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The bogus threat of Climate Change

caricature-of-steve3 2It’s time to tell the truth about Climate Change.

First, our climate is changing. The average worldwide temperature is rising slowly resulting in glacial melting and rising sea levels.

Second, human activity certainly has contributed to the warming of the earth. And there are steps we can take to mitigate the exhaust from carbon-based fossil fuels that pollutes our environment.

Third, but Climate Change is not the so-called “existential threat” it is portrayed by environmental activists who would have us believe we have only about ten years to prevent this catastrophe.

FEAR

Climate Change has become the latest hot political topic. Virtually every candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination of 2020 has hopped on the global warming bandwagon. Extreme political activists have embraced The New Green Deal promoted by New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey.

Recent reports indicate that the fear of warmer weather, rising seas, eroding shorelines and flooding of low-lying island nations and coastal communities is a leading concern in Europe.

Recognizing the potential danger of global warming, The Paris Agreement of 2015 formed an international effort to confront the threat of Climate Change through a comprehensive plan to limit the rise of the world’s temperature to fewer than 2 degrees Celsius.

The United States two years ago withdrew from the treaty. President Trump claimed the agreement violated America’s sovereignty and would force the nation’s companies to reduce production and lay off workers.

FACTS

The world’s climate is constantly changing. And there is little that humans can do to prevent the inevitable climatic fluctuations caused by the movement of our planet.

These range from the earth’s rotation from day to night, the tilting of its axis resulting in changing seasons and much longer transformations including periodic ice ages due to the Milankovitch Cycles.

This includes our most recent last ice age–the Pleistocene Epoch–from which we are emerging, hence the expected rise in worldwide temperatures.

RESPONSES

Although it’s futile to believe our species will ever be able to control long-term Climate Change, there are short-term steps that we can take to limit our contribution to atmospheric pollution and its greenhouse effect.

Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for energy production certainly would be helpful. And we have made significant progress in switching to alternative energy sources.

Iowa, for example, still generates most of its electrical production from coal.  But that production percentage has dropped from 76 percent to 45 percent in the past decade while energy from wind has soared to 34 percent.

Other proposals range from the obvious to the interesting.   Adoption of technology to derive more energy from solar, thermal and tide sources makes sense is an example of the former.  Reducing methane production from agricultural practices has prompted creative research in less apparent areas.

CONCLUSION

Climate Change is a fact. And humans have contributed to a degree. But it is not life threatening. We have far more than a decade or two to reduce our role in polluting the planet.

Ignore the scare tactics of the alarmists who would have us believe that we are on the verge of extinction.

We have proved to be an extremely adaptive species that has learned to adapt to changing environments. Our genius for creative solutions will continue. We will survive.

New York Times’ decision to publish bigoted cartoon was a failure on several levels

caricature-of-steve3 2The New York yesterday apologized for publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon last week. I insert the offensive cartoon below.

Despite the publication’s apology, the question remains how this editorial misstep occurred? Who failed to see how repugnant this would be to many readers?

Diversity in American society should increase our awareness and sensitivity to persons and issues that may not be immediately apparent to individuals whose history lacks exposure to different realities.

Homogeneous societies usually have limited experience with alternative religions, racial and ethnic groups and the culture and experiences of those persons.  The hope of diversity is that we all should expand our understanding of these alternate truths and considers them when debating the important issues we all face.

The goal of American newsrooms to recruit more women, persons of color, different religions, sexual orientation and of national origin is to think broadly about stories, persons and issues previously ignored.

The fact that the New York Times or any news organization could have published this repugnant cartoon demonstrates blatantly how flawed the editorial process remains.

If newsrooms are sufficiently diverse, why don’t we hear editors and reporters asking what reactions will arise from this cartoon, photograph, story or commentary?

Are these diverse voices in news media still excluded from editorial meetings?  Are they intimidated by their counterparts who see them as token representatives only?  Has the news publication truly opened its doors and mentality to different views and suggestions?

If diversity were working as intended, this never would have happened.  This was failure that was avoidable.

BIGOTED CARTOON

 

Rethinking journalism practices

caricature-of-steve3 2When I began my career as a broadcast journalist I followed the standard practices of the time both universal for all news organizations and some specific to broadcast.

Now I’m having second thoughts

Universal standards

 The trinity of fairness, accuracy and balance (FAB) still is a useful discipline for journalists. It demands vigilance in how editors and reporters approach a story, collect information, portray newsmakers and disseminate the final report.

