Thursday, June 30, 2005

Who is today's Shirley Chisolm?

I just finished viewing "Chisolm '72: Unbought and Unbossed." On the first layer, this was particularly interesting to me because I did not know much about Rep. Chisolm other than that she was the first black woman elected to Congress and the first woman to run for president. She died earlier this year. Beyond that, though the parallels between 1972 and 2004 were striking.

The politicking that people, especially within the women's movement, were willing to do in order to win and send President Nixon packing was amazing. At one point, the documentary said that Chisolm was probably ideologically almost identical to Sen. George McGovern, who eventually won the nomination but lost the election in a miserable defeat. Why, then did she run? Her answer would probably be "Why not run?" Clearly there were numerous factors in the 1972 race, some nicely explained in "All the President's Men" and others as specters of 1968, but the Chisolm factor had much to do with McGovern being nominated.

In 2004, I was a strong and early supporter of Howard Dean for president. In fact, I wanted him for vice president with Al Gore in 2000, and I knew Dean was a comer. He started saying the things that get people energized, and he was criticized for being too volatile. At the 2004 Washington caucus, I recall people saying, one after another, that we need a candidate who could win in November. I remember replying that we could show who is electable by actually electing him. Basically, if we know a candidate is right and we agree with him (or less frequently her), why do we avoid supporting him? We cast so much doubt and listen to so much conventional wisdom that we can't see a person who has potential but has not found a foothold.

So I ask: Among today's Democrats, who is today's Shirley Chisholm? Who is that candidate who is running for all that is right with America? Who is the candidate who will energize the electorate and the nonelectorate? Who is the candidate who will make people recall why they are proud to be Americans?

Is that candidate even out there? A combination of Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean would come pretty close. Can that candidate even exist in today's media environment? The 24-hour news cycle, endless shout shows and resourceful bloggers will undoubtedly form the crucible in which any candidate must be tempered.

My pal The CIB hopes it is Sen. Joe Biden, and honestly, he is making a lot of sense as a sane voice on Iraq these days. I know who it isn't, though, and that is John Kerry and John Edwards. Kerry is a candidate we settled for because we thought his medals would beat W.'s flight suit. Edwards is a sap who plays class divisions better than most Republicans because you don't even realize it -- remember "Two Americas"?

Will we ever see someone like Shirley Chisholm again? Honestly, I hope that person is out there today, running for school board, or state legislature -- in fact, I hope there are donzens of 'em. Democracy for America is helping people like these get elected and helping everyday progressives elect them. The group's mid-year report card is impressive and worth checking out. Time to restart the '04 engines. This pit stop has been long enough.

-- Peoria, Ariz.


Just in time for the 229th birthday of our nation, my blog pal Vestal Vespa has an item about a magnetic poetry kit with an "America" theme. See her comments here.

Vestal Vespa: What do ya know . . .

My take: Who the heck needs some sort of magnetic poetry kit to make patriotic phrases. Didn't Francis Scott Key and John Philip Sousa already do that? How about let;s try reading some real American poetry from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, even Abraham Lincoln? We Americans did just fine before magnetizing our words of patriotism.

-- Peoria, Ariz.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Pentagon is Big Brother

The New York Times reported the other day that the United States military has been accumulating data on prospective recruits -- data they are allowed to collect under the USA PATRIOT Act -- and compiling it to be available for all sorts of potentially seedy uses. Worse yet, a private company has been contracted to assist in the process, and the Social Security Administration has loosened its regulations to allow the military greater access. The Social Security Number was never intended to be used as a national identification number, yet that is exactly what has occurred.

I am not bothered by the military's recruiting. Of course the military needs to be able to contact the prospective recruits. I am troubled by the increasingly aggressive methids and the idea that the military is compiling data to specially target certain individuals. It was reported that the fields include height, weight, and so on, but I imagine it could also at some point include notes such as family status and income -- information to cull more desperate candidates and identify them for special attention.

The practice has been in place since 2002, officials knew they were in violation of some procedures in May 2004, and have still not rectified the procedures. Families should demand that this type of personal information not be collected on their children all under the guise of increased national security. How far will the government go?

Read the full story.

-- Peoria, Ariz.

