Friday, January 25, 2013

The golden age of local television


Here's your media geekery du jour. Why don't we call it something pithy yet classy?

Something like "The Golden Age of Local," courtesy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

God, I love this stuff.

Loveitloveitloveitloveitloveit.

Honest to God.

As if you couldn't tell.


 
In other words, sometimes just one blog post on this level of coolness just isn't enough. I mean . . .  GADGETS!
 
Cool old gadgets!

Artifact on artifacts


The journalism building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is something of a shrine to one-time tools of the trade, both print and broadcasting.

A museum, actually. One spread throughout the college, amid the classrooms and conference rooms and broadcast-production studios and computer labs. Turn one corner and there's a vintage RCA TK-30 black-and-white camera from the early days of television.

Like this one, dating from between 1946 and 1950.

Turn another corner, there's a wire recorder and a turntable that cuts transcription discs. And then there's that vintage television transmitter (?!) against a wall of the basement lecture hall.

But what had me reaching for the Geritol was how bloody many "museum pieces" I actually have used at some point. Before they were exhibit fodder.

NOT ONLY that, I own and still use a not-insignificant number of things in the Nebraska journalism-college exhibit.

That TEAC reel-to-reel tape recorder below is newer than the one I salvaged from an estate sale and still use -- which is much like what passed for "state of the art" when I was learning the craft of radio in high school.

 
I AM NOT sure what that says about me. Probably nothing good.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Going . . . going . . . going. . . .


This is the studio where 3 Chords & the Truth is recorded. Or, was the studio as of last week.


Here's the same studio a day ago as the deconstruction and remodeling proceeded . . . deliberately. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Honestly, the crap I've had to take apart. The cables I've had to clean and neatly bundle. 


The books and knickknacks I've had to box up and store. The stuff I've had to knock apart and move out.

The vacuuming! Oy!


Which leads us to today. It's getting there -- or not there, as the case may be.

Deliberately, alas.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Talk about the penalty box. . . .


I know there's some truth in the one-liner "I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out," but isn't it assuming the worst to play your games at the county jail? I mean, really.

Yes, I realize having your penalty box be maximum security has its benefits -- chief among them savings in transportation costs and crowd control -- but we must remember these are college kids, not hardened NHL types. Couldn't the University of Nebraska at Omaha at least play hockey at a halfway house or something?

I'm surprised no one has pointed out to playing home games at the "clink" no doubt will be an ongoing public relations disaster for the university and the state. Frankly, it puzzles me that other schools agree to play inside a maximum-security corrections facility.

What? What about a missing hyphen?

It should read "C-Link," as in the CenturyLink Center downtown? That's very different, then.

Never mind.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The constitutional right to bear nukes?


There seems to be a revolutionary fringe in this country -- one most recently animated by President Obama's modest proposals on gun control -- that is so far beyond being capable of engaging with reason in a reasonable manner that these folks probably couldn't even engage with Uncle Earl, Louisiana's late Gov. Earl K. Long.

Still, futile as it might ultimately prove with folks who have effectively careened into being anarchists, you've got to try.

Gun nuts and nullificationists and armchair revolutionaries, this is for you, taken from the biography of the arch-segregationist, anti-federal government Plaquemines Parish president, Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta:
But, because conservative principles were more important to him than party loyalty, he opposed every Democratic presidential nominee from Harry Truman in 1948 to Hubert Humphrey in 1968. The Judge was further frustrated by finding the Republican party too liberal for his taste, although he reluctantly supported Eisenhower for president in 1952 and 1956 and somewhat more enthusiastically backed Barry Goldwater in 1964. His political dogma was simple, unchanging and almost entirely negative: he opposed racial equality, federal ownership of tidelands oil resources, national welfare and public works programs, socialism in any form, and the mere existence of labor unions. Because the United States government, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, to some extent endorsed all of these, Leander became an indomitable foe of federal power in any form. Although he concentrated authority entirely in his own hands in Plaquemines, he denounced every vestige of centralized power in the national government. His antipathy toward Washington became so notorious that Earl Long once asked, "Whatcha gonna do now, Leander? The feds have got the atom bomb."

