Friday, November 2, 2007

Dick Cheney's Latest Hang-Up

One of our heartfelt principles here at your Lightning Round states that some people have nothing better to do than to look for ways to be outraged, even to the point of hyperventilating over minor annoyances until they're gasping and choking on their own anger. So it's understandable yet regrettable to see the scene unfolding around the vice president. Forget about skeletons in the closet. We want to see what's hanging next to the car...

SENSE IS FLAGGING. You'd think people would be worried about Dick Cheney's aim. But nooooooo. What's working people up is that he went hunting at a New York club where a Confederate battle flag hangs in the garage.

From The New York Times:
In a brief interview [Tuesday] morning, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney told us that neither the vice president nor anyone in his entourage had seen the flag.

“Until this issue was raised by the press last night, no one in our office was aware there was such a flag,” said the spokeswoman, Megan M. Mitchell. “The vice president did not see a flag, nor did anyone on his staff traveling with him in New York.”

Asked whether Mr. Cheney had an opinion about the flag’s being displayed, Ms. Mitchell replied, “Bottom line, he didn’t see the flag.” Asked whether the vice president had views in general on the appropriateness of displaying the Confederate battle flag, she said, “I haven’t had a chance to talk with him about that.”
He didn't wave that flag. It wasn't his garage. He didn't even see it. And in our estimation, the veep has a lot of other things on his plate these days besides a rebel banner. But the Rev. Al Sharpton is not letting it slide:
The Rev. Al Sharpton issued a statement last night that read, in part:
I call on Vice President Cheney to leave immediately, denounce the club, and apologize for going to a club that represents lynching, hate, and murder to black people. In this age of Jena, La., events and hangman nooses all over the country, for the Vice President to relax under the flag of the hangman nooses is an unpardonable insult to all Americans, particularly blacks. He ought to leave immediately, call for the flag to be brought down at once, and apologize for being connected to an institution that would be insensitive enough to fly it in the first place. What is interesting to me is that this is not even in the South that it is flying. The club owners must identify with the philosophy of the Confederacy because they can’t say that they are a historic club that 200 years ago was a part of the Confederacy since New York was never a Confederate state.
Your Lightning Round editor-in-chief poses this question: symbol of hatred or not, are we so desperate to hate Dick Cheney that we'll grasp at anything we can get to justify our seething? Credit the VP with not taking the bait. The whole controversy reeks of manufactured outrage.

Perhaps he should have shot that flag. Then the haters would have to weigh a loose trigger finger against the powerful symbolism of the pellet spray. Could their poisoned brains handle such deep thought?

BUSTED. Speaking of thoughtless hatred, the notorious Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS is ordered to pay nearly $11 million in damages to a Maryland family. The church (and we at your Lightning Round use that term very loosely with this group) believes the death of American soldiers is God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality, and they shamelessly picket the funerals of service members holding signs like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." But this time, they picked the wrong family to mess with, they got sued, and now they're going to have to buck up.

It doesn't matter what their lawyer said, as reported by Reuters:
Defense attorney Jonathan Katz urged jurors not to award punitive damages because the $2.9 million in compensatory damages was already three times the defendants' net worth.

"It's enough already to bankrupt them and financially destroy them," Katz said.
Hmmm, Jon, don't you think that's the idea?

FAKING IT. FEMA got burned on a fake news conference they held last week to discuss emergency assistance on the California wildfires. As Amanda Ripley of Time explains it:
Real reporters were only notified 15 minutes in advance, so all they could reasonably do was call in to a conference line. But the line was set to "listen-only" mode, so asking questions was out of the question. Only the people there — a group consisting almost entirely of FEMA public affairs employees — could grill FEMA representatives.

None of this was disclosed by Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator of FEMA, who dutifully responded to the softballs from his underlings (i.e. "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?") as if they were real.
Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff later called it "one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," and vowed it wouldn't happen again -- after it's happened several times already.

Notes Ripley:
Since 2000, the nation has held four full-scale exercises to simulate a major terrorist attack. Each time, the "mock media" is played by fake reporters — paid PR people, to be specific — just like in the fake FEMA press conference last week.

Since 2003, Ogilvy PR, an international firm which also works for Disney and Slim-Fast, has been paid by the government to hold fake press conferences and broadcast live to a Virtual News Network (VNN), a closed-circuit satellite TV network modeled after CNN. Only people involved in the exercise can watch VNN or access its web site. The real media are only allowed to watch from afar.
Heckuva job, Mikey. Your Lighting Round has learned FEMA hired correspondents from The Onion.

GONE GREEN. Many people are waving off going out in style for going back to nature. Hence, the green funeral -- no additives, no preservatives, and biodegradable caskets. The Portland Press-Herald lays it all out:
The idea of earth-friendly funerals is catching on as part of that broader green movement. But there are other factors, too, including distaste for the embalming process and modern commercial funerals that can cost $10,000.

A green burial can cost $1,000 to $2,000, although there is no market standard. [One green funeral] and cremation cost about $350.

Some also have the desire to return to a simpler, personal way of laying loved ones to rest.

"It's a lot more than just about the environment. It's a return to tradition. It speaks to the idea of dust to dust," [author Mark] Harris said. "This is the way we used to bury people, in the first hundred years of our country's history."
It could also be a respite for the frustrated loved one. Your Lightning Round editor recalls a colleague whose boyfriend didn't care about his unhealthy ways... or dying from them.

"I'm gonna bury you in a cardboard box!" she threatened to him. "And then I'm gonna take the money for your funeral and go on a cruise!"

PLAY IT AGAIN. Records -- yes, those vinyl things with holes in the middle -- are making a comeback. It's all about the musical experience, Wired magazine reports:
Records, the vinyl evangelists will tell you, provide more of a connection between fans and artists. And many of today's music fans buy 180-gram vinyl LPs for home listening and MP3s for their portable devices.
And CD's, despite what I think, simply don't sound as good to audiophiles.
Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It's the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.
We assume that would include all the dust, crackles and pops, too.

1 comment:

earthartist said...

You mention natural burial - it is now a world wide trend

The modern concept of natural burial began in the UK in 1993 and has since spread across the globe. According the Centre for Natural Burial, there are now several hundred natural burial grounds in the United Kingdom and half a dozen sites across the USA, with others planned in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and even China.

A natural burial allows you to use your funeral as a conservation tool to create, restore and protect urban green spaces.

The Centre for Natural Burial provides comprehensive resources supporting the development of natural burial and detailed information about natural burial sites around the world. With the Natural Burial Co-operative newsletter you can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the rapidly growing trend of natural burial including, announcements of new and proposed natural burial sites, book reviews, interviews, stories and feature articles.

The Centre for Natural Burial