Summer Movies Reviewed

In June I have seen three movies. Here is my take:

"Batman Begins" — Homerun! This is a very entertaining film that also stays true to the philosophy and legend of the Dark Knight. I especially liked how the filmmakers stayed away from the corniness that has plagued the Batman transfers to television and film. Even the 1989 film with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson had a wink and nod to the 1960s series. Of course, with the Joker in the story, you're bound to have some hokey humor. Still, it is nice to see the characters treated so well. Admittedly, I skipped the last installment with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chris O'Donnell. A new generation of people can be exposed to the beauty of Batman, which is that you don't need special powers, like Superman or even Spider-Man; instead, hard work and a good sense of justice can lead to good. That's what first drew me to read Batman comics, and it's why I so enjoyed this film. Pay full price.

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" — I am not really a fan of the spy thriller. OK, I liked "The Italian Job" and "Enemy of the State" — the kind of films with more suspense and thrill than action and adventure. Still, this movie was entertaining. It was not what I would consider a good film because the plot was trite and predictable. However, it had its endearing moments, and passed the time well. I went to a full-price show with family, but probably not worth more than matinee prices.

"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" — This was the third installment of the epic series, one that closes the gap and brings the modern installments into alignment with the 1970s and 1980s films, which come later in the plot. I attended a digital projection screening, and I think that affected my enjoyemnt of the film in a positive way. The graphics and effects were tremendous and entertaining. I thought the plot dragged a bit, perhaps because every viewer knows what is coming — the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. It was a bit anti-climactic, to be honest. Overall, a good show, and plenty of CGI eye candy. Pay full price.

-- Peoria, Ariz.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Summer Vacation? Not so much.

Today's edition of The New York Times has a nice op-ed piece, "Reading, Writing, Retailing," about funding educators and the future of the teaching profession and about how so many teachers must moonlight or work summers to pay the bills. It's by Dave Eggers, the founder of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit group that tutors students, where Nínive Calegari is on the board. Daniel Moulthrop, a former teacher, is a radio producer for WCPN in Cleveland. They are the authors of "Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of Our Nation's Teachers."

It is a good read.

Find it here.

-- Peoria, Ariz.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hoover Dam and other legacies

My travel through the desert from Las Vegas to Phoenix (about 280 miles) took about five and a half hours to complete. The main congestion was at Hoover Dam, just about 40 minutes from Las Vegas, which dams the Colorado River, and forms a border between Nevada and Arizona. Much of the slow travel can be attributed to the narrow, winding road that cars must travel; the terrain prohibits much else.

The other delays are more artificial. As I drove through the dam zone at about 5 mph, I realized what an example Hoover Dam is for our day. Not only is Hoover Dam a convergence of ideas and good ol' American know-how, it is also a collision of government work, tourism and the war on terror. Each car was funneled through a security corridor, where certain vehicles were directed for inspection. I imagine this is like the "additional screening" at the airport. Trucks, vans, buses and the like were directed to a special line, just as at the border. I imagine this is all to thwart any attempt by terroriets at damaging the mammoth hydroelectric dam, which would cause a massive flood, loss of electricity to huge expanses of the West, and significant loss of life and damage to the environment.

Hoover Dam brings together the federal departments of the Interior and Transportation and, I imagine, Energy and Homeland Security. I did not stop at the gleaming copper visitors' center to find out. Construction also slowed the traffic. This is because a new bypass road is being built, which, I assume will permit traffic to avoid traveling across the top of the dam and, hopefully, reduce risk of damage as well as speed things up a bit.

I observed an irony: The dam is named for an American president whose main legacy is that the Great Depression began during his administration, and his economic policies contributed significantly to that occurence. As a Republican, likely a pro-business fan of small government, his name is carved onto one of the most perpetually massive public works projects ever, still expanding today.

Then, as I looked back toward the dam in my rear mirror, I speculated what major government projects might be named for other presidents. Ronald Reagan has the trade building in Washington -- a huge structure (fans coould say because he was bigger than life, detractors could say because of his huge deficits). Washington National Airport is now Washington Reagan National Airport. Houston's main airport is named after George Bush, as is a stretch of the Interstate Highway surrounding that city and the headquarters of the CIA he once headed. No airports are named for Bill Clinton, but I imagine it is only a matter of time until something suitably ironic pops up.

What, then, will be the constructed legacy of George W. Bush? A massive Homeland Security building? Maybe, like the term "Hooverville" for the snatytowns that arose for the destitute, security barricades might be called "Bushicades." Maybe it will have to do with the deficit or dwindling natural resources or eroded civil liberties. Maybe future tax cuts will be called "Bush Cuts." Who knows? I am sure it will be filled with irony, though.

