Sunday, June 17, 2007

Voting for 7 New Wonders of the Old World

The wife got me to get online and vote for what is the Seven Wonders of the World. When she first broached the subject to me over our morning breakfast, my mind reeled as to what I would say are the seven wonders of today's world.

She had a web site from the article she just had to share with me while I was trying to get through the NYTimes' Week in Review (Frank Rich, MoDo, and yes even Friedman – the NYTimes is flat), so later when I sought refuge at my laptop I went to the site to vote.

And what do I find? What is the collection of wonders for which I get to vote? A bunch of old stuff that supposed to still be wonders. Will wonders ever cease? I was amazed. I was agog. They were certainly not the things that rolled through my mind when my wife just had to share what she was reading. I never read the article she read although I did manage to get through Rich's piece about the Bushies going to the mattresses. (There is no use my linking to it since it's behind the NYTimes wall.)

I also read a very interesting post by one Craig S. Smith and Greg Myre, but more about that later (I hope).

Anyway I went and voted on what I thought was the Seven Wonders of the World. The first that came to mind was the internet. That "Wonder", we have not even come to know the full extent, wasn't one of the choices. I had to choose from a bunch of old buildings – or stuff like old buildings. Some wonder.

Anyway, I chose the following:

1. The Acropolis – not because I thought it was a wonder, but because I thought Greek culture was a wonder on modern civilization.
2. The Alhambra – I don't even know what it is. There's are a lot of clubs named after it but I had to have seven and this is the seventh one I chose.
3. Colosseum – (that's the way they spelled it) I chose it because of the importance Rome not because of its actual structure.
4. Eiffel Tower – Not because I think it's a wonder, but the use of steel reinforcement in construction has changed the world and skyscrapers are a wonder. Its straight lines that somehow invoke a curve are a wonder.
5. Great Wall of China – If it wasn't a "great" wall then it wouldn't be great. No doubt it was a wonder to behold for centuries, but still a wonder of the world? Come on, give me a break.
6. Stonehenge – I had to have seven, so I included it. It's very old. In fact, it's older than time itself – recorded time, that is. And no doubt, when it was constructed by ignorant people – ignorant now not then – it was quit a wonder, but now it comes up wanting. Once again, I had to have seven to I included it in my vote.
And 7. Statue of Liberty – I voted for it not because I thought it was some wonder of construction but rather because of what it represented: America. This great experiment of civilization we call America is on going. The phenomenon is happening right now. We are a blend of all peoples. This thing we call individual rights and personal freedom – given the current state of world affairs – is not to be taken lightly and a wonder into and of itself.

And so that is my seven wonders. I would have chosen the internet, television and radio, airplanes, maybe atomic power, but not a bunch of old structures, but that's the way the mind works when someone – over a bagel, cream cheese, and a couple of bloodies – suddenly tosses out to you: what are the Seven Wonders of the World.

So it goes.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Best Kept Secrets in Washington

Mary Mapes is posting now over at Huffington Post or at least she had two posts recently. Whether she will be a regular or was just an infrequent contributor remains to be seen. One of her post dealt with Dan Rather and some recent remarks he made, and she used the occurrence to comment on what goes on behind the scene at CBS news. I believe Dan has got a book coming out and he knows how to play the book release game.

Here's her post.

I wrote up my comment to her post, but since I ran across her post several days after it was posted, the comment section had been closed out, so I'm going to post it here in my own blog because I have some important points to post.

First, Ms. Mapes, who supplied you with those memos, real, fake, factual, or otherwise? That's the 500 lb gorilla of a newsbyte missing from your post. That's the major news left unreported in this story, because of course, no one leaks on leakers. Leakers to news types like you are the best kept secrets in DC.

If you watch current events or even study history, it would seem nothing can be kept secret in Washington for very long. Everything in the government is subject to leaking. However, whoever leaks these secrets is never known. Never – except when they admit it themselves, like Deepthroat. Or the importance of their leak such as the "Pentagon Papers" – the history of how the U.S. got so involved in Vietnam – required the leaker to be identified. It was Daniel Ellsberg. But mostly leakers names never go reported. Never.

News types don't leak on other news type's snitches. Here we have an organization, a calling, a profession that is all about reporting the news, and yet, there is no safer secret in Washington than who is leaking what to whom. It's the best kept secrets in Washington.

The name of the person who leaks news worthy information is new worthy itself since most leaks are probably "spin". I don't know this to be a fact since, because as I said, we don't know who's doing all the leaking. We got a glimpse into the world of news makers and news reporters during the Libby trial – a story about a leak. Information came out that Cheney used the Sunday morning news talk shows as an opportunity to spin the news. "If it's Sunday morning, it must be Spin the Press." Even Ms Huffington blogged about what we today call professional journalism as one big clubhouse.

And so, Ms Mapes goes on and on about how the questionable memos and her and Dan's story was trashed by the blogs – conservative blogs, that is – and how what they reported was true and the facts in the memos were true. But! Not one word about where she got the memos. Even though she trashed her colleagues at CBS News, even though she lamented being turned on by her fellow journalist, even though life is not fair, she maintain the journalistic code. She didn't say who supplied her the memos. The taint on journalism is maintained.

Second, home cooking in the Guard is as old as the Guard itself. Preferential treatment in the Guard is as American as apple pie, mom, etc. And that is especially true for sons of major politician, and it's not just the Guard. You can bet whatever you got paid that everyone from the Commandant of the Marine Corp down to the platoon sergeant knows who is over Sen. Jim Webb's son. And he will no longer be treated as just another grunt. Bush's preferential treatment in the Guard was never news to anyone familiar with how the military works.

So, as it turns out, the only really newsworthy aspect to the whole preferential treatment/fake memo story is who supplied those memo, and of course, that stills goes on unreported.

So it goes.