April 18, 2006

Is it just me, or does it seem as if Fox News has gone way, way, WAY overboard with its obsession over Natalee Holloway and the Duke lacrosse team rape accusation stories? I mean, for God sakes, certainly there are other more important stories out there. Aren’t there?

Actually, I’m amused at the entire mainstream media obsession with the Duke lacrosse story. Given the typical goings-on at any major college frat house and the fact that rapes on college campuses are not exactly a once -in-a-blue-moon thing, I have to believe the only reason the networks are hyping it is because there was a stripper involved. How stupid is that?

This whole Donald Rumsfeld-must-resign controversy smacks to me like a Democratic behind-the-scenes piling on / one- doth-protest-too-much kinda thing. Of course, there have been mistakes made in Iraq – as there undoubtedly are in any war, but as soon as I saw Gen. Wesley Clark‘s name associated with the list of former military demanding the Sec of Def step down – the same Wesley Clark who oversaw the tragic Waco assault on the Branch Davidians, the same Wesley Clark who, while running for President in 2004, advocated a position in favor of abortion up to the moment of birth, I knew something was up.

I’m not alone. At Red State, Pejman Yousefzadeh sees Rumsfeld’s critics as after the reconstruction effort as much as the man himself, and Academic Elephant thinks the Dems are, as usual, after the wrong man.

Reason# 5,342 why New England springs are better than Arizona’s: what a pleasure it is to sit outside under a sun that wasn’t threatening to burn your a$$ off 5 minutes after you just get yourself comfortable.

Took my cousin’s son Eric back to classes at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI yesterday. A pretty heady place for a young, handsome, intelligent 18-year old (who, BTW, can whip The Great White Shank on the links without breaking a sweat). To attend college in a place like Newport with all those attractive, rich coeds taking aim at you at a time when the the whole world is your oyster, your life stretching before you like a long, wave-kissed beach on a bright, brisk spring day. Sigh. All I can say is, youth is wasted on the young.

Back in AZ, the reports are good on the mourning dove maternity watch. Prospective mom and dad are vigilant in their roles as expectant parents – all the while the grass grows out back and the trash and recycleables pile up – all to make sure nature is allowed to take its course. ZA pain in the a$$, but a beautiful and fascinating thing to behold.

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 21:41 | Comments (0)
April 17, 2006

Reading John Stebbins’ fine biography of the Beach Boys’ late drummer Dennis Wilson, who accidentally drowned back in 1983. Today, while looking at the flowering crabapple trees and forsythia bushes, and breathing in the clean fresh air that seems so much a part of the annual rite of spring here in New England, the following Dennis song came to mind. It’s called “Be Still” (co-written with poet Stephen J. Kalinich), from the Beach Boys’ highly-underrated 1968 album, “Friends”:

You know, you know you are
Be still and know you are
Your life is meant for joy
It’s all so deep within, oh

Your life is beautiful
A seed becomes a tree
A mountain into a sky
This life is meant to be, oh

Now is the time life begins
Take that simple path
And love will set you free
Live in harmony
And love will set you free, oh

You know, you know you are
Be still and know you are
You know, you know you are
Be still and know you are

In the words of a banner that once hung on the walls of our church when I was growing up: “Once in the stillness, you will know”.

May the world come to know in it’s own troubled soul the peace and stillness it so much longs for.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:33 | Comments (0)
April 16, 2006

The shoppers of today probably won’t understand this, but there actually was once a time where you could go into a store, find the exact item you were looking for easily, and then be off to your next stop in no more than 5 minutes. Yes, really!

Take just one minor example: If you wanted, say, soft drinks, you could always count on finding the basic Coke/Diet Coke/Pepsi/Diet Pepsi thing working. Oh sure, if you didn’t want cola, you always had the reliable 7-Up, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Sprite, and Squirt alternatives. Oh sure, even then, you might be tossed a quirky product out of left field like Tab, Moxie, or Dr. Pepper, but the choices weren’t difficult. Because supermarkets were smaller then, the range of choices for a given product was limited to the amount of shelf-space the buyer had to work with.