-- Peoria, Ariz.

Road Trip '05: Stage 3

Las Vegas was a pleasant experience. Basically my time there included being lazy by the pool, sweating in my car, and seeing some great entertainment.

I was an ultimate geek by attending The Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. This place is a restaurant themed like the futire in Star Trek. All the menu items are based on the characters and lore of Star Trek. I had a toasted hero that was called a Photo Torpedo, which had me worried about its bowel effects, let me tell you. I can't recall all of the lame puns, but the version of a Long Island Ice Tea was called the James Tea Kirk. Ha ha.

I wandered around and looked at the various displays for a bit after I downed my torpedo. I considered attending one of the movie rides, but it was $38 for an 18-minute ride, and I thought that was not worth it.

The Las Vegas Hilton is also home to "Music and Passion," Barry Manilow's show. I was bummed to have been in town when he was not because that would have been worth seeing. I did stop by the Barry Manilow gift shop, and I thought that the Barry bobblehead was a trip. One would have been funny, but two? Probably appeals to the fanatics, not the casual fans like me.

I saw a classic Vegas variety show called Splash. It has been around for 20 years, but the reviews say it stays fresh through constant reinvention. Apparently, it also introduced America to the hip hop street dancing that is now pervasive on MTV. It did have everything a person could ask for in a variety show: lots of singing, lots of dancing, a few topless showgirls, comic drummers (the Gouchos), juggling Mexican brothers, ice skating couple, ice skating woman with hula hoops (one on fire!), a circus guy (named Vitaly, of course) who uses a long banner of fabric to fly through the air, and four motorcycles inside a metal globe. Wow! My only complaint was that the audience was kind of tepid. I think some of the Japanese tourists did not get some of the jokes. All in all, Viva Las Vegas!

I left Las Vegas and made it to my folks' home in the Phoenix area in reasonable time. I have already been in the pool, and I am enjoying the time away. My folks are out of town until Sunday, so I have it all to myself. My stepmom was nice enough to leave a leftover pork chop in the refrigerator for me.

The West is a big place, for sure. And there are portions that are attractive and some that are downright desolate. With all the congestion in some parts of the country, I am surprised someone has not made a plan to use the land better.

-- Peroria, Ariz.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Road Trip ’05: Stage 2

Let's just say that my night staying at the Motel 6 was not the best motel experience ever. I was tired at about 10 p.m., so I went to bed. It was hot because of the broken air conditioning, so I slept atop the covers. I awoke several times during the night with various noises outside the room, in the parking lot and, at about 5 a.m., the construction quarry nearby. I decided to sleep until about 8 instead of the 6 a.m. time I planned to get up. About 6, the room started heating up because the sun came over the hills. It had cooled quite a bit overnight.

So, around 7:30, I got up, showered and dressed and left for Las Vegas. No travel problems to report, and it was smooth sailing to Vegas. Nevada really is much more eye-pleasing than I thought. Also, the thunderstorms and lightning sparked a few fires, which made for interesting viewing about 45-60 minutes north of Las Vegas.

I am getting settled here and have Internet access, so I can do my online class work and such. Can't believe that I am in my hotel room blogging in Vegas. When I head to the strip later, that should give some good fodder for entries!

-- Las Vegas, Nev.

Road Trip ’05: Stage 1

I left Wenatchee on schedule this morning, just after 6 a.m. Pacific Time. The only glitch in travel was in the Tri-Cities, where I think I have gotten lost every time I have traveled there. In my own defense, I did take all the correct turns and exits. However, I did not realize that the highway turned into a main street through Kennewick, and I turned back and asked for directions at a mini-mart.

Travel continued well, and I had no problems through Oregon and was at the Idaho state line at about 1:30 Mountain Time (just 6 1/2 hours after I left). As I drove those first few miles in the Gem State, I noticed that the highway medians and shoulders had a lot of weeds and just looked unsightly. Things improved around Boise. I continued to make excellent time through Idaho and stopped for a break in Twin Falls at 4:30 Mountain Time.

Nevada, I realized, actually has some nice scenery. The drawback is that it just keeps going and going and going. Just when I thought I was making some progress, I realized there were still miles to go. With the speed limit at 70 mph and mostly straight and flat terrain, I did make it to Ely (EE-lie), Nev., by about 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. The hour I lost in Idaho’s time zone was regained in Nevada. I thought it would be no problem to find a motel, hopefully with Internet access. The first couple motels were booked. The Longhorn, a former Holiday Inn, had one room in nonsmoking, and it had Internet – for just $95. I passed, settling instead for the Motel 6 at just $39.95. No Internet. Also, the air conditioning was broken, but it actually was not too bad since I opened a window and a light breeze kicked up. The other guests seem to be nightowls, and the many motorcycles have been rumbling around the parking lot. The view of the full moon from the room was striking.

