Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not So Fast, Dr. Murgatroyd!

In today’s most disquieting statistic, The Atlantic reports that Johns Hopkins researchers estimate that “every week, 39 foreign objects are left behind in a patient's body, 20 procedures are performed on the wrong body site, and another 20 are the wrong procedure to begin with. And 12.4 percent of surgeons were repeat offenders.”

Note to the surgery bound: keep an eye peeled for that 12.4%.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Irony of the Week

The 18th U.N. Climate Conference kicked off this week in Doha, Qatar.

The Qataris might now wish it had been held elsewhere, since it has focused international attention on the fact that Qatar’s per-capita carbon emissions are the highest in the world…triple that of the U.S.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Morning After

So, here it is, the morning after Election Day on Cape Cod, and the burghers of mid-Cape are drinking their prune juice, reading the morning papers and shaking their heads in shocked disbelief over the double whammy of a Romney defeat and a Warren win, while mumbling about the perfidy of the washashores in Provincetown and Falmouth for contributing to this epic fail.

One sign of normalcy is that the guys from the lawn maintenance company are outside, performing their weekly chores with mower and blower. But wait, haven’t they noticed that there’s a 55mph gale blowing (really!) and that the leaves, after a brief lofting by the blower are resettling right back where they were moments before, only to then be blown clear across the lawn by the gale, thereby effecting a virtual lawn sweep courtesy of Mother Nature.

I scratch my graying head, trying to decide whether this is devotion to duty beyond any call, or a world class example of shoveling s**t against the tide.

Sort of reminds me of those mid-Cape Republican voters.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tough Choice? Not Really.

All you Undecideds out there should read this editorial from The New Yorker.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


As my hearing continues to fade with age like a pair of cheap jeans, I’m heartened to read in the local gazette that the cable television industry is fighting a valiant rear-guard action to water down the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

CALM is due to kick in on December 13th, and the loudness it is intended to mitigate is that generated by TV commercials and promos which blaringly interrupt our viewing in order to better direct our attention to the goods being peddled by the sponsor, or to the merits of the next upcoming program; announcements which often well exceed the decibel level of the interrupted programming.

Were it not for such periodic ear-splitters, however, my nightly after-dinner snooze through prime time would go uninterrupted, leaving me bereft of any challenging water-cooler conversational gambits for the following morning, such as: “how about those Sox‽”

Hence, as a blogger, I resent this attempt by the FCC to deprive me of wide-awake access to subject matter as opportune for parody and ridicule as today’s television programs.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Debate Reflections

As an octogenarian survivor of the media game, I am saddened to note that Jim Lehrer’s ego has apparently gotten in the way of his crediting the old maxim, “get out while you’re ahead of the game”; an aphorism as true in the game of life as it is in poker.

While he clearly retains his cognitive mojo, cognition is only part of the skill set required to moderate a Presidential debate. The framing of his questions, his body language, and his inability to robustly police the traffic flow last night exemplified an aging performer who just won’t get off the stage.

Sorry, Jim, but it’s time for some tough love. You’ve had a lengthy and distinguished career, but you just can’t fly as close to the sun at age 78 as you did in your prime. Not on camera, anyway.

Time to unplug your mike, oil up your spinning reel, and take up blogging like the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“Innocence of Muslims”– free speech?

With politicians on both sides of the aisle hastening to pay knee-jerk obeisance to the 1st Amendment vis a vis its presumed protection of the odious and Islamophobic Innocence of Muslims (aka Desert Warrior) film, we are reminded that the Amendment’s protection of speech is not absolute.

What constitutes freedom of speech (and even the definition of “speech”) under the Constitution has been debated ad infinitum by others far more knowledgeable than I, but hate speech was addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which spawned the “Brandenburg test” holding that “The government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action [emphasis mine]”.

