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San Francisco 2008 How Weird Street Faire.

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May 29, 2008

Venting Is Good
Thursday. My Internet connectivity that went down Tuesday afternoon was supposed to be fixed by ten Wednesday morning and then by ten Wednesday evening. Which it wasn't, but they evidently resolved it last night because it's working now at five in the morning. I have what's called a business package (five static IP addresses for four computers and a printer, something I probably don't need) and so I suspect there were real businesses that really do require reliable access that were out of the water as well. Not good. Thirty hours. Not something I'd want to explain to my management. None of my own web sites are being hosted on any of their servers and life wouldn't have ended if they were, but I was interested to see the crimp it appears to have put in my otherwise serene and saintly facade.

So I spent yesterday afternoon building another page for the How Weird Street Faire section of artandlife, a continuing task I seem to be maintaining my interest in doing, which is a good sign for keeping myself entertained as this retirement thing resolves. Good. I was thinking I didn't have the photographs to make up yet another page (what I call a page, a menu page, consists of twenty-one photographs) and perhaps I didn't and maybe the ones I used aren't all that good, but I'll worry about it later on another day with a clearer head.

Later. Later in the sense I wrote the above last night adding the comment I had access to the net again at five this morning. Five this morning? Well, evidently when I get to bed by ten I awake around five, five-thirty the next morning. Particularly when I've had a couple of glasses of wine the night before. As I did. Last night. Still, the morning goes well, breakfast at the usual place, the mood good, the sun coming out now as I write just after eight. Some bills to pay today, I think. Clean up the pile beside the computer. I have one or two photography magazines that need renewing, none of which I read but find solace in looking at the pictures.

There's been a great deal of heat generated over Scott McClellan's new book describing his days as the Bush administration's press secretary, heat in the sense that mainstream media people have actually addressed the question of their role in the run up to the war. The media hasn't touched anything related to this issue, the story of the senior retired military officers groomed by the administration and sent out to propagandize the war, for example, has never been touched on the tube, but evidently they've had to address the question now that McClellan has described them as functioning as an administration cheering section in aiding and abetting one of the great American foreign policy blunders of all time.

McClellan and the rest kept silent during the period their revelations might have had an impact, might have injected a note of rational thought into the build up to the Iraq invasion, preferring instead to take the book advance and retire now that their careers are over, but it makes you wonder why it's so hard to have anything in the way of a rational debate or discussion on something so important at the national level. I do watch the Public broadcasting television news, watch it with more and more scepticism as I find other sources of information, but I don't watch any of the major news networks at all.

The idea that Fox News is a news organization, for example, is a joke. NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC: they're not much better. This in a country where we in theory at least pride ourselves on something called “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press”. The founders considered freedom of the press to be critical in maintaining a democracy. Reporters Without Borders calculates the United States is 48th on a list of 169 countries evaluated in its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, right behind Nicaragua, for example. Well, who in the hell are Reporters Without Borders anyway? Still, all this First Amendment crap we push in our schools, why does so little of it spill into the national debate when we're addressing important issues? Whatever your position on any of a thousand questions, you know there are more than a few you just don't express in public lest you get yourself in trouble.

Some of the national news “journalists” have now publicly admitted they were instructed by their employers to squelch any reporting of anti-war opinion during the run up to the war. You could interview a conservative commentator promoting the war without another commentator beside them to “balance” the discussion, but you weren't allowed to interview a commentator expressing anti-war opinions without at least one or in one case two pro war advocates to “balance” the “discussion”. So much for any chance of a rational foreign policy or rational national policy, for that matter. What kind of reasoned discussion have you ever heard on the national media on universal health insurance or our current drug policy or our prison system or any of a number of other hot button issues where corporate interests are at stake? I'm not talking about one or another position on these issues, just the room to even discuss them?

Nobody's reading any of this.

Venting is good for the soul. I do admit, however, that the more I write, the less is read. Still, I find the practice useful. You need to write in order to write, the subject matter is usually irrelevant. Rhythm and tone are the critical issues, no need to worry about content. Hemingway said something similar and similar is close enough.

Not unlike the mainstream media and their run up to the war? Rhythm and tone, fireworks and a chorus line, no need for rationality at all?

Ah, you were paying attention. If it works for the writer, it evidently works for the news.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco 2008 How Weird Street Faire with a Nikon D3 mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR lens at 1/1250th second, f 2.8, ISO 200.