Saturday, December 04, 2004 eBlast 12/3/2004

Laura's Weekly E-Blast
December 3, 2004


So, are you holding up out there? Do you think you can drag yourself through the day? What do you mean you're okay? Don't you realize that NBC's Tom Brokaw has finally--really, officially, sort of, at least until his next Dateline report--left your living room? And are you really prepared for that day in the spring when CBS's Dan Rather will trot off to that unknown frequency? The networks and their buddies in the mainstream papers have been blubbering about these stories weeks. For Brokaw's departure we had a special before and after-his departure segments on the Today show. A whining New York Times column by Maureen Dowd (what other kind is there of late?) about too many white men in the anchor chairs. And then there were the interminable opinion pieces in the press about "what it all means." The sad truth is that for most media folk, the departure of Tom Brokaw is a bigger story than the departure of Colin Powell.

And that alone tells you everything you need to know about the bubble that is the mainstream press. Of course, after their humiliating performance during Election 2004, even most media types now realize that the good old days of the big three networks ruling the airwaves with an iron fist are over. Tom Shales, the TV critic for the Washington Post, concedes that "the whole idea of the anchor as a network's top gun and flag-bearer is looking shaky and frail, and perhaps irrelevant." Maureen Dowd couldn't even find any "feminist outrage" over the networks' failure to promote a female anchor because "the nightly news [is] an anachronism." Truly, as liberals used to enjoy saying, the times they are a-changin'.

However, before we say our final farewell to the mighty dinosaurs of the old media who brooded over our landscape for so long, let the record reflect -- once and for all time -- that their dominance was terrible for this country. Not because they were incompetent -- they weren't, most of the time, although they have certainly had some problems in recent years. (Did CBS ever discover the difference between a typewriter and Microsoft Word?) Not even because they were liberal -- although they were, and they found it harder and harder to hide their bias as conservatives gained more power in this country. But because in a democracy this large and this diverse, no group of people that small should ever wield so much power over the information we see and hear.

Consider the world of Broadcast News -- a world dominated by three networks and a few high-profile newspapers. Wherever you lived in America, whatever your political affiliation, whatever your ethnic or religious background, a few people in Manhattan, Washington, and Los Angeles effectively decided what news you would see and hear. What they considered important got rammed down your throat. What didn't matter to them you wouldn't hear about.

To understand what a distorted picture of the news we were getting, just consider the events of the past year. The allegations made by various Swift Boat Vets against John Kerry had a devastating effect on his campaign. They threw him off his message and distracted him for weeks. Indeed, his claim for war-hero status never recovered. But the mainstream press seriously covered these charges only after blogs and talk radio forced their hand. In the old days, most Americans never would have even heard about the Swifties, because the networks would have effectively shut them out.
On the other hand, consider CBS's alleged records relating to President Bush's National Guard service. If anything, this little episode helped President Bush, by convincing large numbers of voters that the media really were out to get him, and that they would do anything -- up to and including passing off forged documents as legitimate news -- to ensure his defeat. But once again, this story was broken by the New Media -- particularly the blogs. With a few notable exceptions, most of the mainstream press focused on the problems with CBS's documents only after the story was too big -- and too well-known -- to ignore. In the old days, President Bush might have been forced to spend vital days or weeks trying to explain documents that never should have been considered newsworthy.

Given the importance of these two issues -- and the closeness of the final result -- there can be little doubt that the New Media may have been the difference in this election. Of course, the New Media can be reckless and irresponsible -- just like the Old Media. But the Founding Fathers believed that in a country with a free press, the people would eventually figure out who was telling the truth. Unfortunately, for too many years in this country the press was not truly free -- it was dominated by a few prominent companies who effectively set the agenda for the entire nation. Now those days are over, and we have moved into a better world. Don't let any of the fuzzy stories or teary interviews you see make you wistful for the bad old days of the past. Enjoy the new freedom and power that you have gained.

Power to the people!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Funnel Cake recipe

Here is a recipe for something I would love to have, but I can not at this time. enjoy the recipe, and the end product!


