Previous month:
March 2012
Next month:
May 2012

About the New York Times

Well, it is no Front Page podcast, and it doesn't meet my needs, but I did discover that, 1) The New York Times prepares a daily digest of the newspaper that would take about 45 minutes to read out loud, and that 2) will read it out loud to you for $8 a month. Alas, 45 minutes a day is more time than I can devote to the subject. Also, the reader is no James Baron. In fact, in the sample I heard, he's barely a competent professional. I could do better! What the world needs is yet another daily Times product, about 6-10 minutes in length, maybe with some actualities. Wait! It had that! It was called the Front Page Podcast.

Political Briefs

  • How The Banks Stole Medicare 
  • The Conventional Wisdom Is As Wrong On Tax "Reform" As It Was On Iraq
  • George W. Bush's Deliberate And Successful Attack On America And Its Consumers 
  • How To Prevent Oil Spills  (jail time)
  • Republicans And NJ Republican Governor Chris Christie Lie To Cannibalize The Future
    While failing to give credit where credit is due (to Republican Dwight David Eisenhower for calling attention to the source of the problem), Krugman has a valid point. "America used to be a country that thought big about the future. Major public projects, from the Erie Canal to the interstate highway system, used to be a well-understood component of our national greatness. Nowadays, however, the only big projects politicians are willing to undertake — with expense no object — seem to be wars. Funny how that works."
  • Afghan Highway 1
    This is like the U.S. (and various state and local police forces) being unable to protect and control I-95 from Boston, Mass. to Washington, D.C.
    The previous government was removed from power in 2001, over 10 years ago. The article indicates not only that the local army can not protect the main highway, they have little interest in doing so.
    What is the current real (not a figment of the joint imaginations of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove) military or other threat to U.S. states and territories that requires U.S. forces to be there at this time? What was the real military or other threat to U.S. states and territories at any time after 2001 which required the U.S. to be there?
    Aside from spending money in short supply at home to students, colleges, the sick, the hungry, local governments, state governments, those defrauded by Wall Street's mortgage fraud from about 2005 to the present, underwater homeowners, the Medicare program, the Social Security program, the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Treasury's deficit reduction programs, the unemployed in need of retraining, small businesses whose capital needs are not being met by big banks more interested in giving billions in bonuses to the executives and fraud artists they employ than meeting the needs of the communities which supplied the money in 2008 and 2009 to keep these banks in business and out of bankruptcy, and small businesses whose access to legitimate capital is about to be obstructed by the newly signed fraudster protection act (otherwise known as the JOBS bill), what are we doing there?

Those wacky Swedes, Late with the meme, Dalton notes a future of journalism essay, Dan Grobstein File

Swedish gender pronoun neutrality; political correctness gone mad!

Apropos of last week's Hillary Clinton Tweets meme; you know you're late with a meme when you hear it on the CBS World News Roundup, a radio program whose average listener was born during the late Pleistocene era.

Richard Dalton says: "This is pretty heavy sledding, but it's the best discussion of the issues facing future journalists that I've read."

Dan Grobstein File

End of the Mali Journal

My older daughter has been evacuated from Mail in the middle of her term as a Peace Corps Volunteer because of the coup which topled the democratic government there. While it is possible the junta will quietly hand power back to a civilian government,  it is also possible they won't, and the Peace Corps doesn't take chances, so 186 people got their time cut short. M has decided to return to the United States and should be back next week. She is reachable now by email and phone in Ghana.

Weekend in Bodega

My wife, younger daughter and I spent a delightful three-day weekend in Bodega Bay, at the rental house 7th Heaven in the Bodega Harbour development. We have been renting rental houses there for 30 years. It is a lovely weekend getaway. I suppose it might be nicer if we golfed (since the development is built around, and the houses back onto, a golf course), but the long, white-sand beach is perfect for a walk of an hour or more, and that's good enough exercise for us. There is also a fine restaurant just 30 minutes away in Jenner, called River's End (about the same distance as the almost-as-good Cape Fear in Duncans Mills), where we ate a great lunch on Sunday. There is another pretty good restaurant closer, Terrapin Creek in Bodega Bay itself.  The best thing about getting away is that you can't do any of the things that normally fill your time, so you are forced to relax. Of course, that means you fall behind, but so be it. I love our weekends there; always have. So we walked on the beach, we read (a lot; I love to read), we made popcorn, we watched foreign movies on Itunes and Netflix, we lit a fire in the fireplace. I was reading the new book New Republic, which is shaping up to be as good a journalism novel as Scoop.

