Never Meta Trump Like This

Shy of a Load

"Saturday Night Live" logoThe Nov. 8 Saturday Night Live, hosted by magnate Donald Trump, was more significant than hilarious, although it was lots funnier than most weekend pundits claim.

A scan of website headlines shows mine is a minority view. I have not read their texts yet to prevent their influencing mine.

The first review for me to read will be that of my friend Gene Seymour at, “Trump on SNL: The Ultimate Implosion of Reality.” Gene’s certainly will be a full write-up and thoughtful. Below contains impulsive impressions.

There’s making fun of yourself, self-deprecation (not necessarily funny) and destroying-then-reconstructing your image. Trump may well have deliberately gone for the last. When political candidates have appeared on SNL, as recently as October when Hillary Rodham Clinton played a phantom bartender, it’s for a single skit or a walk-on with line. Politicians thus can be seen by the youthful audience, appear hip and control the message. Clinton used it to claim she was self-aware, relaxed, competent and a few shades warmer than her cool reputation.

As host, Trump appeared in most of the sketches in the 90-minute program. It’s live: The room for misspeaking and other errors is huge — HUGE — especially for amateurs. He’s been on camera for thousands of hours but not as a professional comic performer.

This is at a time when Republican candidates including Trump are reconfiguring debates to increase their control.

Why did Trump take this risk? My take is that he doesn’t want to be president, unless we just hand it to him. What Trump proved Saturday that he really wants is to improve the candidate selection process by warning the American people to watch what they ask for, they might get the likes of him. Continue reading

Draft Beer? Maybe Draft Gore

“Forget Biden, drop HRC & Bernie. Maybe we need a Draft Gore for ’16 movement. Maya Lin’s enviro concerns inspired that impulse.”

Al Gore 2009
Al Gore in 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas — The above was my Facebook post from just after a lecture Monday night by artist-architect-environmentalist Maya Lin (the descriptives are hers). Mind you, Lin said absolutely nothing about politics nor former Vice President Al Gore.

My social media comment got one “like.”

Lin of course is best known for her Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which she designed as a contest entry in 1981 while still a student at Yale. With that as a first (in more ways than one), she’s had a tremendous career in sculpture, four other memorials and still the occasional design for a home or other building.

Our Crystal Bridges of American Art commissioned her for an artwork. “Silver Upper White River, 2015” will be unveiled soon on a wall of the North Gallery Bridge. It’s similar to her other water sculptures that follow topographical maps of the identified streams. She crafts them from silver — recycled silver, mind you — for three reasons: Water from a distance looks silvery, schools of fish can appear silver from above and silver’s a precious metal, she said during her program Oct. 19.

Other sculptures resemble the mountains that islands really are. Mount Everest isn’t the world’s tallest mountain, Hawaii is, Lin said in Bentonville.

As a reflection on her genre, this month the publisher Rizzoli released Lin’s book Topologies, an oversize, illustrated book with several co-authors including John McPhee and Dava Sobel. (It lists at $75 but is far less expensive online.)

A number of her three-dimensional works plowed the audience over, almost literally. She has redesigned fields to resemble waves. After a lot of bulldozing work then resodding, these lands have become green-bladed seas.

What she calls her last memorial is online, a collection of short videos from Lin and her friends and allies as well as contributed by regular folk — crowdsourced art. It is, about how humankind (she called the people of Earth “mankind”) is destroying the planet and its life forms.

Lin showed the large crowd in the museum’s Great Hall one of the videos, “Unchopping a Tree.” It’s below, just 3:14 long. Music is by Brian Eno.

Where does Albert Arnold Gore Jr. fit into an evening of remarkable contemporary design and art?

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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.

• • •

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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