Monday, August 30, 2010

It All Depends on Where You Stand

Moral Majority Revisited?

On Saturday, August 28th, Glenn Beck led a rally from the front of the Lincoln Memorial to “restore America,” and it was covered live on some television stations and written about on line and in newspapers. Since most local newspapers cannot afford to send reporters to every “newsworthy” event, they rely on getting news either from syndicated sources or from their own not-for-profit cooperative — the Associated Press (AP) — which is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members.

They’ve Got You Covered

Each member newspaper decides whether or not to pick up and use all of an AP story, some of a story, or not use the story at all. Two Northern California newspapers decided to use the AP story on the rally, but their coverage varied widely.

The more conservative Santa Cruz Sentinel’s headline read “Beck, Palin rally to ‘restore America’” and contained two black and white AP photographs; one of the crowd from the base of the Washington Monument and the larger one showed a close-up shot of Beck, arms spread wide as he spoke to the crowd. The San Jose Mercury News showed the one of the crowd but in color.

Newspapers print in columns going up and down so to measure the space devoted to any one story, you take the number of columns used and then multiply this by the inches of copy and photographs in each column resulting in the term “column inches.”

The difference in the amount of space devoted by each paper to the rally was as wide as Beck’s open arms. The Sentinel devoted 91-½ column inches to the story while the Mercury News gave it a seemingly paltry 21-¾ column inches.

The Damn Liberal Media?

If your first inclination is that the liberal Mercury News was deliberately more conservative in its coverage, you would get into an argument with their former editor Rob Elder. Whenever he spoke to any of my journalism classes he stressed how fair and balanced they attempted to be in their coverage of any story. They did so without promulgating “fair and balanced” as Fox News does with their hypocritical self-promoting slogan.

On the emes (truth), the Yiddish language connects Beck and the political scene at:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spam, Scam...Scary, Wary

While vacationing recently on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, I received two cell phone calls; one from a good friend and a second from a cousin, wondering if I was okay in London. I have always been okay in London where I have visited ten times and when I called back they each said that they had been concerned after receiving the following e-mail under my name:

“I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a  short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of my way to the hotel where i lodge, all cash, credit card and cell were stolen from me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.

I've been to the embassy and the Police here are not helping issues at all and my flight  leaves shortly from now but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel  manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills,

I'm freaked out at the moment....”

How Did They Do It?

It seemingly came from me at one of my e-mail addresses and was sent to more than five hundred of my contacts there. Someone had hacked into that account, sent out a mass mailing to all of them as Harvey Gotliffe, wiped all of those contacts’ addresses and everything else I had saved on that account.

Why Did They Do It?

If you answered this scavenger out of kindness toward me they sent this follow up e-mail:

“Am so glad you reply back  , I still need help, I  have nothing left on me right now and I am lucky to have my life and passports with me it would have been worst if they had made away with my passports. Though, I suffer little injury on my left arm. Well all I need now is just  $2,700 you can have it wired to my name via Western Union i'll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home. Here's my info below

Name:      Harvey Gotliffe

State:     London SW1H OQW

Country:   United Kingdom

Money Is the Root of All Evil

The scoundrel figure that if he sent out five hundred free emails and if one person followed through with any money, he is way ahead. Unfortunately one dear, na├»ve friend who cares deeply for me, saw me in deep trouble and immediately sent out $2,700 to Western Union in London. She was sent another e-mail saying that more money was needed and she paid another $2,300 to him. I would call him a scavenger, crook, scoundrel or goniff, but another recipient friend who did not pay best described him when she replied, “You are a scumbag degenerate asshole.(SDA)”

Where Do You Go From Here

I called up my Internet provider’s service desk and first got Lloyd in the Philippines and when that happens I immediately ask for an “on shore” representative and was transferred to Josh, a Tier One person in the USA. When he couldn’t resolve the problem, he in turn transferred me to Mike, a Tier Two person, who after consulting with two other Tier Two people said there’s nothing they can do to recover anything on that account and advised me to change the password. Then he suggested that I change the password on all of my e-mail accounts once a month, which I did immediately and will do every thirty days.