It seems to this non-lawyer that if further investigation should reveal, and prove, that those behind the film and responsible for its posting on the Internet acted with the clear intention of inciting precipitate violent action (as it did), it would presumably meet the Brandenburg test and place the perpetrators outside the protective umbrella of the First Amendment.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Robber Barons, Reformers and the 17th Amendment

With the autumnal equinox looming large on the calendar, We, the People of Massachusetts, will soon thereafter be called upon to elect (or re-elect) a Senator to represent our interests in the upper house of the United States Congress.

T’was not always thus.

Those among you who stayed awake during Mrs. McGuffey’s 9th Grade History class will recall that, until the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913, U.S. Senators were (per Art. 1, Sec. 3 of the Constitution) chosen by state legislatures, not elected directly by the people as at present.

The most contentious issue facing the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia during the long, stifling summer of 1787 was the question of suffrage; how many legislative representatives were to be chosen, and by whom and for how long? The larger states demanded representation consistent with size, while the smaller ones held out for numerical equality irrespective of geographical footprint or population.

The convention was deadlocked, and in danger of collapse, when Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed what came to be known as “The Great Compromise”: a bicameral legislature with the lower house being directly elected based on population size, and seats in the upper house filled by two senators from each state, chosen by the state legislatures. This latter stipulation was deemed essential to the “federal” character of the new government, i.e., the sharing of power by the national and the state governments. Maintaining such political equilibrium has been a shaky and sometimes lethal balancing act for the past 225 years.

By 1826, reformers were beginning to question the democratic legitimacy of a non-popularly-elected Senate, and calls for a direct-election amendment began to be heard. However, nothing resulted at the time or when it was tried again in 1829 and 1855 during the Jacksonian Democracy era.

With the Gilded Age (in Mark Twain’s sardonic coinage) in full noxious bloom by the 1890s, industrialization was producing the sort of huge fortunes and equally large disparities of wealth and power that are the breeding ground for corruption and political malfeasance. The “Millionaires’ Club” (as the Senate was then pejoratively known) was not immune to such influences. We look, for example, at “Copper King” William Andrews Clark who bribed the Montana legislature to secure a U.S. Senate seat, but was caught out before taking office. Then there was Nelson W. Aldrich, the most powerful chairman in the history of the Senate Finance committee who became enormously rich by easing tariff legislation for his cronies in the oil, tobacco and sugar trusts, but stumbled in his bid for a 5th term when his proffered $200,000 bribe failed to get him re-elected.

A contemporary fable about Grover Cleveland had it that that his wife woke him up one night crying: “Wake up! There are robbers in the house.” The president replied: “I think you are mistaken. There are no robbers in the House, but there are lots in the Senate.”

Coincidentally, the era spawned the doctrine of social Darwinism, promoted by the writings of William Graham Sumner and others, which preached a survival of the fittest dogma that the ability to acquire wealth is an evolutionary marker of genetic superiority.

And then there were the deadlocks in the state legislatures that occurred regularly when the lower house was in the hands of one party and the upper house another, and neither could agree on a senatorial candidate. Even more frequent than instances of outright corruption, 71 such standoffs resulted in 17 senate seats going unfilled for an entire legislative session or longer. Needless to say, other important state matters went unattended to, and often lesser qualified candidates were selected in desperate last ditch efforts to reach a compromise.

These goings on did not fail to catch the attention of reformers, and the ‘90s saw the ascendancy of the Populists, a potent alliance of western agrarian and eastern labor interests who had not been invited to the party. Trust-busting presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were elected to office in 1901 and 1909 respectively, ushering in the historically significant Progressive Movement, the effects of which are still felt today.

By 1912, the electorate, fed up with the excesses of wealth and power exhibited over the preceding several decades, pressured Congress to pass an Amendment providing for the direct election of Senators, and by the following year it had done so. Overwhelmingly ratified by the states, the 17th Amendment became law on April 8, 1913.