Friday, January 18, 2013

The prophet was a soldier

"Men are blind and crazy, they think all the people of Ohio are trying to steal their slaves and incite them to rise up and kill their masters; I know this is a delusion—but when people believe a delusion they believe it harder than a real fact and these people in the South are going, for this delusion, to break up the government under which we live."
-- William Tecumseh Sherman, 1860


You knew William Tecumseh Sherman was a great Union general. You know what he did when he marched through Georgia, and you might even know that in the process, he invented modern "total" warfare.

But did you know that the general was also a prophet? That months before Louisiana's P.G.T. Beauregard set his Confederate batteries upon federal Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, Sherman told his wife in Ohio and a secessionist Louisiana friend that there would be a war, why there would be a war, what would start the war and where it would start. Everything came to pass just as he said it would.

In December 1860, the founding superintendent of the fledgling Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, known today as Louisiana State University, sat down to pen a note to his little daughter Minnie back home in Lancaster. It begins with a papa telling his little one about their new house in Louisiana. It ends as a very grown-up lecture on the cold, hard facts of life.

Sherman writes another note to Mrs. Sherman, telling her his letter to Minnie drifted into something more appropriate for her, adding that she should just read what she saw fit to their little girl. Then, he added this:
There is an evident purpose, a dark design, not to allow time for thought and reflection. These southern leaders understand the character of their people and want action before the spirit subsides. Robert Anderson commands at Charleston, and there I look for the first actual collision. Old Fort Moultrie, every brick of which is as plain now in my memory as the sidewalk in Lancaster, will become historical. It is weak and I can scale any of its bastions. If secession, dissolution and Civil War do come South Carolina will drop far astern and the battle will be fought on the Mississippi. The Western States never should consent to a hostile people holding the mouth of the Mississippi.
But, oh, what he earlier wrote to Minnie!
Alexandria, La.,
Dec. 15, 1860
Dearest Minnie,

I have been intending to write you a good long letter, and now I wish I could send you all something for Christmas, but I thought all along that Mama and you and Lizzie, Willie, Tommy, and all would be here in our new house by New Year's day. The house is all done, only some little painting to be done. The stable is finished, but poor Clay has been sick. . . In the front yard are growing some small oak trees, to give shade in the hot summer days; now however it is raw and cold, the leaves are off and it looks like winter, though thus far we have had no snow. Maybe we will have some snow at Christmas. In the back yard I have prepared for a small garden, but the soil is poor and will not produce much, except early peas, lettuce and sweet potatoes. The house itself looks beautiful. Two front porches and one back, all the windows open to the floor, like doors, so that you can walk out on the porch either upstairs or downstairs. I know you would all like the house so much - but dear little Minnie, man proposes and God disposes - what I have been planning so long and patiently, and thought that we were all on the point of realizing, the dream and hope of my life, that we could all be together once more in a home of our own, with peace and quiet and plenty around us. All, I fear, is about to vanish, and again I fear I must be a wanderer, leaving you all to grow up at Lancaster without your Papa.

Men are blind and crazy, they think all the people of Ohio are trying to steal their slaves, and incite them to rise up and kill their masters. I know this is a delusion - but when people believe a delusion, they believe it harder than a real fact, and these people in the South are going, for this delusion, to break up the government under which we live. You cannot understand this but Mama will explain it to you. Our governor here has gone so far that he cannot change, and in a month maybe you will be living under one government and I another.

This cannot last long, and as I know it is best for you all to stay in Lancaster, I will not bring you down here at all, unless some very great change takes place. If this were only a plain college I could stay with propriety, but it is an arsenal with guns and powder and balls, and were I to stay here I might have to fight for Louisiana and against Ohio. That would hardly do; you would not like that I know, and yet I have been asked to do it. But I hope still this will yet pass away, and that our house and garden will yet see us all united here in Louisiana.


Your loving papa,
W. T. SHERMAN.

"WAR IS hell." Sherman told that to graduates of the Michigan Military Academy in 1879, recounting "cities and homes in ashes" and "thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies." Though he certainly knew it from his Louisiana days, maybe it was unnecessary then to belabor the point that war also destroys the fondest dreams of even its eventual winners -- really, more like its lesser losers.

That's a lesson we never learn, and everybody's always spoiling for a fight. Especially in the South. Especially now -- it's all over Facebook . . . if you dare go on Facebook anymore amid the latest existential conflict (gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre) swirling about President Obama like leaves caught in an autumn whirlwind.

