Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 10:44 PM

We at the Flyer are taking a week off to recharge for the new year. But I have had some thoughts and perhaps you will enjoy them.

1. I think you should mentally say "That's what she said," after reading a fortune cookie fortune. "In bed" is so tired. Here's an example from a cookie I just ate: "A big surprise awaits you." See?

2. I keep hearing about Starry Nights... Starry Nights is wonderful. Starry Nights sucks. Etc. etc. I went today at lunch to see for myself. Not impressed.

3. I really wish the media would do some, you know, end of the decade, end of the year lists. That would
be cool.

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4. Top 10 Reasons a Week Off at Christmas Rules: no alarm, pajamas, a morning fire, a second java pot, happy dogs, sunbeams on the floor, a big ol' Gibson guitar, thick socks, a quiet house, and rubbing it in when you see people who have to work.

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5. The new Sherlock Holmes movie is cool, but loud. Robert Downey is impossible not to watch. Except if Rachel McAdams is around.

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6. I made Paula Deen's green bean casserole for Christmas dinner and lived. Sweet butter of God!

7. I saw where some old lady tackled the Pope just short of a first down. The Vatican hasn't had a decent left tackle in years. Somebody needs to cover the pontiff's blind side. Who were they playing anyway, Little Sisters of the Poor? Oh wait ...

8. I should probably go back to being on vacation now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Google is My Brain

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 3:46 PM

So, things were a little slow around here at lunchtime. I was kicked back at my desk with my laptop on, well, my lap, daydreaming. But daydreaming now is different than it was 10 years ago. It's more results oriented. That's because my brain is so much bigger. Google-big. Here's an example:

I got an email from a former colleague, a fellow I worked with in Pittsburgh. He was just checking in, not much news, happy holidays and such. But that email exchange got me thinking about another colleague from back in the day, a guy I hadn't heard from or thought about in 15 years. Pre-Google, my thoughts would have gone like this: Hmmm. Wonder what ever happened to ol' Vince? Did he divorce that hellcat he was married to? Did he stop drinking? Is he still taking pictures? Huh. Oh well.

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And that would have pretty much been it. I would have soon moved on to other thoughts — or even done something productive. Not in 2009. Now, I Google him, Google-image him. I see if he's on Facebook. Or Linked In. And in fact, he is. There's ol' Vince's entire back-story, with pictures. If I'm feeling like I want to touch base, I can email him, friend him, or even call him, since I now know where he works. I can even drive by his house using Google-map Street View. It's daydreaming with an action plan.

Here's another example: The "Billy Jack" movies of the '70s are sort of a standing joke between me and another old friend. (In case you're wondering, the Billy Jack movies are crummy action flicks directed by, and starring, a guy named Tom Laughlin, who plays a noble, lone-wolf, karate-chopping bad-ass aka Billy Jack.) At any rate, my friend called, and before he hung up, he made a passing reference to Born Losers, perhaps one of the stupidest flicks ever made. In it, Billy Jack single-handedly fights off a biker gang and rescues a chick who spends most of the movie riding around on a motorcycle in a white bikini, trying to escape the bad guys. My friend made some crack about wondering what bikini chick's name was and where she was today. "Probably, a grandmother," he laughed. Maybe so, I thought.

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Once upon a time, I would have hung up the phone, and maybe pondered who the white-bikini-chick was for a minute, then moved on to other things. Not with Google-daydreaming! It's results-oriented and action-packed! A quick visit to IMDB.com gives me the actress' name — Elizabeth James — and her meager film resume: Born Losers and Crazy Mary Dirty Larry. A google image search turns up a picture of Elizabeth in her white bikini next to her motorcycle. Aaaaand, in the process, I've managed to waste 20 minutes.

We are — those of us sitting behind a computer all day, at least — blessed (and cursed) with the luxury of being able to tap into the entirety of mankind's knowledge in seconds — from trivial minutiae to the deepest philosophical questions. If we have a question about something, we can learn the answer immediately. Never before in human history has so much knowledge been so available to so many so quickly. Learning has never been easier. But by making learning easier are we appreciating it less? I don't know. Thinking, unfortunately, is just as difficult as it's always been.

