Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Burning Money

By all outward signs the San Francisco Chronicle intends to fight it's financial freefall with an all out appeal to its core constituency--the demented. The near daily onslaught of articles promoting, fawning, extolling and embracing the Burning Man gathering makes this abundantly clear. To the exclusion of all others, the paper has become devoted to all things hip and happening. Their struggle to remain relevant in an rapidly changing media environment is touching and not a small bit repellant.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Achievement Affliction

According to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, pressure to succeed within the Asian community can sometimes lead to unpleasant results.
"It's become cliché: Asian parents browbeat their kids into pursuing prestigious professions in technology, medicine or law, and their children suffer the resulting stress and depression. But speaking with other Asian professionals at a recent social gathering, I found we all agreed that we shared the same affliction."
The evidence of this being a significant problem is based on threadbare accounts. In its effort to level the playing field The Chronicle has seen fit to disparage accomplishment. Soon meritorius performance will entitle young scholars to therapy sessions to reverse the evils of their achievements. Onward slackers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Chicago newspapers have been rife with stories about a scandal involving trucking companies, city workers and the mob. Sound familiar? The cast of characters reads like a rejected Mario Puzo novel. Among the names already in circulation are the following:
  • John 'Quarters' Boyle
  • Christy 'The Nose' Spina
  • Joey 'The Clown' Lombardo
  • Ronnie 'Little Pistol' Calicchaio
Tribune columnist John Kass calls it 'a how-ya-dooin' convention.

Monday, August 22, 2005


From the obituary of Robert Moog inventor of the Moog Synthesizer is this passage;

"Keyboardist Walter (later Wendy) Carlos demonstrated the range of Moog's synthesizer by recording the hit album "Switched-On Bach" in 1968 using only the new instrument instead of an orchestra."

And apparently he/she did this without an organ.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Marc Sandalow writing in Sunday's Chronicle about President Bush not visiting San Francisco has this pair of quotes from the ever so charming Carole Migden;
"Bush's father visited San Francisco five times during his presidency and was greeted by so many protesters that Migden, who at the time served on the Board of Supervisors, had City Hall send his re-election campaign a bill for $38,690 to pay for police overtime."

"One of the Achilles' heels of this president is his granite cool stubbornness,'' said state Sen. Carole Migden, a Democrat who represents San Francisco. "It would be gracious to visit now and then."

Remembering the Peanuts comic strip, Migden represents Lucy moving the football just before Charlie Brown attempts to kick it.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ignorance is Bliss

This morning's San Francisco Chronicle contains yet another Cindy Sheehan article. This one is a column written by C.W. Nevius. And, as is the case with large swathes of the media, they see only what is helpful to their world view. Here's what Nevius says:
"Although she had to leave Thursday to tend to her ailing mother in Los Angeles, Sheehan has gained such notoriety that she's been called the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement. Whether the president elects to meet with her or not, she has clearly reopened the debate and put a human face on it."

"But despite her efforts, Sheehan was becoming more and more frustrated. "I always got the feeling that her anger gained momentum over time,'' Kniesler says. "She was doing all the right things and getting nowhere.'And that, in an odd way, is how she ended up camped on the road outside Bush's ranch."

The narative reads like it was typed up over at Fenton Communications--MoveOn's PR firm and the PR firm supporting Cindy Sheehan. Inconvienient facts are ignored so that a single message gets out--one that borrows Rosa Parks good name for an unrelated cause. What's surpising about Nevius is how little he actually knows about his subject other that what she wants him to know. This morning I had the following exchange with C.W. Nevius about his article.

Me--Thanks for the Sheehan love note. You and David Duke have something in common.
Nevius--Thanks for the note. But David Duke? You lost me there.
Me--David Duke has picked up on Sheehan's anti Israel statements and used that to endorse her. Sheehan said,"My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid?...It’s OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons but we are waging nuclear war in Iraq, we have contaminated the entire country. It’s not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. Hypocrites! But Israel can occupy Palestine? Stop the slaughter!" In addition, Sheehan has lent support for radical lawyer Lynne Stewart who was convicted for aiding a terrorist in prison. "Sheehan said she considered Lynne Stewart her Atticus Finch, the lawyer who defended an innocent Black man accused of rape in the book and film “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Are you saying that you're not familiar with this Cindy Sheehan? Ask yourself, if Karl Rove said these things would we still not know it?
Nevius--Oh. Hadn't heard the David Duke connection. Lots of people jumping on the bandwagon for their own means. I only know her as a local woman I'd interviewed.

There you have it. A gullible media accepting Sheehan's statements at face value and ignoring her anti-Israel pro-terrorist lawyer statements. Is it possible that Nevius is on Fenton's payroll?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Envelope Please

The Palo Alto Daily News decided to 'borrow' a regular feature of the Palo Alto Weekly by polling readers about their favorites; favorite restaurant, auto repair, parking garage--that sort of thing. When the paper asked for nominations for best local radio personality they seriously entertained the notion of ignoring the winner because THEY don't like him...and today proudly write about it. On this a paper shreds its credibility.

Stand by for our regularly scheduled programming.

