Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chesley Sullenberger III - a real hero

Not much else to say about the incredible Hudson River landing of U.S. Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger II on Friday.

Also slightly strange that I had put up an item about the weather on Wednesday that referred to, among other things, Danville, California (which is the home of one of my favorite cousins) and is interestingly the home of pilot Sullenberger.

But while everyone is lauding the pilot - and put me at the top of the list - it won't keep some Philadelphia lawyer (and some New York and New Jersey ones as well) from filing a negligent lawsuit on Monday or sometime next week against the airlines. Wait and see.

Because in America, there always has to be a pot at the end of the tragedy (or near tragedy) rainbow even when the fault lies with a flock of geese.

Timothy F. Geithner - a get out of jail free card

Just when I was worried that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would have nothing to joke about with the end of the Bush Administration comes Timothy F. Geithner, President-elect Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary.

You folks are all smart so you already know that the Treasury Secretary is in charge of, among other things, the Internal Revenue Service.

So how funny is the news that Geithner (who is the darling of both Democrats and Republicans) forget, neglected, delayed, or mistakenly did not pay $34,000 in federal taxes between 2001 and 2003.

When was the last time you forgot, neglected, delayed or mistakenly did not pay your federal taxes? But if you ever do, now you can simply say: "I just did the same thing the head of your agency did."

If this doesn't argue for a simplified tax code (not to mention a higher degree of honesty) I don't know what does.

And how about the awful results of a Ponzi scheme in which someone takes money from you to invest for your future and then, instead of investing it, they give it in large quantities to another client who needs the money right now. What should happen to someone who does that to your money?

No, I'm not talking about Bernie Madoff who took $50 billion from his investors, but 70 years of Congressional representatives who have done that to your Social Security money. The problem for Madoff is that he can't print more money to get out of his hole, but Congress can.

If Madoff has done something horrible, how about those representatives who have withheld more than two trillion dollars from you and your employer and instead of investing it handed it to someone else to spend?

Just a little Saturday morning musings while we sit here buried in snow in frigid Buffalo.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More manufactured money after bad

Four months ago here I blasted Congress and President Bush for the stupid bail out plan for the banking institutions. It seemed hasty, ill thought-out and tragically reckless. The fact that much of the money has disappeared into the ether without creating any of the so-called credit it was supposed to bears out my concerns.

Now comes word of a second wave of the same.

At the same time, the very banks and financial institutions who we handed over our childrens' and grandchildrens' money to, are now donating big bucks to the Inaugural Party and events in order to win favor with the same politicians who have already rewarded them beyond their wildest dreams.

The fact that they are donating hundreds of thousands of dollars individually and millions collectively to the Inaugural events simply shows how blatantly arrogant they are to spend "our" money to win more influence for "them."

And yet Congress, both parties, wink at this excessive celebration at a time of great suffering and financial woes in the this country. Nearly 10 percent of the country is unemployed, millions of people are in foreclosure, we are fighting a war on two fronts and so what's the answer:

Let's have a Party!

So when you see these high-rolling bank executives in their formal wear Tuesday night, just remember all that glamor and glitz was purchased with our money.

I have high hopes for President Obama, but I have very, very low expectations for what his supporting cast in Congress will do to support him. I better see some heavy duty tax relief, as promised in the campaign, and I better see it soon.

If Congress wants to get people spending again, how about giving us back more of the money we earn, rather than printing up more and more money to give to a bunch of bankers who have proved over the last decade they not only don't know how to spend money, but even worse they know how to lose it in large quantities.

Colder than Alaska

Just a quick note to point out that in Michigan and Buffalo today it is 40 degrees colder than it is in Anchorage, Alaska.

As of 7:24 a.m. today, Anchorage was 37 degrees and Lapeer, Michigan was -7.

So there Alaska!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back in Buffalo

Nothing like a winter getaway to Buffalo, NY. We are back in my favorite city for a short visit with the folks.

We left the 0 degree weather of Michigan and arrived to the 0-degree weather here in Buffalo. Fear not, the temperatures are supposed to soar into the teens over the weekend so we may get to do a little sunbathing then.

As you can see I have found a signal so blogging may continue through the weekend. But first a trip to Niagara Falls tomorrow.

Ricardo Montalban R.I.P.

In honor of Ricardo Montalban - a true working actor - here is a 9 minute, 45 second segment from Star Trek. (Also notice the young female officer working on the bridge who later starred in the great Cheers series). I came late to Star Trek, but was a big fan, although I never went to a convention. I borrowed this from a Facebook entry, which had borrowed it from YouTube.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New FJ web page coming

In a note buried in a story about the indictment of the Flint police chief a Journal web staffer notes that the Journal will launch a new webpage for the news product by the end of this month.

The employee pointed people to the website as a template for what the Journal is going to do.

I just breezed over there and on first blush it would seem to be a much better format than the current MLive one. It is well past the time the change should have been made, but it is a hopeful sign that the online product may become a much better platform.

The MLive colloboration has been, by nearly all accounts, a total disaster and has contributed to the Booth's tardy entry into the real online news world. So this is good news.