Which makes me wonder if there have been any studies on the impact of Google on human thought processes ... Hmmm, I should probably Google that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

UPDATE: Russell Wiseman Issues Statement

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 1:35 PM

UPDATE: Wiseman issues statement:

"Regarding all of the reports about my recent Facebook remarks, I want to take this opportunity to say how much I regret that I offended anyone with my poor attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor amongst friends. While my comments were certainly blown way out of proportion, I do recognize that I allowed things to go too far.

As you might have guessed, I don’t really care for President Obama or his policies. That being said, I understand how my comments might have been interpreted by people who don’t know me and who have no reason to give me the benefit of the doubt. When defenders of President Obama started chiming in on the Facebook comment thread, I'm afraid I let my frustrations and my sarcastic and joking nature get the best of me, and so I egged and goaded them on within the confines of what I considered at the time to be a semi-private conversation among friends.

I trust that we have probably all experienced things getting out of hand from time to time, and I do regret it. I also take some measure of comfort in knowing that the people who know me best, and who know my background, my work in the community, and my heart -- they understand that I am a progressive and tolerant person who believes wholeheartedly in the rights and equality of all people. I think my record and the way I live my life certainly reflects those views, and I hate that I may have caused anyone to question my commitment to it. I also regret any embarrassment that might have been unfairly visited on my friends, my family, my church, and the citizens and officials of the Town of Arlington.

One troubling and eye-opening aspect of this whole episode has been the literally hundreds and hundreds of fanatics who have directed some of the most vile and profane comments towards me and my family that I’ve ever heard, including making physical threats and even posting my home phone number and address online for the benefit of the fringe element.

In the interest of moving forward, I will not be giving interviews or fielding questions because I have no interest in taking any step that might perpetuate this whole episode or inadvertently be interpreted as an attempt to dignify my unfortunate comments. I have learned a valuable lesson, and I look forward to moving on and focusing on the business of the Town of Arlington in a manner befitting the good citizens I represent."

The Town of Arlington, Tennessee, has issued the following statement on the city's website:

Statement from the Town of Arlington
The views of Russell Wiseman, Mayor of the Town of Arlington, expressed on his Facebook account do not reflect an official position of the Town of Arlington. His comments were not made on a Town computer, or using Town computer services. The Town recognizes Barack Obama as the President of the United States, and in accordance with the Constitution, recognizes both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. We welcome all law abiding people to our town. We do not discriminate and we provide essential services to all Town of Arlington people without regard to their religion, race, color, age, gender, sex or national origin.

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In other Wiseman news, a Facebook page supporting Wiseman's statements has been created, as has a website promoting a national presidential ticket of Russell Wiseman and Sarah Palin. Talk about your dream ticket!

Read my original post here, and Jackson Baker's take here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fools Rush In ...

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 2:28 PM

There has probably never been a more misnamed public servant than Arlington's Mayor Russell Wiseman, who unwisely revealed on his Facebook page that a) he thinks the president is a Muslim; b) that things would be better if only those who owned property could vote; c) that the president purposely scheduled his speech on Afghanistan to preempt "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

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Here's an excerpt from his Facebook entry: “Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch ‘The Charlie Brown Christmas Special’ and our muslim president is there, what a load…..try to convince me that wasn’t done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation (sic) about it….w…hen the answer should simply be ‘yes’ ...

Good Grief!

Like Congressman Joe Wilson's shout-out to President during his healthcare speech a few months back, Wiseman's comments have gone viral, hitting every major internet and news outlet over the course of the past 12 hours. The link to The Commercial Appeal's story on Wiseman has been almost impossible to get to for hours today, due, no doubt to its being linked on dozens of websites nation-wide.

I'm not sure what's sadder, the fact that Wiseman apparently really believes this stuff, or that he got elected in the first place. Tennessee is widely perceived as one of the most backward states in the union, politically. That, I'm afraid, is a very accurate perception.

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