ALL SUNG OUT
Re: Jeffrey Lord’s Newsflash for the Dixie Chicks:
Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Lord, and humorous closing. I only wish your effort had not been touched off by the latest remarks from Texas’s greatest embarrassment, the “Ditsy” Chicks, decrying what they don’t understand. They can afford to find out the time of day on their own, if they’re interested; we don’t need to waste our time giving it to them.
— Mike Showalter
Writing in “Bomb Texas” in the Jan. 13, 2003 Wall Street Journal‘s OpinionJournal.com, historian Victor Davis Hanson said, “The anti-Americans often invoke Rome as a warning and as a model, both of our imperialism and of our foreordained collapse. But the threats to Rome’s predominance were more dreadful in 220 B.C. than in A.D. 400. The difference over six centuries, the dissimilarity that led to the end, was a result not of imperial overstretch on the outside but of something happening within that was not unlike what we ourselves are now witnessing. Earlier Romans knew what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the alternative, and why their culture had to be defended. Later in ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence disappeared.”
When reading Mr. Lord’s piece, it strikes me that those such as the Dixie Chicks and other present or past adherents to the Henry Wallace worldview may have forgotten, if ever they knew, what it was or is to be American or what the consequence of such willful ignorance or contemptuous forgetfulness might be.
And also while reading Mr. Lord’s piece, it struck me that the Wallace/McGovern liberal paradigm may not have begun in America but elsewhere, likely Europe where intellectuals, politicians and cultural elitists envied America’s economic success and geopolitical influence for many decades preceding Mr. Wallace’s 1946 speech.
— C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
The Dixie Chick leader is immune to actual reason. In her haste to condemn a person we elected, she is merely mouthing what her narcissistic zeitgeist neurons command her to spout. She probably has no idea why she thinks thus and has convinced herself that what she says is enlightened and worthy of respect because she is the one saying it. The tragedy is that such people are listened to at all today. Not that there’s probably ever been a scarcity of them.
— Laurey Boyd
Uh-oh, there’s that “p” word again. Unfortunately, Mr. Lord, there seems to be little connection between anyone in politics today and Henry Wallace. Wallace was an idealistic anti-fascist and populist whose views bear little resemblance to those of Howard Dean, John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Mark Warner, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. These days, naive idealists get nowhere in politics. Today’s liberals may still like the idea of less war, famine, pestilence and oppression, but they’ve learned that being nice to everyone doesn’t always work. They’ve also learned that business interests masquerading as disseminators of democracy are equally doomed to failure. They know that this country has finite resources and an uncertain future.
To the best of my knowledge, the Dixie Chicks are just regular people who happen to have a podium and are willing to risk their careers by voicing their opinions. How surprising is it that someone brought up in the Bible Belt might think that war is a bad thing? Perhaps Mr. Lord has been studying the wrong book.
— Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois
The Houston Chronicle, a Hearst publication, has published large articles the past two days pushing the Dixie Chicks. Look for them on the Democratic election circuit in two years. I’m sure they will be welcomed as heroes.
— Richard Ledford
I doubt the Dixie Chicks can be counted on to know much more than their last bank statement balances and couldn’t tell you who was on the 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 dollar bills and what significant rolls those people played in U.S. history. Knowing history requires critical thinking abilities and effort expended. The Dixie Chicks have zero balances in both.
— Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia
TALK IS CHEAP
Re: Quin Hillyer’s Hey, Ho, the Battling Blogs:
I can’t agree more with Mr. Hillyer. I’ve known high school honor students who can’t write simple essays for college applications. Several asked me to read theirs. Without fail, every essay lacked the basics, and these were honor students! Not one essay was worth correcting; every single one needed to be completely rewritten. Computers are one problem and cell phones are another. The kids text message instead of write, and then they carry these sloppy habits into other areas of communication. The biggest culprit is an educational system which allows young people with such poor skills to pass, sometimes with honors.
— Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York
Though I find the article interesting on its face, when I dig further I ask — What’s the beef? Bad writing is bad writing whether it was done with quill in 18th century, typewriter in the 19th or a 3.8 GHz, PIV, Vista-enabled Intel box using Microsoft Word and Scribus in the 21st. Instrumentality is not a substitute for clear thought. To indict blogs as a mechanization of the devil is barking at an evil in the wrong direction. Clearly the issue is the content and formulation of the writer’s prose that is at fault. Not the fact that the pixel size is only .27 on the screen.
