Thursday, July 28, 2005

In a nanny state, we're the goats

"Life in a nanny state" is the intriguing title of an editorial on the right side of the Times Free Press edition of Monday, 25 July.
The editorialist mentions a particular pharmaceutical suddenly banned because the wise and all-knowing Food and Drug Administration, in its omniscient wisdom, has ordered sales halted.
"Why?" asks the editorial, answering, "Because if a patient ignores the clear warning on the drug that it should not be taken with alcohol, it could do the patient harm. It might even be deadly."
Wow. What a shocker. Mixing drugs and alcohol could be harmful? Who'da thought?
But the editorial says the FDA, in its omniscient wisdom, thinks the warning label "is not good enough, so the agency apparently feels the need to protect consumers from themselves."
It concludes, "A few people who theoretically may take the drug incorrectly should not have veto power to bar far more from benefiting from its pain-relieving properties."
On Tuesday, an editorial, "Continuing tobacco hypocrisy," points out the 400-year history of governmental opposition to and criticism of tobacco, and its 400-year history of taxing tobacco, and its more modern history of suing tobacco.
"But despite knowing its ill effects, governments and smokers have been tolerating it and using it -- then suing for damages for destructive results.
"Not satisfied with taxes and past multi-billion lawsuit judgments against tobacco companies, the U.S. government currently is seeking $280 billion more in damages from tobacco companies.
"But why the hypocrisy? No one holds a gun to force tobacco on users. So why should they or the government sue? ..."
Sounds as if the editorialist believes in freedom of choice?
Well, the editorialist rejoiced when, a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court very unconstitutionally and very immorally and very irrationally ruled the federal laws against marijuana could hold sway even when citizens in the states had voted to allow medical or medicinal use of marijuana.
Isn't that supporting the notion of a nanny state?
And is that also hypocrisy?
I prefer to call it "inconsistency," but I will understand when others use the earlier term.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Avoiding healthy fare

"Study finds students choose healthier fare" reads the headline on a story from the Associated Press in the Wednesday, 27 July, edition.
Personally I always avoid healthy food, especially beef and pork items.
No, sir, if I am going to eat beef or pork, I want it to be dead, not healthy.
I'm not sure how those terms apply to vegetables, but since they generally have been cooked before I ingest them, I'd guess they are pretty well dead, too, not healthy.
It's easy to blame the "copy editors" of the Times Free Press for being further ... let's say uninformed about the English language.
Generally, usually, the Associated Press gets it wrong, the difference between "healthy" and "healthful" apparently being unknown among journalists and other graduates of government schools.
If you want to be healthy, then eat food that is healthful.
Otherwise you might be asking for trouble, violating not only the rules of grammar but the dietary laws.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Three thousand words

Bruce Tinsley, artist and philosopher, made one of the most profound points of anyone regarding the Kelo decision with this strip, published in the Times Free Press edition of Monday, 25 July:

Futile disagreement

"Tennessee race in national spotlight" reads the headline in the edition of Monday, 25 July.
The story makes the not-very-profound observation that the U.S. Senate race coming up in 2006 will attract national attention, not too hard to figure out since the battle between the two old parties for control of the various parts of the federal government is ongoing, and each jostles fiercely with the other for any advantage.
Senator Bill Frist is retiring. Good.
He is just another big-government Republican, but h
e is, for some reason, important in politics, being the majority leader in the Senate, and being a likely candidate for president, which tells us something about the quality or lack thereof of old-party candidates.
In the story is discussion from one Larry Sabato, identified as director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, and apparently the only non-candidate ever applied to for discussion of American politics.
Not to take away from Dr. Sabato's expertise, but surely there are other people just as expert, SOMEwhere in the country, who could be interviewed at least once in a while.
The story, by a staff writer, contains this sentence: "Tennessee, Maryland, Minnesota and Vermont each have an open Senate seat in 2006 ..."
What is really puzzling is why apparently no "copy editor," if there really is anyone on the paper's staff who qualifies for that title, ever seems to know about noun-verb agreement. Reporters should get it right, of course, but certainly some editor should catch such errors.
Constantly, the Times Free Press publishes that kind of sloppy sentence with noun-verb disagreement, many of which we have referenced here.
It is reminiscent of Casey Stengel's asking, while managing the hapless early New York Mets, "Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game?"

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Paper can't even be literate on Web site

Trying to set up an account to view the Times Free Press Web site for a friend who is also a subscriber to the "news"paper, I filled in all the information and clicked "register."
This is the wording on the page that popped up:
No active Subscription was not found based on the information you supplied.
Please contact Customer Service at 423-757-6262
I called the number given, got a "Jeffry" (phoneticized), told him the situation and he said, "....(pause) I don't really know anything about the Web site."
Typically, the communications medium doesn't communicate to its employees the information it tells customers and would-be customers the employees have.
I told "Jeffry" what the Web page said, but realized it would gain nothing, and I backed up, verified instead the correct name on the subscription list, and tried again.
This time the message said,
No active Subscription was not found based on the information you supplied.
Please contact Customer Service at 423-757-6262
Is there too harsh a term for such stupidities?