Maybe it was Wal-Mart and the whole inane “superstore” concept that changed all that. Or shopping malls. Or, perhaps it was increased consumer demand for a wider range of choices, or changing consumer demographics, or an increase in disposable income, or increasingly scientific or intelligent target marketing. Whatever. I’m just not sure how we got from there (wherever “there” might have been) to here, but somehow we’ve come to a place where there are simply too many choices for every freakin’ kind of product imaginable.

(I have a theory here. Want to know why so many people are being treated for ADHD? It’s because they’re the lucky ones who finally realized that prescription drugs may be the only way one can acquire the discipline to go grocery shopping in today’s consumer marketplace.)

I write this because today, to my horror, I discovered I was in dire need of toothpaste. This caused me great distress, because I’m still recovering from the last time I had to go toothpaste shopping. You see, being a kind of basic guy, I’m partial to basic toothpaste – unfortunately, in my case, that means Crest, with Flouride, Regular Paste.

(BTW, I’m wondering if, as a savvy modern consumer, I should be offended by the term “regular paste”. Is it Proctor & Gamble’s polite way of saying, “toothpaste for dummies”, or “toothpaste for old farts”? Does this mean the other varieties under the Crest brand name are “irregular”? Just a thought…)

Anyways, I should have counted them all, but there had to be at least twenty or more different varieties of Crest toothpaste: in paste, in gel, in various sizes, with various formulas (cleaning, whitening, brightening, fresh breath, etc.), in ever flavor across the toothpaste spectrum imaginable – it made me dizzy.

And I wondered – have we reached a point where, as American consumers, we have become too sophisticated and demanding for our own good? Does there come a point where we can recognize the basic absurdity of producing a multitude of varieties of a single, generic consumer product – in this case, the ubiquitous tube of toothpaste? Is this in itself a sign of something more serious at work in our present consumer-driven society? I mean, at what point does it all end? From toothpaste aisle sections, do you somehow arrive at toothpaste aisles? Toothpaste stores?

I’m aware this may not be the most critical issue of our time. And yet, I wonder if it says something about us, our society and our culture – something we may be aware of at some level, but afraid of the kind of questions we would then have to face. After all, this is America, right? Capitalism and individualism in its most purest form, right? The sky’s the limit, right?

I just worry that the amazing array of choices available to us as consumers these days has already spoiled us and softened us up, to the point where the independence and ruggedness of the essential American character is no longer able to judge what these qualities once meant. Can we still judge what in the end is important – you know, the truly important stuff – and what is not? Will there come a time where a product like “Crest with Flouride Brightening Formula Mint Flavored Gel” is elevated to the status of, say, a tomato, or a loaf of bread? I wonder.

At any rate, I did find my toothpaste, it was exactly what I was looking for, and yes, it did take me a good ten minutes to find it. It’s just disconcerting that a simple shopping experience should result in having to ask more questions than there are answers.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 21:17 | Comments (4)
April 14, 2006

Whew! Tax Time is finally done with – let the celebration (or, in our case, mourning) begin. Sigh… at least they’re done.

Blogging will be light the next few days, as I’m scheduled for a red-eye outta Phoenix tonight for a much-anticipated week-long visit back east to spend some time with family and friends. But first, a couple of notes before I say “sayonara”:

I both love and hate Good Friday. I’m so glad Christianity is a resurrection religion. While the poignance and solemnity of Good Friday is an essential aspect of my Christian faith and the Church Year, I’m always very glad to get it behind me so I can celebrate Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Every time I ponder how low I feel this day, it gives me pause whenever I try to put myself in the place of Jesus’ disciples, family, and friends: can you imagine the horror and sadness they must have felt! At least we know there lies before us the Empty Tomb and the joyful Easter to come – there’s no way amidst the bloody death of their leader they could have known God’s plans for them, and, indeed, humankind. We can only imagine how they must have thought, seeing everything they had lived for and loved be so suddenly and violently taken away. I’m glad that as Christians we belong to a resurrection faith, believing in the triumph of life over death and promoting societies that reflect that belief.

If only things could be the same in the Muslim world. Along with the continued violence in Iraq, there was a mosque bombing in New Delhi, and it appears that Iran’s wacko president is at it again.