I was so pleased with the performance of my car, which traveled 800 miles. The engine temperature stayed within the normal range, and I had to turn off the air conditioning for a while to ensure that. Still, it was a tough accomplishment considering the elevation rise and the temperatures over 100 degrees.

Las Vegas is just a four-hour drive or so (275 miles), and I should be settled there by early afternoon. I composed this in Ely, Nev., but I posted it from Las Vegas.

-- Las Vegas, Nev.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Election '08 -- Stage 1

Well, others have beat me to the punch. People are lining up candidates for the 2008 presidential election, just three years away. My friend the CIB has already thrown her support to U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988. But so did all the other Democrats that year (Michael Dukakis and my hubris-filled tragic hero Gary Hart).

Someone with GOP tendencies also thought it would be cute to write "Jeb Bush in 2008" on my doormat and newspaper, still on the porch because I was out of town. I have my suspicions because I don't know many people foolish enough to scrawl such a slogan.

Throw all the support you want at Joe Biden but he ain't gonna make it. I'll bet the CIB a cocktail of her choosing. Ditto for Jeb, the Bush everyone thought would inherit the legacy of Prescott and Poppy. Alas, no. Jeb has several albatrosses around his neck: Schiavo, Elian, hurricanes, a crappy and unpopular education reform package, and of course the 2000 presidential fiat.

I don't know who will win the nominations for either major party, but I know it won't be Biden or Bush. Biden is running for Secretary of State and I doubt the people would elect a third Bush in 20 years. Jeb would be smart to sit this one out to avoid looking like a patsy for his brother. But you never know what could happen.

Here are my contenders:

For the Democrats, in order of likelihood to be nominated:
  • U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, also a former governor
  • Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, also a former Congressman and ambassafor to the United Nations.
  • Gov. Mark Warner of Virgina, a statewide Democrat from Virginia has to make anyone's list
  • U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, the former president's wife
  • Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, now working with a foundation to reduce poverty
  • U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware -- I guess if a governor of Arkansas can do it, so can a Senator from tiny Delaware, the credit capital of America
  • U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts -- but is he used goods?
  • The other 41 Democrat U.S. Senators, all of whom have entertained presidential ambitions -- they're Senators after all
  • Wild Cards: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, president of the New School in New York but recently a 9/11 Commissioner; Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, a former DNC chair; U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, but probably just for vice president if at all.

For the Republicans, in order of likelihood to be nominated:
  • U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who ran unsuccessfully in 2000 and has been paying his dues ever since
  • Former U.S. House Speaker New Gingrich of Georgia, who has a book out and is making plenty of networking connections on the book tour
  • Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the Mormon son of a political dynasty who needs a legislative win or the voters to overturn same-sex marriage in his superliberal state
  • U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania -- dude, he is so on the ticket because of his super-Christian beliefs that rally the Religious Right
  • U.S. Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Majority Leader -- not likely to win because of legislative baggage
  • Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who has stealthily climbed her way to the top by being loyal and having Teflon coating
  • Wild Cards: Vice President Dick Cheney, bad ticker or not, the conservatives adore him; U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a maverick who makes a lot of sense; U.S. Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, also a former governor whose credentials can't be tarnished by a break with the Bushies; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, only if the Consitution gets changed.
-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Birthday ups and downs

Friday June 17 was, in fact, my 31st birthday, and it was a doozy. I left for Seattle with no agenda other than to have some fun and relax after a long school year. Thank goodness I have friends like Superfrankenstein and the CIB, because they made my birthday memorable and fun.

Let's just say there was plenty of spiritous libations and good eats. I found a quarter on the bus. We had good conversation -- and plenty of spiritous libations.

That was the nice part of my birthday. The earlier part was not so fun.

It all started because I just had to watch a few more minutes of the Today show. I needed to get in the shower, but there I was, enthralled by the fashion segment on the "Boho" style -- the return of Bohemian style of dress. I don't know why I thought it was interesting, but it was. Then I was late. After filling up with gas, I was on the road with just one hour to get to Ellensburg. Should have been fine, and I might have been just a couple minutes late for my 11 a.m. haircut at The Clipper (just $10 and so good).