Re: "Another dumb headline"

Praise for the Internet can never be over done.
However, it does have at least one limitation: It's hard to convey subtly when one is intending to be tongue-in-cheekish.
Honest, I knew what the headline writer was saying. I read the story.
I was merely playing with the wording and with my own anarchistic tendencies.
So the anonymous person who wrote all the obscenities, some of which were spelled wrong, and who is apparently a staffer at the "news"paper should just calm down.
I was kidding.
That time.

Columnist Leo wrongly bashes director Stone

Nationally syndicated columnist John Leo strongly attacked Hollywood generally in his column published on the Free Press side of the Times Free Press edition of Sunday, 24 July.
Generally I have a lot of respect for Leo, but his harsh language for director Oliver Stone overstepped the limit.
Leo wrote, or at least the Times Free Press printed, this delineation of Stone: "a wacky, pro-terrorist paranoid ..."
Leo should be ashamed of himself, or perhaps the "copy editors" of the Times Free Press should be ashamed.
Properly, the phrase should be "a wacky, pro-terrorist paranoiac ..."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A cute headline

Tuesday's big story is about the generally worthless U.S. Senator Lamar ("I'm a lumberjack and that's OK") Alexander and his "worries" that "state's mountaintops are too tempting for builders of power farms."
The story is a localizing of the national story that environmental wackoes who have been for decades demanding alternative energy sources are suddenly changing direction and opposing the building of wind-powered generators.
Much of that is the old NIMBY syndrome: Not In My Back Yard.
Staff writer Ian Berry interviewed some people, specifically in the East Tennessee town of Oliver Springs, who love their proximity to a wind-generator farm, so there is more than one view presented.
Still, the headline does credit to the paper's usually-not-very-good editors: Tilting at windmills.

Another dumb headline

Monday, 18 July, the Times Free Press runs this as its major headline: "Age drain on state employees."
It's another example of the liberal journalists boosting the state and, in this case, the state's agents.
Be real: People seek employment in government jobs because of the perks and bennies and because of the better-than-private-sector pay and because the "work" is far less demanding than in the real world.
Well, now that I mention it, some people seek employment in government because they enjoy bossing other people around, too. (Been in a motor vehicle office lately?)
So for "journalists" to flack for bureaucrats is disgraceful. Shameful.
Besides, face it: Age is a drain on EVERYbody.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pro-tax hypocrisy

Wednesday editions of the Times Free Press are enlivened by the inclusion of the grocery ads and other circulars.
Alas, Wednesday editions are deadened by the inclusion of a weekly column by one David Magee, supposedly a famous writer, although I had never heard of him.
Advent of the inauguration of the local column was hailed by the paper as if it were a momentous event.
I looked forward to seeing it, but the first one, or at least the first one I saw, about a month ago, contained one sentence that caused me to stop reading.
The subject was something about area private schools and how the parents of children sent to them were not a cause of financial problems for government schools, despite claims to the contrary (by whom I have never known) that those parents were somehow depriving the government schools of money.
Magee had one sentence that said something like "school A or school B or school C are not ..."
That is where I stopped reading.
Mr. Magee must himself be a product of government schools, and likely Chattanooga-area government schools or he would know the verb should be "is."
Conceivably, though, especially considering the medium, a "copy editor" made the change and Mr. Magee is innocent of the charge.
He is not innocent of this new charge, though: He is attempting, through rather childish sarcasm, to promote more taxation, supposedly to benefit the local government schools.
He begins his column, published 13 July 2005, and titled "Let's line our pockets with school funds," with "Those who staunchly oppose additional funding for our public schools at the local level have won me over. Never a man too big to admit when he's wrong, I no longer am claiming that our schools need more money.
"In fact, I've seen the light. We residents need this money, these extra pennies that might be added to the property taxes, more than those greedy administrators, teachers and students do. I can barely afford my golf green fees anymore [sic], and cable television, what with must-have HBO add-ons and all, is beginning to be a real financial drag."
Such drivel continues for several paragraphs, and he concludes, finally, with "...The objective is not to give our children, teachers and administrators every advantage, but to put as many pennies back into our own pockets as possible.
"After all, we need it more than they do."
There are so many errors in such nonsense, it's hard to know where to begin with correction.
Well, let's try this: The school systems spending the most money, and the most money per child, are also the ones getting the worst results. Such places include New York City and Washington, D.C.
North Dakota, on the other hand, is routinely criticized for not spending as much per student, but its students routinely receive higher scores on such tests as SAT and ACT.
Mr. Magee uses his sarcasm to try to defend such school activities "like drama and debate and music" as being preferable to, say, football. Actually, I agree with that point, but quite obviously tens of thousands of parents and students don't.
Mr. Magee is making two serious errors, beyond his writing: Believing government schools have some kind of sacred position in society and believing that a need is some kind of right.
There is a third error, one that could, by some harsher critic than Marshmallow Morrison, be called hypocrisy: Mr. Magee is absolutely free to hand over as much of his own money to the school system as he wishes.
Alas, he strives with heavy-handed sarcasm to shame others into handing over their money -- no, worse than that: He tries to shame us into asking government officials to raise taxes, which means forcing us -- everybody -- into handing over our money.
Sure, he uses the demagogue's trick: It's only pennies. But, as my Scottish forebears said, Many a mickle makes a muckle.
It's true, by the way, the Hamilton County teachers are underpaid. By the scores and droves, they are applying for jobs in other systems, especially in Georgia (strange as it might seem to anyone who doesn't know how that state spends money on schools; Georgia teachers come a lot closer to getting what they deserve than many other states), but even in smaller-population, more nearly rural systems nearby.
The Hamilton County administrator, though, is vastly overpaid and the system is, as is so often true, top-heavy with administrative personnel; and an annual fortune is paid out to "consultants," people from outside brought in to do what the local people are supposed to do in the first place.
And those are the reasons local residents and citizens are so reluctant to have to pay higher taxes -- on top of an obscene sales tax, nearly 10 percent, even on food and clothing!
They just don't see the system as being capable of spending what money it gets wisely or efficiently.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ogden Nashing my teeth

