Saturday, March 15, 2014

Understanding where we came from is key to how we feel about guns

English: First page of Constitution of the Uni...
Constitution of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I've been doing plenty of thinking lately about guns: I was profoundly affected by the slaughter of 26 people including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary by a mentally unstable kid who had access to his mother's weapons. He used them to kill her too. Murder is unthinkable, but to me, this incident was among the ultimate horrors.

Since that occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, I have watched the various gun debates take place.

One of the most troubling aspects to me, is the cavalier attitude some folks have about what amounts to these tools of murder. I urge all who think about this issue to examine all of the angles, all of the possibilities, and just what could happen to them or their loved ones if guns, even their own guns, get into the wrong hands.

I live in the south, where guns are seemingly a necessary part of life.

Here, there is a long tradition of hunting, often times to fill the freezer with venison or other game. It is also not uncommon for the Springtime to bring hungry bear cubs looking for food after their mother sent them out on their own to forage. A careful shot in close proximity generally is enough to scare him right out of next week's trash. Forests are plentiful here, and are filled with animals unafraid of humans. Scaring them away is easy with one pop of a rifle. There are poisonous snakes around that are not afraid to strike when startled.

Guns, especially long guns have a tradition in the south.

They are like trophies befitting a young man's coming of age; some guns have been passed down with pride for generations. Others enjoy collecting them. I am the first to admit there is some beautiful workmanship that has gone into making guns. And, the south is just a little romantic when it comes to the old west, where shootouts in the streets were a way to settle a score, or the Civil War, which still harbors some bitterness.

Where I live, there is a real effort afoot to push carrying guns openly and in all venues. Just today there was a march by 70 people intent on showing their support for the Second Amendment. They were allowed to march through the streets of our town. Thankfully, there were no incidents.

I wasn't born in the south. I'm a little sad not to have roots here, a place that remains unencumbered by too much population and thoughtless economic growth. Instead, I was born on the south side of Chicago, in a neighborhood I'd be a little afraid of going back to. When I lived there, our little ethnic neighborhood, consisted largely of Polish/Bohemian descendents of immigrants. In those days, the neighborhoods were each like small towns of their own, sustainable by its own markets and dime stores, doctor and dentists, parks and playgrounds. 

I didn't grow up with guns. My father, who was raised an outdoorsman in rural Michigan, was an avid hunter and fisherman. I remember the last time he went hunting though. It wasn't a big hit in our family. He brought home rabbits which he cleaned and cooked for dinner. I was pretty young at the time, but I remember not wanting to eat what was on my plate. Neither did my brother or my mother. My father tried to convince us, but we didn't much like the idea of eating bunnies.

It wasn't long before he too lost his appetite for killing little animals. I have memories of his doing some target shooting at his father's place farm. But those were my only memories of guns as a child. I wasn't afraid of them, but as I got older, I admit, I never liked them. When I had a son of my own, I wouldn't allow anyone to buy him a gun. I just didn't like what they stood for. In my mind, the only thing guns were used for was hurting and killing. I didn't like either.

When my father changed jobs, we moved to the Chicago suburbs. Guns were not in my consciousness, unless something horrible happened that I'd seen on the news, like President Kennedy being assassinated. I was still pretty young when that happened. But the killing didn't stop. Bobby Kennedy was killed; Martin Luther King was assassinated. There was the Viet Nam war, where guns killed so many. The world seemed poised to change. More guns; more killing. I've been personally touched by suicide by a gun, twice. One victim was a relative; the other a friend.

I remember lying in bed at night troubled whenever I heard the news about someone randomly shooting from a clock tower, at a McDonald's restaurant, at a K-Mart, the day Laurie Dann broke into an elementary school in a posh Chicago suburb killing one student and wounding two others. The list goes on and on. The senseless violence that has taken place at the end of the barrel of a gun is hideous. There have been so many needless deaths and tragic events that survivors had to try to cope with. When a murder rate become a statistic on the evening news, there is definitely a problem.

I was so taken aback one of the pastors in town came to a family garage sale several years ago. One of the first questions he asked, was if we had guns for sale.