With deference to the link provided by Professor Gerald Grow he too makes several omissions. Foremost is the form factor. For at least 100 years most of the educated world has been imprinted with the use of four substrate sizes — A4, US Letter, Tabloid and Broadsheet. This bias has placed manacles on the writing style of most modern writers. Along comes the computer with its 17″ screen and suddenly none of those formats are the dominant form. Mr. Grow makes the claim of “Small Screen Thinking” is part of the problem. Nay say I, fork over the $300 for a 19″ pivot capable LCD screen and you have full fidelity of US Letter in all its glory. Collaboration tools in the corporate world may lead to overly long sentences, but I would hazard that the same would have occurred anyway. But that is not the source of the issue. The typical corporate interdepartmental communique ends up that way because of the politics at play, not the content or desires of the writer(s).
But I find it interesting we are discussing the finer points of writing with support from a professor from a J-school. When you consider the dribble that issues forth from the likes of Columbia as evidenced by the graduates, I question not the form but the substance of said reporters. Too often what is printed in the pages of the MSM lacks substance, accuracy and adherence to form and structure. I need only mention Jayson Blair, Dan Rather, Mary Mapes or Eason Jordan for the reader to know what I mean. So if I had druthers would I prefer truth and substance albeit bad writing over “fake but accurate” but the sentence structure is impeccable? Damn right I would!
There are more serious issues at play here than desktop publishing foibles. Let us tackle that first, please.
— John McGinnis
I especially appreciate two things you mentioned. One, the narcissism and “wild informality” of the blogosphere. Two, that communication is more than just emoting. Too few of us understand that communication is not me-centered but about sending and receiving, just as too few of us understand the need for discipline and patience in thought and word.
— C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
While I think blogs contribute to the problem, the root of this I believe is 12 to 16-plus years in a public education system that has little or no remaining objective standards of learning. True excellence or exceptional performance is down played out of political correctness concerns. What standards there are produce babbling idiots by the hundreds of thousands a year at about $100,000.00 a copy.
The failure rate of the college English classes I attended was in the 70-plus percent range at one time. I had to work real hard to produce an acceptable product. That is not the case today in the mass market of one size fits all public schooling. Those that couldn’t make it through English literature and composition classes seem to migrate to “other” forms of higher education like journalism or the legal profession. Doesn’t take much in the way of organizational skills to write emotion filled essays or play on the emotions of a captive audience like a jury, does it?
Compare the U.S. Constitution to say the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance reform, for example. The enumerated Constitution is the concise product of an immense amount of forethought and insight into human history by a relatively large group of people who were both deep thinkers and passionate in what they believed. The 300-page manifesto of bovine excrement, as I call the Court’s ruling on revoking the First Amendment freedom of political speech, is a vivid example of “death by a thousand cuts” kind of run on thinking. Only trained lawyers (and politicians) produce such elaborate nonsense. You would think they get paid by the pound for such stuff. The entire manuscript could have been reduced to two sentences even by me. Do you think any of the Framers of this government would have hand written 300 typed pages worth of such nonsense for a single court ruling?
They say “talk is cheap” but our electronic culture has made “cheap talk” even more worthless in public discourse. Takes discipline and an organized mind to produce rational works of reason. That does not come naturally. When is the last time you heard the word “discipline” and public schooling associated together in a positive light? Too much noise, not enough substance.
— Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia
Talk (OK, write) about poor writing! Consider revising the first sentence in the second paragraph. It is wordy, poorly structured and missing a comma.
— Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Think of the blogs as the literary version of Gresham’s Law: Bad writing drives out the good.
— Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida
EVIL FINDS A NEW HOME
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Red Badge of Shame:
“First we shall set them apart by requiring visible symbols of their perfidy on their clothes, homes and shops. Then we shall dehumanize them. Then we will eliminate them.” –Reinhardt Heydrich
— Jay W. Molyneaux
Well put, Mr. Homnick! Well put! Really well put!
Now, about that “identity of the Messiah” problem. He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, came to save His people from their sins, etc.
Just trying to help!
— Mike Showalter
Everyone wants to believe that good will win out over evil. A cruise through history, particularly Germany’s and the rise of Hitler suggest that good may have won that struggle but only at great cost and suffering to the forces of good. The battle did not end in Hollywood fashion but rather in a great hell of recriminations, grief, struggle and eventually forgiveness to those who declared their guilt. And it provided hiding places for those who did not. Thus the war of good and evil never really ends but goes on as the forces of evil are disgorged from their hiding places and plan new mayhem.
