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Blogs and the Death of the Newspaper

In some ways it’s sad to see them go.  I’m sure the printed newspaper will survive in some small way, but the “Stop the Presses”, “Extra, Extra, Read all about it” newspapers we’ve known since the birth of our nation are a dying breed.  In part due to advances in technology and in part due to their own greed and incompetence, newspapers will be remembered as relics from the past. 

When I was a kid in Detroit, a milkman stopped his horse drawn wagon in front of our house, picked up the empty bottles and left fresh milk in wide necked glass bottles on our porch.  It wasn’t long afterward, the iceman showed up with blocks of ice for our old oak icebox.  Before the day was out another horse drawn wagon came along with the Italian grocer yelling “Strawberries, three quarts for a dollar.”

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Swine Flu or Swindle You?

I would be foolish to trivialize the current outbreak of swine flu.  If history is any indicator (and it usually is), the flu could get out of hand.  An outbreak of the Asian flu in the late 1950’s resulted in the deaths of more than a million people worldwide.  The Hong Kong flu killed nearly a million people in the late 1960’s.  Following World War I, the Spanish flu resulted in the deaths of more than 40 million people around the world.  Flu pandemics are obviously things to be taken seriously.

But the cynic in me says I’ve got better things to worry about today.  The nature of the media, traditional, internet and social networks, is such that news and rumor spread faster than the flu virus itself.  Not a newscast passes without a grim description of the advance of the swine flu.  The ongoing news coverage has the public so stirred up that emergency rooms are experiencing crowding from a fearful public with a runny nose dashing for diagnosis.

I don’t know about you, but this year’s flu season is no different for me than any other.  If I see someone who’s feverish, coughing, sneezing and with their nose running down her face, I don’t go snuggle with that stranger.  I try to avoid crowds and contact with people that may be ill.  I don’t care if it’s swine flu, Hong Kong flu, or a chimney flu; I’m not interested in picking up someone else’s crud.

One thing is certain; the more frightened the public becomes, the richer someone is going to get.  That someone happens to be whatever pharmaceutical company or companies will be selling the vaccine.  Pardon my cynicism, but shall we remember the year 1976?

In 1976, there was another flu panic.  Coincidentally, it was over something called swine flu.  The head of the Center for Disease Control, Dr. David Sencer, called on the government to undertake a mass vaccination program.  After pouring nearly $140 million into the program it was suddenly halted.  A few days into the program, reports surfaced that Guillain-Barre syndrome was appearing in some of those receiving the vaccine.  This neurological condition had serious side effects and in some cases caused death.  Over 500 people developed the condition and more than two dozen died from it.  Millions of dollars in damages were ultimately paid by our government to the victims and their families.

The dreaded pandemic never developed and only about 200 cases of the flu were reported.  One death resulted.  There were fears fanned by the media that a global pandemic could kill 50 million people.  The estimates proved to be only about 50 million high.

Every year, people die from the flu.  That’s the reason we call it the “flu season”.  This year will be no different.  I’ve found that the most serious flu outbreaks occur if and when I get it.  Fortunately, that hasn’t happened in years.  Hopefully, my luck will continue.

In the meantime, the media needs to take a chill pill and get itself under control.  The pharmaceutical companies and the makers of anti-bacterial wipes need to try and contain their glee.  We need to use some common sense when interacting with others that are ill.  I’m going to drink more wine; swine flu has never been transmitted through a good bottle of Sangiovese.  And I’m going to try and repress my urge to go outside, snort and roll around in the mud.

Teaching Pigs to Wrestle

Monday I spent the morning in a board meeting discussing mundane but critical matters that should not need to be addressed, but, due to the creativity of the human race and its uncanny ability to wiggle through loopholes, inevitably must be addressed. Just as nature finds ways around obstacles such as the Claymore mines of pesticides, antibiotics and natural disasters, so humans dodge rules, regulations and Arizona Revised Statutes.

Never build flexibility into covenants, conditions, and restrictions. They turn around and bite you on the butt like a ferocious bear market. Not unlike a total lack of regulatory policies.

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Special Olympics? Get Over It!

Leave it to the under-talented members of the news media to make an issue out of an innocuous remark made by President Obama during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  When Leno asked the President about the White House bowling alley, Obama responded that he had bowled a 129 and quipped, “ . . . it was like Special Olympics or something.”

Now it’s news?  No it’s not.

In the interest of being politically correct, we’re supposed to pretend participants in the Special Olympics perform at the same level as competitors in the not-so-special Olympics?  This is ridiculous.  Why do you think they’re called “Special” Olympics?  Participants must have some physical challenge to overcome beyond the event itself.  Many of the competitors in the Special Olympics are courageous, valiant human beings and many outstanding athletes compete.  But the fact remains, performances are generally well below those expected in the Olympics themselves.  A score of 129 on a bowling alley is not exactly at the “professional” level.  I saw hockey legend Gordie Howe bowl just shy of 200 in a charity benefit – left handed!  Obama stinks.  He should stick to being a President.

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On the Death of Newspapers

“Stop the presses!”  That used to be the call of the 1930’s vintage reporter as he’d run into headquarters with the big, breaking news story.  When portrayed in the movies, it was exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and dramatic.

Now we’re hearing it again and again.  But this time, it emotes a different feeling.  “Stop the presses” means “We’re shutting down forever.  We’re out of business.”  It’s a sad time.  America was built on the First Amendment Right of a free press. Newspapers were the heart and soul of that freedom.

Some of the most iconic images in American history are of past newspaper headlines.  Who doesn’t remember seeing President Harry Truman triumphantly displaying a copy of The Chicago Daily Tribune with a headline of “Dewey Defeats Truman”?  How about the New York Times headline that read, “Men Walk on the Moon”.  Ever see “War! Oahu Bombed by Japanese Planes”?  More recently it was “U.S. Attacked.  Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers.”

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A Rush to Failure

I think Rush has a cute face for an ass. It’s the incessant braying that drives you to distraction and makes you want to haul him to a dog food factory for processing.

He can sell exoneration for his own drug addiction to the same audience to which he sold the evils of drugs so I suppose he can sell a freezer to a polar bear or failure to unemployed homeless church goers. He’s loud, he’s proud, and he’s a pimple on the butt of the Republican Party and this country.

Certainly Mr. Limbaugh is entitled to his freedom of speech. He’s the first one to tell you that. So others are entitled to free speech if they agree with him.

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Weather Report – Hot and Windy

It was about a week ago.  I was staying in Scottsdale and awoke to an unusually brisk breeze.  Had I been in San Diego, I would have thought a Pacific storm was blowing in.  It seemed to be wind without reason.  Then I heard the news.  Rush Limbaugh had given a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington.  Everything fell into place.  Not only did I understand the strong winds, I also figured out why they carried so much hot air.

As much as I find Limbaugh a loud mouthed buffoon, I took it upon myself to see if I could tolerate a replay of his speech.  I watched and listened and came away convinced Rush Limbaugh is not an idiot.  He may be a pompous, egotistical, self-serving media whore who can spew hateful rhetoric better than most anyone since the fall of the Third Reich, but he is not an idiot.  But the more he talked the more it became evident that his very existence is totally dependent upon the existence of idiots.  If you believe the numbers put forth by his cronies, he relies on roughly 15 million idiots.  That’s supposedly the number of people that listen to his radio show every week.

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