10/31/2002 08:33:00 AM
Temporary insanity? The reason Paul Wellstone's best friend went political at the "memorial" is because he was so "wracked with grief and pain," according the the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune) Before Minnesota's Senate campaign truly gets restarted, there's the matter of Rick Kahn to clear up. Kahn, described as Paul Wellstone's best friend, gave a speech at Tuesday night's memorial that has Republicans enraged and people of every political stripe shaking their heads.
Minnesotans need to think clearly about what happened, then try to put it aside. They need to focus on the few days of a campaign that should be respectful and tightly focused on issues of substance. What happened had nothing to do with either Norm Coleman or Walter Mondale, and the controversy should not be allowed to overshadow their short but crucially important campaign.
In the second half of his speech, Kahn strayed from memorializing Wellstone. For 10 to 15 minutes he turned the gathering into a political rally for the Wellstone legacy. It was inappropriate, but more to the point, it was irrational. Kahn appeared so caught up in grief, loss and anger that he lost his way. What else can explain his imploring Republicans, whom he individually named, to lay down their political swords and join in keeping the Wellstone legacy alive in Tuesday's election? The idea is such an emotional fantasy -- and so not in keeping with the actual Wellstone legacy -- that it could only have come from a person wracked with grief and pain.
I hope Kahn wasn't allowed to drive himself home that night.
The entire three-hour political rally was shown live, preempting regular programming on the NBC, CBS and ABC local affiliates. I didn't see the whole thing but I think it was broadcast uninterrupted by commercials. Republican Trent Lott got some camera time but was booed by the crowd. Not sure if that counts as equal time for Republicans or not.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
10/29/2002 09:51:00 AM
Minneapolis Star Tribune gossip columnist C. J. thinks radio personality Tom Barnard is responsible for Paul Wellstone's death. Several weeks ago Barnard said on the air, "I hope he drops dead."
Now C. J. and some of her readers (or some of the people who get C.J.'s column read to them) want Barnard to apologize. "Drop dead" is the same as "die in a fiery plane crash" and it's Barnard's fault?
(Daily Cardinal) Perhaps the most frustrating banality in Washington these days is that the politician who claimed to be absolutely certain of something several years ago is often absolutely certain of its opposite by now.
Spice up your writing; give us an example.
You may remember, for instance, that after the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, congressional conservatives proposed a bill which would have made the sale of all violent material to youths under the age of 17 illegal. In view of the revelation that teenagers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had routinely played violent computer games "Doom" and "Quake" prior to gunning down their classmates, it became the new Washington chic to condemn such forms of entertainment and to discourage their availability to America's children.
Needless to say, like, I suppose, for example, that maybe some politicians must now be calling for Doom and Quake to be distributed in classrooms. Washington’s chic eventually must give way to Washington’s banality.
But these days, what with war-planning becoming the new national pastime (turns out there are worse things than baseball), such reservations among conservative policymakers are apparently so 20th Century.
Did everyone catch the Air Force-Navy series on TV last week? NBC spent millions for the broadcast rights. The sailors were favored over the airmen. Peace is like, so September 10.
After all, the Army released its own violent computer game in July. And in a move which would have been tacky three years ago—not to mention politically suicidal—they are actually hoping that teenagers will play it.
Military banality. Sheesh.
Entitled "America's Army," the military's first foray into computer gaming is freely downloadable from its own dedicated Website which reads, in confident bold lettering, "Empower yourself. Defend freedom."
Much like the "Quake" and "Doom" of Columbine infamy, "America's Army" invites players to fight against each other on virtual battlefields over the Internet. Unlike the random violence of other games, though, "America's Army" helps the young video gamer learn military training and integrity the Army way, all while acquiring the necessary skills to pick off anti-American types at 50 yards in a nasty crosswind. And unlike other games, "America's Army" cost taxpayers about $8 million to develop and will require another $4 million in yearly support.
Quake and Doom were part of the media’s Columbine infamy. Klebold and Harris could have elevated their blood sugar levels with lots of Pop Tarts. But vilifying toaster pastries wouldn’t have kept folks glued to CNN.
According to the Army—which spends an average of $15,000 to recruit each new member of its ranks—its cost is more than justified, as the program will pay for itself even if it attracts only a few hundred teenagers into the enlistment process.