Just like clockwork

And just three hours after I posted my cold weather television prediction comes this:

These guys are nothing, if not predictable.

Oh yes, and this one too.

And to my friends and family in warmer climates, you can spare me anymore of your local weather reports.

Frozen eggs and water

Sometimes there is nothing funnier than TV news. Take last night for example, as the television news reporters were stumbling all over themselves to try and describe how cold it is going to get here over the next few days.

For the many readers in California, especially the ones who have never experienced a real Michigan winter, we are in the beginning of a major cold snap.

This morning it was -14 degrees (actual temperature) on our deck. For a point of reference that's colder than your chicken breasts are in your freezer there in Santa Cruz, Danville and Los Angeles.

As if -14 degrees wasn't cold enough the television folks like to embellish the misery by adding the "windchill" which is the mathematical factor that makes -14 into -30 or -40 if there is a breeze or wind blowing through.

Trust me on this, once you get to the minus numbers, it doesn't really matter how fast the wind is blowing, it's just major league cold. Note they never use the windchill factor when it's 90 degrees and the wind is blowing.

"Folks it may be 90 degrees out here, but with the 20-mph winds it really only feels like 70," the reporter should say.

Anyway back to the tricks of the television trade. This morning, on two different stations, I watched with amusement as one reporter cracked an egg on the sidewalk and then timed how long it took for it to completely freeze. (Not long). Someone should tell this intrepid reporter that eggs should only be broken to show how hot it is, as in a 100-degree summer day in Tucson.

Later, another reporter poured a bottle of water into a plastic ice tray to show how quickly you could have ice cubes in the cold temperatures. As if anyone wants a nice cold drink with ice cubes when it's -14 outside. Here's what I propose, open your mouth until your tongue freezes and you can't talk. That I'll watch.

Tonight there will be obligatory story on keeping your pets warm and to make sure you carry a blanket, a shovel and enough food to feed West Covina in your car in case you break down in the cold.

Note to TV stations: We get it. It's cold outside. Any responsible pet owner knows that they must care for their pets in this arctic weather. The other kind of pet owners are likely watching reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies on a cable channel and not your news show.

Yes, it's cold. Yes, it's Michigan. Move on, nothing to see here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Story confirmed, new editor selected

Hate to do the I beat the Journal thing, but 16 hours after I posted the news, the Flint Journal put up a story about the changing of the guard at the paper.

Here's the link:

I noticed there was no mention of his current residency in the announcement. In case anyone wants to know it's in a Lansing suburb.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Can you say Peter Principle?

Just when you think that maybe, just maybe, someone at Booth or Newhouse would seek a new vision or new leadership, they prove that they are nothing, if not suicidal. And just when I said things had become suddenly quiet over there.

So the word is out that the current local news editor, affectionately known here as the editor-in-charge-of-corrections, has been elevated to the top Editor spot in the newsroom to replace the former captain of the Titanic.

And just for the record, I don't have anything personal against either of these men - and that's also the operative word here, men - it's just that between the two they have provided perhaps the poorest, most incompetent leadership of the Flint Journal in its history.

At times, I've shared a laugh or two with the new editor of the paper, but his skills at handling people and news are laughable. For Booth or Newhouse to believe this is the way out of the abyss is equally funny. For one thing, he lives in a suburb of Lansing with his very nice family and has for his entire career as an editor of the Flint Journal.

I wonder if the promotion comes with a push for him to finally move into the subscription area of the Flint Journal. It was always laughable when he commissioned stories on the residency of police officers and teachers when he himself not only lived in a different area code, but many, many miles outside the Journal's subscription area.

This is a guy who covered politics, and nothing else, early in his career and who has so little understanding of breaking news and how it needs to be covered that it was painful to those of us who did.

This just makes it plain that Booth is not really interested in surviving the long term.

There's a cliche that says when you're in a hole the first thing you should do is to "stop digging."

Booth just brought in a backhoe.

Gloom and doom

If you love newspapers and want them to succeed you may want to skip this story:

Source: Newspaper Death Watch

All's Quiet on the FJ front

It used to bug me when people would say, "no news is good news."

Well, when you are a newspaper reporter, not so much. But things are unusually quiet on the Booth front and frankly I haven't had time to shake the tree much.

What I do know is that one or two more people have been called aside and encouraged to lighten Booth's wallet by taking the buyout. The final date (or at least the latest final date) for those considering the buyout to sign on the dotted line is Friday.

Because of some pressing family health issues in Buffalo, my wife and I will be heading there for the weekend and so blogging will be sporadic between now and then.

So sorry about the dearth of news. Feel free to visit the links to the right as those folks are pretty regular about putting up news about the news business.

And, of course, if you have some information feel free to e-mail me at: jlsmediaservices (at) gmail (dot) com. Only use the symbols. Duuuuh!

If you are interested I added the obituary I wrote for my brother to the entry below where I announced his death. And again, thanks to all of you who have contacted me on - and off - line to express your concern and sympathy. It is very much appreciated and at some point I will try to respond to them all.