Somehow, I don’t think the Israelis are amused. I believe we are far closer to military action than anyone has led on. For a while now, I’ve been thinking about this Officers Club blog post from January:

As I’ve made clear before, I support a preemptive strike against any and all Iranian nuclear facilities, from their reactors right down to their heavy-water processing facilities. Before people get hysterical about invading another Middle Eastern nation and screaming “empire” until they are blue in the face, this is what I mean when I say “preemptive strike.”

The United States, striking from carriers in the Persian Gulf, bomber bases in Guam, and air bases in Turkey (long-time adversaries of the Iranians) should initiate a 3-4 day air campaign similiar to Operation Desert Fox against Saddam in 1998. The objective would be two-fold: knock the Iranian nuclear capabilities back to the stone age, and sting their military to the point where the Ayatollahs understand that their own bomb “just ain’t worth the effort.”

As it turns out, the author of that post, John Noonan, is posting today in OPFOR (hat tip: Hugh Hewitt), and he notes that, in a recent Weekly Standard column, retired Air Force general Tom McInerney (one of my Fox News Analyst faves) appears to be on the same wavelength:

What would an effective military response look like? It would consist of a powerful air campaign led by 60 stealth aircraft (B-2s, F-117s, F-22s) and more than 400 nonstealth strike aircraft, including B-52s, B-1s, F-15s, F-16s, Tornados, and F-18s. Roughly 150 refueling tankers and other support aircraft would be deployed, along with 100 unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and 500 cruise missiles. In other words, overwhelming force would be used.

The objective would be, first and foremost, to destroy or severely damage Iran’s nuclear development and production facilities and put them out of commission for at least five years. Another aim would be to destroy the Iranian air defense system, significantly damage its air force, naval forces, and Shahab-3 offensive missile forces. This would prevent Iran from projecting force outside the country and retaliating militarily. The air campaign would also wipe out or neutralize Iran’s command and control capabilities.

While I believe something needs to be done about Iran, and fast, and am willing to consider a limited but intense air response, I still think it will have to at least start with the Israelis. While we may be aware of the danger, it is the Israelis who have to be really feeling the heat right now. I mean, how many times can a guy tell you he’s going to kill you before you take pre-emptive action? While I have no doubt the world will condemn Israel (and the US, if it goes that way) if a military response occurs, I think even Kofi Annan deep down wishes Iran would either shut up or just go away. Unfortunately for all of us, they will not, so action must (and soon) will be taken.

The Mourning Dove maternity watch continues. Whichever one it is (male or female) with the tiny white ring around his/her eye: what a cutie – I can only imagine how beautiful the baby will be less than 2 weeks’ hence! (Do I sound like Steve Irwin here?).

Anyways, searching the ‘net, I happened upon this, in a lovely haiku collection:…

hot afternoon

mourning dove fans

one wing the other

And finally, given that Monday is the day of the 2006 Boston Marathon, I thought this reminiscence by Mary Katherine Ham appropriate. I hope you enjoy it, as I do her writing.

See you on the East Coast!

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 16:51 | Comments (0)
April 13, 2006

Holy Week is one of my favorite times of the year. For me, between the obvious religious aspect of it and childhood memories and cherished family traditions (which still continue today), it is for me poignant, sentimental, and powerful emotionally.

Sure, we did the whole Easter egg/basket thing when we were young like everyone else, but I don’t remember ever being that crazy about it. First of all, I never liked hard-boiled eggs – still don’t. Second of all, you used vinegar with the Easter egg coloring kit, and I’ve always detested the smell of vinegar. Finally, those awful-sweet yellow marshmallow chicks or multi-colored jelly beans never turned me on. Chocolate Easter bunnies – the only kind anyone should get for Easter, by the way – were always good, however: especially if they were the white chocolate kind. Yum.