"Men are blind and crazy . . . when people believe a delusion, they believe it harder than a real fact." In other words, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." 


IT'S PROBABLY no historical accident that so much of This Present Nuttery has its genesis below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Having lived for a quarter century some 1,100 miles and a world away from the peculiar stew in which I was reared, I think I've gained a little perspective on my home state, Louisiana, and what we of a certain age were indoctrinated into as sons and daughters of the South. I have found that that perspective goes something like this: "Holy sh*t!"

In this angry day, during this troubled age, you could be forgiven for thinking nuttery has become the norm in America, and the vortex of the granola cyclone -- a perfect storm of nuts and flakes -- is moving slowly up the lower Mississippi River basin.

So, for all the secessionist, nullificationist, insurrectionist folks back home whose outrage has assaulted me at every cyber corner, I have just one more quote from LSU's founding father, W.T. Sherman. The then-superintendent of a little military academy delivered it, weeping, to his friend, Professor David F. Boyd:
You, you the people of the South, believe there can be such a thing as peaceable secession. You don't know what you are doing. I know there can be no such thing. . . . If you will have it, the North must fight you for its own preservation. Yes, South Carolina has by this act [its secession --R21] precipitated war. . . . This country will be drenched in blood. God only knows how it will end. Perhaps the liberties of the entire country, of every section and every man will be destroyed, and yet you know that within the Union no man's liberty or property in all the South is endangered. . . .

Oh, it is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization. . . .

You people speak so lightly of war. You don't know what you are talking about. War is a terrible thing. I know you are a brave, fighting people, but for every day of actual fighting, there are months of marching, exposure and suffering. More men die in war of sickness than are killed in battle.At best war is a frightful loss of life and property, and worse still is the demoralization of the people. . . .

You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people, but an earnest people and will fight, too, and they are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it. . . .

The North can make a steam-engine, locomotive or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or a pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical and determined people on earth -- right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with.
"WITH A bad cause to start with." You could almost forget we're talking about an anguished warning on Dec. 24, 1860, and think the future general was trying to talk some sense into today's laptop revolutionaries, heat-toting gun nuts, and the seceders, nullifiers, Obama-impeachers and insurrection-seekers who love them.

In a lot of ways, America today is as much a powder keg as it was in 1860. And just like 1860, there is no shortage of people, with hotheaded Southerners in the forefront, pitching lit matches in the arsenal door.

Eventually, someone will light the right match in the wrong spot, and something's gonna blow. And there will be blood.

Because some people never learn.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Truth in comedy


I think this is all that needs to be said about the coupling of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Thank you, Conan.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Boing! Boing!


I could post depressing stuff, like how Nebraska's own Pillsbury Doughmagogue, Gov. Dave Heineman, has caught a bad case of Bobby Jindalitis and is proposing doing away with the state individual and corporate income taxes in favor of the solid-rock stability and progressiveness of sales-tax revenues.

I could, but that would depress you as much as it does me.


So, I don't know about you, but I'm up for some Gerald McBoing-Boing tonight. Pass the popcorn, willya?

You've gotta have a plan


Before I tear the 3 Chords & the Truth studio the heck up, I thought it might be a good idea to decide what it was supposed to look like when I put it back together.

Voila! A plan.

And it only took a week of looking at office furniture, considering building my own office furniture, looking at more office furniture and drawing up one previous floor plan that was mulled over and found to be wanting. This one, though, I think is a winner.

Everything is to scale, everything has been measured and measured again, and I found a way to repurpose much of what I already had. Best of all, I think we'll be saying goodbye to clutter and being cramped.

OK, I can tear everything the heck up now.

Monday, January 14, 2013

For the love of God. . . .


If you needed confirmation beyond what we've witnessed the past four years, here it is: The American right has lost its freakin' mind.

Such as it was. 

This comes from some Facebook page called "Government Sucks," and I've traced it back as far as Nov. 14 on followingjohngalt.org . . . which tells you about all you need to know about that particular whackadoodle website. Government may or may not suck, but what really sucks are people so far gone that they think the roundups and exterminations are about to begin -- and that we need assault weapons to stop it.

Apparently, disturbed people acquiring military-grade home arsenals and slaughtering innocents in movie theaters or first-grade classrooms are just regrettable collateral damage in the quest of "right-thinking Americans" to protect themselves from Pol Pot Josef Stalin Adolf Hitler Barack Obama.

