Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of 2009 Countdown 3

Blogger Andrew Sullivan, who is a staunch fiscal conservative, has this excellent perspective on President Obama's first year. He includes the cartoon where Wile E. Coyote catches the Road Runner.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Object of the Week

End of 2009 Countdown 2

The roving photographer for the Voice of San Diego website has posted some of his favorite photos for 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of 2009 Countdown

This is a good photo for a "Peace on Earth" Christmas card. The cats' official names are Rocco and Junior, but around the house we call them "Schmall Kitty" and "Young Man." Don't ask me why. It's just us.

This is a great time of year for many reasons. One thing I've been enjoying is the attack of rationality and perspective that has gripped much of the news being reported. It's like there's a sudden realization that the molehill-conflicts we have been angry and screaming about all year really aren't that important.

One of the best things I read all year was a series of in-depth profiles of former Islamic terrorists called "Renouncing Islamism: To the Brink and Back Again." This is the best glimpse I've ever had into "Why Would Someone Do This?" It's a very long story, but a very good picture of the real genesis of terrorism.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Ho-ho-ho, and Merry Christmas! Yes indeed, I'm a little late, but that's a side effect of my profession. I hope you had a warm and peaceful Christmas, and that you can enjoy some rest (or cleanup, or organizing, or planning) in the old-to-new week ahead.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 facts about the anti-reform mobs

1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the "Swiftboat" ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.

2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President's plan and scare voters. But as the President has repeatedly said, health insurance reform will create more health care choices for the American people, not reduce them. If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no "government takeover" in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress.

3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Texas protesters brought signs displaying a tombstone for Rep. Lloyd Doggett and using the "SS" symbol to compare President Obama's policies to Nazism. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting -- and more examples like this come in every day. And they have gone beyond just trying to derail the President's health insurance reform plans, they are trying to "break" the President himself and ruin his Presidency.

4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information. One attack group has even published a manual instructing protesters to "stand up and shout" and try to "rattle" lawmakers to prevent them from talking peacefully with their constituents.

5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

Monday, August 3, 2009

No News is Good News

For the last few months, I've read very little news. The only reason this means anything is that for the previous 35 years I was a voracious reader of at least one newspaper a day, and often two or three. Part of this goes back to my days as a journalism major in college, when newspaper reading was required. And another part of it goes back to my parents, who faithfully read the newspaper every single day.

Maybe it's just my perception, but it seems that most of what passes for daily news these days is incessant nattering about very narrow and short-lived subjects. There is so little truly insightful and, more important, original reporting and analysis--at least it seems that way to me.

What I'm relying on is online daily headlines from several newspapers, mostly to be reassured that there has not been a catastrophe somewhere. Much more valuable than this is the time I spend with a handful of thinkers who bring a wealth of intelligence and perspective to things--Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker, Frank Rich in The New York Times and Lewis Lapham in Harper's (sadly, he writes there only occasionally these days). The only TV personality who seems to be thinking originally, non-pompously and with great perspective is Rachel Maddow. When I tune in most others all I can hear the are the axes grinding, and the personal promotional machines going ka-ching!

Now that I've said all that, be sure to read Frank Rich's column this week. He casts a shining light on the resentment we hear expressed in the guise of "commentary" or even "reporting" these days. Think people like Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Rich brings to bear the long-term shift in the demographics of America, and how so many really don't like what they're seeing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where Has the Time Gone?

Well, well, well. Seven months of 2009 have elapsed since I've updated here. I admit I experience the very slightest pang (rhymes with twang) of regret when I saw recently that 94% of blogs are inactive. Far be it from me to be so ordinary.

It's not surprising that most blogs are inactive. They are a lot of work to keep up. These days, people are paid, sometimes a lot, to keep blogs. And just since the beginning of the year, Twitter has attained a new level of acceptance. Between it and Facebook keeping one's fans apprised of every motion and plan, blogs have lost their purpose for many people.

I haven't actually planned to start blogging again. I just stumbled on it while I was doing some other things this afternoon. As always, who knows what's to come?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodbye 2008, Goodbye Sherman

An excerpt from our Christmas letter:

As the year began we were planning for the arrival of our new German Shepherd puppy Sherman. When he came, everything changed.

After a few weeks of adjusting to life with us, he took to a life of sleeping, playing and of training with Merrie. We started going to Fiesta Island every other day for an hour off-leash romp and beach time. These were wonderful moments of pure dog joy, as Sophie and Sherman chased each other at full speed and played in Mission Bay.

Sherman was incredibly smart, affectionate and exuberant, but from the beginning we noticed something was wrong. He was very anxious and would easily become fearful. We thought with time that he’d grow out of it, but instead he got worse. We worked for months with a professional dog trainer, but Sherman would still lapse into extreme anxiety, which began manifesting in snarling and snapping at strange people and dogs.

After some agonizing conversation, we decided we had to give him up. And, unfortunately, once a dog exhibits aggressive behavior, he is considered unadoptable. In December we met with a professional at the San Diego Humane Society and came to the sad conclusion that our only option was euthanasia.

There is no shortage of second-guessing a decision like this, by us or anyone else. There's a long list of "maybe if's." Maybe if we'd used a different training method. Maybe if Sherman had been socialized better as a very young puppy. Maybe if his mother hadn't been traumatized in the October fire. And on and on. I always come back to Jon Katz's experience with his dog Orson. Sometimes there's simply nothing else you can responsibly do, and no one knows that, or will know it, but you.

Happy California 2009

The leading state in the union has, as usual, a number of new laws in the new year. They are summarized here.