September 13, 2011

Bartcop columnist skips (latest) BART cops protest

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:29 pm


Photo from a BART cop protest last week

Back in the Sixties, the New York Times had a daily box listing the books that were officially being published on that particular day. When the Internets were younger, this columnist made some feeble efforts to contact Amazon and see if he could interest them in paying him to provide an online version of the newspaper’s daily listing. One of the joys of a bookstore is the serendipity factor when a buyer stumbles across an item that makes a strong case for indulging in an impulse purchase. Since Amazon seems to lack a method of making a direct approach to impulse buys, we thought a listing of new books could be a strong unique, drawing feature for the online firm. Our efforts to be the Internets pioneer who started such a daily draw for the book selling firm were for naught. They didn’t hire this columnist and they still don’t offer such a listing.

Since everyone loves the idea of winning free stuff in a contest, we also assessed the potential for doing the work necessary for starting a web site where contest fans could find a daily resource for news and information about exciting (isn’t there a law that requires that adjective to be attached to all contest announcements?) new contests.

One of the negative aspects for both these ventures was the large potential for ultimate boredom. If we had undertaken (pun alert here?) either of these monumental tasks, it seems likely that we would have eventually used up our initial adrenaline burst of enthusiasm and energy and then be froced to rely on the all American motivation of greed to carry the task to completion. Only large gobs of money can cure boredom and inertia, eh?

When we got a gig being a columnist errant for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine, we envisioned it as a chance to help that magazine duplicate the Rolling Stone magazine success story by becoming the digital version of an ersatz Hunter S. Thompson. The web site’s management (AKA el jefe) decided to concentrate their editorial content exclusively on music and we had to move our Don Quixote efforts elsewhere.

In the process of providing book and film reviews, photos, and political punditry to the management at Just Above Sunset online magazine, we were able to scratch two items off our bucket list: a ride in the Goodyear blimp and a ride on a B-17 G bomber. Soon, we were cross-posting our political punditry efforts on both Just Above Sunset and Smirking Chimp. Later we added cross posting on Op Ed News and Bartcop to our online “to do” list.

It seemed to the World’s Laziest Journalist that, in an era of specialization, an effort to imitate online what columnist Herb Caen had done for San Francisco for almost six decades by providing a string of rather short snarky tidbits about one particular city could be expanded to appeal to a more geographically diverse audience, and that it would work well in the digital era because skimming has become ubiquitous.

Last week, this columnist took some photos and did an item on a group of protesters in People’s Park who were conducting their efforts while living up in one of the park’s trees. The day after Labor Day their efforts had vanished. We learned that one of the protester’s had fallen out of the tree during the night (Monday to Tuesday morning). The Cal Berkeley student newspaper reported that other park residents had said that the girl broke her back in the fall. We should do a Google news search for a more authoritative update.

We also ran an item about the past weekend plans for the Northern California group that wants to bring out the truth about what happened on 9/11. Their promotional literature mentioned a Toronto Hearing. We should do a Google news search for information on that unexplained aspect of the 9/11 topic. As this column is being written, we have skipped an opportunity to take a photo of their Sunday parade down Market Street in San Francisco and have chosen, instead, to do the first draft of this column.

As the overwhelming aspect of doing all that simultaneous work became more and more apparent, we considered doing an entire column asking if the overworked writers for liberal web sites were facing a situation that could be compared to the task of the reporter who was with General Custer when he was surrounded at the Little Big Horn river by attacking Indians.

(Would it be worth the effort to do some fact checking on the idea that the American soldiers only had old obsolete muzzle loader weapons and that the attackers had repeater rifles supplied by an unethical gun dealer or is that something on display in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s “Hall of Fame” display area?)

On Monday September 12, 2011, we knew that there was going to be another protest at the BART Civic Center station, but we decided to skip the chance to take new news photos that would probably be very similar to the images we had recorded at several other recent similar protests.

Is there a potential column topic in the possibility that Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch are conspiring to work liberal writers to death (like the dog in “Cool Hand Luke”?) by inundating them with bullshit that needs to be refuted with extensive fact finding and careful logical analysis?

Could we do an issues oriented roundup column under with a headline reading: “Has American Democracy been scuttled by the Republicans?” It seems that Democrats must now simultaneously mount efforts to revive interest and enthusiasm for: the unions, the social security program, verifiable election results, voter registration, fair taxation rates, ending extraneous wars, providing social welfare programs for the homeless, and maintaining affordable quality education while the Republicans flash their “Just vote No!” bumper stickers and head for the golf course with campaign donors?

