October 17, 2014

What a week!

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:36 pm

crop of inspection long shot

Once upon a time, several decades ago, a televised football game inadvertently became an example of theater of the absurd when a heavy fog developed. If the quarterback threw a pass he couldn’t see the receivers and they would have to rely heavily upon intuition to catch a ball that might suddenly appear where they were holding their hands. Running plays were no less of an exercise in absurdity. TV cameras can no more cut through fog than human eyes so the video portion of the game was ghostly images at best. Sports announcers are supposed to describe the play as it happens but when vision is impaired by fog, their job becomes very challenging. The novelty of the situation became exhausted quite quickly and we changed channels and forgot about that bit of boring television entertainment until recently when we tried to assess the new coverage of the Isis battles in the Middle East.

The reporting, commentary and analysis of the Isis phase of the Forever War is similar in quality to the coverage of that forgotten game played in the Chicago area (as we recall) many moons ago. The media heavy weights get the latest official statements which are vague and nebulous. The war correspondents get to describe the carnage they are permitted to see, but they can’t see over the horizon. Politicians appear on the Sunday morning gab-fests and promote their party’s agenda. The bottom line for journalists is: there is nothing to see, no one will say what their secret plan for victory is, but everyone is willing to say that Americans should be prepared for a long struggle.

Coverage of the Ebola episodes is just as bad as far as the lack of quality journalism is concerned.

In a frantic effort to find some items of interest to be able to write this week’s anemic attempt to provide a “that was the week that was” report about how things are going as the mid-term elections in the USA are approaching rapidly, the World’s Laziest Journalist rounded-up a few small items and will lump them all together as background material for a week full of medical reports about various Ebola victims.

On the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, the staff is, for recreational purposes, experiencing a reading via “Dr. Mary’s Monkey,” by Edward T. Haslam. It seems that this novel indulges in speculation and hints of a link between the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Ebola epidemic. The World’s Laziest Journalist will attempt to borrow the copy of his book, read it, and report on just how likely it is that the book’s fantastic speculation could or could not be true.

The Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is formulating some speculation about the possibility that terrorists are recruiting kamikaze jihad warriors for a suicide mission that asks them to get infected with Ebola and then travel into enemy territory. Wouldn’t infected blankets work just as well?

The Orwellian concept of “doublethink” was not missing from the surreal aspect of this week. Tom Frieden told Congress that the Ebola could not be contracted by sitting next to a victim on an airplane, then he added that Ebola victims should not fly.

Wasn’t one of the goals of the Sept. 11 attack, to cripple the airline industry? Your homework assignment, this week, is to write an essay asserting that the Ebola fad is part of the terrorist strategy from 9-11 to destroy the airline industry in the USA, post it on social median and then wait for it to go viral.

Will cost conscious hospitals and health organizations suddenly embrace a “damn the costs” approach to containing a potentially hazardous situation from getting out of hand? Could the heath problem provide a new example of the foolhardy aspect of the “penny wise, pound foolish” philosophy?

Is Albert Camus’ novel “The Plague” experiencing a surge in popularity? Can the sale performance of a book be determined on the Amazon site?

We have heard one prediction that this year’s most popular Halloween costume will be a Has-mat outfit.

Berkeley political activist Mike Zint early this week posted on his Facebook page, a piece assessing the shrinking number of alternative news sources available and on Wednesday October 15, 2014, the Bay Guardian, an alternative news source in the San Francisco Bay Area for forty-nine years, published its last issue (Vol. 49, no. 3).

Quality news for Germans was unavailable during WWII and the ramifications of what their dilemma was, is a topic that will lead most online fact checkers to an familiar sounding situation. (Google hint: “gray radio WWII 600,000 watts” and also try “Aspidistra”)

Do the UCB alumni have to see this year’s Cal vs. Stanford game to know who they want to support? Should Americans care if Freedom of the Press has become extinct?

On a lighter note, the annual write a novel month online shenanigans is about to begin again. (Google hint: National Novel Writing Month [AKA Nanowrimo])

Since the ship America was in San Francisco for fleet week, and since the President of the United States was in Frisco for some fund raising at the same time that the christening ceremony was scheduled to take place, we went on a walkabout in the area trying to get some serendipity photos of the commander-in-chief. The world’s laziest journalist got some digital images of the view from the Hi-Dive tavern on the Embarcadero, some photos of security checks being made and a good impromptu portrait image of San Francisco’s chief of police, Greg Suhr but we didn’t see or take photos of the current POTUS.

We had never heard of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) until this week when a Liberal Berkeley resident suggested that ODD might explain the civil unrest in Ferguson Missouri.

This week we were invited to go to Cupertino, see the film “Dead End,” directed by Joron F. Ghanma, and review it; but we couldn’t arrange transportation and missed that chance to write a change of pace column.

BTW you should change your e-mail account password.

George Orwell wrote: “The Gordon Riots of 1780, though they had religious bigotry as a pretext, seem to have been little more than a pointless outburst of looting.”

Now the disk jockey will play Ray Steven’s “I Saw Elvis in a UFO,” “Hang up and drive,” and “Dead Skunk (in the middle of the road).” We have to go see “Kill the Messinger.”   Have a “Go Giants!” type week.

