Monday, November 24, 2008


This morning, I received a forward from a friend (wow, imagine that!) Thanks, Kel. It was a video of interviews conducted at a polling place during the recent election. The answers given by the folks who were interviewed were astonishing.

What came through to me loud and clear, is not that they're ignorant or stupid, but simply that they're uninformed, and to a large extent, that is not their fault. While it's true that we should all get in there and dig and make ourselves informed, not many people do. We all have our lives, our busy-ness, our personal concerns. We habitually skim the newspaper and listen to the TV or radio playing in the background, and depend on that to keep us on top of what's going on. We get our information almost by osmosis, and if only one side is being presented, that's all we hear and therefore, all we know.

Also, getting one's self informed is difficult. Where do you turn? You can't trust the papers, and most news sites on TV and radio are slanted so steeply that I'm amazed that the lobby lizards don't slide off. It does take some effort to find a news source that tells it like it is, warts and all.

Journalism in America has fallen to a pitiful low. It's slanted, biased, irresponsible and not at all trustworthy. It's time for us all to demand better performance from those charged with the awesome responsibility of keeping our citizens informed. If they can't report the truth, ALL of the truth, then they should step aside. Maybe they'll be pushed aside in time, by the bloggers, by email forwards such as this, by all the independent network of news-sharing that's developing.

Medically, quite often when a blockage in an artery begins to form, and that artery isn't doing its job of delivering oxygen-rich blood to its intended destination, collateral circulation will form. New blood vessels will begin to push their way through the tissue and bypass the poor performer. If that didn't happen, there would be many, many more heart attacks than those which do occur.

And so it may be that the day will come when newsboys will again be standing on the streets, shouting "Read all about it!" to people walking by, almost begging them to buy a newspaper, but to no avail. Instead, people will be checking their email and reading blogs, watching a select few TV networks, and newspapers will become as non-essential as butter churns and buggywhips.

This puts a big responsibility on us as private citizens, though. We must be as unbiased and responsible as we want our news media to be. No willy-nilly forwarding of things without checking their veracity first. The only reason I forwarded this is that I could see it with my own eyes. The lines of people in the background fit with the implication that it was conducted at a polling place. The folks being interviewed seemed to be genuine. Though it is always possible it could have been staged, my gut feeling is that it was not. Some of the folks appeared to be a little brighter than others, and one woman really seemed to be thinking it over, when she said, "I don't think I'll be changing my vote, though." Obviously, a chord had been struck.

The fact is, two things elected Hussein. Racism, obviously, was one. Millions voted for him, who would have done so if he had sprouted horns, simply because he's black. If it had been reversed, with Hussein being white and McCain being black, they'd have all voted for McCain - everyone knows that. However, there were other millions, black and white alike, who voted for him simply because they were poorly informed. All they heard from the MSM was "hope and change", and they drank the kool-aid.

So, Hussein rode into the White House on a tide of racism and rotten journalism. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Until we demand better from our news media, we will not get it. Dallas has only one newspaper, The Dallas Morning News. One voice, for a city the size of this. That's not right, and Dallas is not alone. Many major cities have only one big newspaper, and I think that's dangerous.

So, what are we to do? My mother used to warn me, "Don't believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see." There's a lot of truth in that. I think it could be modified to "Don't believe anything you hear or read, and only half of what you see - verify it first!" I was unable to definitely verify this video, so be aware of that. However, it fits with the results of a couple of free-lance interviews of my own - questions asked in conversation with patient aides at work and the like. What I found was that almost no one had a clue regarding the issues. Try it yourself, you'll be amazed.

Well, the election is over, Hussein is to be the president, assuming he can solve that annoying birth certificate thing, and so we have four years to get through. We will, and perhaps will emerge the stronger for it. Perhaps people will see where voting blind gets them, and will begin to demand more balanced, comprehensive journalism.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Those who know me well know that I am very particular about my car, almost to the point of being neurotic. It's four years old, and it looks like a brand-new car, because I'm extremely careful about where I park it. I refuse to park where someone else is likely to hit my car with their car's door. Those hateful little "dings" just annoy me to no end. Therefore, it is my habit to park far out on a lot, where no one should be likely to park next to me. Well, at least that's what one would think.

However, there is a glitch in the thinking process of people, a tendency that is often seen and recognized in the animal world, but goes largely unnoticed in humans. That is not to say it doesn't exist, it just isn't recognized as such. I call it the "flocking syndrome". Most people just simply cannot bring themselves to park apart from the crowd. They absolutely have to join the flock, just like sheep.