Damn you, government, trying to use our tax money wisely. Couldn’t you find any $400 toilet seats and $200 screwdrivers to purchase instead?
Money considerations aside, though, I can't help but find the idea of a state-sponsored video game totally frightening. Modern governments may, by necessity, hold a monopoly on the use of violence, but they ought never to have a say in the depiction of it—that is the job of the artist, the writer, and the journalist. In the hands of the government, the act of depiction quickly becomes propaganda, the vernacular of the mob.
Dude, like, tell me it’s not totally so! Violence is so totally frightening that it’s a good idea if we have artists to filter it for us. Thankfully, we’ll always have journalists to tell it like it is (see: Fisk, Robert).
Not surprisingly, everybody gets to be the Good Guy within the virtual battlescapes of "America's Army." To the player, members of the opposing team always look like terrorists; to members of the opposing team, the player appears to be one. Although the use of digital mayhem as a vehicle for patriotic discourse is clever, it is also disturbing—especially in a country which often fails to contextualize itself from any other point of view than its own.
Our Columbine boys wouldn’t have liked “America’s Army” because they wanted to be the bad guys. If that last sentence was too clear try this: Our Columbine striplings would have shown disdain for such an electronic sport as they aspired to play the roll of villainous masters. So, the Americans can’t contextualize (i.e., see) other world viewpoints? Good thing we have countries like Saudi Arabia and Iraq, whose leaders can contextualize other points of view (they don’t just hate America, they also hate Jews no matter where they live).
If Jerry Bruckheimer's 2001 film "Pearl Harbor" had been funded with taxpayer dollars, you had better believe I would have cried foul then, too. The military just does not belong in the entertainment industry.
If Bruckheimer’s film had been funded with taxpayer dollars you’re darn right I would have cried foul. It probably wouldn’t have made a profit. I’ll agree that the military doesn’t belong in the entertainment industry if you can agree that the entertainment industry should stay out of military matters (see: Streisand, Barbra; Sarandon, Susan; Asner, Ed; et al).
As a nation, we may occasionally find ourselves forced to entertain the thought of war, but we must never allow ourselves to find the thought of war entertaining. "America's Army" may have been designed as a hip recruitment tool, but its amusement value and wide appeal also make it violent pop culture. Where are the irate legislators on this one?
One coherent paragraph and it was saved for the very end.
That's right—they are caught in the paradox of being pro-life and pro-war at the same time.
The government doesn’t want American kids to kill other American kids, yet wants American soldiers to kill Islamic terrorists who want to kill all Americans? Go figure. We certainly do have a hard time contextualizing more than one view. I Guess we just can’t have our cake and eat it too.
--Morgan Bottner is a senior majoring in English. His column runs every other Tuesday in The Daily Cardinal.
My older son rented a Play Station game for the weekend. Some sort of cops and robbers thing. It can be played by one or two players. When there are two players, each can play against the other or they can be on the same team.
My younger son is complaining that his brother insists on adversarial roles. I said, "So what, at least he's letting you play." The younger son says, with a straight face, "But I don't like to fight."
So why is this funny? Let's just say two boys each took a long nap this afternoon. That's what they called it. I called it "between rounds."
(ABC News) Chechen rebels threatened to begin killing their 600 hostages at dawn Saturday. The threat Friday came shortly after Russia's top security official guaranteed the insurgents' lives if they freed all their captives.
Daria Morganova, a spokeswoman for the theater where the hostages are being held, told The Associated Press the threat was reported by a hostage actor.
My prediction: every man, woman and child in that theater, hostages and rebels alike, will be dead before the weekend is over.
(Washington Post) Almost everything the sniper "profilers" and pundits told the media over the past three weeks turns out to have been off the mark, considering the very real profiles of the two people arrested early yesterday. The men and women who had been described on the air and in print as "forensic psychologists" and "former FBI investigators" took many swings at the who and why of the sniper case -- and mostly missed.