Changing practices

I see little value in interviewing prosecuting attorneys and defense lawyers about the guilt or innocence of individuals on trial. Prosecutors will always claim that the person accused committed the crime. Likewise, the defense will assert that its client did not.

Interviewing spokespersons for each side of a trial remains a good practice for no other reason than to record the occasion when a surprising statement is made. But so rarely do those persons deviate from predictable pronouncements that to use the hackneyed replies is a waste of time. Interview yes, but don’t publish trite answers.

Television reporters always appear on screen either at the beginning of their stories (live shot) or midway through the report (standup bridge). The only reason for this is to demonstrate to viewers that the news organization had one of its journalists at the scene of the event. But too often the location is at a time and place where nothing is happening.

An equally bad practice is the reporter’s obligatory greeting to the news anchor when in fact the journalist is supposed to be telling us the story. It makes us feel as if we’re eves dropping instead of being the intended recipient of the story. This technique should be scrapped.

The insistence of asking interviewees to look at the reporter instead of the camera is a questionable technique. With the increasing use of Skype and Facetime, the interviewees look directly at the screen at us. It’s time for TV photographers to ask newsmakers to do the same thing in taped stories.

Quite simply the business of journalism has changed and effective storytelling devices have evolved. The FAB standard has proved to be an effective tool. But other practices should be filed in a cabinet reserved for quaint but anachronistic implements.

When is it acceptable for journalists to claim racism?

caricature-of-steve3 2The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook long has been the reference of choice in America’s newsrooms regarding recommended use of language in media stories.

Does the latest edition (2019) actually say it’s all right for news organizations to call someone or some incident racist?

Doris Truong, writing for the Poynter Institute apparently believes so.

I disagree on several points;

First, there is nothing in Ms. Truong’s commentary that illustrates exactly that the new AP Stylebook says it’s all right to label some action as racist. The specific citation should have been inserted in the commentary—otherwise I can only infer that this is Truong’s inference or shall I say wish?

It’s never acceptable for any journalist to use the term racist or racism unless the reporter is quoting someone else.

Second, I am also suspicious of journalists and pundits who sprinkle their stories and commentaries with contemporary jargon and buzzwords.

Journalists should not be “framing” their stories. They should be publishing facts and observations without adjectives. “Framing” implies putting a spin on an event in order to make it conform to the writer’s hopes or advocacy.

Furthermore, Mrs. Truong’s reference to hyphenated-Americans as microagressions (another buzzword) implies she has embraced the identify politics meme. I’m a White-German-English-American but never use either that racial and ethnic truth. It’s irrelevant to me as simply an American.

I go so far as to say that any reference to anyone as the first of his or her racial, ethnic, religious, class or gender to achieve some notable achievement is also irrelevant. If the person so noted wants to mention it as a source of pride or example, then journalists should report it. Otherwise, I would ignore it.

Reference to identity allows our audience to interpret facts erroneously. Is a so-called “openly gay” politician going to promote a “gay agenda?” That is a fair inference by readers, listeners, viewers if journalists continually mention that the sexual orientation of the politician or candidate.   And what, in fact, is a “gay agenda?” I could list some ideas here but I suspect the person is interested only in the same issues that every other American is concerned about. So sexual orientation again is irrelevant.

Despite Ms. Truong’s well-intended efforts, her commentary reads more like the work of an activist that a reporter seeking an accurate, balanced, unvarnished description of persons, places and events.

DISCLOSURE: I have yet to read the latest AP Stylebook because I’m retired and have no need for it professionally.  However, I welcome the views of those who have perused it and are willing to share their opinions.

A detour around the Electoral College

caricature-of-steve3 2Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren yesterday said she wants to scrap the Electoral College.

That’s not going to happen because we would have to amend the U.S. Constitution—a nearly impossible task.  Instead some folks are campaigning for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).

NPVIC is an interesting concept. It may even be a good idea. After all, as proposed it would assure that the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes would be elected.

Yes, Electoral College would remain intact. But the NPV promises that states would award their electoral votes to the candidate with the most popular votes.

That’s appealing—especially to those—who were angered that Al Gore lost the presidency to George W. Bush despite having more popular votes that Bush. Likewise, the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump although Clinton also had more popular votes that Trump.

But I’m still not clear how everyone’s voted is protected if the majority of Iowa voters—for example—cast ballots for Candidate A but the state’s Electoral College votes all go to Candidate B because B had more popular votes nationally. Aren’t Iowa voters, in fact, denied true representation in the Electoral College?

I may favor this idea but someone has to explain the math to me. And how exactly this truely protects everyone’s vote.

