At the Barbershop

Shy of a Load

Illustration of traditional barber poleIt’s December, and for a month I’ve avoided writing about the state of national politics. Other blog-columnists are doing a good job. I’d do fine, but I have nothing to add that’s different.

Until today?

Yes, as it’s not me opining. This is reporting.

I was at my barber’s this morning. He and I were talking about the latest pronouncement of GOP front-runner Donald Trump, that as president he’d prevent all foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

The next customer for the barber’s chair had this to day:

“I don’t like him, but I’d rather see a man like Trump as president than a woman like Hillary.”

Pulling down a stranger’s comment like this should be unusual, as I ought to be quoting my barber of 15 or so years. I have never done so, as he’s been a very good guy to me and it would violate my being a civilian in his chair. Otherwise, I’d quote him often. He’s eager to be nonstop outrageous except when he’s spot-on common-sense or clever.

On hearing this guy’s statement, Eric just looked at me with the corner of his left eye and sighed. I was leaving, and he was escorting the fellow to the shampoo sink. The guy was casually dressed in flannel and jeans, but better quality materials. There was a little gray among his sandy locks. He looked to be in his 40s.

• • •

My Facebook friends cover the gamut of my life, from grade school through senior year, college friends, Texas and Little Rock friends, and Northwest Arkansas friends. Also there are columnists from everywhere. They’re all over the map politically, economically and spiritually. None has said on Facebook he or she is supporting Trump.

Some of them must be: The mogul’s the front-runner for the conservatives. Is this sample uncomfortable to be out on Donald?

With this Shy of a Load series, I normally have several briefs linking to background stories, separated by dot-dot-dots, on the Web. Today, this soon-to-be barbered fellow just might be speaking for all those who incredibly support Donald Trump.

It’s clarifying.

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

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.


Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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