Gone missing in all this ferment was the venerated concept of federalism; the formal presence of state influence in Washington. The role of the states as equal partners in the governing of the nation was ever after diminished. Formerly, state legislatures could, and did, instruct their U.S. senators how to vote; but no longer. Ralph A. Rossum, writing in the San Diego Law Review, notes that the debate over the amendment’s adoption lacked “any serious or systematic considerations of its potential impact on federalism…The popular press, the party platforms, the state memorials, the house and senate debates, and the state legislative debates during ratification focused almost exclusively on expanding democracy, eliminating political corruption, defeating elitism and freeing the states from what they had come to regard as an onerous and difficult responsibility.”

With the 17th Amendment, our great experiment in democracy had passed another stress test, as it had oft-times before, and most certainly will have to again.


This article was originally published under my byline in the 9/7/12 issue of The Barnstable Patriot.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Annals of Medicine

Given the continuing red hot politics of healthcare in the 2012 elections, it was with special interest that I read an article titled Big Med in the August 13 issue of The New Yorker by the influential surgeon, public health researcher, and writer, Atul Gawande.

In it, Dr. Gawande treats our concern with the direction, cost and quality of American medical care by examining recent trends in “large-scale, production-line medicine.”

The author’s observations are, to say the least, intriguing, and, to the extent that they are an accurate forecast of the future, a bit unsettling for lay readers, myself emphatically included.

Conservatives may find standardized medical care a scarifying example of Big Brother run amok, whereas liberals will be concerned about the preservation of human dignity under such a system. Both sides must, however, be impressed with its seemingly steely efficiency.

Dr. Gawande himself is a bit ambivalent about the prospect of “Big Med”, but, in addressing it, he has produced a highly readable and challenging article.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


If this isn’t sports photo of the year, I’ll eat my leotard!

(Greg Bull, AP)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diplomacy 101

Rule #1: Only bloggers are allowed to publicly chide our allies on their embarrassing but less than lethal cock-ups.
Rule #2: Do not elect as president someone who does.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympian Fiasco

When Nick Buckles, CEO of G4S PLC, the rent-a-cop contractor for the London Olympics, conceded on Tuesday that the handing of that herculean $425m security detail had been, up to this point, a “humiliating shambles”, I rushed to Google to find out which of my vast holdings might be under G4S guardianship.
Turns out that G4S PLC is the parent of G4S Secure Solutions which bills itself as “the leading security company in the United States” and which is, in turn, the parent of The Wackenhut Corporation, a handle familiar to every American who has ever seen its logo emblazoned on armored cars and the shoulder patches of burly men wearing uniforms and carrying side arms.

My state of mind eased by the assumption that with a name like Wackenhut, it has to be good, I turned my attention back across the Atlantic where Lambada-loving Tory MP, Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s beleaguered Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport, was defensively mouthing “I don’t think this is the moment for getting into the blame game,” a bromide worthy of any politician on either side of the pond.
Tellingly, UPI had reported back in November that the FBI, unsettled by what they were hearing about a possible security shortfall, planned to send 500 FBI agents to London to protect American athletes, thereby eliciting outraged howls from U.K. officialdom about those interfering Yanks who want to be in charge of everything.

But, and let’s get to the nub of the kerfuffle: where was Rupert Murdoch in all this? Now I know that a good reporter is supposed to follow the facts to reach a conclusion rather than the other way around, but, like a child looking into a Christmas stockingful of manure and just knowing that there’s a pony in there somewhere; my prize pony is Keith Rupert Murdoch, KSG.

But the best I could come up with is that during the News Corporation wire-tapping scandale-du-jour back in May, it came out that the aforementioned Jeremy Hunt had gotten a bit too cozy with Murdoch’s NewsCorp regarding its plans to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB. Hardly a smoking gun to train on the Olympic security fiasco, however.

So, okay, there’s not always a pony in there somewhere!

Meanwhile, back in London, G4S PLC has agreed to make up the $55-75m it will now cost the British government to bring in the military to cover the security manpower shortfall, and CEO Nick Buckles has agreed to forgo his bonus.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Down With “Obamacare”!

The locution, Obamacare, “stands for everything people don’t like about the [Affordable Care Act] law”. So writes Chris Cillizza in the WaPo blog, The Fix. And he’s dead right.