There will be no shame, no embarrassment. Here's how low one "news" network was willing to go:
(New York Times) But, echoing the criticism of the bygone days of O. J. Simpson, Monica Lewinsky and Gary A. Condit, [Douglas F. Gansler, the chief prosecutor in Montgomery County] argued that the sheer volume of coverage, particularly on cable news outlets, made the investigation, with all its false leads and misdirected moments, into an unnecessarily painful national psychodrama. When developments failed to provide enough actors, the cable networks found more, in the form of former law enforcement personnel, criminologists and the host of "America's Most Wanted" on Fox.
CNN even asked CBS late last week if it would supply real actors — the ones who appear on the CBS prime-time series "Crime Scene Investigation" — to comment on the case. CBS declined.
Tacoma residents are clearly rattled after a neighborhood apparently became ground zero in the hunt for a sniper who has killed 10 people and wounded three others more than 2,000 miles away in the area of the nation's capital.
Ground Zero? Or maybe just one of the locations where authorities will focus on investigating the sniper.
(WCCO)-(Minneapolis)-New technology included on many Americans' driver's licenses is prompting a debate on privacy vs. security, WCCO-TV reported.
It's likely that you've never noticed the odd black line or bar code on the back of your driver's license. However, that bit of technology contains a lot of personal information that you may not be comfortable sharing.
With one swipe through a reader machine, data stored in the magnetic strip on your license, passport or military ID -- including name, age, height, address and hair color -- can be checked.
Or, lacking an expensive bar code reader, you could just turn the driver's license over and read the printed information on the front which includes (hold on) your name, age, height, address and hair color. When will big brother be swatted down?!
Fox, MSNBC and CNN have been running the "breaking news" banners so often that they're simply starting to look like the network logos that run in the corner of the TV screens: They're on the screen but no one really notices them anymore. It's all just part of the background noise.
When a bunch of cops and FBI agents are sifting through dirt at a house in Tacoma it might be happening right now but is it really breaking news? When police officials have a news conference to spell their names for reporters and say "we cannot confirm or deny" is it really breaking news? The cable news networks have blurred the line between "live" and "breaking news." Just because it's "live" doesn't mean there is anything to report. A million web cams prove the point.
When something really important happens I look forward to seeing "Breaking News - Seriously" or perhaps "Double Breaking News."
If you want put it in perspective, it's like we're the guy who ended up being the designated driver for the planet. Sure we'd love to sit back and drink ourselves into a stupor with the rest of the globe but we're responsible for getting as many people home safe and sound as possible. Every so often while we're sitting around wishing we could kill a few beers like the rest of the planet, a sloppy drunk, drooling, Europe comes over to where we're sitting. Then they take another swig of Vodka straight out of the bottle and tell us not to worry about a thing because they'll drive everyone home in their 'international law' van. But we know if we go ahead and drink up that we'll just get a call at 4 am asking us to bring our tow truck and the 'jaws of life' to clean up the bloody mess on dead man's curve. That's the burden of being an American.
So spare me your comparisons to Rome and understand that I don't want to hear about your secret fear that we might try to create a 'Vichy Europe" someday. We wouldn't take over the world if every nation begged us too. Our ancestors came to America in the first place to GET AWAY from everyone else in the world and it's very easy for us in this age of global communications to understand why. You have people protesting in France for shorter mandatory workweeks, Morocco and Spain fighting over a rock outcropping inhabited by goats, and the UN letting Gadaffi get elected as chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. You think we WANT to be forced to deal with those sorts of things any more than absolutely necessary? Take it from a hawkish right-winger who makes George Bush look like a bigger weenie than Jimmy Carter, we're not an 'empire' and we have no desire to become one.
10/24/2002 07:40:00 AM
Watching the news lately about the sniper reminds me of poetry class. A bunch of talking heads and "experts" who have never met the poet or the sniper yet somehow they are all quite confident that they know what is going through some other guy's head. When the 17th century poet wrote of a dead fish being stepped on by a barefoot man he was metaphorically describing how soccer moms in SUVs help their children develop but at the same time destroy the planet. Of course SUVs weren't around in the 1600's but the poet just knew, don't you know, man? And with that in mind, I completely trust the opinion of a retired NYC detective who worked on the Son of Sam case because, of course, the two cases are so similar. But I don't know what to do when a different network interviews a retired FBI agent who has a conflicting opinion. Aaaahhh! Stop! They can't both be right.