Without the media fanfare that accompanied the launch of Air America Radio, a little discussed financial controversy is playing out on the liberal radio network. Newpapers who were eager to promote the fledgling enterprise have switched to a different level of support--silence. Did their reporters suddenly have their car radios reprogrammed? Or is there another reason? Now might be the time for Air America co-founder Sheldon Drobny to share his insights:
"Was it possible that my brain as an organ had been physically impaired by my illness? If my brain was physically impaired, no amount of psychotherapy could solve my problem...There is no line between sanity and insanity, making the terms themselves meaningless...but many of us actually believe there is a barrier one crosses that makes a sane person insane."

Checkbook Journalism

An editorial about student test performance in today's San Francisco Chronicle contained this:
"If we can afford to give back trillions of dollars in tax relief to the highest income Americans, we should be able to spend the same amount on building safer neighborhoods, on creating better paying jobs, and in fashioning child-friendly communities for young people who, by an accident of birth, do not live in affluent households with access to high-quality schools."
So by spending the same amount of money as went for tax relief we can bulldoze and rebuild all poor neighborhoods, pay low paid workers more money and convince gangs to disband? That is thinking big. And all along I thought their real complaint about tax cuts had to do with a growing deficit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Math Wiz

I admit to a math deficiency, but I have no idea what to make of this quote from a Los Angeles Times story about the results from California's STAR test.
"But O'Connell and other educators acknowledged a pronounced proficiency problem in high schools, where the percentage of students skilled in algebra and geometry dropped last spring from levels three years earlier. State officials attributed that to an increase in the numbers of students taking more advanced math classes, including algebra, a new state graduation requirement."
So if you take advanced classes you get dumber?

Looking Through the Telescope Backwards

Following the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima news media endlessly commented. Following the 60th anniversary of VJ Day yesterday US news media barely woke up*. Let's see how they do with the 60th anniversary of the surrender of Japan on September 2nd. It shouldn't be this hard to remember what's important.

(* Google News shows the number of stories at the top of the link page.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Special--200% Off*

The Sunday Palo Alto Daily News runs an article about a miscalculation over how much money might be saved through military base closings: "Base closing projections could be $25 billion off". According to the independent commission overseeing base closings, pentagon estimates are off by 50%. Trouble is the story says the figure is $50 billion--making the Daily's headline off by 200%.

* see comments

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Yes, but other than that...

"The real problem for Democrats is that their elected officials, and by extension their entire party, are perceived as directionless and divided, standing for nothing other than their own enrichment," the Democratic authors wrote.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Darkhorse

Move over Hillary, we're walkin' for a new candidate.

War Talk at The Crawford Peace House

After reading press accounts of Cindy Sheehan, the woman the woman who's son was killed in Iraq and wants to talk to Bush, I decided to call the Crawford Peace House in Crawford, Texas where Sheehan is holding vigil.

The woman who answered the phone agreed to talk but didn't provide her name. She lives in San Antonio and is from a military family. Her father served in Vietnam, her husband was in the Army and her son is currently in the Army. Prior to the war her husband served in the Middle East and her son was in Iraq. Considering her background, I asked if she supported the president in any way. She said she supported going to Afghanistan but not Iraq because they needed to finish Afghanistan first before going to Iraq. According to the woman, we should have taken on Iraq behind the leadership of other generals, not the ones Bush relied on who were only interested in career advancement.

When I asked about her son, she let on that her attitude had undergone a radical transformation. She said it surprised her to feel as she did, "You don't know what a mother goes through." Her son suffered a non life threatening ankle injury in combat and is now undergoing treatment back home.

I asked about their time served in Saudi Arabia. Incongruously, she said that they enjoyed the time, but they wondered when the US would wake-up to the very personal threats they felt over there. When I asked if she supported war on Saudi Arabia she wordlessly responded in a way that seemed to express support with the sentiment. Because the Crawford group has such an anti-war stance I asked how these pro-war views went down. According to her, there are a wide variety of views in the Crawford Peace House.

You can find out if that's the case by calling 254 486-0099. Ask for the woman who supports war in the Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia--shouldn't be too hard to find.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Our New Neighbors

Whenever the homeless problem in Palo Alto becomes an issue, local papers rush to assure readers that the homeless are just like you and me. The inference being that nothing should be done to them--you wouldn't want anything done to you right? According to this article in the Chronicle, San Francisco's homeless problem seems to be responding to less friendly policies. Could a less friendly San Francisco lead to increased homelessness in Palo Alto?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


It's easy to peg Boston Globe cartoonist Dan Wasserman. Each of his editorial cartoons carry bucket loads of liberal water. Today's effort yet again pokes fun at the 'evil genius' Karl Rove. So it's easy to view Wasserman as a crank...but that was before. I'm very reluctant to admit it, but I'm finally turning the corner on Rove. Sure he is a genius, but a little noticed local report about Rove's activities borders on pure evil.
“Hello Greg. This was forwarded to me by a friend, Joan, who works at the stationary shop in Hillsdale Mall, San Mateo, California. Joan doesn't know if it's true or not but, I'm passing it along to you. We might see this on the CNN tomorrow..." (continue)