Political Briefs

Texts from Hillary, Dern on John Carter, Peterman on Sad State of Education, Research from Nilsson, Dalton: We're Reading Less

Hilarious! Or perhaps Hillaryiarious: Texts from Hillary

Did you think that the new movie John Carter was awful just because most reviewers hated it? Daniel Dern begs to differ.

Kent Peterman writes: Another fine product of American education. God help us all. Would that it were an April Fool's joke. [Actually, I suspect it is. Really, could anyone not answer that?]

Bob Nilsson saw this in the Boston GlobeResearchers found that simply holding a gun yourself can make you think others have a gun, too. and (same link) … “Note to the Republican Party: You might want to serve alcohol and give prizes for fast voting at the polls. Psychologists at the universities of Arkansas, Kansas, and Wisconsin found that people instructed to multitask, go fast, or go with their gut adopted more conservative attitudes. Moreover, people leaving a bar were more conservative the higher their blood-alcohol level…”
Also, Bob has a Nissan Leaf: "I’m loving my LEAF. It’s a great car and I no longer waste any time or money at gas stations."

Speaking of belated April Fools: "We Made A Huge Mistake" . Also, Why Some People Attended MIT

Richard Dalton sent me this Pew study, which, I think USA Today would headline, We're Reading Less.

Borowitz Report: Citing Safety Concerns, Somali Pirates Refuse to Board Cruise Ships: Fire, Capsizing Top Pirates’ Concerns, Spokesman Says

Mali Journal

M older daughter, M, is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, where they just had a coup. She checks in on March 26:

So, we remain consolidated. The borders opened up this morning, so I hear, and the airport is opening up today with the first commercial flights going out this evening. There's some big meeting in Abidjan where regional leaders are going to make some demands of the junta as preconditions to normalized relations. The AU (African Union) has condemned the coup along with everyone else.

Everything here in Sikasso remains calm. It sounds like things have calmed down in Bamako as well. No gunfire anymore, and the cars that were earlier taken by marauding soldiers have actually been returned to their owners. The banks and post office are open today.

We've only been in Sikasso for three days, but there's a lot of people and not much space. As long as the power stays good (it did go off for about 8 hours last night) people can retreat into their personal laptops, but when it goes off people have to look up.

We've had two very nice team dinners though. The night before last was pad Thai and spring rolls, and last night it was breakfast for dinner (eggs, pancakes, and hash browns).

At least since we're allowed to leave the house, everyone tends to go out at least once a day for a walk down to the market. Yesterday I ended up buying fabric (alarm clocks, military, and education themed). We also watched Beauty and the Beast together after the power went out, but M's computer's battery died right as the Beast was transforming into a ... what? Now I'll never know. I spent all morning yesterday here in the back bedroom typing up my journal and watching episodes of Mob Wives while eating granola (surprisingly good) from the Tubab [foreigners'] store. In the afternoon we played Boggle. Today will probably look exactly the same.

[Consolidation has been lifted, but for security reasons, Peace Corps has asked that posted details be left vague. And so they shall, for now]

One good thing is that it rained last night, which cooled everything off. It actually rained well into this morning, and it is still cloudy now. It pretty much has to burn off this afternoon though, because two cloudy days would be unprecedented for this time of year. Normally the mango rains are just quick bursts of storms, not lingering affairs.

Maybe we'll play Trivial Pursuit today instead of Boggle. Or maybe both. We'll see what happens with the power.

Basically, I'm fine. I'm still anxious, but I have media to watch, books to read, friends to play games with, plenty of food and soda, and even recreational shopping if I don't spend too much time thinking about the fact that I might not get to bring what I buy back with me.