Easter Sunday also meant a tradition my family still practices to this day – joining our cousins’ family for dinner at Frank Giuffrida’s Hilltop Steakhouse restaurant in Saugus, MA. Growing up, it was Easter at the Hilltop with the families where you brought your new girlfriends, wives, or significant others, showed off your new clothes or facial hair, talked about who you saw or didn’t see at church services, or caught up on all the family happenings since Christmas. Most times we’d have somewhere between 10-12 in attendance, but some years I recall as many as 16, maybe more, gathered around one noisy table covered with salads, steaks, and cocktails. While the numbers have declined in recent times as people have either come, gone, relocated, or simply gotten older and grayer, it’s still a family tradition. Perhaps some day we’ll stick a fork in it and leave the memories to the ages, but not this year: I’ll be seeing everyone there in just a few days…

Even while young, however, I remember always being entralled by the “real” Easter – you know, The. Religious. Thing. I still remember us being given our “might boxes” at the start of Lent and filling them with pennies (or was it quarters?) – then, on Holy Saturday afternoon, we would go to afternoon service and we’d all bring our boxes forward and fill the back of a hewn-out cross with them. As I got older and joined the church choir, I fondly remember practicing and singing specially-chosen Holy Week music and Easter anthems with my mom, dad, and aunt for my godfather Milt when he was music director at our church. Milt took the joyful aspect of Easter Sunday music VERY seriously. Whether it was the hideous “Hail Thee, Festival Day” or the marvelous “Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”, or “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, all Easter hymns would be played at a breakneck pace that would leave the more elderly members gasping for breath at the end – especially as we tried to complete our recess out before Milt would jam the brakes on at the end. Amazing, the things one remembers…

Of course, the music of Holy Week was just one aspect of how emotionally-charged the days leading up to Easter would be for me. The Easter Story of the Last Supper, the foot-washing, Jesus’ betrayal, the Crucifixion, and the Empty Tomb charged my imagination and touched my soul. The Thursday night vigil into Good Friday – where you signed up for blocks of time to make sure Jesus was never alone in your church between the end of Maundy Thursday and the Good Friday service – was always powerful for me: much better than Palm Sunday with its boring, repetive processional in and about the church property and amateurish attempts by parishioners to read aloud The Passion and bring it to life. Being a chalice bearer or lay reader during Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or, better yet, at the glorious Easter Sunday service was always special, but nothing will ever come close to the magnificent high-church traditional Saturday night Easter Vigil at the Church of the Advent in Boston> Whooo-eee, it NEVER got better than that. Christ is Risen, indeed. Alleluia!

So, I guess you can put me down as a bonafide Holy Week fan.

I’m not the only one who cherishes their Holy Week memories, however. Rev-ed does too. And, The Anchoress shares her love of Holy Week from a Roman Catholic perspective.

She also has a link to Pope Benedict’s Easter message. Read it – it is very powerful indeed. The more I hear of this Pope, the more I like him.

Not to let such a (I hope) positive and uplifting post down, but contrast Benedict’s Easter message with this drivel by none other than the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank Tracy Griswold. “…his deathless, reckless reconciling love”? Sounds like a bad line from an even worse country & western tune. And they wonder why ECUSA is hemorrhaging membership? In the Episcopal Church, the fish is rotting from the head down. This message alone is almost enough to make you turn Roman Catholic. Pathetic.

Back to happier thoughts of Easter and springtime: on the mourning dove front, it’s Day Three, with still one egg showing – looks like an only child! – and a mom and dad doing their typical day/night shift thingy to maintain faithful vigil.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 14:55 | Comments (0)
April 11, 2006

After taking a year off (for apparently better digs, I’m guessing) we discovered a mourning dove using the old digs in our lime tree, just like this. (Hat tip: Kinmare). There’s one egg already down, and, from what I gather from this link, another to come. If the mourning dove isn’t the state bird of Arizona, it oughta be. – there are literally dozens of them around. This is good news for our landscaper Carmelo – front yard work only for the next four weeks, if all goes well. Here’s wishing mom and dad at least one healthy offspring!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 15:57 | Comment (1)
April 10, 2006

Around 4 PM EDT yesterday, it looked as if the finish to the 70th Masters would be one for the ages. After all, not only did a marquee mano-a-mano down-the-stretch duel between crowd-pleasers Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples appear likely, the first page of the leaderboard included a fine mix of relative unknowns like Tim Clark and Angel Miguel Jiminez, grizzled tour veterans like Rocco Mediate, and reliable past Masters like Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, and Jose Maria Olazabal.

