Biden Exeunts, Fox Guards the Geo House

Shy of a Load

Joe Biden appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday, in the show’s debut week.

Seal of the Vice President of the United StatesMost main media reports and commentaries seemed to agree this morning that the vice president was favoring not running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but that his decision was not set. As an example here’s NPR’s report “Emotional Biden Still Doesn’t Sound Like A Candidate.”

As he’s said before then again Sept. 10, the vice president’s loss of a son (former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden) to cancer earlier this year has rocked his plans for what he does after he’s downsized Jan. 20, 2017.

I saw the interview and heard Biden say strongly but indirectly he remains too distraught to campaign then serve as an effective president.

Joe said he is not running, with sufficient clarity.


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Throwing Drones for a Loop

Shy of a Load

Cover of The Great International Paper Airplane Book, 1971The City Wire in “Citing Privacy and Protection, UA-Fayetteville Prohibits Drone Use over Campus” joins other news media and social media in ricocheting the University of Arkansas’ news release that “unmanned aircraft systems” such as drones as of now may not be flown over campus without approval (“prior approval” though that’s redundant).

The City Wire took the information and expanded it noting that UA-Fort Smith already having a ban in place and added further research and some interviews.

The Fayetteville campus’ reason is “public safety” (or just safety).

For the sake of the students, I sincerely pray that this regulation does not extend to paper airplanes.

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Revisiting ‘Postal,’ Katrina, Mae West

Shy of a Load

Let’s not go postal, it’s not a trend, according to the Poynter Institute on Aug. 26-27 in “Before Today, 8 Journalists Have Been Murdered While on Assignment, at Work or for Their Work in the U.S. Since 1992.”

Writer Kristen Hare states: “The on-air shooting deaths of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward on Wednesday morning in Virginia marks the first two deaths of journalists in the United States since 2007.”

Make no mistake, this was a terrible terrible tragedy, personally for those involved and their friends and community, along with the consequences it could have — should have — along with results that won’t happen anytime soon, like stronger gun control and more accessible mental health care.

As befitting our culture, this is the media saying, It’s all about me me me, and we in the viewing audience learn the facts and see the video clips — or avoid them, as I have — and respond with due horror.

Meanwhile, other workplace violence doesn’t get reported widely any more or go viral.

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0512 brick logoThis Glenn Greenwald piece, “Jorge Ramos Commits Journalism, Gets Immediately Attacked by Journalists,” got read and then reread by me to pull more from it. I don’t dwell on periodical pieces that closely, usually.

The critics’ slam on Ramos is that he is not a real journalist but a newscaster, one with opinions.

To which journalist Greenwald responds in part:

“A Good Journalist must pretend they have no opinions, feign utter indifference to the outcome of political debates, never take any sides, be utterly devoid of any human connection to or passion for the issues they cover, and most of all, have no role to play whatsoever in opposing even the most extreme injustices.

“Thus: you do not call torture ‘torture’ if the U.S. government falsely denies that it is; you do not say that the chronic shooting of unarmed black citizens by the police is a major problem since not everyone agrees that it is; and you do not object when a major presidential candidate stokes dangerous nativist resentments while demanding mass deportation of millions of people.”

As a newly freelance ethicist, I want to note that most good journalism must remain of the just-the-facts straight ahead sort. We Americans need information. Yet for the whole democracy thing to work, the circus tent of journalism both historically and today must admit adversarial, advocacy or activist journalism.

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Got My Back, Background?

Although it’s only been a year, I’m back in the job market. Heck, some people resume sending out resumes in weeks. New in 2015, with the positions for which I qualify, are third-party background checks.

Fortunately, I am an angel.

Earlier this summer, R— S— (hereinafter known as “Auld Acquaintance”) applied at T— U— (hereinafter the “Company”). That job description stated a criminal background check and a sex offender registry check would be performed. Understandable: No crooks or perverts. (Now, if they only could weed out the psychos.)

A third-party “consumer reporting agency” emailed a form a couple of weeks ago to Auld Acquaintance seeking basic information such as full name, any former names (maiden), current address and phone — and the applicant’s authorization signature, created on one’s computer by moving the mouse (or finger if a smarter device) as one would with a pen.

Auld Acquaintance was pleased, because it meant the Company thought enough of the interview to pay for the investigation. It was closer to an offer!