Collectors Edition

Stunning news in Tuesday's Daily. A New York Times bylined story 'Bush signs bill promoting domestic oil production' is written without spin or bias. This instantly becomes a collectors edition. Of course, all opposition first had to be eliminated.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings

ABC Television news anchor Peter Jennings died today. Much will be written remembering his illustrious career. Here's my small contribution:

In October of 1989 San Francisco was rocked by an 7.1 magnitude earthquake. As a photographer I began looking for images to tell the story. On the day after the quake I went to the studios of San Francisco's ABC affiliate station KGO with the idea of shooting the news coverage and possibly tagging along with reporters who had the kind of access that I wanted. A helpful public relations representative suggested that I talk to Peter Jennings who had flown in to cover the story. In order to accomplish this I had to catch Peter walking to a waiting car and quickly explain who I was and what I wanted. Peter questioned me briefly and agreed to let me ride along in his limousine as he and his producers assembled the evening news on the way, but on one condition--that I not shoot pictures of him with the stretch limo.

As we approached the location in San Francisco where Peter was to stand in front of damage from the quake and present the news, he asked the driver to let us out a couple of blocks away. As we walked he told me why he'd made the request; Several years earlier another ABC news anchor arrived to cover a breaking news story dressed in a fur coat and riding in a limousine and was the object of scorn for years after. Jennings needed the limo for the space to accomodate the news production people and certainly didn't care to be seen in a false light by other representatives of the assembled media.

Watching Peter Jennings manage the newscast was to see years of honed behavior. After first setting up to begin the broadcast, and while the director was giving the countdown to air, the fire department announced that a dangerous situation that was developing--everyone would have to move immediately. Viewers never saw how smoothly Jennings complied with the order on air without losing focus. His grace under pressure and kindness to a stranger left me with an appreciation for the man. He's sure to be missed.

Prelude to Ending a War

Sunday's above the fold coverage of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima does the job of telling the horror of that particular event in history. From the aspect of that being the first such event it's understandable. War is awful and this act symbolizes that rather dramatically.

What often goes unreported is the effect it had on Japan's decision to end the war--none. Dropping the second one on Nagasaki accomplished that. Furthermore, so intent were key members of the Japanese military to continue fighting that they sought to find and destroy the recorded message sent by the Emperor announcing Japan's surrender. After being undeterred over the deaths of 125,000 in the firebombing of Tokyo, and remaining resolute in the face of over 600,000 Japanese war dead, it should suprise no one that at the time support for dropping these bombs enjoyed overwhelming US support precisely because it saved vastly more lives than were lost by the bombs. It was science used appropriately.

Instead of celebrating the good that came from a terrible predicament we see this logic inverted. In the coming weeks check to see if you see anywhere near the coverage over the end of the war as this one horrific event.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Break Out the Umbrellas

Saturday's headline story 'Jobs ratio is out of balance' concerns itself with the fact that compared to surrounding communities Palo Alto has a higher number of jobs relative to residents. In otherwords, more people work in Palo Alto than live in Palo Alto and this shows that lots of workers can't afford to live there and choose to commute.

Besides incessently dwelling on mythical imbalances, it demonstrates a willingness to avoid the warm rays of sunshine at all costs and pretend its raining. The paper refuses to acknowledge unexpected job growth on top of a vigorous economy and a dramatic reduction in the budget deficit. All of these were the object of countless stories of woe prior to last year's election. Instead, the Daily News becomes fixated on problems of no particular significance. Problems other communities would gladly exchange for theirs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Anna Eshoo Slammed by LA Times

The LA Times agrees, Anna Eshoo is embracing protectionist policies detremental to the best intrests of her constituents. And it's ignored by her hometown paper.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Invisible Congresswoman

What's remarkable about the Daily News coverage of Congresswoman Eshoo is how little attention is paid. You'd think having an office within a 5 minute walk from the paper would result in greater awareness. Joe Simitian gets attention by filching other people's ideas in order to pass new laws and reporters are dispatched to celebrate. Eshoo has to fly across country and feign interest in local matters with little fanfare.

Today a letter writer, Richard C. Placone, unintentionally embarasses the paper by calling attention to Congresswoman Eshoo. The writer wanted to point out how dastardly it was to pass the bit of legislation known as CAFTA because of what he feels is its negative effect on labor. Silicon Valley corporations saw CAFTA as a boon to local employees. Eshoo dithered over supporting CAFTA but ended up voting against it. This allowed her to be perceived as supporting labor while, at the same time, having no effect on the passage of the legislation her corporate backers wanted. Considering that two competing local special interests were in play you'd expect some newspaper scrutiny. How sweet it must be never be asked to account for difficult votes.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Cookbook tragedy

Who knew? The Cookbook Restaurant in Palo Alto's Town and Country shopping center loses it's lease and we are left to read daily updates for the better part of a week. I know that local papers like to grab onto local stories to prove their relevance, but this only shows the dearth of local news. If the place was this popular it wouldn't be closing. State Senator Joe Simitian's support shows the extent he'll go to promote himself. How pathetic.