Then, I knew I was doomed. I always say that Highway 97 over Blewett Pass is not a painful drive unless you get stuck behind a boat, camper or tractor-trailer. As I was cruising along on a glorious Friday during summer vacation that was also my birthday, I had to decelerate rapidly approaching a tractor-trailer full of bins of apples or pears. It was going no more than 40 mph. I was screwed. The passing lane was still a few miles away, and I was traveling at a painfully slow speed given my need to get to Ellensburg. Here is where I should have just used my cell phone to call the barber to reschedule and to call my friend with whom I had lunch plans to move it later.

But no. I decided I would pass the truck and then try to make up some time. Big mistake. Going up a hill, everyone has to press the accelerator a bit to get the car moving up the hill. That's what I did, and I was all alone. I honestly did not realize that as the hill flattened, I was up to 75 mph. The posted limit is 60. I only realized this when from around a bend came a state patrol trooper who literally flipped a U-turn and flashed those lights.

Officer 626 was very polite and nice about the whole situation -- as nice as I can handle when I am receiving a euphemistically titled "notice of infraction" for $153. Thank goodness this was also in Chelan County still as I plan to explain the circumstances in court as is my right.

Officer 626 also asked me if I knew my license expired. Oh yeah, I thought, today is my birthday and it expires today. Honestly, who looks at their license for the expiration date? I asked if the Department of Licensing should have sent me a reminder, and he explained that perhaps if I had sent in a change of address within 10 days of moving, as I should have, then I would have received the notice. Embarrassment.

After 10 humiliating minutes at a slow vehicle turnout, I made my way to Ellensburg. Changed the haircut appointment. Finished lunch. Went to the Department of Licensing in Ellensburg to get a new license, which, thankfully, took just about four minutes start to finish. I have a laser printout as a temporary and then the new card will come from Olympia in about two weeks. My old one was seven years old because I had the original four years plus a three-year extension sticker (part of the reason I forgot it expired this year), and I really liked that picture. It's amazing how much I have changed. Smaller glasses, bigger forehead and chins. Oh well.

All in all a birthday to remember. And I will keep remembering it every time I pay what I am sure will be an increased insurance premium.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Coverage in the high school newspaper

If you are just tuning in, there is a steady back-and-forth debate between to loyal Loganite readers, DrPezz and MrPibb, who are conflicted about the coverage deserved by and given to various sports and activities at our high school. Normally, I don't defend coverage decisions because the complainants usually don't want an explanation, they want something changed. Then, amid the barbs this week came this Anonymous post:
I noticed a lot of coverage on teams that were losing... didn't see too much of the boys swim team having an undefeated season and first at districts/anything else too interesting even though the paper wasn't readily available to me. I, however when I was at the highschool more often, did not recall EVER getting to vote on anything that dealth with issues in the paper (like polls). It would have been cooler if we had more people vote than just like 50 that are in your class or whatever you guys do.
With the above comment and the cheer-coverage strand, let me explain a bit of background regarding the decisionmaking about sports coverage and activities at school.

The student staff has committed each year to cover every sport and every squad at a minimum level. That means reporting every score plus a highlight and quote for the three-week interval between issues. This past year, the sports editor also chose to have a narrative story on each varsity sport at some point during the season, which could go further in-depth than just the scores and highlights, even if the team was losing. Heck, if we only covered the wins, there would not be much in some issues. The sports editor also developed a banner with mugs of notable varsity performances with quotes and a series of notable facts. This, with at least one action photo each issue, which we also try to balance among verious teams during the season, comprises two pages.

The timeliness of each edition -- every three weeks -- makes game summaries worthless. People already know the results from another source or it has been so long that they don't care. So, the students determined they would simply document the scores and highlights as listed above. They also committed a full page each issue for a profile of a player or coach. They try to balance this around the various sports, buut there are more sports than there are issues of the newspaper in a year, so some of the smaller sports get skipped in a year. Sometimes these are profiles of the all-star standouts, other times they highlight a player who has come back from injury or who sits on the bench but has great team spirit and so on.

When the decision was made in 2001 to switch to this format, student editors knew that it would mean that coverage of a state championship or other truly exceptional performance would most likely not receive the coverage it had received earlier. The tradeoff was better coverage during the season, knowing that the number of exeptional performances would be few.