Iran today seems to have many of the attributes of Hitler’s Germany. And American policy in the Middle East has been to encircle Iran. American and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are military threats of unprecedented danger to Iran. Efforts by America and its allies to tighten the noose will continue as those countries aligned with the U.S. in the war on terror close ranks to form a mutual security agreement and eventually those countries will be granted a place under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. An anti-ballistic missile shield is under construction for Europe to repel any nuclear strike from Iran. Add to this two insurgencies going on in Iran, a young population that has distain for the theocratic rule of the mullahs and a yearning for more western culture. It should not be a surprise then that Iran has acted as some animals do when cornered, making themselves appear larger and meaner than they really are. Thus the new president of Iran selected for his job via a rigged election by the ruling theocrats, and a madman, hisses and makes threats to Iran’s enemies. The good news is that the world recognizes Iran’s threat and that the U.S. will not allow appeasement of that threat as happened with Germany.
— Howard Lohmuller
If, God forbid, that abhorrent, Nazi-like decree becomes law, it won’t be Iran whose death warrant is signed. At least for now, it won’t. It’ll be those Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians unfortunate to live there who will reap the fatal insanity of what can only be interpreted as the first step to a full-blown religious holocaust in Iran.
How will Islam’s defenders and supporters explain away this action by the Iranians? Will the world, including the United Nations, will do anything about this except flap its collective gums?
— C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
I don’t doubt that Ahmadinejad is mentally unstable and very dangerous. I have, however, seen a conflicting report on the proposal that colored clothing or other markings will be required for non-Muslims in Iran. I found the article at atimes.com in an article written by Jim Lobe and entitled “Yellow Journalism and Chicken Hawks.”
Can this report be confirmed?
— Bill Thompson
The Iranian law to have non-Muslims wear color badges may be false.
In which case, Mr. Homnick’s report needs to be re-written, because we’re not close to out-of-the-woods yet.
— Bill Franke
Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s Speaking Ruth to Power:
Lisa Fabrizio is correct that The Babe never had to face the pitchers of the Negro League; indeed, I have used that argument often defending Roger Maris’s record in 1961. It should be noted, though, that the hitters of the Negro League didn’t face too many Caucasian pitchers while running up their totals. Comparing the statistics of the two leagues is a difficult thing, and probably can’t be done in a meaningful way.
— Vincent Mohan
Babe didn’t wear a helmet and body armor. In Babe’s day, pitching inside to intimidate and knock batters down was pretty much common place. Today hitters are protected with all kinds of body armor and the aggressive pitching styles of days gone by are no longer tolerated as a normal part of the game.
Bonds is a great baseball player but he is a pathetically poor representative of the game.
Re: Thomas Phelan’s letter and the Prowler’s reply (“Partisan Neutrality”) in Reader Mail’s The New Networking:
The Prowler does a great job answering Mr. Phelan’s concerns about what he wrote on “Net Neutrality.” Mr. Phelan needs to read it again.
I have cable broadband through Comcast. As The Prowler describes, I get services for my monthly fee on their network like Rhapsody (a music service) and free downloads of McAfee security products along with web page and storage bytes. All of these extra services compete directly with other Internet companies like Napster, Norton, etc.
Comcast doesn’t propose blocking my access to their websites nor will they ever intend to do so. But if they or any other Internet provider seeks to block access they’ll have created a stupid business model and will lose customers as the free market is exercised.
The Prowler is correct to worry about our pinhead politicians that think they have to meddle in everything regardless of their ability to understand what they are even talking about. Congress is the biggest threat to the free market system. Not private companies trying to compete with other private companies.
Congress needs their staffs and budgets cut way back so as they won’t have the resources to even bother with this kind of drivel.
— Greg Barnard
“The network operators have stated clearly that they will not charge consumers extra fees for access to what most people consider the ‘Internet’ — that space where Google resides and all of the inter-connected websites and networks that form the ‘Internet’ reside.”
Fantastic! This is all those of us in favor of network neutrality want. The problem is, I don’t believe their promises any more than I believe promises from the likes of Google or Microsoft — I too am no fan of these companies. If the network operators are serious about this promise then laws which enforce this promise should not concern them. Upon what grounds do you base your faith in their promises?