Think about it. You're driving around a parking lot, and some woman, driving a car as big as your first house, is just ahead of you. Spotting a space between two cars, one that would barely hold a coaster wagon, that woman will spend five minutes jockeying back and forth, trying to insert her big old car into that narrow space. Never mind that the lot is designed to hold five thousand cars, and there are only a few hundred there at the time, so there is ample space to park, quickly and without difficulty, if one is willing to walk a few steps.

By the way, I'm using a female example here, because women seem to be more deeply ingrained with the flocking syndrome than men. Men have it, but they're inclined to park next to the last car on the line - still close and in the flock, but they're willing to be the outermost bird on the wire. Women will always choose a space deep within the flock if at all possible.

Now mind you, I have been studying this phenomenon for some time now, and it is eternally interesting to me. So, while the woman is sawing back and forth, I drive my undented car about thirty yards out onto the lot, well beyond the last cars, park in the wide open spaces and walk back to the scene of the action. Usually, if I'm in a lot where the store has baskets, I pull one out of a corral, put my purse in the child seat, and pretend to rummage in it while actually watching the little drama. If there are no baskets, I might just stand and watch!

When the woman finally manages to wedge the car in and get it stopped, the fun begins. She now has to get out of the car. This is no small task. She opens her door (ding) and usually finds she has about eighteen inches of space to squeeze herself through. This might be possible if she's eighteen, but she probably isn't, and like most mature American women, she's usually amply endowed. Getting through an eighteen-inch space might be possible, but not easy. Still, she's optimistic, and she tries. (Ding, scrape, scrape, scrape.)

I'm still standing off to the side, covertly observing, and trying to hide my laughter.

Most of the time, she manages to make it through the door, and ends up standing on the ground, with the car door still open. Her purse is inside the car, naturally, and she must retrieve it. Facing into the car, she bends over and leans in to get the purse. This maneuver means her posterior is pushing against the door, which of course is still in contact with the adjacent car. (scrape, scrape, scrrraaaatch!)

Finally, she completes her escape, steps to the side and closes her door, never once looking at the carnage she has left behind on the other person's car. Very satisfied with herself for securing a space within the flock and close to the store, she walks the few yards to the door, quite possibly to visit a spa or fitness salon where she will exercise and even walk on a treadmill, or maybe she'll just join the other mall-walkers inside and walk her daily mile or so.

Meanwhile, I go in and complete my errand, still laughing inwardly at what I have just witnessed, and return to my car. Now, this is where the comedy ceases to be funny. All too often, no matter how far out I have parked my car, I return to find that someone with a very bad case of flocking syndrome has parked right beside it. Yep, with the whole empty lot on which to park, they have chosen to park next to me, and quite closely at that. (Yes, I'm aware of the potential dangers here, and always approach the car very carefully.)

I have concluded that these are people who aren't willing to squeeze into tiny spaces like the woman described earlier, but they just can't quite make themselves park all alone, and mess up the rank-and-file order that prevails with the flock. And so, they join me, perhaps in the hope of starting a new flock. It's the only explanation I can think of. It doesn't make me happy, but it makes sense.

Now, here the comedy not only ceases to be funny, it turns to tragedy. I believe the flocking syndrome is also a possible explanation for the outcome of our recent election. I believe that many people just followed the crowd, and got caught up in the fever that was so skillfully generated by President-elect Hussein. I know, that's really his middle name, but if the Democrats could refer to President Bush as "Dubya", I think I can call Mr. O by his middle name as well.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that a lot of people voted for him who couldn't tell you why they did. It just seemed like the thing to do, because their friends and family and neighbors were talking about him, and they didn't want to break with the flock. Many people, far too many, don't bother to investigate or study the issues, they just listen to the people around them and follow the flock. I truly believe that's what happened here. It must be so. I can't believe that anyone who actually thought things through could have still voted for the man. Who is he? Where was he really born? Do we believe him, with his agenda to complete, or his Kenyan grandmother, who has no ax to grind? Who are his friends and associates? Who was, and is, funding him? He says he didn't know about "Rev." Wright's beliefs - so is he deaf, stupid or lying? There are dozens of other questions, which I won't repeat here.

There just simply is no explanation for anyone voting for him in the face of these unanswered questions, except the flocking syndrome. That just has to be it. The "flocking syndrome" is funny when it's applied to parking cars. It's terrifying when the future of our country is hanging in the balance.