I go down to Speaker's Corner I'm thunderstruck
They got free speech, tourists, police and trucks
Two men say they're Jesus one of them must be wrong
There's a protest singer singing a protest song - he says
they wanna have a war so they can keep us on our knees
They wanna have a war so they can keep their factories
They wanna have a war to stop us buying Japanese
They wanna have a war to stop Industrial Disease --Dire Straits
The other night the boys and I went shopping. We first stopped for dinner at Boston Market. We made a significant mess. On our way out we stopped by the rest room so I could wash faces and hands. Did I make them use the toilet? No.
Then we stopped by the Lands' End Inlet. My younger son suddenly had to find a restroom RIGHT NOW. His legs are crossed and his face is contorted so I was in no position to tell him to wait. We find it. He goes. Of course the public bathroom ritual follows in which he has to use the nifty soap dispenser to lather up, which takes forever. I just want to get out of there but I have to wait while he takes one paper towel at a time to dry off. My other son, the whole time stands idly by. Do I make him use the toilet? Nope.
While we're still at Lands' End, my younger son has to go again! Argh. Back we go to the back of the store for another visit to the rest room. My older son follows. Do I make him use the toilet? Of course not.
We escape Lands' End without a third trip to the bathroom and head over to Best Buy. I want to check out scanners as my old one bit the pixels. "Don't touch, don't touch, don't touch, hey - aren't those X-Boxes over there?" The Best Buy folks are smart enough to have several video game demonstrators set up. With each of my kids glued to one, I have a few moments to shop worry free for anything located within eyesight of the X-Boxes.
After a few moments (seconds?) I see my older son doing the potty dance. We've been in restrooms three separate times within the last fifteen minutes. It never occurred to him go take advantage of the opportunities and I didn't exercise any parenting skills to tell him that he must try it himself. He tells me he can wait if we don't take too long.
We leave Best Buy immediately and stop by Pet Smart. That was our ultimate destination anyway. Scratchy, the hamster, needed more food. Isn't it interesting how a new hamster costs less than a small bag of hamster food? Oh, but Scratchy has grown near and dear to us so I spend the extra money and get the food. This way we don't need to train a new hamster to, uh, eat and poop in a cage. As I look for a delicious blend of nuts and other critter vittles, the boys go over to the wall of fish tanks. It would save all parents a lot of time and effort if PetSmart just had an airport device that broadcasts warnings over a loudspeaker. Instead of reminding us to watch our luggage and endless loop would remind children to not touch the tanks. They don't listen to me; maybe a stranger's voice might get through.
As I look over to check on the boys I see that the sound and sight of all that water running through the filters has taken its toll on my older son. He's starting to dance in earnest now. I quickly paid for the food and made a beeline for home.
At home, my older son heads straight for the... computer. "Don't you have to go to the bathroom?" Oh, yeah, right. Thanks for reminding me, dad.
10/15/2002 07:26:00 AM
This appeared in the "news" section of the paper. I would have expected it under Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird which appears in the Variety section.
(Mpls. Star Tribune) BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The victory rallies are set and the tributes are ready. In an Iraqi yes-or-no vote on re-electing Saddam Hussein, the only cliffhanger in Tuesday's vote is whether the two-decade Iraqi leader will beat his last showing: 99.96 percent.
In Iraq, where many believe war with the United States is coming, that 1995 result for Saddam is now seen as somewhat tepid.
"This time, 100 percent!" worker Mayad Aiwan cried Sunday. "Because the Iraqi people love our leader!"
A French friend once told me, describing the French character, "France could never have a Hitler. You see, if a leader here tried to implement some crazy policies and force people to follow his will, we would all hit the streets and tell him where to go." Of course, the French sometimes do that when the proposal is as benign as restructuring schools.
This makes France a good example? Can we talk about the Vichy government?
It was in that spirit of resistance that I loaded my two little boys into the car and drove 1 1/2 hours to St. Cloud to join a protest against the impending war on Iraq. As I walked among the diverse group, pushing my double jogger with one hand and holding my sign in the other, I enjoyed the appreciative honking of many of the passing cars. Some drivers flashed smiles and thumbs up. Some flashed other fingers. But the drivers who concerned me weren't the gesticulators, but the ones who passed through without even a sideways glance.
