Thursday, September 15, 2005

Congratulations Steve

Congratulations to my college roommate and longtime friend Steve and his super-model wife, Melissa, on the birth of their first son, Avery. This one is dedicated to you:

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hokey post alert

I know this sounds corny, but: I have a really great daughter.

My supermodel wife, our 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter and I got together with the old college friends Saturday morning to watch the old college football team take on the opponents du jour. The whole gang was there, along with two other toddlers and a newborn.

With all those young’ns in one place, my expectations were for multiple meltdowns accompanied by screams, crying and tantrums.

What happened was amazing. Rather than freaking out, fighting with the other kids over toys, snacks, attention, etc. like most kids do, my daughter played nicely with everyone. At various times she was seen giving hugs and kisses to the other kids, trading shoes, reading books and basically being a sweetheart. She even got to hold the newborn. Now she wants one of her own.

Bethany (that’s her name), has always been a good kid (except for a few incidents during the potty training phase). But I’ve always wondered how she does around other kids. It was nice to be able to observe directly how she interacts.

She seems so mature for her age. And very happy, which is really all I want.

I’m a proud father, but Saturday reminded me just how great of a kid I have.

Okay, enough of that (for now).

Friday, September 09, 2005

Y'know, I was God once...

I saw the Waiter’s rant where he wonders how God allow people to drown in N.O. (or let other unimaginably horrible things happen).

The Waiter is basically asking the age-old question about why bad things happen to good people. Deeper thinkers than I have tried to figure this out, but the best answer I’ve heard was on the animated comedy series Futurama. You probably remember the episode where Bender the robot met God at the center of the universe.

The exchange went something like this:

Bender: Y'know, I was God once.

God: Yes I saw. You were doing well until everyone died.

Bender: It was awful. I tried helping them. I tried not helping them but in the end I couldn't do them any good. Do you think what I did was wrong?

God: Right and wrong are just words. What matters is what you do.

Bender: Yeah I know, that's why I asked if what I did - forget it.

God: Bender, being God isn't easy, if you do too much, people get dependent. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch, like a safe cracker or a pickpocket.

Bender: Or a guy who burns down the bar for the insurance money.

God: Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing. When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Katrina situation

I was discussing the hurricane and aftermath with some colleagues at work the other day. Someone brought up a NYTimes report about the administration considering invoking the Insurrection Act and taking over in Louisiana.

Another colleague pointed out that such discussions are moot and now isn't the time to place blame.

That's true. It seems some people, including Amy and MoveOn, have already assigned the blame to President Bush.

Anyway, there would be just as much backlash at Bush had the Feds taken over preemptively. When a tragedy like this happens, the first thing some people do is look for a reason why it happened and a person to blame. Personally, I feel like there are a lot of people who want to place all the blame on Bush for reasons of political opportunism.

I kind of agree with what Adam Curry was saying on the DSC earlier this week. That in general, Americans have been conditioned by the television culture to expect a problem resolution and closure within 28 minutes. We expect serious problems not to happen, and when they do, we expect somebody else to fix it before the next commercial break.

We seem to be trying to apply the episodic TV formula to this disaster. When bad things happen (hurricane Katrina), Americans want to see a victim (residents of N.O.), a hero (federal responders), and a villain (President Bush).

And the news organizations are happy to play along. Since we're all glued to the wall-to-wall coverage, each news org invokes special “Act of God” advertising rates that are an order of magnitude higher than the regular rates. Thus, it’s in their best financial interest when a tragedy happens and to keep the drama high.

Of course, real life isn’t an episode of Law & Order. And when the shite hits the fan as hard as it did in N.O., the “victims” don’t have the psychological wherewithal to handle it.

Look, despite what Kanye West thinks, there is no villain. Were there bad decisions? There always are in every disaster. Was there mismanagement? Absolutely, and on many levels from those who decided not to evacuate, to local and state officials who showed poor leadership, all the way up to the head of FEMA, DHC and the President.

But nobody caused the hurricane and no act of Congress, Bush or Bruce Willis would have stopped it. Sometimes bad things happen.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Another list

Back when I was editor for a daily newspaper, my colleagues and I liked kept running lists to help take the edge off of the cynical world of “journalism”. Any time we saw/thought of a new item that fit the category, we would add it to our list.

This wasn’t a documented list, it was more of an oral tradition, handed down from one generation of suckers that go into journalism to the next.

One of these lists was a list of compound name descriptions. Journalists love to cut words by hyphenating and compounding adjectives and place them in front of a name.

For example, you might read about “ex-county commissioner and alleged nun killer Joe Smith.” The funny thing was that when one writer comes up with such a description, it is often used over and over again by other writers covering the same topic.

So we had a list of modifiers you never want to have in front of your name. I can’t recall all of it from memory, so I’ve started a new one. Please feel free to add you own.

  • alleged stalker of Madonna
  • bearded Montana recluse
  • spiderhole-dwelling former dictator
  • notorious Queens drug lord
  • celebutante hotel heiress
  • accused ex-Enron exec
  • Mafia turncoat and key government witness
  • militant anti-gay preacher

Friday, September 02, 2005


This isn't going to be popular.

It's not politically correct, and it's not what most people want to hear. But after reading much of the coverage of the tragedy in New Orleans, I can't help but feel disappointed in the people there.

The front page of the newspaper today detailed how, in only a matter of a few days, the residents left behind in New Orleans turned to lawlessness, looting, rape and murder in the absence of authority. There were accounts of rescue boats and cars being hijacked and gunshots being fired at helicopters bringing help.

At a time when there was a desperate need to come together to support their neighbors, the residents of New Orleans turned against each other like a reality TV version of Lord of the Flies.

The events that continue to unfold in New Orleans are horrible. Those of us who don't live there can't possibly comprehend the magnitude of the situation. But there have been many situations in our country's recent past that have shown the strength of American people when faced with great adversity.

Unfortunately, this isn't one of those times. It is my sincere hope that the opportunistic political sniping and finger pointing that has already started will be put aside in the interest of sheer survival.