With all the pandemonium surrounding the P. T. Barnum approach to selecting next year’s Republican Presidential nominee, shouldn’t it soon be time for Barbara Bush to hold a press conference and admonish all Americans to come to their senses, get serious, and nominate her son JEB? Hypothetically wouldn’t even Edward R. Morrow himself have to utter a subservient response to such a clarion call? “Yes, mom, we’ll get to work on that right away.” (Wasn’t last weekend’s terrorist alert a delightful bit of Bush era nostalgia?)

Recently we learned online that Herb Caen’s typewriter is on display in the San Francisco Chronicle’s newsroom. Unfortunately the public can’t drop in to see it. William Randolph Hearst made an exception to his own iron clad rule for a columnist named Bob Patterson. Is it worth all the effort it would take for the World’s Laziest Journalist to get a photo of Caen’s Royal to use with one of his own columns?

In a world where solipsism rules and where Sisyphus is the citizen journalists’ team mascot, it seems to this columnist that it might be worth the effort to shoehorn an appointment with a typewriter into a schedule that is already an insurmountable challenge to efficient time management.

After we do our next installment of volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association, check out the statue of an alligator in the El Paso town plaza (or is it a crocodile? They look alike in the dark.), we will start holding a schizophrenic style debate with ourself about assigning ourself to doing some columns about the earthquake recovery efforts in New Zeland.

If it seems that such a gig doesn’t have any connection to American political punditry, perhaps we can ask some of the relief workers the Goldwin style question: “How much do you love America’s latest war crimes?”

Writing about the same topic, over and over, such as what books are new or what contests are new, might earn a columnist an opportunity to be cross posted on one particularly big aggregate web site, but, to this columnist, that seems too much like a job and we prefer to continue our efforts to build a collection of readers who ask: “What did he write about this time?”

Recently a fellow blogger in the Berkeley area noted with trepidation that the three dot (it’s called an ellipse) style of column writing often triggers skeptical responses from readers. If some fiddle head conservative troll, who tries to evoke the old high school bit of humor about the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Cries for You” or accusations such as “You are crazy!”, can do better aren’t they free to submit such efforts? It seems that those who can, do; and those who can’t, post troll comments.

When the manager of a hotel informed the music group “The Who” that there had been complaints from other guests about noise in the rock stars’ room, legendary drummer John Bonham (allegedly) threw the TV out the window and said “That was noise; this is music.”

Now the disk jockey will play Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” and a bootleg recording of the Rolling Stones project sometimes called “The Contractual Obligation” album. We have to go post bail (again?) for a friend. Have a “OR’ed” type week.

January 24, 2010

Breaking the Monty Python Argument addiction

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:12 pm

The famous philosopher Montague Python devised the most popular circular argument of all times when he posited the hypotheses that contradicting is a legitimate, scholarly method of argumentation and he subsequently spawned a cottage industry in academic circles for professors and PhD candidates to assert the converse theorem: “No; it isn’t!”

The Republicans have adapted the Python-esque attitude regarding the possibility that global warming will kill off all the polar bears (even the massive colony of expat white bears living in zoos around the world?) by disqualifying any scientific preditions designed to elicit sympathy for the gigantic brutes.

The Democrats have embraced the challenge in such a wholehearted and enthusiastic way that some observers are alarmed about the possibility that the Democrats are showing symptoms of addiction in their compulsive responses to the Republican invitations to put aside substantive topics and, instead, waste some campaign time by continually injecting new scientific information into the argument which, by the Republican ground rules, automatically disqualifies the material that is (in the Republicans’ august opinion) worthy of a room of its own in the Mad Scientists Hall of Fame.

Here is a hypothetical transcript of how to play the game:
Dem: A new scientific report says that all polar bears will drown because the polar ice cap is melting.
Rep: Where does it say that in the Bible?
Dem: But if you read the report, surely, you will admit that without a polar ice cap, the polar bears will soon disappear form this earth.
Rep: Don’t call me Shirley.
Dem: So you don’t care if all the polar bears drown?
Rep: Polar bears are known for their remarkable long distance swimming ability, polar bear skeletons have been found on Samoa. (Republicans are not confined to reality. For Democrats, truth is a self imposed restriction limiting their retorts.)
Dem: Don’t you care about Global Warming?
Rep: If you could prove it exists, I most certainly would, but for now, I think it’s like the “theory” that if I flap my arms fast enough, I’ll start to fly. Aren’t scientists the ones who say that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, bees can’t fly?
Dem: I’ll do anything I have to, to prove that Global Warming really exists.
Rep: Anything? . . . ?
Dem: Science has proved conclusively that global warming is occurring and that polar bears are in peril.
Rep: No! It doesn’t!