Shedding a Tear or Two

I still feel badly about my dear friend who cared $5,000 worth for me and would like to start a fund raising drive for her. Anyone who wants to contribute anything, please let me know. I, in turn, will give you some information to help you and your friends and relatives avoid this SDA and others out there preying on the innocent.

First do like I did and send an e-mail report to your Internet provider’s abuse site, then call up the provider and have them help you out. My session with them via the phone took ninety minutes.

Next look at this article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the scam

Then go to the Western Union web site and learn all about this fraud and others. Unfortunately, WU seems to be an unwitting co-conspirator:

Western Union also offers a telephone number to call to report the fraud at 1-800-448-1492.

Working a Scheme vs. Working

There will always be someone out there trying to get something for nothing or trying to manipulate the system and defraud the innocent and not so innocent. Whether it be Jack Madoff and his Ponzi scheme or the Nigerian in London, be wary because the results can be scary.

Do Them A Favor

Please forward this blog post to family, friends and colleagues you care about to warn them of this and other e-mail scams.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Write Stuff

A Profession That’s Perverse

If you are not writing to publish, please continue to do so. Writing is a perverse profession in that it is one filled with extremely deep, aggravating psychological and emotional valleys, followed by short, euphoric highs.

For the past ten days I have been engrossed in the former as I worked on three different writing projects, rotating between the first two, and now you are reading the third.

Before I leave town for ten days on August 12th, I wanted to get out an issue of the irregularly published print and PDF (Portable Document Format) version of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator. This entails locking myself in my writing room while I pour through a multitude of file folders filled with newspaper clippings, magazine pages, Internet materials and pages of my handwritten observations. Then I have to choose which of the dozens of topics before me seem to fit together, along with a lead story and a concluding profile.

The Student Prints

Since I promised a trilogy on education starting with my own, then as a professor, it was time to write the lead story about the students I have encountered in nearly thirty years of university teaching. Within my garage and office, I have five file drawers —not file folders — with observations, letters from students, faculty meeting notes, and articles relating to students from 1969 to 2008. At one time, I may have had twenty different sets of file folders spread out as I tried to find some logical order and make some sense out of this gargantuan accumulation.

You Have to Persevere

When I finally did, only then did I begin to write. Doing so is difficult at any time, even more so on a sunny summer day when it seems far more spiritually rewarding to sit in the backyard and listen to the soothing, flowing waters of our fountain and lazily read. I began to write and write, then I edit and rewrite, and then I rewrite again and again and again. There will never be a perfectly written effort, so after a week it became time to stop writing and move on to selecting the illustrations and feeding all materials to my designer and syntactical enhancer. Stephen is a genius and not only does the design but can take my writings and diligently tweak a word here or a sentence there to make it flow even better — and to precisely fit in twelve pages.

I reviewed the first PDF copy-only layout, and we spent an hour on the phone working out some of the kinks and eliminating excess verbiage, which means eliminating whole stories.  At this moment I anxiously await the PDF in a more final form that will require another bit of tweaking before I can send it out to you.

A Huffington Post Script

When I felt overwrought and overworked concentrating on the Cogitator, I would turn to the Huffington Post where I have become a contributor and try and decide on a current topic that would first be challenging to write and also be acceptable to my blog editor. The semi-debilitating process is the same as with the newsletter. Go through files. Select topic. Write. Edit. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Then I make sure that it is no more than 800 words before sending it in for approval. I submitted the 784-word post entitled “Don’t Blame Palin, Blame Stalin” yesterday and it is up today. You can read my Huffington writings at

Thus Far, Have You Read This Far?

The brief euphoria comes in two stages — first when I see my writing published and then when someone comments on it, which is a rare occurrence. The comments can be positive or negative but at least they indicate that someone has read what you have written. How will I ever learn if you have read this?