Nevertheless, like clutching an asp to its breast, the Administration, along with countless sappy liberals and legions of lazy reporters eager to adopt a usefully catchy, one-size-fits-all expression, has embraced it willy nilly; apparently insensible to the fact that it has become--like the term liberal itself-–a toxic label, applied with glee by slogan-adept conservatives to skewer progressives as feckless do-gooders.

The Administration seems to think that it can turn the expression to its advantage by exploiting the seemingly felicitous conflation of Obama and Care, but they’re wrong. It’s too late. That ship has sailed. Hillarycare comes inevitably to mind, and we all know how that turned out.

Let’s face it, effective sloganeering is not liberals’ long suit. We don’t like it. Slogan-slinging is the antithesis of meaningful political dialog; a tactic to which we reluctantly revert when we can’t think of anything substantive to say in the few words that constitute a sound-bite.

For the moment at least, the GOP’s word-merchants own the genre. Let’s not make their job easier by clumsily trying to re-purpose one of the deadliest arrows in their rhetorical quiver.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How Cold Was It?

It occurs to your reporter that Cape Cod’s churches might have a ready solution at hand for alleviating their financial problems other than having to constantly dun our summer visitors to make up their annual budgetary shortfall.

Turn down the air-conditioning!

Now, you take yesterday at 11:00 mass in Hyannis. I mean we’re talking frigid here, people. How cold was it, you ask? I’ll tell you how cold it was. It was so cold, I had to break the ice on the holy water font before I could bless myself! It was so cold, they had to thaw out the wicks before they could light the ceremonial candles! It was so cold, 4C’s was storing its Rocky Road in the vestibule, an Aleut tourist was freezing walrus meat in the sacristy, and Hell froze over!

The flip side, of course, is that the welcome is always warm, the coffee hot, and the sermons heated; so I guess we’ll just have to accept the tradeoff until the Higgs boson confirms the existence of God once and for all, and we all get to live in a state of perpetual bliss with nothing to gripe about.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Smokescreen

It has now been revealed what this column has  suspected all along: John Roberts is a covert liberal!

He’s simply been biding his time, waiting for the landmark case that would signal his defining moment to come out of the closet.

As conservatives gnashed their teeth, and liberals rejoiced, Roberts simply called a spade a spade, or, rather, a tax a tax, a toxic term the Administration has been at pains not to have attached to the mandate. If Republicans are smart, they can use this fact to advantage should Obama start to brag that he hasn’t raised taxes during his term; because he now most certainly has.

Don’t let the rulings in Bush v. Gore, or District of Columbia v. Heller, or Citizens United v. FEC, cloud your perception. They were just run-ups to the main event, a smokescreen to keep us off our guard, believing Roberts to be the Reactionary anti-Christ.

Were you fooled?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Serious Social Problem Solved By Beer?

I see by a recent purchase at our local grog shop that the Czech brewer of Pilsner Urquell has decided to grab the teenage drinking problem by the horns by printing: FOR PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF 21 ONLY on every bottle.

If this is a new regulatory requirement by the ATF, the FDA, or the ABC, then Urquell is stuck with it, even though it’s like printing: NOT FOR USE BY “STAND YOUR GROUND” SOCIOPATHS on a box of bullets.

But, if it’s the brewer’s own initiative, then it’s got to be the lamest pass at exercising corporate social responsibility since Pontius was a pilot (as the WWII flyboys used to say).  Even if every brewer on the planet were to adopt the warning message, it wouldn’t put the tiniest dent in the problem. PC run amok.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Disinformation Please

According to an email from the Columbia Journalism Review:

“In April 2010, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 75 percent of Americans understood that the Affordable Care Act provided for subsidies to help people buy insurance. Roughly two years later, a follow-up survey found that only 56 percent of Americans understood the same. Why is the act so poorly understood?

As Trudy Lieberman explains, President Barack Obama and those representatives have failed to adequately explain the act and its individual coverage mandate, now under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. Too frequently, reporters take their lead from those politicians and miss opportunities to explain how the health insurance market changes under their readers' feet.”

