Thursday, 13 January 2011

Red Pen

I took one of the front pages of my Washington Post today (probably from Tuesday)....and a red pen...then I began to mark through what wasn't a factual comment (either perceived or drawn from some conclusion that the writer was making).  I redded out almost sixty percent of the front page.

I didn't go past that point. What was the use?  I could have gone to the local news page and probably redded at least fifty percent of it with perceived news or news drawn from some writer's conclusion.  The fact is....if all of the Washington Post was evaluated this way....you might only find eight pages of total news (a quarter of that would be sports-related).

I am coming to the conclusion that half of every newspaper in America is simply wasted space.  You get the factual pages together, then the cartoons, and then the want ad's.  After that....it's paper with nothing much worth remembering or reading.  The Washington Post still prints the mutual funds and stocks section on weekends....which takes up almost three pages.  The blunt truth is that it's almost unreadable with the font and you are ten times better off with your Yahoo or Google finance page.

So I'm here now to suggest this radical view of America and it's news services.  Frankly, you are paying for something that is worthless.

I'd like to do the same thing with talk radio and CNN News.  I'm guessing they are mostly the same way....with half of their stories being perceived or drawn from conclusions.  It's bad enough now that you actually get some guy who tells you that he's got a PhD and sits at some Think-Tank in Connecticut.....thinking mostly about the economy and he wants to tell you his opinion.  The next night, you get Doctor Larry from a Harvard Think-Tank who wants to tell you the same opinion.

Not to put radical ideas into your head....but if you clicked over to the BRAVO channel or the History channel.....you might get Dog the Bounty Hunter, and probably be entertained at a much higher level.  I offer my apologies to you Think-Tank folks.....because you might want to find a real job that does better than just perceived news.

Cullman & Its New Era

Things are now kinda settled down in Cullman, Bama.  We can now pronounce the city....as 'wet' ( a term that some of you may not be familiar with).  I have to be honest....liquor sales haven't been turned on yet, but it's believed that by the end of February will the start date.  What occurred this week...were the city council folks approving the ordinance.

The surprising part of this announcement?  The ordinance is 55 pages.  I sat and pondered over this.  You'd think that five guys could meet and iron this processing of selling beer, wine or alcohol easily.  They might need five pages max.  But the folks around Cullman wanted various rules in effect, and 55 pages of text were necessary.

Yes, times are set for booze sales (8AM to 11PM, with an extra hour on Friday and Saturday nights).  No, you can't buy any booze on Sundays....the Baptists won on that topic.  So you gotta attack your local store by midnight to stock up for Sundays....it just makes sense to plan ahead.

You have to be somewhere between 50 to 250 feet from a church or school....to drink anything.  And you have to be at least 1500 ft (5 baseball fields) away from a church or school to sell anything.

Naturally, the business interest of Cullman and the town council are excited....more money and more revenue.  Tax revenue is always appreciated, but especially in bad economic times.

I'm guessing this Sunday....there will be several sermons around Cullman where the end-of-times will be discussed and how sin is soon to arrive in Cullman.  Several guys in the back rows will whisper that sin has been in Cullman for 100 years and there's not really much of anything new except you can buy locally instead of the next county over.

Folks will sit around and pretend that they don't drink when this first starts up.  You might show up at Uncle Jimmy's house and there still just ice tea being offered.  You might go over to Miss Elaine's and just get offered some Dr Pepper on ice still.  And you might only get an offering of tap water or coffee at Aunt Francis's house.

It'll take a while before folks feel comfortable enough or feel welling enough to smile off peer pressure....to offer up a Bud or a imported Canadian beer.  I'm guessing the local ministers might start making house calls and ask to see the refrigerator ten minutes into the visit....just to keep folks honest in church.

So a hearty welcome to Cullman, as they enter a new era.  Another wet town in Bama.

Numbers Matter

For four years....I lived in Pima county (heavily mentioned this past week because of the shooting).  I remember the area (from the 1989-period) as a fairly safe Arizona town where you could drive around at 10PM and never expect any violent threats.  House and apartment break-in's were rare.  You tended to feel very safe in the county and on the city streets.

Someone in the last couple of days pulled up the statistics and compared them against the Phoenix region.  If you live in Tucson today....you have almost three times the chance of being murdered.   If you live in Tucson today.....you are more than seven times likely to be raped.  If you live in Tucson today....you are more than six times likely to be assaulted.  And if you live in Tucson....you are more than seven times likely to have experienced a property crime such as burglary, arson or car theft.  Remember, this is compared against Phoenix which is only 120-odd miles to the north.

There is today a serious difference between the two towns.  The cops know the difference.  The newspapers know the difference.  I would imagine the politicians even know the difference.  As for the public?  I'm not quiet sure.  If I knew the statistics as a local citizen....and knew that Phoenix was this town where you were fairly safe (at least significantly safer) than Tucson.....I might be asking some stupid questions.

The causes?  The local media in Tucson will regularly publish the three most likely issues: significant drug trafficking, illegals (being closer to the border, it's a higher ratio), and a limited police force.  Do any of these stat's figure into last weekend's episode?  Well....it's come out about the significant drug usage (mostly grass presently) with the shooter.

I'm guessing that folks will start to discuss these numbers more over the next year.  You would think it'd bother folks that they are much more likely to be assaulted or robbed....yet they are only 120-odd miles from a fairly safe (or at least safer) town.  They will have to ask why, and I think you are looking at major factor in the next election or two.