Coverage decisions -- in sports or any other section -- are always based on a few factors:
Is it timely? This means how much time has elapsed since the event occurred. Priority is given to stories that are more "fresh." It's called a newspaper, not an oldspaper, after all. We want recent events, and preference is always given to stories that we can break.
Is it noteworthy? Is this exceptional or routine? The more exceptional the event, the more likely it will receive larger coverage. Another related factor is the likelihood that readers will have already learned the news from another source.
Is it significant? It might be exceptional or unusual and recent but that doesn't mean anyone cares. Reader interest also plays a factor. We also rely on participants to act as filters to help us understand when something is a big deal.
Are we able to cover this? Often there are limitations to coverage, including closeness to deadline, availability of a reporter, proximity to our town. This is a significant reason that post-season sports get little coverage -- they take place a long way from home, and we don't have resources to send a reporter or photographer. Sometimes sources also complicate coverage by being unavailable or unwilling to talk to a reporter.
Is there space? The number of pages is based on a budget and certain requirements of the printing press. That budget is determined by the amount of advertising sold. We have often cut smaller stories or trimmed larger ones because there simply was not space available.

All in all, it's not a perfect science. As for the coverage of smaller sports, I will say that the students try to be fair, and I hold them to account for doing so. Admittedly, girls swimming deserved far more coverage, and the boys team could have had some more, too. The boys team received a full-page profile of one of its players this year.

As for the polls, those were not done as frequently this year, or at least with the structure they have had in years past. If only 50 students were polled, then 1,900 weren't, so you were among a pretty large group that also was not asked a question. We did add a poll feature to the Web site this spring, though.

Finally, I feel I have to explain a bit about cheerleading and its coverage. In addition to all the factors listed above, there were some special circumstances for cheerleading stories. The student editors had planned a story about the team's plans to host and compete in a competition. It was a first. Close to the event, it became known that the local team would not compete because some members would not be available. That pretty much killed the story. Probably there should have been a follow-up, even an advance story about preparations for the state competition. There was a brief about the second-place finish. Again, it would have been helpful to know that even though there were just six teams, that placing second was an accomplishment.

I would also point out that a brief is all that was printed by the newspaper staff about themselves when the newspaper was just one of 23 papers to win a very prestigious national award for the first time ever. Or when it was one of just 26 papers to win another very prestigious national award. Or when, in 2001, when it was the sole winner in a national contest. Or when its adviser was named adviser of the year in April (that received one sentence, by the way). Same for the nationally recognized yearbook. That's because the general readership doesn't care how many awards you win. They just want a good newspaper or yearbook. Document and announce, of course, but don't toot your own horn too much. But that rule should not apply to every activity -- you could imagine how ridiculous it would be if the cheerleaders made a self-promoting cheer and chanted it at each halftime -- and the newspaper should try to reflect the importance of student accomplishments and place them in context.

There was a story in May about the allegations of inappropriate cheerleader initiation activities. Yes, it was more than a brief. It was newsworthy. That there had been only small stories about cheer earlier is, frankly, irrelevant. Would those who criticized this story be much less critical if there had been a huge flattering story earlier about the hardworking and dedicated cheerleaders? I highly doubt it. It would have been that same size if it had been any team in the same circumstances, too.

Whew! I guess I have had a lot to say about this topic. I will tell you one thing: I am pitching a story for the Sept. 21, 2005, edition of the newspaper that shows the cheerleaders behind the scenes and helps readers understand the amount of work they do. No guarantees, of course, but it's a story that probably needs to be written (again, by the way -- did one in 1998).

Comments welcomed as always. But I didn't need to tell anyone that.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Get your summer on

It's official: We're in summer break. I don't have much else to say other than WOO-HOO! It really is nice to have less on my plate. I have just a couple days to tie up some loose ends at school and then focus diligently on my summer projects of online classes and directing the journalism workshop.

I also have some travel planned, and I will try to post from various exotic locales from Wenatchee to Phoenix. Another week and I will have completed a half year of blogging. Pretty good if I do say so myself. Maybe I will host an online party. Or a clip show.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Post your comments about cheerleading and sports here

OK. Clearly, I should have moved the comments about cheerleading being a sport to a separate forum sooner, as the back-and-forth has continued for a few days and multiple posts. So here you go.

And my take is below:
1. DrPezz is entitled to his opinion. I think he knows I don't agree with some of his assertions and criticism from his original letter in the school newspaper, and I stand by the work of my students.