Our photo of San Francisco Chief-of-Police Greg Suhr


crop of chief Shurr



February 17, 2011

Talk radio and Existentialism

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:28 pm

Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office is devoid of Internet access, a TV set, and phone, the staff winds up listening to the radio or playing old musical tapes when it comes time to kick back and chill out. Since there ain’t a hella (note to AARP site editor types: that may not sound right to you but that’s de rigueur jive for the young folks) variety of choices on the radio, we tend to go to extremes. Uncle Rushbo is fascinating listening because he keeps pushing towards the limits to gain the inevitable liberal media publicity. Every time he comes close to going over the edge, he winds up landing safely and thus brings to mind a segment of the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.” (“Where’s Buzz?”) On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Malloy who is just as fully committed to his beliefs as is the King of Oxycontin. (If you had to spout Republican spin all year long, wouldn’t you have an insatiable appetite for pain killers, too?)

Lately Malloy seems extremely distressed about the prognoses for democracy. He may need a refresher course on the philosophy of the guys who wrote for the underground newspaper, Combat, which was published in Paris during the German occupation.

Would it be too esoteric and arcane to assert that listening to both Uncle Rushbo and Malloy would be comparable to reading both the Paris Zeitung and Combat?

Recently we attended a screening of the film “Casablanca.” We knew that Humphrey Bogart’s role as Fred C. Dobbs in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” had made a lasting impression (and had an influential effect?), but we had not been aware that his role as Ricky Blaine had also made itself felt long after we first saw it. Blaine was existentialism in action.

If there was a book title Zen and the Art of Existentialism; we’d recommend it to both those radio personalities. Ricky Blaine learned the laissez faire attitude in Paris (home of existentialist thinking) and, after that, pretty much kept away from partisan politics. When a group of boisterous members of the German military attached to diplomatic duty in Casablanca sang a patriotic song, Ricky tried to balance things out by advising the band leader to play the Marseilles just to keep things on an even keel.

Some of the best segments of the Malloy program occur when he and his screener/producer/wife Kathy quibble over fact finding bits of trivia. It’s obvious that their emotional relationship doesn’t impinge on their attempts for hair-splitting bits of factual accuracy. One assumes that they have read Robert L. Stevenson’s essay on how to conduct a stimulating but civilized conversation. Are they trying to become the modern equivalent of Tex and Jinx Falkenburg? Unfortunately that’s one bit of radio history we missed.

We might, if we had a phone, call Rush and suggest that he listen to the Malloys and then think about putting his wife on the air with him. Then we realized that wouldn’t work. Equality in marriage is a Democratic Party type thing and Rush would lose so much street cred, his ratings would plummet. Haven’t we read somewhere on the Internets that Uncle Rushbo’s audience is diminishing?

Some nights Malloy comes perilously close to being a Xerox copy of the fictional TV journalist Howard Beal. Recently he was lamenting the fact that there seems to be two systems of justice. One for über-wealthy Republicans (like Uncle Rushbo?) and another for “Just Us.” We were tempted to call Mike (if we had a phone) and suggest that it might be an appropriate time for his wife/producer to play the Waylon Jennings song that has the lament about “if I’dda killed her when we first met; I’d be outta jail by now.” The guy in the song mustta been a Republican, eh?

Since Malloy does repeatedly reference Mario Savio’s most famous quote, if we had a phone we’d call Malloy and suggest that he read Albert Camus’ “The Rebel” because Malloy would be sure to find a shipload of hand-dandy quotes. If the Republicans are going to rely on existentialism to bolster their program, it might be a good bit of self-defense preparation to read some Sartre and Camus.

His recent steak of pessimism would be the perfect opportunity to play the perfect example of nihilistic/existentialistic commingling contained in Howard’s speech at the end of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Fate has played a practical joke on liberals. Get over it.

If Malloy did read up on the existentialists, wouldn’t he eventually encounter the cusp area where Zen and nihilism overlap? Didn’t Jean-Paul Sartre practice Nietzsche’s amor fati lesson i.e. “So Be It!” when he was a German prisoner of war and he used the time to write a new play?

Folks love to portray college professors as “pointy-headed” intellectuals with far left political opinions who bandy about references to obscure books such as “Nausia,” but didn’t all the teabaggers do a marvelous job of stifling their amusement recently when John Boehner snuck a crafty allusion to the amor fati lesson from Nietzsche into a press conference? Didn’t the teabaggers love it when he was paraphrasing the existentialists and the liberals didn’t even notice? What teabagger couldn’t savor the delicious irony of that?

[Note: for those intellectuals who quibble over the pronunciation of the name of the Speaker of the House, we have one question: Isn’t Boeotia phonetically bee-oh-shah? Do Republicans use the word Boeotian (bee-ocean) in it’s stupid or boorish person meaning to denote a Democrat? Shouldn’t the Speaker’s name be pronounce as if (phonetically) were bee-ner?]

If some teabagging existentialist troll has read this far, we will counter the objection that this column is a shameless example of a partisan attempt to “suck up” to Malloy, we would point out that it is being posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011, and that means that when Malloy broadcasts tonight, the audience in Berkeley CA will hear women’s college basketball and this columnist will be at the Berkeley 7 watching “The Fifth Element.”

In “The Rebel,” (Vintage Book paperback page 41) Albert Camus wrote: “In politics his (i.e. Marquis de Sade’s) real position is cynicism. In his Society of the Friends of Crime he declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating. It is the same impulse that makes the lowest form of criminal vote for conservative candidates.” In the Republican Party, isn’t cynicism one of the seven cardinal virtues? Don’t most teabaggers recognize the fact that Boehner knows his Camus, while the liberals sit and listen to him with dropped jaw incredulity?

The disk jockey will now play: “Helter Skelter,” “Street Fighting Man,” and Waylon Jenning’s “Out of Jail.” We have to see if folks in Berkeley can pick up the XERB signal because we’d love to hear the Wolfman again. Have an “of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine” type week.

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