I DON'T KNOW what you can say to people who believe this . . . or who will post this sort of offensive nuttery on sites like Facebook, which used to be a nice place to hang out online with your pals. And this is offensive. If I were Jewish, I would be beyond apoplectic.

Hell, as a Catholic, I am bordering on being the other side of apoplectic.

The thing is, you can't pull these folks back from the edge. Hardline "conservatives" are hellbent on getting further and further out there, and they cannot be reasoned with. "Get a hold of yourself, man!" will have no effect, and indeed will brand the exhorter as one of "you people." As an appeaser. As less than patriotic. As a "socialist."

As an enemy.

No, you can't argue with crazy. This sh*t is crazy. And presumably, the people who have given themselves over to the paranoid spirit of crazy are heavily armed -- or want to be. This will not end well.


UPDATE: Speaking of crazy, this from Politico:
Freshman Republican Rep. Steve Stockman (Texas) on Monday said he would "seek to thwart" executive action by President Obama in regard to gun laws by any means necessary, even if it means "filing articles of impeachment."

"The White House’s recent announcement they will use executive orders and executive actions to infringe on our constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms is an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic," Stockman said in a statement. "I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment."

At a press conference in the East Room on Monday, Obama said he would consider executive actions on gun control, but said such actions would be limited in scope.
LORD, have mercy. Not that we have even a scintilla coming.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And that's the way it is. . . .

This is how the Revolution21.org studios look here in Omaha (by God!) Nebraska.

OK, it's "studio" -- singular. "Studios" just sounds better.

Anyway . . . this soon will be how the home of 3 Chords & the Truth was. Past tense.

The place is kind of dingy and way cramped, not to mention a little messy. Sounds like time for a remodel to me.

IT'S BEEN needed for a while, but my official excuse is the new, screamingly fast 27-inch iMac that's soon to replace the ancient Dell that's in here now. Trust me, a 2005 vintage is ancient in PC terms, and I was penny wise and pound foolish when I made that purchase almost eight years ago. The new and extremely tricked out iMac is sorely needed, particularly for audio production.
Soooo . . . while I remodel the studio into something more worthy of a fine Apple product, blogging will be sporadic, and we may miss a new episode of the Big Show or two. I'm hoping the disruption will be more than worth it -- both for me and for you.
Be there. Aloha.

St. Rick and the dragon


There is a dangerous new threat to America out there, and Rick Santorum has picked up his lance and mounted his white horse.

A terrible dragon be afoot, and Our Hero must join the GOP crusade to slay it. Its name? Chuck Hagel. Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska.

Chuck, the Hagel Dragon is insufficiently zealous for the cause of endless war to be secretary of defense, and his nomination by Barack Obama is proof of the president's traitorous intent, no doubt.


That's Santorum's -- and many Republicans' -- fractured fairy tale, by God, and they're sticking by it.

BEFORE venturing onward, the Christian soldier outlined this particular "Grimm" tale to the all-things-politics website, Politico:
In an interview with POLITICO, Santorum outlined his opposition to the choice of Hagel, a decorated Vietnam veteran who has come under fire from conservative and Jewish groups that say he has opposed sanctions on Iran, not supported Israel, and supported engagement with Hamas and Hezbollah. If Hagel is confirmed, he would be "very dangerous" to the security of our country, Santorum said.

"I don't take lightly opposing a nominee of the president. If you go back and look at my history in the Senate, even before and after, I give great deference to the president to choose the people that conform with his point of view. He won the election, so he should have the right to put in the place the people that go forth with his plan," Santorum said. But, Santorum said, if Hagel were confirmed, he would be "a voice in the administration that is to the left of the president."

"I do not agree with the Obama administration's policy on Israel or Iran, and the threat of radical Islam. The problem is that Chuck Hagel's positions in the past are worse than the president's," he said.
ONE COULD be forgiven for thinking contemporary Republican politicians constantly spoil for a fight with some woebegone country or another for the same reason poorly socialized, uneducated inner-city youth are eager to "cap yo' ass." They are so insecure and ill-equipped to face the modern world that agitating for deeply stupid wars against countries they figure we can beat (and sooner or later, that assumption will be catastrophically proven erroneous) that this is the only means they have of asserting their "manhood."