This article also demonstrates how the press can, through inattention, inadvertently become an echo chamber for naysayers who are wealthy and nimble enough to mount an effective juggernaut of carefully crafted disinformation. Hapless proponents who have failed to present their case effectively are drowned out by the static.

This sort of thing has, of course, been going on in political America since scurrilous attacks on George Washington’s ability and integrity were rampant. Since WWII, the press has become more disciplined than it was in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it still too frequently functions – however unwittingly – as a sounding board for extreme partisans who can pass the smell test of being legitimate sources while peddling disinformation.

Needless to say, all political players take advantage of the press when they can, and the press cannot be expected to rescue those policymakers who drown in their own convoluted rhetoric (read Democrats) while the artful dodgers (Republicans) regularly outflank and out-message them.

See also Huffington blogger Adam McKay on this subject.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ironic Headline of the Week

Reporters Kicked Out of Romney Event at Newseum

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Spring has sprung along Old Kings Highway and with it the annual infestation by pesky invasive species such as winter-moth caterpillars and straight-pipe motorcyclists.

Is there anything less conducive to our enjoyment of the peace and quiet of a beautiful Cape Cod Sunday than the earsplitting racket of illegally modified bikes ridden by otherwise law-abiding citizens who somehow morph into Sons of Anarchy wannabes on weekends?

Safety issues aside, no reasonable person seriously objects to recreational bikers cruising on machines with regulatory-compliant mufflers, whereas ripping out baffles or otherwise modifying exhaust systems in order to achieve a gratifyingly loud staccato roar is heedlessly self-indulgent. The manager of a Boston Harley dealership has estimated that up to 70% of the bikes he sells are subsequently so modified.

Assertions by adherents of loud pipes that such noise protects their all-too-vulnerable vehicles from being unheard and thereby overrun in traffic, appear to be anecdotal-only and are not supported by independent research.

Surely, 6A abutters are not the only Commonwealth community afflicted by this problem, one which could so readily be ameliorated by more assiduous law enforcement.

Well aware that excessive noise creates PR problems for the sport, the 232,000-member American Motorcyclist Association recommends that:
  • All motorcyclists should be sensitive to community standards and respect the rights of fellow     citizens to enjoy a peaceful environment.
  • Motorcyclists should not modify exhaust systems in a way that will increase sound to an offensive level.
  • Organizers of motorcycle events should take steps through advertising, peer pressure and enforcement to make excessively loud motorcycles unwelcome.
  • Motorcycle retailers should discourage the installation and use of excessively loud replacement exhaust systems.
  • The motorcycle industry, including aftermarket suppliers of replacement exhaust systems, should adopt responsible product design and marketing policies aimed at limiting the cumulative impact of excessive motorcycle noise.
  • Manufacturers producing motorcycles to appropriate federal standards should continue to educate their dealers and customers that louder exhaust systems do not necessarily improve the performance of a motorcycle.
  • Law enforcement agencies should fairly and consistently enforce appropriate laws and ordinances against excessive vehicle noise.

To all of which this writer appends a loud Amen.

Note: This post was originally published as an op-ed item in the Cape Cod Times

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Writer, Know Thyself

Many of those who endeavor to bend the written word to their will can seem an odd lot; witness Roger Rosenblatt’s essay in the May 13 issue of The New York Times Book Review.

The reason for such eccentricity may well be that -- as someone whose name I wish I could remember noted recently -- “there’s no overestimating the self-absorption of a writer.”

Rosenblatt is a fiction writer, the literary category most readily evoked in people’s minds when they hear someone referred to as a writer. And, when one thinks about it historically, most of the authors’ names that pop into your head in connection with the phrase “odd lot” are -- almost to a man/woman -- fiction writers (or poets).

We bloggers, essayists, and even writers of learned tomes are rarely so tagged, even though perhaps equally deserving.

