text messages, charge you $10 a pop for them, and give you no way to stop them.

Okay, I'm off to shovel some more snow now.

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