Is there a constitutional protection for stupidity?

caricature-of-steve3 2Nevada lawmakers may not have asked that question when proposing a measure to allow law enforcement authorities to use technology that would detect whether persons are using their cellphone while driving.

But the question seems relevant.

The objections are inevitable and they are always the same—this is a violation of privacy.  Those are the same fools who oppose traffic cams that capture photos of vehicles crossing an intersection against a red light.

Opponents of traffic cams and the Nevada proposal against cellphone abuse while driving simply have no good reason for opposing such technology. Their sole objection is that they don’t want to be caught breaking the law.

Well, that’s too bad. If you’re a lawbreaker, you should pay the consequences.

The Constitution is a brilliant document that assures rights and blessings for Americans.  But protection for stupidity is not one of them.

To Nevada lawmakers—and others considering similar measures elsewhere—I say, “Pass the law!”

It seemed like a Fab idea at first

 

 

 

 

 

“Good morning, Beverly,” I greet our waitress cheerfully.

“Yes, howdy,” joins John equally enthusiastically.

Beverly stares at us unknowingly. “Margaret, would you card these two guys who just came in. I don’t recognize them!”

“Wait, it’s us,” replies John.

“That should be ‘It’s we’…the verb to be requires the nominative case,” I correct.

I’m on your case all right,” retorts Beverly. “Margaret, and where is that sign I asked you post yesterday. The one that says, ‘No littering, loitering or lingering permitted. Management reserves the right to kick you to the curb.’”

“Ok, ok, I’m sorry,” I apologize.

“Me, too,” adds John. “Whatever it was?

You’ve been absent that’s what,” snaps Beverly. “What’s up with you dudes, anyway?”

“I’ve been checking entries in my high school year book,” John opens the book as he lays it on the table.

“OMG, don’t tell me you’re running for office again!” Beverly moans.

“Yep,” I note. “And you better bring us two pots of your daily special. This could be painful.”

“Margaret, bring both the Cauvery Peak and the Monsooned Malabar,” urges Beverly.

“Thanks,” worries John. “I feel a bit marooned this morning looking at my yearbook.”

“It’s monsooned, John. It’s….oh, never mind,” I surrender.

“Open it up, man,” Beverly instructs as she joins us after pouring each of us a cup of the daily special. “Let’s see how you screwed up in high school.”

Fabian Forte “Tiger” playing on jukebox.

“Uh…no…I don’t think you really want to do that,” I caution.

(YEARBOOK) “Dear, Fabian! Between Mr. Jones, your Bermuda shorts and your wonderful singing, we’ve had quite a year!

 “Fabian! You were called Fabian in high school!” Beverly gasps.

“You mean like that Laverne & Shirley show with Fabian!” shrieks Margaret.

“Good grief, girl! Get a grip!” orders Beverly.

“I categorically deny that…that…I ever wore Bermuda shorts in high school!” John stammers.

“Fabian…uh…John, that could be trouble for your presidential campaign,” I warn.

“And I never, ever sang” John protests.

(YEARBOOK) “Dear, John (or is it Fabian?) I imagine you can sing better than he. Well, we’re finally done with that dull Spanish class. What a drag it’s been!”

“See, I took Spanish in high school. That should help with the Latino vote!”

“Yeah, I’m sure they will be real happy that you thought it was dull!” Beverly cautions.

“You were Fabian? “Margaret asks faintly and passes out.

“Hey, I never said Spanish was dull! Someone else wrote that!”

“But at least the phrase ‘..better than he.’ was grammatically correct,” I stress.

“Oh, yeah, right! Like proper grammar is going to trump angry Latinos,” asserts Beverly.

(YEARBOOK) “You’re just one swell guy. However, as the old saying goes—“Flattery will get you nowhere.”—I guess I’m beating my head against a brick wall! I’ll never get you—woe is me!”

 “See, see, there!” John gestures triumphantly. “I can get the women’s vote!”

“Oh, Fabian!” Margaret whispers unconsciously.

“Not the #MeToo movement, Fa-bi-en!” Beverly snarls sarcastically. They’ll interpret that entry as toying with and objectifying females!” Beverly stands up and takes the coffee pots back to the counter.

“Wait! read this one,” John begs.

“Too late, your presidential campaign is toast!” Beverly shouts.

“Speaking of toast, do you have any of those cinnamon rolls left,” I query.

“I’ll vote for you, Fabian,” sighs Margaret.

“I think you’re the only one,” concedes John shaking his head.

“Don’t be sad, Fab,” Beverly laughs as she plugs a quarter into the jukebox. “This will always be our song.”

Jukebox plays Fabian “About this thing called love”