But all writers have to recognize themselves in the following anecdote from Rosenblatt’s essay:

“One morning at breakfast, when she was in the first or second grade, E. L. Doctorow’s daughter, Caroline, asked her father to write a note explaining her absence from school, due to a cold, the previous day. Doctorow began, “My daughter, Caroline. . . . ” He stopped. “Of course she’s my daughter,” he said to himself. “Who else would be writing a note for her?” He began again. “Please excuse Caroline Doctorow. . . . ” He stopped again. “Why do I have to beg and plead for her?” he said. “She had a virus. She didn’t commit a crime!” On he went, note after failed note, until a pile of crumpled pages lay at his feet. Finally, his wife, Helen, said, “I can’t take this anymore,” penned a perfect note and sent Caroline off to school. Doctorow concluded: “Writing is very difficult, especially in the short form.”

Any writer –- actual or aspiring –- who wouldn’t have had an equal or greater pile of crumpled pages at his feet under similar circumstances is unsuited to the calling and had best seek another line of work.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dr. Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, Ed.D

One Shaquille O’Neal equals ten Federal Departments of Education in promoting the ethos of education to the kids who’ll benefit the most and who’ll most benefit the country.

Is there any other zillionaire who provides a better example to the youth of America and who more deserves every dime of the riches he has earned and which our system has allowed him to amass?

Go Shaq!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reports of Newspapers’ Death Greatly Exaggerated

Your correspondent was buoyed today to learn that his aversion to reading newspapers online rather than in print does not necessarily assign him to the Geezer demographic category.

Rasmussen Reports has published a new study that reveals –- among other things –- that two-thirds of those polled prefer to read the print version of their favorite newspaper rather than the digital edition.

I, for one, find that even a terrifically sophisticated and graphically appealing digital presentation like that of The New York Times simply does not deliver the psychic satisfaction of leafing through the print edition. I have also read previously that, faced with a more than one-page digital document, most people don’t bother going to the succeeding page(s). William Powers was certainly correct when he wrote (in Harvard’s Hamlet’s Blackberry Discussion Paper ) that “There are cognitive, cultural and social dimensions that come into play every time any kind of paper, from a tiny Post-it note to a groaning Sunday newspaper, is used to convey, retrieve or store information.”

Further heartening news comes from the Audit Bureau of Circulation which tells us that newspaper circulation is up in the past six months compared to the same period a year ago. Circulation of course includes digital as well as print, but it begins to look as though the newspaper-publishing industry may have finally begun to figure out the new economic model required to survive and thrive in the digital age.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Once a Newsman…

Jeff Bercovici of Forbes has penned an encomium to journalism as being the best job ever.

Listen up, people, the man knows whereof he speaks.

Jeff is a reporter and columnist, so he comes closest to being what we mean when we say journalist, but there are a lot of other hands-on jobs in “journalism” that carry the same perks of variety, travel, learning, excitement, meeting interesting people, etc. You may never get rich, but you’ll never wake up on Monday morning thinking “another week of the same old same old.

I for one never studied Journalism, but, nevertheless, spent the sixties at CBS News, entering through the production portal (where my prior expertise lay), progressing from production supervisor to special events producer to news operations executive, over what turned out to be the most rewarding decade of a highly rewarding professional career. I left it only because ambition to move up the TV industry ladder eventually got the better of me.

Through daily exposure to the editorial side, and by osmosis, I gradually absorbed the ethos of news-gathering and distribution which, if it didn’t turn me into a capital-J journalist, it certainly made me into a newsman with all the curiosity and healthy skepticism that come with the job, and which remain with me nearly a half-century later. Bloggo, ergo sum.

The job market may be tough at the moment, and the print media fighting for its life, but I’d urge my contemporaries to encourage their grandkids who may be entering the job market -- if they have the inclination and talent –- to go for what may indeed be the best job ever.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

NIMBY© Copyrighted by Save Our Sound

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound today filed with the U.S. Copyright Office to protect the acronym NIMBY from unauthorized use by individuals, publications or organizations other than itself.

Claiming precedent, APNS president Audra Parker cited a statement made by Alliance board member, William I. Koch, in 2006 when –- in reference to the proposed offshore wind farm -- he told Forbes’ reporter Tim Doyle, “I don’t want this in my backyard” [emphasis added].

