Good morning to you all on this cold morning. Only about 25 degrees. Cold enough that even Kuma doesn't want to be outside more than once for a very short time. The weather people are predicting the first measurable snow of the season tonight.
Before going to on my morning trek through the internet, or those parts that interest me, I think I will rant a bit. Last night as we watched a couple of foreign news programs on PBS a commentator came on who made an observation that touched a nerve. I forget now the exact details of the story but it concerned the European efforts to reform the finances of the European Union. I think the question involved the lack of reaction on the part of the U.S. stock market to the glacial pace of the talks and the lack of results to date. The talking head wasn't surprised because Americans are more interested in Alec Baldwin's feud with American Airlines. I am one American who is totally uninterested in Alec Baldwin. In fact, I am totally disgusted with our so-called news media that focuses on creating as much controversy and drama as possible. This morning, the news reports concerned the 14-year sentence given to former Illinois governor Rod Blogojevich but most of the story involved the public's reactions. And, of course, they set up the controversy between those who feel that the sentence was too light given the extent of the corruption and those who think it was too much Blogo helped so many poor people, Blogo didn't sell drivers licenses to people who were responsible for six deaths in a horrific accident, Blogo was part of a pervasive culture of corruption which is how public business is done in Illinois. (Take your pick) But throughout the whole process from the moment Blogojevich was arrested the focus was on his flamboyant personality and his antics not on the legal and ethical issues at the heart of the affair. In both of these cases, the news media has made a self-fulfilling prophecy: that their viewers want to see the controversy and don't want the information. So what we get used to is fluff. Which is one reason I wind up turning off the (faux-)news more often. I hate digging through the crap to get the kernels of information. Well, we have the 'circuses.' I wonder if the almost one-fifth of the population getting food stamps qualifies as 'bread.'
I just turned on the news at 11 am here. And the lead again is Blogojevich and whether the sentence was appropriate. I had a bit of a thought as the reporter focused and the first interviewee keyed in on 'the apology.' The man interviewed said he just wasn't convinced by the apology. Neither was the judge. But to my mind apologies have become rather cheap. Anyone who gets caught at any misbehavior and who can't wiggle out of repercussions for it simply apologizes and expects that all will be forgiven. I am also not convinced by Blogojevich's apology. Just as I wasn't impressed by Cain's claim that he was right with his God and his wife. It is far to easy to get right with God for most of our fundamentalists--it requires nothing more than an expression of contrition. They so readily forget Christ's command after forgiveness--'go and sin no more.'
2011 has been quite a year for firsts. I linked to articles a few days ago that noted this year's drought in Northern Mexico has been the worst in at least 60 years while Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have suffered the worst drought since record keeping began in the late 1800s. I remember linking a while ago to an account of the Eastern European drought has lowered the level of the Danube to a point where shipping has stopped. Now they say the drought is the most severe in more than 200 years. And then there is this piece of weird weather news from Scotland.