As history began to play itself out, however, the back nine at Augusta began to (in the words of CBS color commentator Lanny Wadkins – who, by the way, gets better every year) play the role of shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. Approach shots dialed in the previous days strayed from their appointed targets, and putts earlier drained with confidence now slid by helplessly – with them, chances at golf immortality. Rocco miraculously transformed into The Great White Shank and made an amzing 7-over 10 on the par-3 12th. The increasingly-clueless Sergio Garcia battled classy Ben Crenshaw for last place (he missed by one stroke), and Ben Crane whined about how small the Augusta greens were. (Earth to Ben: Dude, that’s how real golf courses were originally designed. If you want to spend your life playing resort courses, get yourself a real job and try hanging out with the Goodboys.)

In the end, it was left for Phil to take advantage of a strangely erratic – if not pathetic – putting performance by Tiger and cruise home to victory. As Kevin Holtsberry so ably sums it up in today’s National Review Online:

“Lefty” answered that question with a resounding yes. He played absolutely flawless golf, going bogey-free until the last hole (when it no longer mattered). Nothing was forced — he waited for his moments and made clutch putt after clutch putt. After he birdied 7 and 8, regaining the lead, he never looked back. With birdies on the two par fives on the back nine, he suddenly held a four-shot advantage. It was almost boring he was so smooth.

No one seemed able to challenge him — although two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal made a magnificent run. After an eagle on the 15th, it looked as if he would post a serious number; then he’d have to wait and see what those behind him could do. But a bogey on 16 drained his momentum. He posted a 66 — the low round of the tournament — but that ended up being good enough only for a tie for third.

A disappointed Tiger Woods can only think about what might have been. He was hitting the ball very well, but looked lost on the greens with seven three putts in the tournament. Sunday was no different. After bogies on 6 and 11, it looked like he’d be limping home. But Tiger being Tiger, he gave it one last run. He had legitimate eagle opportunities on 13 and 15, but missed them both. When his eagle putt lipped out on 13, his pain and frustration was visible. No doubt he badly wanted to win this one for his ailing father, and those eagle putts represented his best chance. Instead of putting pressure on Mickelson, Tiger felt the tournament slip away.

Thus, Mickelson became the latest to take advantage of a curious statistical hole in Tiger’s otherwise-impeccable professional career (the AP’s Tim Dahlberg has more on that here): the fact that, trailing after 54 holes, Tiger has never come back to finish first at a major tournament.

Something else I noticed about Tiger’s performance yesterday that did not paint him in a good light at all.

First of all, he was obviously pi$$ed at having to put that green jacket he so obviously coveted on Phil at the Butler Cabin. OK, as tenacious a competitor as Tiger is, one can understand his feelings and might – MIGHT – be willing to grant him a mulligan for that. However, later on, at the official green jacket awards ceremony outside, where Phil so graciously and genuinely asked the gathering’s thoughts and prayers for Tiger’s ailing father, Tiger’s response was to remain grim-faced and emotionless, with nary a nod of thanks or recognition to be found. Even after Phil sat down next to him, it took Phil patting Tiger on the leg to get ANY kind of response from him at all: even then, as Tiger responded in kind, it seemed awkward, and to me, chilly. Look, I know Tiger’s desire for privacy when it comes to himself and his family is legendary, but heck, when someone – even if he’s someone you’ve not historically been close to – extends a classy gesture in your direction, true champions in life respond in kind. I’ve always respected Tiger for his ability as a golfer, but my regard for him as a human being dropped a few pegs after yesterday.

All in all, it was a great Masters weekend, and congrats go out to Phil – he definitely finds himself on a plateau few thought only two years ago he had in him. If Sergio is paying any kind of attention, he might think about employing a similar kind of strategy to get that 700-lb monkey called “best player to have never won a major” off his back. It may take a lot of hard work, discipline, and a change in approach, but Lefty has proven it can be done, and he is now reaping those wonderful rewards that only exceeded expectations and realized talent can bring.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 16:22 | Comments (0)

The Sox started their 2006 season with a 5-1 road trip, and now that I have my NESN/MLB Extra Innings satellite combo now running flawlessly (fingers crossed), I give sme great pleasure to offer these observations:

* The last time Keith Foulke threw better than he did yesterday was the 2004 World Series. If Foulke can stay healthy and throw like he did yesterday, and Jonathan Papelbon continues to throw mean, nasty darts like he did in Texas and Baltimore, the back end of the bullpen would appear to be solid indeed. Actually, using Foulke, then Papelbon (as opposed to vice-versa) would appear to be good matches to their personalities: Foulke just likes to pitch and could care where he actually does the throwing, while Papelbon thrives on pressure – I’ll bet he orders an extra portion of it with his eggs and bacon every morning.

