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Different Kinds of Love

I found myself thinking the other day of the different kinds of love. Not a profound thought,      as witness this Time Magazine essay, Why You Shouldn’t Love Your Kids More Than Your Partner. But the thought that occurred to me was slightly different, and helped raise my gratitude level for the day.

Our love for our children is not optional; it is biological. Evolution insures the survival of our race by instilling in us an abiding and nearly ineradicable love for our offspring. Sadly, there are situational exceptions (caused by tragedy and trauma), when a parent loses the ability to provide such love. Those are awful.

On the other hand, spousal love (as deep as it is in my case) is entirely optional. Every day it continues is by virtue of voluntary choice on the part of both partners. I think that makes it all the sweeter.

Great New Negative Review

…he larded this fatuity with dollops of the usual rhetorical fat that greases governmental grandstanding
―George Will, Washington Post

I have been writing reviews for 52 years. In that time I have learned the facts of life in that craft. Rule number one is that negative reviews are easier and more fun to write because there are a limited number of ways you can praise a piece of art and an unlimited number of ways to vilify it. To remind me of this, for many years I carried a copy in my wallet of the worst review ever .

Since my loving kindness breakthrough, however, I now try to temper my criticism with the realization that we are all doing the best we can in this world. I am certain that no artist (except Max Bialystock) has ever deliberately set out to produce a piece of crap. I like to think my rare negative reviews are a little less personal now.

I despise George Will’s politics almost as much as I love his prose. The delightfully malign put-down above (worthy of a place next to Shakespeare’s Hempen Homespuns) was aimed at an unworthy target, whose name I won’t repeat.

If only Will had been self-aware enough to apply it to every statement made about Jan. 6 by the former president, the Republican National “Legitimate Political Discourse” Committee, or the Republican insurrectionists in Congress, the description would have been both clever and apt. To read Will, you’d hardly know he left the GOP over Trumpism.

The End of Directory assistance

Pick up your cell phone and dial 411, or an area code followed by 555-1212.. Of course if you’re under 50, this will be the first time you’ve ever done it and the results won’t surprise you.

But for persons of my vintage it may come as something of a shock to discover that AT&T no longer offers directory assistance on cell phones. Given the massive shrinkage of listed phone numbers this probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it does anyway, and it makes me feel very old.

Since newspapers are mostly read by old people, I am surprised a big deal was not made of the end of the service late last year. But of course while we make up most of the readership, we don’t make up most of the staff, and they probably didn’t notice.

I remember being shocked back in the 60s when I discovered that they didn’t print telephone books in the old Soviet Union. The rationale was that if people could find each other they could organize a revolution. Please note that our ability to find each other prior to the invention of the cell phone did not cause a revolution in this country; quite the contrary, all the revolutions have come since.

I can still remember the article which listed a number of ways that a modern economy was difficult to run if you couldn’t find people’s telephone numbers. I wonder how many of those are true now.

(I don’t think this is the article I remember, although time may have wreaked havoc with my memory. I was working at the Oregon Journal that summer, where I was paid to read both the Oregonian—which subscribed to the New York Times news service—and the Journal front to back every day as part of my job.)

I am too lazy to find out if the phone company still prints reverse directories: a directory of phone numbers listed by street address. Such directories used to be available to newspapers, police and fire departments and could sometimes be found in libraries. I remember working on several crime stories where it was useful to be able to reach the next-door neighbors of a crime, either of recent vintage, or still ongoing. Of course such a directory would be useless now.

Writing My Way Into A Job: Part II

Successful 1975 UPI essay

Application Essay for Paul E. Schindler Jr. (UPI was an international news service, providing stories by teletype to media outlets)

Feb. 5, 1975

I enjoy journalism, and despite having an undergraduate degree in management from MIT, I intend to make reporting/writing/editing my career. I would like to work for UPI because the people I have met and heard of in the system are young, energetic, frank and open. They are the kind of people I would like to work with. Besides, [UPI President H.L. "Steve"] Stevenson answers his own phone and [AP President Wes] Gallagher doesn't.

I am now convinced that I prefer wire service journalism to the newspaper variety, having spent three months at the Oregon Journal and five months at the AP. Frankly, I got where I am by enjoying a good challenge, one that stretched my abilities but did not strain them.

I feel the tight writing, exacting style and "deadline every minute" requirements of UPI would be more stimulating and enjoyable than the pace at the OJ (which I am told is typical of most city dailies). Eight takes on a retiring postman and two stories a day would not be a satisfactory norm for me.

A native of Portland, Oregon, I went to the city-wide technical high school intending to go into either electronics or commercial broadcasting. I spent a lot of time at KBPS, the 1000-watt AM school district station, and got summer jobs at radio stations KLIQ, KVAN and KKEY and TV station KGW. After getting only two B's in four years, I was accepted at MIT and CalTech, and went to MIT because I thought I might want to switch to management.

My freshman year I took electronics courses, my sophomore year management courses. Simultaneously, I did a lot of work at the MIT radio station, the MIT student papers and the MIT phone system (3,000-station step-by-step, three exchanges, student-operated).

My sophomore year, I met and started working for Edwin Diamond, former senior editor of Newsweek. I liked him, and what I perceived as his career accomplishments, and by the middle of my junior year (when I was elected The Tech editor) decided to be a journalist. I have not yet regretted that decision.

This and That

Help Ukraine
Carefully vetted options: Paypal: United Help Ukraine.
Catholic Relief Services: Donate to Help Families Affected in Ukraine
USA Today: These apps and websites can help you send money to Ukraine.

Another Love Song
Loving the Content, based on the poem of the same name, is up on YouTube and Spotify.

P.J O’Rourke Dead
I know it’s a little late to comment, but, I loved and admired the work of P.J. O’Rourke from his National Lampoon days onward (I owned all his books) and his death saddens me. It also reminds me of a great NatLamp parody; I thought PJ wrote Deteriorata, but it turns out it was Christopher Guest.
Great Quotes from Tom Rush
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
 – Isaac Asimov, Newsweek, Jan. 21, 1980
“A big nose is no excuse for not wearing a mask. I still wear pants."
― a Pizza D'Action sign

Evidence-Based Science
From my friend Kevin Sullivan:

I ran across this British Medical Journal (BMJ) article (don't run away :-) !) on the use of evidence-based science. Having read and written a lot of academic articles, I found it well-done, highly professional, and appropriately documented, also very funny! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and it informs your appreciation of evidence based science.