2. The spark for this line of commentary, now known as mrpibb, has a point, too. Mainly, he is saying that you can't really compare the accomplishments of a sports team's championship or state finish to that of the cheerleaders' state finish. While the second-place finish of the cheerleaders is admirable, it is not achieved through the same series of qualifyting competitions as a sports team. The award is legitimate, it's just different from sports. And that's really all mrpibb is saying, I think. That and other athletes are dedicated, too.

3. I am loath to guide any expression here, being I am a purist toward the First Amendment, but please refrain from raising the volume too much. Let's debate not attack. Not everyone will have a user name, and it is not required to post. In the case of these posts, I don't think it's a big deal, however, I always appreciate people being named, which helps distinguish the various posts -- all from "Anonymous."

So as of now, please post your comments here. Hope I have not effectively squelched the discussion, because I do read each post with interest. Glad to be able to provide your forum.

-- L.

Payback is sweet

In April, during Spring Break, I was startled at 1 a.m. when my doorbell rang. I had been reading in bed, and so I got dressed to see what was up. I went outside to discover toilet paper carefully strung throughout my front yard -- in the trees, along the low wire fence, in the bushes -- four rolls in all.

With a sigh, I went ouitside and started pulling it down. It was not even that funny, honestly. It is just annoying. Plus, I knew who it was.

So I acted surprised at school the next week, launched an investigation, and rooted out the five culprits. I had a plan for payback. And I waited.

Graduation day, the seniors met in the auditorium for final details. As we finished, I had the principal call the five students down to talk with a police officer who is assigned to our campus. I had arranged this in advance, but the kids knew nothing. The entire class erupted in the "Oooh" that usually accompanies the public shame of teens.

As the rest of us went outside to prepare for a class picture, these five students received a stern lecture about trespassing and the ramifications of pranks now that they were adults. The irony was that the same core group had also TP'd the principal's house just the night before! When they came out for the picture, they knew I had set them up. Gotcha!

Lesson: Stay the hell out of my yard. Next time the police will be for real.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

They got me good

Some readers who know me well know that I can tolerate a lot. I think this is because of my six-month sentence at the Hampshire Country School in Rindge, New Hampshire. One of my colleagues, the social studies department, said that Rindge was not the end of the world but that you could see it from there. Anyway, the students and general situation frustrated and challenged me daily, and I now I can handle a lot of things as a result.

However, there are a few things in this world that I loathe. Can't stand 'em. Bigots. Liars. Whiners. People who act dumber than they are.

I also loathe some things: Lying. NASCAR. Stout beer.

But I absolutely loathe the font Comic Sans. Though it may be disguised as another name on your particular computer, it lurks there, tempting all sorts of people into using it. With its casual lines, nondescript appeal, it seems so cute, so innocent. The fact is, it's u-g-l-y. And I have banned it from all publishing with which I am associated. I even stopped reading memos from the school office formatted in Comic Sans. And all my students know better than to try to submit work in this damned font. The newspaper kids and I have even talked about the use of the font in the paper, and I always won the battles.

And I'm not the only one who hates it, either. Read this fantastic essay that captures why many of the enlightened ones simply detest this typeface. Take a look at the Ban Comic Sans Web site.

So, having laid the foundation for my loathing, the newspaper editor slipped one past me. He switched the font for the folio of one page of the final issue last week from a beautiful Officina Serif Bold to the loathsome Comic Sans. I proofed that page at least twice, on screen and on paper. The last proofing, I had no idea something was up even though every editor had gathered around my desk, watching and laughing. I honestly thought the kids were just feeling the bonding of the moment.

So when the paper was published June 8, the editor says to me simply: "I won." My eyes widened, and I knew instantly what he meant. I searched the pages, and I found it. There, screaming at me, taunting me, was the word "FEATURES" in a portly, limp font. I crumpled to the floor and everyone around erupted in laughter. I conceded that the editor had, indeed, pulled one on me, and an innocent good one at that. I later asked how many students in the class knew about this prior to it being printed and nearly all the 22 hands went up. It was a conspiracy.

Yes, they got me. I'll get them back when I delete the font from the computers over the summer. Heh heh heh.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Graduation rocked!

As senior class adviser, one of my responsibilities is to coordinate the graduation ceremony with school officials and the students. Basically I am responsible for the program and planning.

Practice went off without a hitch. Those kids were so good at lining up, as well as at sitting and standing as a row. Nice work to add a classy detailed touch. Not so hot on singing the alma mater, but oh well.