* Adam Stern did a nice job covering for Coco Crisp yesterday and will help provide the Sox with some some real depth in the outfield. (They may need it, as reports say Coco could be headed for the DL for a month.) When Trot Nixon gets injured this year (which he will at some point, I have no doubt), the Sox have both Wily Mo Pena and Stern who can cover, perhaps even Gabe Kapler by/during the second half. And, Alex Cora and the soon-to-arrive Willie Harris provides some nice bench support for Alex Gonzalez at short and Mark Loretta at 2B when those guys need a blow.

* Two areas you have to like after the first six games: the starting pitching has been solid (Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett are animals), and the hitters (Nixon being the obvious exception) will absolutely work opposing pitchers To. Death. on counts if they have trouble throwing strikes. They wore down old-Sox-nemesis Rodrigo Lopez yesterday, and I can see them doing this all year long. That’s a winning combination over the course of a 162-game season.

* The jury is still out on whether J.T. Snow and Mike Lowell still have some fuel left in them or not. Maybe it’s just me, but both seem a little sluggish in the early going, and I have to wonder how these two dinosaurs will hold up over the course of a full year. If Lowell doesn’t, that’s a potentially huge problem, as Kevin Youkilis would have to bail the Sox out over at 3B, and color me skeptical that either J.T. or newly-acquired Hee-Sop Choi could pick up the slack.

Sure, it’s only been six games, but there is reason for optimism across Red Sox Nation. I’m still wondering how well they’ll hit over the course of a whole season, but tomorrow brings some home cookin’ and the promise of spring and dreams of October baseball at Fenway Park. Play ball!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 11:34 | Comments (0)
April 8, 2006

The news that the “McKennedy” senate compromise bill on immigration reform went down in flames yesterday is a good thing. Hopefully, senators of all stripes will use their 2-week hiatus to honestly take the pulse of their constituents – if they did, I have no doubt there would be a much more aggressive move towards a real reform package that includes a well-guarded border fence, enforcement of the nation’s existing laws, and a practical, yet humane consideration of what to do with the estimated 11 million illegals already here. (My view: Allow anyone who has been here, say, 5 years or more, to re-enter at regional immigration stations where they can apply for a green card and a 2-year path towards citizenship. Otherwise, they must be reported by their employers and deported.) Others have chimed in as well:

Hugh Hewitt’s take is that the Dems made a big strategical error stalling the debate, but only if Republicans exploit that error.

Charles Krauthammer believes erecting a fence would in and of itself resolve much of the problems. I’m not so sure.

DJ Drummond at Polipundit offers another angle I had not previously considered. He writes:

The main responsibility, though, lies with the Media. The protests of which the MSM made such commotion, were largely high school and middle school students who saw the protests as a way to get out of school, and urban “progressive” groups which attempt to use any possible issue to attack traditional values and priorities. The MSM tactic of presenting biased polls as news, and manufactured events as some kind of barometer for public commitment, has been shameful and dishonest, and only weakens the already-plastic spine of Congress to address the issue with conviction and resolve.

The duty of the New Media, then, begins with correcting the image by providing facts and functional solutions. Whether by radio, blogs, or grassroots politics, the New Media must focus on those whose ideas need highlighting, and whose coordination drives home the argument and which provide solutions. It is not valid for New Media to only make the problem worse by rousing anger and resentment and drowning out calmer voices. Too much of the New Media is copying the tactics of the Old Media, pulling audience response by getting everyone angry, and doing nothing to support the people working to actually move the dialogue forward. This is plain wrong.

DJ is absolutely right here – a country is only as strong as it is well-informed, and in so many cases – the global war on terror, Iraq, the Hurricane Katrina reporting fiasco, elections coverage – the meainstream media continues to let this nation down through its incredible anti-Bush bias and atrociously-sloppy journalistic practices, and if the emerging “New Media” falls into the same trap as the “Old Media”, then the future looks grim indeed.