Alternatively, it just could be how powerful men with massive egos deal with their lost youth and the ever-nearing approach of the Grim Reaper. In that case, couldn't they get a sports car and a much-younger girlfriend instead? Find themselves a bevy of appropriately bourgeois baby mamas?

Strike that. These guys are the ones for whom the above will never be enough to scratch their pathological itch. Only more and ever more senseless deaths of young American military personnel and a potential massive hit to the American economy -- or worse -- can do the trick for today's GOP warmongers.

We Nebraskans elected Chuck Hagel to the U.S. Senate twice, and he was a better senator than most of us were citizens -- he ended up being a lot more right about war with Iraq than we were at the time, for which he endured endless insults to his character and courage like "Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-France."

HAGEL PROVED
his manhood the hard way -- in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, and he has a couple of Purple Hearts to prove it. One of them he earned pulling his younger brother out of a burning armored-personnel carrier and carrying him to relative safety through hostile fire.

Certain Republican politicians and other assorted Washington leeches remind me more of thug-rapper Lil' Boosie stylin' to a John Phillip Sousa march.

Color me disgusted. Yet again.



P.S.: America's Jewish soldiers aren't any better than the Christian ones of the Santorum stripe.

Hagel was absolutely right when he once said "I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator." Some people seem to be really worried that he'll carry over that same approach to being secretary of defense.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Top that, KITT!


Behold pure awesomeness in action.

Obviously, your average fast-food worker hasn't ever heard of this:

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Brent Musberger: Dirty old man


All that needs to be said about Brent Musberger's dirty-old-man faux pas during ESPN's coverage of the Alabama-Notre Dame game last night was said by a friend on Facebook this afternoon:
So THIS is what it took for ESPN to finally apologize for Brent Musburger?
Musberger is just silly and superficial, not to mention ignorant. Gals who look like A.J. McCarron's Miss Alabama girlfriend are a dime a dozen in the SEC. And I'm assuming you don't have to be a national-championship college quarterback to snare one.

If that's what you go for.


Me, I think tons of women are stunningly attractive. Much of that comes from the inside, not from a beauty spa or something. Not that that's dawned on Brett and Kirk Herbstreit, who are idiots. Did I mention that?

I'd trust their judgment a little bit more if they had made their pronouncement after talking to Katherine Webb for 20 minutes. Is what I'm saying.

Bang, bang, shoot, shoot


This is crazy.

Gun Appreciation Day?

Designed to "send a message" to Washington?

By going to your local gun store and firing range?

The day before President Obama is sworn in for his second term of office and two days before the public Inauguration Day ceremonies?

SAYS the NPR blog item on The Two-Way:
Saying they're following the example of last year's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, a coalition of "gun rights" activists announced today that they're calling on like-minded Americans to visit gun stores, gun ranges and gun shows on Jan. 19 in a show of unity they're calling "Gun Appreciation Day."

It's no coincidence that the 19th is Saturday of the weekend when President Obama will be sworn into office for a second time. Organizers say the date was chosen "to send a message to Washington two days before Obama's second inauguration." They're worried about what they see as the "Obama administration's post-Sandy Hook assault on gun rights."

On Dec. 14, a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before taking his own life.

Among the groups that are on board with Gun Appreciation Day: the Second Amendment Foundation and the Conservative Action Fund, a so-called SuperPAC.
PRAY TELL, what exactly is the message right-wing gun nuts want to send here? "Screw with us, Obama, and we'll kill you"?

"We don't like how the election turned out, so we're thinking about implementing Plan B, which rhymes with "P," and that stands for 'putsch'"?

That's certainly what it sounds like. That's certainly what the splenetic context of the four-year conservative freak-out, as well as the timing of the event, suggests.

What this stuff also suggests is that the United States has gone as mad as it's been since the darkest days of the late 1960s. The difference today is that we operate on depleted social and civic capital and thus have little room for error.

It wouldn't take much for a whole bunch to go seriously south in a big hurry. Paranoid, angry people and guns are a match made in hell.

In other words, this is crazy.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Rammer jammer, y'all!


As a loyal Tiger, I normally don't use this sort of language on this here blog, but there's an exception to every rule.

The exception is that Alabama is kind of like the brother you can't stand, but you're gonna back him up anyhow, 'cause he's family. Especially against Notre Dame. I hate Notre Dame.