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
Drive-through citizens. I wonder what absorbed them. Supper? Twins game? Work? 401(k)? Here was the silent majority of the country. Too busy to read between the headlines.
Or just not interested in your point of view.
Probably too occupied to vote in the primary. Definitely too busy to call their senator, much less participate in a rally. These are the people who drive our foreign policy, or more accurately, allow our foreign policy to happen. Washington knows this and takes great advantage of it.
Yep. Because those drivers (probably in SUVs) were polite enough to not give you the finger they must be mindless, apolitical drones. Why, those heathens should never be allowed to enter a polling place even if they wanted to.
I believe that Americans are, by and large, good folk.
Only the ones who vote Democratic, right?
If they knew some of the nasty stuff our government does, they would be ashamed, and would probably do something about it.
Social security, welfare, mass transit, OSHA, FDA, the list is endless.
Why don't they know? Tunnel vision is partly to blame. So are the mass media, which have done an abysmal job at reporting details and context of American foreign (and domestic) policy. What to do? Better civics classes? Forced subscriptions to the Utne Reader? Mandatory foreign study in France? We can always write our media and ask them to cover international issues better.
Or read commentaries from people who know "the truth."
Whatever it is, we had better get a more informed and active citizenry, or the pols in Washington will continue to act like the playground bully abroad and all of us will take the blame. If we bomb Iraq, the drive-through Americans will have blood on their hands. And they won't even know it.
So all those Democratic Senators and Representatives voted to support Bush's use of force against Iraq because why?
-- Robert Saxton, Wadena, Minn. Teacher.
Here's a gesture for you.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
10/10/2002 09:21:00 AM
Last night the soccer season ended. I say this definitively because if one of my sons isn’t playing, I have no interest in that game. My brother and sisters play the game but thinking about that is like listing to the teacher in a Peanuts cartoon. Hwaa, hwaaa, hwaa hwaa? Hwaa. Hwaa! My son's team didn't win any games this season. Last night's game was a playoff game. I didn't have any firm plans for a second game.
My siblings play in an adult soccer league, fully clothed. Adult sounds dirty. The word was used so video stores with Disney on the shelves and family newspapers could let people know where to get porn without actually printing “XXX.” Hey, kids might just know what those three letters mean. Must protect the children. How long until they figure out “foreign film” means nudity with subtitles?
I don’t think of naked people when I hear “adult beverages.” I do get thirsty, though. Funny, though, the old cartoons show XXX on barrels and bottles to indicate booze.
I could say my brother and sisters play in a grown up soccer league. Or not. My brother’s ex-girlfriend, who plays on the same team, once punched another player. That hasn’t happened in my kids’ league. That would have been funny to see. But that also would have meant watching the soccer game.
What’s the difference between recreational golf and recreational soccer? In golf, you drink before, during and after the game. In soccer you don’t imbibe during the game because there aren’t as many trees on a soccer field.
(The Journal News) "The only thing that really bugs me about television's coverage is those damn women they have down on the sidelines who don't know what the hell they're talking about," Rooney said Friday on MSG Network's "The Boomer Esiason Show." "I mean, I'm not a sexist person, but a woman has no business being down there trying to make some comment about a football game."
Showing how irrelevant Rooney is, The Journal News reports the National Organization of Women and the Association for Women in Sports Media aren't planning to actively protest.
When a country that has been an isolated dictatorship rejoins the community of nations, one thing that happens is that it trades more with the rest of the world. If regime change allowed Germany and Japan to start producing BMWs and Sony TV sets rather than death camps and kamikaze pilots, then we say three cheers for regime change. For those on the far left, it would seem, mass murder and totalitarianism are worth tolerating if the alternative is that someone, somewhere might turn a profit.
Get in line at a busy downtown food counter. It's best to wait until the peak of the lunch rush. When you get to the front of the line, don't order lunch, just ask to see the manager. It's even better if you're at a fast food joint that employees people with a limited command of the English language. The employee you talk to, who makes a good sandwich in a New York minute and operates a cash register like Jimi Hendrix plays the guitar, locks up trying to understand your question. Eventually a manager, hearing the till imitating the sound of one hand clapping, will walk up front to see what's holding up the line. The final step in this process is to ask a really lame question like can the place sponsor a Halloween party for some little kids.