The idea that a tiered Internet is necessary to protect the network providers’ investment in higher speed connections is nonsense. When I pay for my 15Mbps Verizon Fios connection to the Internet I expect this connection to give me the same performance whether I use it to stream Fox News videos or hold a conversation using Skype. This is all that network neutrality means and it is the thing that I don’t trust the large network providers to maintain, especially as they develop competing services or partner with companies who do. Network neutrality has nothing to do with providing additional services over the same physical connection.
The Prowler writes as though the “Internet” is a vague term. There is nothing vague about the term and thus there is nothing vague about defining network neutrality. If Verizon chooses to offer TV service over the same physical fiber connection as they offer Internet access this doesn’t muddy the waters in any way any more than the fact that they offer plain old telephone service (POTS) over their new fiber connections. Network neutrality laws would not compromise their investment in new television services over these fiber connections any more than it would compromise their POTS service over these new connections.
— Thomas Phelan
Highstown, New Jersey
The Washington Prowler replies:
Ah, but the problem is that the Net Neutrality language in the legislation is so vague as to create all kinds of problems.
“Consumers are entitled to access…” Does this mean that someone who can’t afford a FiOS setup can, with other dialup users, file a complaint with the FCC demanding some kind of broadband “lifeline” service? The ambiguous language would open the door to that.
“[E]ntitled to competition …” Under the language being pressed by Markey and Dorgan and Snowe, if AT&T cut a deal to provide Fox News with a “quality of service” guarantee for a unique, subscriber-based video streaming product to consumers (but not degrading or blocking any other online streaming site), ten other video streaming companies could file a complaint with the FCC demanding that the network be opened to them with the same quality of service guarantees, at rates and conditions that would essentially be set by the government.
The fight here isn’t over Net Neutrality. The fight is over the bad, regulatory language and groups that have hijacked the term and used it to their own ends. The FCC has stated as recently as yesterday that it has oversight and enforcement power on Net Neutrality issues. They have used that enforcement ability in the past. Telecom companies have stated time and again, as far as we can tell, that they would live with the FCC oversight. Why muck up a system that is working?
Re: Jim Bono’s letter (“Perpetual Crackdown Mode”) in Reader Mail’s Testing Tolerance:
Re Jim Bono’s fine letter on “Perpetual Crackdown,” one question, actually a question I could ask about five nights a week, as it has reached near epidemic stage: Can someone tell me where the fairly recent “spot on” came from? (“Recent” being a relative term.) Sounds teddibly British and across-the-pond. A bit like “What ho!” You see it in letters from Manhattan to Midlothian, Va., to Muleshoe, Texas. It seems unconnected to any particular region. In fact, it seems peculiarly unconnected to the American idiom. This is not a criticism of Mr. Bono’s usage. Everybody’s doing it. Maybe that’s the explanation, right there. There ought to be a dictionary: spot on, first used circa 2002 by Lord Whimsy in Masterpiece Theater production — gained in popularity….
I know I have been paying attention and I know this hasn’t been around forever. So will the person who first used it, please stand up, so I can tell if he is a Brit?
Don’t mind me, I am still trying to figure out “this point in time” when “at this point” or “at this time” would do. I picture the person with deeply furrowed brow, looking for the point in time on a great map of TIME, and shrieking “There it is, that is the exact point in time!” and marking it with a push-pin. How about the bass-ackwards “Mmmm, How good is this?” murmured when the chocolate mousse is nothing short of a culinary triumph. One wonders if a reply is really in order. But, if I could go back to that point in time, I could cry, “Mmm, Spot on!” Particularly if I had dropped a bit on my shirtfront.
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
NOT SO FAST
Re: Gilbert R. Ohlson’s letter (under “Print It”) in Reader Mail’s Testing Tolerance:
“The highway patrolman snarls back at her, ‘I don’t care, it’s the law.’ The whole attitude is like not wearing your seatbelt is tantamount to first degree murder.
“I’ve seen it on several Kansas City, Mo., television stations.”
I seriously doubt the letter writer has seen an ad like this on television. There is an ad, however, where a polite State Trooper pulls over a couple and then tells them in addition to speeding, he is citing them for not wearing their seatbelts.
Perhaps the writer of this letter has been pulled over for an infraction in the good State of Kansas and has decided to take it out on State Troopers?
— Steven Wayne
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