Be A Good American… Or Else

An Internet acquaintance sends me a passel of emails on a fairly regular schedule. They are mostly the kinds of things we all get in our box: “CC’d” and “Forwarded” bits of humor, hope, and political ramblings. A recent letter included a modern retelling of the Ant and Grasshopper parable. The updated story imagines the grasshopper calling a press conference, pressing for tax hike legislation on ants, suing his oppressor, and eventually moving into the ant’s government confiscated house. In its telling, the new fable manages to impeach single-parent welfare recipients, a few current senators, and of course, grasshoppers everywhere. But the last line and so-called moral of the story is the real clincher.

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Something Old, Something New

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Amid declining sales and slowing growth, Starbucks has unleashed a flurry of effort to rejuvenate its brand. Beginning with Howard Schultz’s return as CEO, further efforts have included retraining baristas, a new signature brew, and a curious return to their former logo seen above. Although the design change is temporary, it has been met with strong reactions from brand consultants and some customers. Brand Autopsy showcases a photo history of Starbucks logos, as well as some interesting reader commentary on the artwork’s alleged mythical and religious connections. However, before researching this post I made my own spooky discovery when I turned an empty cup upside down.

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The Truth is a Bitter Pill to Swallow

“They fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration…”

What Senator Obama said about the lack of jobs leading to bitterness has been repeated ad nauseum. I won’t reprint the quote here, but you can read and listen to the speech for yourself. Besides, if we insist on confusing pull quotes for actual insight, I think the one above is much better.

The hay day the media and Obama’s opponents have had with the quote is really just an exercise in making bricks without straw.

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A Good Fortune

Occasionally, life’s random occurrences seem to be guided by a greater hand. Today is such a day. Another blah Tuesday of another blah week was suddenly made a bit brighter by my fortune.

If you feel the same way, pass it on.

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Stop Dreaming; Wake the Hell Up

I have a different way of observing Martin Luther King Day and the anniversary of Dr. King’s death. I don’t attend rallies. I don’t wear anything out of the ordinary. And I don’t listen to his “I have a dream” speech. In fact, for years I have favored a moratorium on playing that epic speech. That’s not meant as an insult to his legacy. It’s simply my response to the nullification of a sermon that is the quintessential indictment of “White makes right” Colonial Imperialist rule. I believe we should pause the tape for two reasons.

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I Want My DTV

Like a ten minute drum solo, it’s coming. Beginning midnight February 17, 2009, Digital Television (DTV) will be more than a cool buzz phrase. It will be the law. At that time and by FCC mandate, full-power TV stations will turn out the lights on their analog transmitters. Cue the transition party-goers! Grab a stiff drink, hug a loved one, and stare at the silent blue screen for a few minutes. Or if you’ve prepared for the switch, grab a stiff drink, hug a loved one, and tune in to… well, perhaps the clearest reruns of Seinfeld you’ve ever seen. That’s right, DTV will breathe new life into the Elaine Christmas card episode. Obviously there will be other choices, but this post is really about the preparation, not the content.

Much misinformation has been spread about the equipment you’ll need to watch television after the change. Some irresponsible and/or uninformed electronics vendors have told consumers they will need a High Definition TV. While that’s not true, unless you’re a cable or satellite subscriber, you will need to buy a digital tuner and appropriate antenna. Public Service Announcements about the transition are finally starting to air, but why not get your information straight from the source. DTV.gov offers FAQs, news, equipment guides, and a DTV countdown clock. Don’t rely on salesmen or well-meaning friends and family for information. Click on the badge below and see what you might be missing.

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Hello Old Friend

Dear Blog,

How have you been? As the days have grown longer, so have my absences. Having gone through the most stressful 12 months of my life has certainly contributed to the void. But even as Spring moves forward, renewing life, I feel you maturing in your own silence. Leafy green tendrils of posts are budding, waiting to cover your blue skeleton in thoughts sophomoric and serious. The urge to learn, share, and teach is unending.

Like an unruly shrub, you’ve resisted all attempts to be shaped. You even changed your tagline after a handful of posts. Avoiding the urge to divulge the personal, you preferred politics and punditry over the crimson cloak of raw emotion other more fashionable blogs sported. You’ve patiently tolerated my disappearance, and serenely welcome me back.

This post’s for you.

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You Never Know What You’ll Hear

I wrote about candid communications before. You know, the explicit, stripped down things people say to each other when they want to be understood. Utterances, emotions, and comments that our internal “polite filters” usually stop us from releasing to the world at large. In a place as populated and diverse as New York those filters are tuned differently than say, Sims, NC, USA (population 128). Those differences are what make Overheard in New York such a great find.

The premise is simple. Take interesting snippets of overheard conversations, apply catchy headlines, post, giggle, repeat. The messages are delivered with New Yorkers’ unique perspectives and blend of profanity and candor. A couple of my favorites are below.

Torment Your Kids
Management Will Address Your Concerns
They’re Not Gonna Be One-Upped

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Blogging Vs. Journalism

For some time now blogging and journalism have intersected in ways that complicate defining the relationship between the two disciplines. As bloggers, it’s increasingly important we play a more active role distinguishing what we do from journalism without diminishing blogging’s relevance. This notion has become even clearer since I started my own blog. A post at Blog Maverick made me think about this issue again.

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Goodbyes Make Life More Precious

I’ve been extraordinarily slack about posting lately. I wish it were simply my usual finickiness. Unfortunately, it’s more.

My Mom passed away last week, and I’ve been ensconced in all the details that event entails, namely planning, sighing, sleeping, planning some more, more sleep, and more sighing. Rather than rehash the usual platitudes, let me just say she was simply the best Mother. She taught us to trust God, not religion. She taught me to pray, cook, sew, crochet… the list is endless. Her light shines on in all of her children. And people who met her were truly blessed.

For a short while posts will be thin. But I endeavor to make it a short while, since life is for the living, and writing is Survival 101 for me.

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