A lesser person would fail this exercise by doing something insane like waiting until the lunch rush is over. Or writing a letter. Or calling the manager early in the mornnig. Ahhh, so many ways to not irritate people and just so little time.
To the woman who did this while standing two people in front of me today: I salute you.
If the US cannot act without UN approval, then pass a resolution that gives command of the Armed Forces to Kofi Annan and start whistling “Hail to the Chiefs” when the Syrian delegation take their seats.
The more these people whine about the need for UN blessing, the more I wonder whether they wouldn’t vote yes to a UN-levied tax on American paychecks - why, our “go-it-alone” tax policy must be enflaming the world, to say nothing of our “go-it-alone” highway system. And of our “go-it-alone” Apollo program in the 60s, well, the less said the better. Did we get a permission slip to leave earth and plant a unilateral boot on the Moon’s virgin soil? I don’t remember.
10/04/2002 02:29:00 PM
My younger son’s soccer season ended last night. The outcome was one only a European could love: a low scoring tie. But hey, a tie doesn’t fall under the loss column which means they only lost one game all season.
The other coach and I passed out the trophies. Every player in this league gets one. A hundred or so boys left the soccer fields last night and barely a blade of grass was trampled as they were all walking on air. That’s the power of a trophy to a six-year-old.
My older son still has a few more games. I’m not sure tonight’s will be held or not. It’s been raining all day and right now some of the fields are better suited for water polo instead of soccer.
The end of the season brings me some relief. Soccer four or five nights a week is tiring. With late afternoons filled with sports, the kids’ homework doesn’t start until later in the evening.
Homework stinks. I remember thinking in junior high how nice it will be when got older and wouldn’t have any more homework. Well, I don’t have my own homework, but the boys do. I run back and forth between the kitchen table and the dining room table helping or correcting them.
One important thing these two are learning is how much I value my time after homework is done. I want to relax and read or watch TV. And if two boys are yelling, screaming or fighting, the quickest solution to that problem is sleep (them, not me). Forget mediation and negotiation. Three little words speak volumes when I’m tired: Go to Bed.
How’s this for a homework question: Which of the following are mutually exclusive? A) Fighting and getting sent to bed. B) Getting ready for bed nicely. C) Watching a little bit of TV: (A and C) or (B and C).
Never underestimate the allure of 30 minutes of the Cartoon Network.
10/03/2002 08:28:00 AM
The meaning of "forever" in my household now has a concrete measurement of time assigned to it. If dinner is taking too long to cook, my wife hears a young voice whine, "This is taking forever." If I'm driving somewhere, and we haven't already arrived, another young voice opines that car rides "take forever."
The children's dentist told them that they should be brushing their teeth for two full minutes each time they brush. While going down the bedtime checklist last night, we get to teeth brushing. This is number 4,527 on the nightly list, or so you'd think if you watched my kids. They'd probably see a 747 captain's job as a piece of cake, compared with the nightly drudgery I put them through. Good grief, I make them brush their teeth and take a bath.
So the younger child, who was missing out on some really good cartoons, was reminded to brush for two minutes he hollered, "That's gonna take forever!"
10/03/2002 08:19:00 AM
If Paul Wellstone's friends all told him to jump off a bridge would he do it? Probably. What others think is important to him.
(Mpls. Star Tribune) WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Paul Wellstone said Wednesday that he is ready to vote against any plan to allow the United States to launch unilateral strikes against Iraq, but he indicated that he would support the use of force if it's approved by the United Nations.
"I do not believe we should do it alone," said Wellstone, D-Minn.
(Sydney Morning Herald) Loraine Daly arrived at church armed with her faith. But that faith proved to be misplaced when the spirit of the Lord entered her body and she hit the floor. And there was nobody there to save her.
Now Ms Daly, 40, is suing the Assemblies of God-affiliated Waterloo church, the Sydney Christian Life Centre, arguing that the church breached its duty of care that Sunday - August 8, 1996.
Ms Daly, of West Como, is claiming up to $750,000 in damages, including future loss of earnings, telling the NSW District Court she suffered brain damage from the fall, leaving her with disabilities including headaches, nausea, memory loss, impaired concentration and a feeling of vagueness.
Wouldn't it have been less painful to pray for winning lottery numbers?