And you know what else? "Touchdown Jesus" isn't signaling a touchdown -- he's motioning for those sanctimonious, insufferable Irish to put a frickin' lid on it!

So, for those and more good reasons that I'll come up with later, here goes:

Rammer Jammer, Yellowhammer, give 'em hell, Alabama!


 ***

UPDATE: Alabama 42, Lucky Charms 14.

Hey, Irish! Hey, Irish! Hey, Irish! 'Bama just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer, Yellowhammer, give 'em hell, Alabama!

That is all.

The Saban hate resumes tomorrow. The Irish hate continues 24/7 on this Revolution 21 station.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: The velvet sounds



Because there's nothing more pathetic than a 50-year-old listening to gangsta rap. Doing the hand gestures and copping the "Uh huh. We bad" vacant stare.

That's my answer to why, in middle age, I've become rather fascinated by the stuff people my age listened to long, long before I was my age, and in many cases, before I was any age.

Huh?

What I'm saying is I like me some Jackie Gleason Orchestra. Some Ray Conniff Singers. Some Andy Williams, Stan Kenton and Henry Mancini. Music from when a hi-fi was a hi-fi and a record album cost $2.99.

I hated this stuff when I was young and had delusions of cool. Now that I'm much older -- if not quite "old" -- I have come to the conclusion that Young Me was an idiot under the spell of peer pressure and the young's delusions of solipsistic self-importance.

That's called perspective, and perspective says that "grown-up music" was a lot cooler than I thought in 1975. Or 1969. Or 1979.

BUT THIS post is about 3 Chords & the Truth, which I've only just now mentioned. Good thing this is what the Big Show is all about this week, as we go back to the space-age bachelor pad but stop off at Don Draper's favorite cocktail lounge for a quick one on the way there.

Oh, sure. You think I'm being silly and weird.

No, pally. Silly and weird is the 60-something Roger Daltrey still singing "I hope I die before I get old." Unless the start of "old" now is age 87, one of the last two of The Who missed his expiration date.

So y'all turn on the podcast, get comfy, make yourself a martini and join me on an expedition into sustainable cool -- a reconsideration of what once my generation dismissed before the scales fell off our eyes. Or at least my eyes.

And while we're at it, we'll see what relatively new stuff fits into a midcentury modern vibe. Fun stuff.

Soooooooooo . . .

IT'S 3 Chords & The Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Here's a quick wish that you and yours are having the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of new years.

No, I'm not late. It's Day 10 of Christmas -- two more days to go.

And you know what? Starting on Twelfth Night . . . it's Carnival season!

Ho! Ho! Ho! indeed. I love this stuff.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Sob-sistering toward Gomorrah


I hate sob sisters. Sob sisters will lead you straight to hell -- but only after a rest stop in Gomorrah.

I hate uncritical reporting. I hate it when sob-sister reporters jerk the tears so hard that they forget to ask a few fundamental questions that, oh . . . everybody would like answered as they watch the values-neutral, fact-agnostic schlock that passes for news today.

Local television is the worst. It just is. Local TV reporters will rot your capacity for critical thinking. And then they'll send you to hell. As a moron.

Channel 7 in Omaha devoted all kinds of time Tuesday to a woman who just couldn't see why the cops had to shoot her fiancé to death when all he was doing was threatening officers with a couple of weapons -- one of them a shotgun he aimed at them while using his 3-year-old son as a human shield. Here's a less tear-soaked account from today's Omaha World-Herald:
Tyree Bell
An Omaha man was mentally ill and suicidal when he pointed two guns at police from his front porch, prompting four officers to open fire in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Wednesday that one of the man's guns turned out to be a pellet gun; the other was unloaded. But police couldn't determine that until Tyree Bell, 31, had been killed in the Police Department's second officer-involved shooting in five weeks.

“We still have to treat that weapon as being loaded,” Schmaderer said.

The standoff at 3727 N. 42nd St. began at 4:11 a.m. Tuesday with Bell holed up in the house with his girlfriend and twin 3-year-olds. The children's mother escaped as officers arrived to investigate a domestic disturbance involving an armed person. Bell later let his daughter run to the safety of officers who surrounded the house.

After nearly two hours of negotiating, an armed Bell emerged from the house – his son in his arms to serve as a human shield.

Officers “were in peril, as they could take no action for fear of harming the 3-year-old,” Schmaderer said.