Several attempts at publishing my last entry resulted apparently in nothing but gears whirling and LEDs flickering and the screen flashing and me gnashing my teeth.
And finally shutting down the computer in frustrated disgust.
Coming back later to the computer, surprise, surprise, somehow it was published after all, several times.
Later I will go back and remove the extras, but in the meantime, I am reminded of a poem by Ogden Nash; though I might not have all the words right, it says
Here's an ode to the ketchup bottle:
First none'll come and then a lot'll.

Double standard?

Following a sting operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, several members and former members of the Tennessee General Assembly have been indicted for accepting bribes.
They were supposedly given money to pass certain legislation from which a particular company would be able to profit.
One problem: The company didn't really exist; it was a front by the FBI.
Still, several Democrats and one Republican are accused of having taken the bait.
A few days ago, a vocal "moral leader" of the Tennessee Republicans called for the indicted Republican to resign or be thrown out of the legislature.
Times cartoonist Bruce Plante, Pulitzer Prize winner, immediately penned a vitriolic cartoon denouncing the "moralist" for not even giving the accused a fair trial before hanging him, for forgetting that even a politician is innocent until proven guilty.
On Tuesday, 12 July 2005, the same Bruce Plante, Pulitzer Prize winner, drew a cartoon of a man and woman staring at a poster, "Slime-Man" apparently a movie "starring Karl Rove."
The woman asks, "What are his super powers?"
The man answers, "Revealing the secret identity of heroes and sliming his way out of it."
On Wednesday, the Times editorial is headlined, "Karl Rove must go."
Last I heard, as of Wednesday afternoon, Karl Rove has not been proved guilty of anything, except being a Republican.
Granted that's a pretty bad sin, but it's not yet a crime.
Except, apparently, to cartoonist Bruce Plante, Pulitzer Prize winner, and whichever vitriolist of the Times editorial page wrote the editorial.
Double standard? or no standard?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Skin show?

A funny and funnily written story, published in the Times Free Press, can be found at
I enjoyed it more than anything in the paper outside "Frank & Ernest" or "Dilbert" in a long time.
It also reminded me of a comment, strangely attributed to the late, not-so-great John Lindsay, to the effect, "Miniskirts are quite beneficial. They help young women run faster -- which they will have to do if they wear them."

ESOL headline

In the Chattanooga Times Free Press edition of Monday, 11 July 2005, there are two headlines on above-the-fold stories.
The big one, on the hurricane story, says, "Dennis menaces Gulf Coast."
Ha ha.
By the time the paper hit front yards (late for many if not most of its subscribers because of a tacky advertisement* stuck on the front page; the sticker creates problems in the paper's machinery and carriers don't get the paper for as much as an hour or more later than the usual time), the hurricane had moved far north of the Gulf Coast and was, in fact, pouring rain onto Chattanooga and environs.
The second head says, "Closing sock mills hurt immigrants."
Hmmmm. I've pondered and puzzled over this and finally concluded ...
Well, first, let's analyze just what it says: The mills are harming immigrants.
Even though they're closing, they hurt people, though apparently just immigrants.
How can that be? If the mills were, say, polluting the atmosphere with smoke, then they'd be hurting everyone.
Most likely, though, that isn't what was intended.
The subject, "closing," needs a verb in agreement (as do all nouns), and in this case "hurts" would be correct.
The story is a follow-up of one in the previous day's edition and contains what is surely unintended irony. A man who had come from somewhere in Central America became unemployed after the sock mill at which he had worked departed for Honduras.
Fort Payne, Alabama, is now more famous for its singers and "singers" than for its industrial base.
But isn't most of the United States now generally barren of industry?
And that is another subject for another blog.
Our subject continues to be, Why can't "editors" edit? Why can't they learn correct grammar?

*Putting advertisements on the front page is (also) another subject entirely. Essentially, though, it is a low-class thing to do and merely accentuates the concept that "news"papers are mostly, really advertising media, not news media.