Walter Cronkite, ass kicker

Back in the day. long before the world changed, the company I worked for owned United Press International. Old Man Scripps started UPI because the stuffy country-club newspaper owners had started the Associated Press -- a cooperative of newspapers that shared their reporting.

Scripps was an outsider, an ass-kicking populist, and certainly not part of any cozy club. And he was not inclined to share squat. But he would love to sell it to you -- hence the UPI business model of selling news to subscribers.

Scripps, through his newspapers and wire services and radio and TV stations, spawned some great journalists. They all shared the same DNA, genetic traits that stayed with them throughout their lives. The strain that seemed to characterize all of us was a kick-your-ass, get-it-first competitiveness. It was the heart and soul of our business, and it defined our organization and who we were as individuals. (There was also, almost conversely, a genteelness -- a polite and courtly manner that often disguised the drive. Just think of legends like Bob Consodine and Ernie Pyle.)

Courtly Uncle Walter Cronkite learned the trade as a reporter for UPI. He was that gracious Teddy Bear we watched on TV each night, but as these remembrances -- and as most of his obituaries -- note, his career was fueled by a ferocious competitive drive.

Although he left Scripps to work for other companies, he was always part of us, always involved tangentially in the company, just as other Scripps expatriates were. There was something about The Concern, as it was known, that marked you for life. Like a family, you were part of it forever, and it was -- is -- part of you.

There was a time when getting the story first was really important -- more than really important. Readers knew if who reported a story first. So did competitors, and sources. Being the first with a story was more than a matter of pride -- it was a matter of survival.

Uncle Walter was a product of that time. He had the wisdom to retire on top, before all the rules changed. Here's hoping that DNA lives on in what passes for newsrooms today.

-Paul Knue

More from Salon: Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009

As good as it gets?

Since the House bill, HR3200, is the best on offer from the Democratic leadership right now, I'll use it as a baseline....

1. 10 million people will not be covered. That's not universal coverage.

2. Only 9 million people will be in public option by 2019. That's not enough to keep the insurance companies honest (if that were even possible).

3. Public option does not begin until 2013. That's not "from Day One."

4. Public option is means-tested and fire-walled, so even if you don't like your insurance, you could still be forced to keep it.

5. The bills now have HMO-style care controls, supposedly as a cost control device. These were tried in the 80s, and didn't work. Remember Helen Hunt in "As Good As It Gets"? The audiences cheered. And for good reason.

6. There is no effective appeals mechanism. The three ombudsmen in the House bill do not have conflict resolution authority, as ombudsmen typically do.

7. You could be forced to buy junk insurance. If the minimum standards for coverage are set too low (which the insurance companies will do everything they can to make happen) and the subsidies for public option are chipped away at (and since they're framed as welfare, they will be), you could end up paying for insurance and still not getting care. Right now, you pay nothing and get nothing. That's better than paying, and still getting nothing.

8. The entire plan is complex, untested, and unproven. In fact, the Democrats are performing a large experiment on the health of the American people without their informed consent. In medicine, that's unethical.

9. Contrary to the assertions of some advocates, the public option will not evolve into single payer. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has said that the legislation will be crafted to avoid this; Obama now agrees (as opposed to the Obama of 2003, of course).

10. All these factors taken together might explain why Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calls her own plan the "next best" solution for health care reform after single payer.

Don't the American people deserve the best health care system, and not the second best one?

link: As Good as It Gets? Talking points on the Democrat's health care bills and single payer | Corrente

Spell, even?

-- Post From My iPhone

On spending $1 trillion for health care

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the $1 trillion cost of a proposed health care bill. How are we going to pay for it? What about the increase in the deficit it will cause?

But don't forget to read the fine print. That $1 trillion? It's over a ten-year period. You know what costs $1 trillion every year? The "defense" budget...

Was there a discussion of "how are we going to pay for it" when the U.S. government decided to invade Afghanistan or Iraq? Was there a discussion of "how are we going to pay for it" when President Obama decided to escalate the war in Afghanistan or start a new war in Pakistan? Not a peep.

link: Left I on the News

Walter Cronkite

After taking the phone call, [CBS News President Sean McManus] tried to explain to his children — who have grown up bombarded with news and information — the value of Mr. Cronkite’s once-a-day news updates....

“I tried to explain to them that most people in America expected to get both good and bad news from one man, and that was Walter Cronkite,” he said. “That will never be duplicated again,” because of the fragmentation of the media.

Mr. McManus sensed that his children had a hard time comprehending what he meant.

link: Explaining ‘The Way It Was’ to the YouTube Generation - Media Decoder Blog - NYTimes.com


Exit, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

The most un-scary headline ever written

Italian bloggers strike

link: Italian bloggers strike | GlobalPost

He is the very model of a modern CEO

“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population...” stated Harry Schoell, Cyclone’s CEO.

link: Company Denies its Robots Feed on the Dead | Danger Room | Wired.com

Is that a hot dog in your garage or...

MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. – One southern Wisconsin homeowner is probably not in love with the Oscar Mayer wiener. The famed hot dog's Wienermobile crashed Friday into the deck and garage of a home in Mount Pleasant, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee.

link: Oscar Mayer Wienermobile crashes into Wis. home - Yahoo! News

Better (30 years or so) late than never

New passenger trains capable of exceeding 200 m.p.h. will operate from Chicago to Milwaukee under a purchase agreement that Wisconsin officials announced Friday.

link: Ultra-fast trains ordered -- chicagotribune.com

Line may extend to Minneapolis by 2015.