First it was Rush Limbaugh and talk radio, then the coming of age and explosive growth of Fox News, then, finally, as Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds writes in his new book, An Army of Davids, it was political blogs and the growth of the blogsphere in general. Taken together, the maturation of this alternative media as a voice of the people has sealed the fate of once-powerful and reliable voices like the Washington Post, the New York Times, CBS News, etc., only they don’t know it yet. When the corpses of these once-venerable institutions (and others) are someday soon splayed out for everyone to see, they will see that their deaths were the result of wounds self-inflicted by their own arrogance and disservice to a nation who had once trusted them to tell them the truth.

If the mainstream media isn’t up to reporting on a complex issue like illegal immigration honestly and without histrionics, then alternative media that has sprung up in it’s place will have to. The question is, is the blogsphere and alternative media up to the task? We can only hope.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:25 | Comments (2)
April 6, 2006

Ever have one of those months or periods in your life where everything you try to do – no matter how well intentioned it may be – to stay ahead of “the man” ends up bleeding you more money? You know, those periods where you’re afraid to even order off the McDonald’s Value Menu for fear it’ll end up costing you something akin to a year’s worth of Ivy League school tuition? Well, that’s what’s happening here at Great White Shank Headquarters here in Gilbert. In the last three weeks, we’ve experienced the following:

* an oil change on our 1999 Saturn that turned onto a $750 coolant system overhaul;
* an oil change on our 2002 Saturn that turned into $300 worth of new tires and such;
* a “minor coolant leak” on same 2002 Saturn that turned into an $850 oil pan replacement effort;
* an innocent Direct TV request that turned into a bizarre Dish Network install.

The latest fiscal disaster is unfolding around me as I speak (or, as I smell, as I am enveloped by a pleasant cherry scent – more on that below). Recently, we saw an ad in a local coupon thingy for air conditioing vent cleaning. Now, here in Phoenix with all the dust and three rabbits shedding fur like there’s no tomorrow, this seemed a no-brainer to us – our A/C had recently been sucking wind like Michael Moore attempting a 3.5K charity run. It was $79, we figured, and what can go wrong with someone simply sticking a hose up through your vents and sucking all the crap out like some sort of enviro-tech enema? In, out, bingo bango bongo, right?

Wrong. I could tell by the look on Rani’s face that things were not as clear-cut as we both expected. Especially since he walked towards me looking like some ServiceMaster “red alert” tech exiting from Three Mile Island.

“You’ve got a mold problem”, he tells me, upon which I get the Encyclopaedia Brittanica low-down on the rainbow of mold spore types in existence (running all the way from green to black, by the way), that could threaten our respiratory systems, if not our very way of life and everything we hold dear.

“You have brown mold”, he grimly announces. “Fortunately, it hasn’t gone black yet – that’s the worst”.

“How do you know, I innocently ask.

“Hah”, he chuckles, “because if you did, I’d be 30 miles away from Ground Zero, and not even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would step foot in this place without first setting up a speed dialer to James Sokolove“.

I was convinced. The problem, you see, is this house is 8 years old, and between our air conditioning system (obviously purchased at Dollar General by the builder, says Rani), the incessant Arizona desert dust, the fact that here you end up running your central air 42 hours a day between May and October, and that the people before us had big shaggy dogs and we the rabbits, well, it’s amazing this place hasn’t been turned into a temporary neighborhood triage center by the EPA. At any rate, it was obvious the house’s internals needed a good scouring.

Unfortunately, as a result of that scouring, that original $79 turned into a whopping $1000 worth of services and chemical treatments, which we now know is working by that previously-mentioned pleasant cherry smell permeating every room of the house. “That’s how you know how bad it was”, says Rani, “if the mold was everywhere, you smell the cherry everywhere.”

It’s now time for payment. I look at the invoice, and I sigh. “Don’t worry”, Rani reassures me, “at least you’re not sleeping in a FEMA trailer park like those guys in New Orleans.”

When it rains, it pours…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:54 | Comment (1)

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