Here’s a suggestion for Democrats who want to argue logically and simultaneously break out of their addiction to the Monty Python game: issue this challenge: given the fact that you don’t believe in Global Warming because you don’t’ believe in science, how about this: The Democratic Party will build you a World Headquarters for the Science Skeptics (AKA the Republican elite SS Society) Association on the atomic proving ground’s “Ground Zero” conveniently located close to Las Vegas! Whatcha say? Free!

At that point the Republicans would face a philosophic crisis. They must accept the dare because if they decline the offer, the discussion will then put them on the defensive. If they want to decline the offer based on any scientific reasons, then they have been proven to be hypocrites; if they decline and attribute it to “common sense,” then they can be asked what common sense tells them about the photos that show a shrinking polar icecap. If they don’t believe in photos; ask them if you can buy all their family album photos, home movies, and negatives. Do they use family snapshots to remind themselves that grandpa and grandma really existed (and looked groovy in their youth?)? If they don’t believe in photographic evidence, then they don’t need family snapshots and should jump at the chance to sell them off. Isn’t offering a Republican a chance to make some easy money just like offering a drink to an alcoholic?

If they accept the offer, the Democrats should use reconciliation to get legal permission to build such a facility and then they should build it and turn it over to the Republican Society of Science Skeptics.

If the Democrats wanted to use methodology as mean and crooked as the Republicans utilize, they might want to run ads showing victims of disabilities acquired by fighting in territory where Agent Orange was used. The spokesmen could then say that only scientists disapproved of using Agent Orange and that there was absolutely nothing in the Bible that would indicate that there was any reason to avoid waging war with or living where it had been used for defoliation. Has the use Agent Orange been abandoned in the Bush Wars just because of scientific evidence? (Have you noticed that there are no trees or vegetables growing in the Tora Bora pass?)

What does the Bible say about accepting this generous offer (a free headquarters building on Ground Zero) from the Democrats? Did any polar bears offer to testify at the Scope’s Trial?

Question: If Bible thumping conservatives are diagnosed with cancer do they seek help by going to an African witch doctor or do they head for an American doctor who relies heavily on science? What does the Bible say about chemo-therapy? Shouldn’t Republican Christians turn down any and all recommendations for such cancer treatments?

The Global warming circular argument might, in the final inning, boil down to an old Republican election slogan’s advise: “If God meant for man to fly; He would have given him wings!” Amen, brother!

Now, the disk jockey will play the Foreigner’s song “Blinded by Science,” Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science,” and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas.” Whew, we need to go take a reinvigorating look at some photos taken back when it was clever to ask a girl: “Wanna see my Walmetto?” Have a “Sock it to me!” type week.

November 21, 2009

The Tattlesnake – Frank Luntz is a Scum-Sucking Pig Edition

(With apologies to our porcine friends who also happen to suck scum, but don’t have much influence on the electorate.}

While some readers may chastise me for gross understatement in the title, and I take their point, I decided to keep this clean, or as clean as you can when describing the contents of the sole working Port-O-Potty on free chili and beer night at a baseball game.

“[A]sk a question in the way that you get the right answer.”
– Frank Luntz on his ‘fair and balanced’ polling methods.

What makes Republican word-whacker Frank Luntz my target is that he is an intentional and dedicated deceiver of the public, smart enough to know full well what he’s doing, but blithely willing to trot out his wares — borrowed from the misuse of modern psychological techniques to sell the gullible what they don’t need joined with a carnival conman’s shell game pitch — for the temporary benefit of his bank account, while his country slides into a wreckage of divisiveness and debt. If you’d like to find the home base for the decimation of our public speech into ignorant, inflamed, fearful, flag-draped hatred; the revision of our history into a reeking bonanza of selfish suicidal capitalism, evangelical Christian crapola and nasty neoconservative warhawk bilge; and the reduction of our political discourse into so much overheated, oversimplified, covertly racist, sound-bite slag, you can point to three names: the late Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and the lesser-known, but every bit as important, Frank Luntz as the authors of the meltdown in progress.

“Luntz is glibly amoral, worrying only about whether language has the right effect, not whether it’s true.”
– Steven Poole, commenting on Luntz’s book “Words That Work” in The Guardian (UK), July 21, 2007.

It was Frank’s notion to rename a bill allowing more pollution as the ‘Clean Air Act’; it was Luntz who told the GOP to re-label estate taxes as ‘death taxes’ so that the wealthy paid less while the rest of us took up the slack; it was his demented mind that connected Iraq to 9/11 and instructed Republican pols to always preface any mention of the failed Iraq incursion with ’9/11 changed everything’; behind nearly every current and past GOP talking point, endlessly repeated in the Right-Wing Echo Chamber, you’ll find Frank’s pasty round face, tirelessly choosing just the right words to convince a malleable faction of the American public to eat corporate Republican turds and think it’s prime rib.



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