Some guys just don't appreciate a good yuk

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) on Friday morning called on the Treasury Department to axe a job opening seeking an applicant who can “create cartoons on the spot” in order to introduce “humor in the workplace.”

link: Raw Story » Treasury Dept. cuts ‘Humor in the Workplace’ job opening

Artsy swagger!

WITH the quiet momentum of a work in progress, Cincinnati is finding an artsy swagger, infused with a casual combination of Midwest and Southern charm....

link: 36 Hours - Cincinnati - NYTimes.com

Sure, coming from the NYTimes it does sound a wee bit, well, condescending, but hey, we are impressed.


Outspoken, to say the least

McCain's daughter has her own Straight Talk Express.

Does it sound campy to say I love gay men?” asks Meghan McCain, sipping an iced tea at the nouveau-chic Hotel Palomar in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle. Campy or not, the lovesick McCain has been ubiquitous this year, sallying forth on late-night TV -- Larry King Live, The Colbert Report, The Rachel Maddow Show -- to scold the Republican establishment for its social conservatism and stump for gay marriage....

...and more from out.com.

-Noted by Paul Knue

Assuming scandal is what you want to call it...

The various elite Washington news organizations that have become caught up in the so-called “pay-for-play” or “salon” scandal have now commenced a circular firing squad of sorts—in an effort to distance themselves from their peers whose conduct they are trying to paint as worse than their own.

link: Raw Story » Cornered Politico editor calls Washington Post an ‘escort service’

...hey, fire away.

The tent

How about a cup holder for your rifle?

Not all shooting accessories need to be tactical.

link: From iPhone Apps to Beer Holders, Killer Accessories for Your Guns | Danger Room | Wired.com

John Yoo explains...

Why We Endorsed Warrantless Wiretaps

link: John Yoo: Why We Endorsed Warrantless Wiretaps - WSJ.com

...raising the question, why would anybody hire a graduate of Berkley Law?

Fine, now look what I did

I just happened to glance at my calendar a little while ago and it turns out I signed up for smart board training this afternoon. Good thing I looked - I guess.

I use a smart board in some of my classes - one of the labs I work in has a smart board - and I've been doing it for six months now, so what it is I'm hoping to learn from this training (two hours of it!) is not exactly clear. But hey - if the thing does something useful I don't know about - like, for example, brew coffee - I want to know. Anyhow, what better way to spend...

oh, wait. Forget I asked.

A somewhat unfortunate choice of name

Privacy Eraser (Pro)

link: Privacy Eraser - Internet Eraser Software

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, champion of clueless white men, is confused

"It's muddled, confusing, backtracking on issue after issue," complained Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel....

-Associated Press via Yahoo News

I haven't been spending much time following the Sotomayor hearings. If you're really into that kind of lunacy you can get the whole soon-to-be three day audio track free from audible.com. Personally, I'm just too depressed at the sight of the freak show Congress has become.

Floating An Idea...

Photo: Phil Compton


Unintentional comedy

Sen. Sessions vs. Sotomayor

link: Bateman: Sen. Sessions vs. Sotomayor - Video Dog - Salon.com

-Noted by Paul Knue

Our girl Sarah

If you don't like Sarah you'll love this, says Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue.

In the aftermath of the November election, the conventional wisdom among Palin’s supporters in the Republican establishment was that she should go home, keep her head down, show that she could govern effectively, and quietly educate herself about foreign and domestic policy with the help of a cadre of experienced advisers. She has done none of this...

link: Todd S. Purdum on Sarah Palin | vanityfair.com


-- Post From My iPhone

So "don't light up"

-- Post From My iPhone

Bandwagon hits wall

It seems like only yesterday Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Moron) was all quivery with outrage and demanding a "show of force or strength" by, well, somebody in retaliation against North Korea, which evilly aligned country was being blamed for the most recent episode of Internet hijinks, one that apparently knocked a few web sites offline for a little while but was otherwise not much of a big deal ("one of the least sophisticated kinds of attack a hacker can conduct," notes this July 10 piece by Wired) or, in other words, the kind of thing only a Republican could get frightened by, even though, even then, most of the machines involved in carrying out the attack, it was known, resided in China, Japan, and South Korea, not North at all.

Now it turns out, says CNET news:

The denial-of-service attacks launched on Web sites in South Korea and the United States earlier this month appear to have come from a master server in the United Kingdom...

Oh no! Maybe it's not a good idea to pay much attention to this Hoekstra guy.


Giant Spider Invasion!

NASA scientists try to save Wisconsin!

No word on why.

link: Hulu - Giant Spider Invasion

It doesn't get much better than this.

Slow Day At The Pond

Photo: Phil Compton

It's happening

Sure, I knew it would, but still. I'm turning back into a night person. After all those years of getting up at 6:30 every morning, seven days a week, every week, rain or shine, so regularly that at the end I didn't even need a clock to do it, now it's all I can do to get my act together by noon.

My schedule this summer has me having to leave for work before noon only three times a month. And today is the second time. I'm already wishing for a good morning's sleep.

Actually, this time of year, it's kind of nice being a night person. The weather we've been having isn't brutally hot to begin with (it's New England, after all), but still it's warm and things cool off in the evening and stay cool enough for good sleeping well into the morning every day. It might be a little less congenial in the cold and dark of winter. The way things have been going, I guess I'll find out.


Miles Street

Miles Street, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Red Door

Red Door, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

iPhone picture