It was about 6:20 a.m. Bell had become more agitated, Schmaderer said.

He returned to the house, put his son down and reappeared on the front porch, pointing both guns at police, the chief recounted. That's when the officers fired “numerous” times at Bell, Schmaderer said.

Bell died of multiple gunshot wounds shortly after he arrived at Creighton University Medical Center. His son was unharmed; he toddled out of the house after the shooting and was swooped up by an officer.

Bell at no time attempted to surrender, the chief said. Alcohol and drugs likely compounded his suicidal behavior, Schmaderer said.
Frame from video recorded by a police-cruiser camera

IDIOT COPS.  His girlfriend told them the gun was unloaded.

And if you can't stake your life on the word of a woman possessing the good judgment to shack up with -- and have three children by -- a felon who had a three-page rap sheet, outstanding warrants and numerous convictions, including several firearms violations, on what exactly can you stake your life?

From the decidedly tear-stained report by KETV television Tuesday night:
Levette Spracher’s new year starts with the unthinkable.

“It wasn't right,” Spracher said. She talked to KETV Newswatch 7’s Natalie Glucklich just hours after her fiancé, Tyree Bell, 31, was shot by Omaha police during an armed confrontation.

Spracher says early Tuesday morning, she and Bell had an argument and, for Bell, a painful discussion about the future.

"He cried and I [could] see it in his eyes, it's like, he was giving up,” said Spracher. “I mean, I actually looked and I felt his pain; he was giving up.”

Spracher says her fiancé struggled with depression and schizophrenia. He’d been convicted of terroristic threats and assault, among other crimes. Spracher says Bell assumed the worst after someone called police to their house near 42nd and Pratt.

“He was like, ‘Man, they’re going to kill me, they're going to kill me,'" said Spracher. “I was like, ‘No, they're not, no, they're not.'"

Spracher says she ran outside to tell officers her fiancé was armed with a shotgun.

“I said, ‘It’s not loaded,'" said Spracher. “It wasn't loaded.”
BECAUSE someone that right about men couldn't possibly be that wrong about whether a gun was loaded or not.

Listen, I'm sorry Spracher and her kids are traumatized. I'm sorry she lost a boyfriend and three children lost a father -- even a whacked-out, felonious one.
I'm sorry Tyree Bell made such a terminal mess of his life. And I'm sorry that Bell is dead and that four cops will have to live with killing someone -- even justifiably -- for the rest of their lives.

What I'm most sorry about, though, is that contemporary journalism, just like contemporary American society, finds itself completely unable to deal with uncomfortable facts. Like, for one, that this poor woman made some catastrophically bad choices involving men -- or at least a man. That she compounded her error by shacking up with that massively troubled individual who had no capacity for obeying the law, then gave society a gift that is likely to keep on giving by having three children with him.

Those three children's long odds in life just got a lot longer, thanks to being witness to a human spectacle that's just about as ugly as they come -- a trauma that will likely torment them all their lives, a torment they're apt to endure absent the kinds of cultural and mental-health resources they so desperately need.


What I want to know is where that story is? You know, the little story that tells the big story of underclass deviance (in the sociological sense), and how it makes every noble program government can devise and every good deed and heroic effort by pastors, teachers, charities and social workers -- let's be honest here -- an absolute crapshoot, more likely to spectacularly implode in fantastically expensive futility than not.



AND HOW about how our culture not only eggs this sort of deviance on, but now is being driven by it? And where's the story about how inner-city black folk were just the canaries in the coal mine, and that this kind of foolishness is turning a lot of working class white folk into poster children for social anarchy, too?

There are two big reasons why you won't see those stories on the 6 o'clock news, or in the Daily Blab. For one thing, they're hard, and journalists are lazy -- and budget constrained. And for another, we might see too much of ourselves as we peer into the dysfunction within the Proles' District.

That will definitely harsh your mellow, man. Sin, after all, is short-term enjoyment, and we are a short-term people who love us some enjoyment. Consequences be damned.

What? You think the bat-sh*t craziness of Congress came from nowhere?

More after these words from our sponsor. Buy some stuff; it'll make you happy. Practice safe sex. Take Plan B if you don't. Be aware of your surroundings. Lock your car. Keep valuables hidden in your trunk. Avoid certain areas after dark. Film at 11.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.