Multi-billionaire Koch made further headlines in 2011 when he purchased at auction for $2.1M the only authenticated photograph of William McCarty aka William Bonney aka Billy the Kid, an unflattering tintype that belies America’s longstanding romanticized image of the Kid as portrayed by Robert Taylor, Paul Newman, Kris Kristofferson, Donny Wahlberg and countless other Hollywood sex symbols.

Save Our Sound views “Not in My Back Yard’ “as a rallying battle cry reflective of the contemporary zeitgeist”, said Parker, shrugging off suggestions that it is more often perceived as the credo of the insular privileged.

Reports that this column intends to copyright the disclaimer, “lirpa loof” are unfounded.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

How wry is it that the much ballyhooed star of Disney’s new all time worst box office debacle, “John Carter”, is a guy named Kitsch.

Monday, March 19, 2012

“Creative” Writing

For those of you more than casually interested in the journalistic considerations inherent in the ongoing saga of monologist Mike Daisey vs. the truth, the surprisingly compelling non-fiction book, The Lifespan of a Fact, might be worth a read.

In it, a doggedly earnest young magazine fact-checker named Jim Fingal goes mano a mano with the essayist John D’Agata over D’Agata’s casual approach to matters of actual fact in a non-fiction piece he wrote about a Las Vegas suicide.

The book consists of 122 pages of an often acerbic e-mail dialog between Fingal and D’Agata, interspersed with excerpts from the essay in dispute.

“What emerges,” per publisher W.W. Norton’s blurb, “is a brilliant and eye-opening meditation on the relationship between ‘truth’ and ‘accuracy’, and a penetrating conversation about whether it is appropriate for a writer to substitute one for the other.”

I well recognize that this sort of thing is not everyone’s cuppa tea; one man’s “compelling” is another man’s meh, but you’ll know after a few pages whether or not it’s something you’ll want to stick with to the end. Spoiler Alert: the writers do not — en fin — resolve the issue for you; the work is, as blurbed, a meditation from which you may draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Six Degrees of Separation

I guess you have to be a retired media exec with lots of time on his hands like me to have noticed (or cared) that Limbaugh’s syndicator -- who may well have provided the arm-twist necessary to generate an apology –- is Premiere Networks, owned by CC Media Holdings, owned by Clear Channel Communications, owned by Bain Capital, which has close ties to a well-known Republican presidential aspirant.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Death of a Blogger

Wish I had the words to properly convey my respect and admiration for Rami Ahmad Al-Sayeed, a Syrian video blogger who so capably earned and richly deserved the designation “citizen journalist”, an epithet claimed by many but merited by few.

Rami was killed by mortar fire this week while trying –- via his video blog syriapioneer -- to get the word out to the world about the genocide that is taking place in Homs while society looks on, seemingly helpless to arrest it.

Those of us who follow the profession of journalism, either as practitioners or as acolytes, might pause a moment to honor his selfless devotion to his chosen calling. For details see:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ars Gratia Artis

We note in The Barnstable Patriot that the management of the “new” Barnstable Municipal Airport is throwing a bash on February 15 for the Hyannis, Yarmouth and Cape Cod chambers of commerce. Also invited is the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod.

No doubt some Cape Cod artists will see this invitation as a shallow make-nice gesture to an organization which is helping to facilitate the decoration of the airport by encouraging local artists to loan their work gratis.

This corner has no dog in the fight, but we suggest that as a step to help diffuse the contretemps, the airport might also invite the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, repository of a contrary view, as a show of good faith. They might even go so far as to re-cast the event as an art-acquisition fund-raiser.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA Opera Redux

Can’t help but wonder whether Rupert Murdoch, if his $580M investment in MySpace hadn’t so spectacularly crashed and burned, would be sputtering out tweets accusing the President of “throwing in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters” over the Administration’s negative position vis a vis the seriously flawed SOPA and PIPA bills now pending before Congress,