There were a few sound problems at the ceremony, but it's not like you can fix those during the show, so just accept and move on. At least the speakers worked during one of the most important pieces.

The Distinguished Alumnus this year was Karl Horst, Class of 1973, who is a brigadier general in charge of U.S. Army operations in Baghdad, Iraq. His pal from high school, now a local insurance agent, spoke for him, and arranged for Gen. Horst to speak live via cell phone from Baghdad. We kept it almost a secret, so if it didn't work no one would know. It worked. Oh yeah, it worked well. The crowd was enthralled, riveted to the words spoken by this articulate and inspirational general who graduated 32 years ago. Simply put, it was awesome.

The evening ended with the usual fireworks, always a treat.

It was my pleasure to also make the rounds Saturday and Sunday to seven graduation parties. I love being invited, eating cake as much as possible. Talk centered on the success of the ceremony (and that phone call) and the senior party where a number of students left a lasting impression with their antics while hypnotized. Graduation weekend is such a reaffirmation for me. It almost erases all the rougher spots during the school days, and it shows that kids do grow up and become adults ready to take on the world. Sometimes I am still a bit apprehensive, but usually I am impressed. I am already planning for 2006.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dino Rossi, exit stage right

I have thoroughly enjoyed my week of being free of Dino Rossi and his crankiness and untruths. We're rid of him, for a time at least.

On June 6, Judge John Bridges basically threw out all the Republican claims of fraud and misdeeds during the November election where Christine Gregoire was elected governor. He also threw out the ridiculous proportional analysis, by which the so-called illegal votes would be deducted based on how the precint overall voted. He said you actually needed to have a vote match a voter. Best part was when Bridges deducted four votes from Rossi's total because the only felon voters to actually be matched with their votes voted for Rossi. So, now Gregoire won by 133 votes, still enough to keep this the closest governor's race in history.

The judge said to use this proportional analysis would force him to become an "activist" judge of the type so loathed today. Take that, dastardly Republicans!

So Rossi steps aside, no appeal necessary. He slams the electoral system and judicial system. He looks like a sore loser, honestly. If he had been a loyal Loganite reader, he would have seen my advice way back in January to get off the stage, save his political capital for two years and plan a run for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Maria Cantwell. Now, look what's happening. He is doing just that. I think he stands a good chance as Cantwell is not especially strong. However, if she can play her anti-Enron cards up in Snohomish County (which she had better do) and make energy her issue, I think she can win enough techie suburbanites to get re-elected. After that, she'd be there to stay. Keep in mind, Sen. Patty Murray was widely discounted for her second term as well. We'll see.

Republicans, meantime, say that Rossi is their best chance at winning. Sad. They have got to have a deeper bench. Rossi is an electable candidate, for sure, though I find him unpalatable, but the R's need to be cultivating some reasonable candidates for statewide office. They have that is Secretary of State Sam Reed, but they scolded him publicly and badly for actually following the law after the November election, and now I think it would be hard to rally around him. Attorney General Rob McKenna? Maybe, but give him a few years to make a name.

At least we have a Rossi-free summer. Viva Gov. Gregoire!

--Wenatchee, Wash.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Deep Throat discussed

The Washington Post may have been scooped on the revelation of one of its most important sources ever, but the Post still can own the Deep Throat story that has dominated journalism circles for a few days. (Aside: This story is getting a bit overplayed mainly, I think, because the journalists making decisions think this is a bigger story than it really is, especially to the younger folks.)

The Post has a fantastic writer in Hank Stuever, whose pieces in the Style section often have me rolling. Stuever wrote a piece about the unmasking of Deep Throat, and it's worth a look. If you read the blog of one of my good pals, Uniongrrl's Cyphering, and her recent post about Deep Throat and his mystique and allure, you'll like the Stuever piece.

The Poynter Institute's Chip Scanlan, for his regular column, wrote about Stuever's DT piece and interviewed Stuever.

By the way, check out a bit more from Stuever, in his collected work, "Off Ramp: Adventures of Heartache in the American Elsewhere," which is available in paperback from Picador this summer.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Good horoscope

I am not much of a believer in astrology. My horoscope for June 2, according to that distributed by Tribune Media Services, is a "10" and reads:
"You're popular because you're cute, but do your friends respect your intellect? Of course they do! Without you, they'd be clueless."

I may not be much of a believer, but that is two days in a row of "10" on the horoscope. And even without much faith in the stars, it's enough to make a guy feel good.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.