Funnel Cake Recipe

courtesy Alton Brown

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 10 cakes
User Rating: (5 stars)

1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
Vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for topping

Boil water, butter, sugar, and salt together in a saucepan. Add flour and work it in until it is all incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. With mixer lowest speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and mixture is smooth, put dough in a piping bag fitted with a number 12 tip. Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a heavy pan. Pipe dough into oil, making a free-form lattice pattern; cook until browned, flipping once. Remove cake from oil, drain on paper towels, and top with powdered sugar. Continue until all of the batter is used.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Simple Advice

If you wish to have somebody really like you, please remember the following:

1. Be Yourself.,

2. Be Honest., and

3. Be Nice To Each Other.

Remember the KISS principle- Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thoughts On Paper

I did a rare thing and checked to see what my horoscope said for today. (I am an Aries, for the record.) It said that I should put my feelings in a letter, and to revise it as much as I need to.

Before I begin, I really have no set starting point. Right now, I cannot focus on a concrete subject. My brain has not had much time to reflect, but plenty of reaction. I prefer to be proactive, but I understand that makes some folks feel uncomfortable. Some need to feel the sense of total control. Every thought maust have an origin, so here goes nothing.

Right now, it is 1:57 PM EST, when I am doing this. I am feeling unproductive because I am caught up with what I had on my desk, and with what my supervisor had given me. It is almost a moot point to make when she knows that I am caught up. I really do not like to go over there to mention an obvious point. She apologized to me before I left last week for forgetting. At this moment, so much for that, hoping that it is not intentional on the other party's part.

I am finally caught up on my incoming e-mails. My ex-girlfriend was hoping for an e-mail from me when she arrived to work this morning, but she figured that I was busy. She was busy. Over the holiday weekend, it seem like what down time I had as reserved for for sleep/naptime. I have had the flu bug for much of the last week-and-a-half,so some things were put aside. I will eventually get to whatever needs my attention.

Speaking of my ex-girlfriend, right now, I do not feel like getting involved with anybody right now. Ashley and I are not together because both of us need some time off, so that we can focus on our busy workloads. It had nothing to do with "third parties". Even though I do admit to meeting a very nice lady Friday night, I still do not have any plans to get involved, although I would consider an invitation to socialize. At this time of the year, it would not be a good idea to leave one hanging out to dry. I try my best not to tease anybody that way, regardless of what the calendar says.

I actually had a nightmare recently. What woke me up was hearing three words nobody likes to hear- "I'm not interested." About the only thing worse than this are those who lie to hide, whether it is true feelings, or a "sidejob".

Even though I am very shy, I have always done my best to be honest with everybody. Why can't the favors always be reciprocated? It is the best way to earn respect. I forgot- not everybody is that appreciative.

To close out the advice portion of the program, if you reaaly like somebody a lot, YOU SHOULD TELL THEM! Somebody I once knew, who had her own radio show, would mutter those words of wisdom from time to time. You have nothing to lose by doing it, except maybe some pride. This is how Ashley and I became a couple. The pain from rejection is only temporary, unless you dwell on it.

I apologize in advance for not always practicing what I am preaching. Shyness will do this to you. It is the most commonly inherited trait, but it does not effect everybody. For those who are not, if you only knew.

I do feel a little better sharing this with all of you.

NASCAR Nextel Cup Wrap-up

Before I start to elaborate, "Congratulations!" go out to Kurt Busch on winning the initial NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship. For what he had to overcome in the race at Homestead with the front right tire coming off, he definitely earned it! Let us hope that this will act as a catalyst towards curing some of brash behavior in the past. Now that the spotlight is on him, I am certain that he will do his best to be a good champion for the sport. He always has his teammate, last year's champion Matt Kenseth, for some pointers. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon maintains an "open door policy" for all of the drivers. Dale Jarrett and Terry Labonte bring respect and class to the sport.

Although I am not much of a Kurt Busch fan, he has earned my respect after the race. When the tire came off as he was heading towards the pits, he remained calm. Later, he had an extended pit stop under the caution flag. Apparently, there was some confusion amongst the crew. In an audio transmission aired during the race, Busch summed it up in one word- "FOCUS!"

His pit crew filed away what had just happened. They stuck to their game plan. They overcame, and they won the championship. Kurt Busch, crew chief Jimmy Fenning, and the entire 97 are all champions, and are all winners!

As a NASCAR fan, I tip my glass to you. I believe that this will not be the only time that we will see Kurt Busch raise the Cup! The talent and potential have always been there, now he has something to back it up with.

Enjoy the off-season, and we will catch up with you at Daytona!