The first four paragraphis of the authorization.
Click the following phrase for a PDF of the authorization.

I just got a similar email. Whoopee, they like me, they really really like me!

Then I read the multipage document. If I wanted to move up in consideration, I had to follow course. I did. In confirmation, the Agency emailed me a PDF of the authorization.

In a nutshell: “The background report may contain information concerning your character, general reputation, personal characteristics, mode of living, and credit standing.”

And the Agency [“(or another consumer reporting agency”)] isn’t done with you when you take the job: “These background reports may be obtained at any time after receipt of your authorization and, if you are hired or engaged by the Company, throughout your employment or your contract period, as allowed by law.”

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Coach’s Wisdom, Paint Dump, Rhymes with Trump

Shy of a Load

I haven’t thought of Coach Jim Rowland in ages, but apparently he’s still there, now athletic director for Fort Smith, Arkansas, Public Schools.  His address to the School Board there Monday the 24th inspired the editorial “That Is All” in The City Wire regional news website.

How did I know Rowland, as I was a band jock? Driver’s ed* one summer, early 1970s, when he was football coach at Southside High. Yes the Southside that in recent weeks lost its fight song “Dixie” and team name the Rebels — as in Confederate (not Nicaraguan Contra rebels) — in unanimous School Board votes.

The mascot, it turns out, never sat right with Rowland, who attended Little Rock Hall High at the same period that Central High became a paragraph or a chapter in history books over integration.

The editorial continues:

“Rowland said changing the traditions tells the world that ‘we are good good folk, (who) in good faith, want to at last put the Civil War to rest and stop glamorizing its symbols.'”

*It is possible I’ve misremembered who taught me driver’s ed.

• • •

IContractor cleaned latex paint off brushes in front garden bed, formerly organic, Aug. 24, 2015.f you’re working as a carpenter and house painter working for a construction company, what kind of brains do you need to see an obvious garden bed — obvious from its border, trellis and planting grid — and think,

“Instead of cleaning paint from my brushes over some weeds in the yard, I’ll move the hose over and scrub them where the owner plans to plant chard for the fall.”

He didn’t think that, obviously, any more than he would’ve known what my plans were for this OBVIOUS raised-bed garden. He also could not have known that I’ve kept this bed organic since we moved in 16 1/2 years ago.

Even if I used chemical fertilizers and pesticides, latex paint residue doesn’t do vegetables or flowers any favors.

After weeks of delays alternating with crews scheduling us in, repairs fixing damage from all the year’s rain were completed Monday, the last crew did the final painting. From January through July we’re have 38 inches of rain, when for the whole year of 2014 the area had 39 inches, according to National Weather Service statistics for the Fayetteville area.

• • •

Phrases I should learn, but they’ll be gone before long.  Continue reading

A Panel on Ethics for Columnists, Other Writers

Here are links, annotated, mentioned in my portion of a Panel on Ethics at the 39th annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, in Indianapolis.

Ben Pollock (left) and Steve Keys, executive director of Indiana's Hoosier State Press Association, discuss ethical issues for columnists and others Friday, June 26, 2015, at the 39th annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. It met at The Alexander in Indianapolis. Photo by Dan St. Yves.
Ben Pollock (left) and Steve Key, executive director of Indiana’s Hoosier State Press Association, discuss ethics June 26, 2015, in Indianapolis at the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Photo by Dan St. Yves.

These were prepared with the assumption the room would have a projector etc. Wrong. I had a Plan B — always have a Plan B as well as a C — so the program went well. I did not have slides but websites to show. Links to them might be of interest to those attending and others.

The other panelist was Steve Key, executive director of Indiana’s Hoosier State Press Association. He is well-versed in all sorts of journalistic concerns — he’s an attorney and a former news reporter — and a clear and engaging speaker.

Here is my bio from the conference program: “Ben Pollock has had a 3 1/2-decade journalism career, including stints as columnist, editorial page editor, copy editor, metro editor, reporter and page designer, mainly in newspapers. As a freelancer, he has been a reporter and editor as well as a web designer and content manager. Ben was 2010-12 NSNC president and now serves as the society’s director of media. He was 2014-15 interim assistant director of the new University of Arkansas Center for Ethics in Journalism. He lives near the Fayetteville campus with his wife.”

OK, let’s watch a little TV

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