I understand that the gun debate is as varied as the north and the south, city and country, often times encouraging opinions depending on where you grew up and what your priorities are. But the results of so many guns on the street are the same--people die. Life is too precious for that.

But it isn't just crime in the city. It happens everywhere. Who can forget the tragic school shootings that took place in Jonesboro, AR on March 24, 1998. The news video from that day is really hard to watch. Since then there have been countless more shootings of young children. No child should ever have to face the kind of lifelong trauma or worse, that those kids experienced.

The supporters of guns, those who want them openly carried into public buildings, and into private businesses are becoming more brazen, as they claim they are supporting their Second Amendment rights. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was written with ambiguity, yet many a scholar would argue against everyone having the right to do whatever they choose with a gun on their hip.

While it is clear that a division in the interpretation of the Second Amendment is as vigorous as the debate about gun ownership, gun control, and gun protections, those of us who have not studied the law will gain nothing by attempting to debate the complex legal arguments that have spanned the ages.

In my view, there is simply no way authors of the amendment could have foreseen the kind of technology that modern firearms have undergone, so their intent is moot. Guns are simply not the same as they were then. Because I can't go back through history and know definitively what the founding fathers were thinking, nor can I argue case law, I can only speak on behalf of what I've seen, what I've felt, and what I know to be true.

The idea that someone could bring a semi-automatic weapon into a school or church or shopping mall or restaurant is insanity. The notion that anyone can wield a weapon of mass destruction for no apparent reason is craziness. I watched with horror when former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011 at a campaign rally in a grocer store parking lot forever changing her life. But at least she has her life. People were killed that day by a lunatic wielding a weapon. It was preventable. It shouldn't have happened.Yet it did happen. And it continues to happen. The insanity must end. Humanity is so fragile. A sensible, non-partisan, logical debate needs to be held, but not for debate's sake. Solutions must come about. Loopholes need to be closed. Laws must be written, sooner rather than later.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Nearly a half-century of waste continues with Illinois' Peotone Airport

When I began CHBlog several years ago, my sole focus was the proposed airport project in Illinois commonly known as the Peotone Airport. I've moved on, but sadly, the effort to build this unnecessary airport has not. 

South Suburban Airport sentiment
Sentiment of the majority of residents of Eastern Will County, Illinois

The Peotone Airport or South Suburban Airport, or whatever its name de jour, is slated to be built just north and east of the small rural town of Peotone. I once had a very active role there, as not only a longtime vocal opponent of the project, but as a reporter/editor for the local paper. Even though I've moved on, this project is still being propelled forward. The sick irony is that those elected to serve the public are the ones that continue to do the promoting, petting, and prodding of this project. It is at the people's expense. There are many less people fighting now--the last holdouts that refuse to give in to the years of bad ideas and bullying tactics by their own state government. 

This project is just one more that continues to plague the population so the politicos in Illinois can continue to play games as they scramble to secure their own political fortunes.

Make no mistake, this is not a necessary project. It fulfills no transportation need whatsoever. It has been a twinkle in the eyes of politicians, first Republicans in the state legislature, and later, the Democrats, thanks to imprisoned former congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. who tried to adopt it like a long lost child.

This airport has been on the drawing board for nearly 50 years, first written about in the local paper in 1968. Each push always fabricated a purpose, citing why it is needed, always with the hope that one day, one of them would stick. None have. This has been an economic development project, a jobs creator, a replacement and/or supplement to O'Hare International Airport, a replacement for Midway Airport, a freight facility, an answer for the poverty and illiteracy in the south suburbs, and a better airport than Indiana's Gary/Chicago International Airport. It would be none of those. Though never proven, its need has been stated so many times, that it has now been simply assumed. The implied need for this airport is the magic bullet of our time. 

In its tenure, there has been a huge expenditure of time, effort, and money, yet the project remains void of the long-hoped for list of supporters that failed to materialize. There are a few--the same ones who have been pushing it all along. Of course there are the Illinois politicians that envisioned making a name for themselves, though for some, the name they made was not quite what they intended. There are those that have traded their given names for numbers as they serve time in the prison system; some have died; others have moved on to the next project at some other place.
Nice house destroyed by the government for no good reason
State officials destroyed this home for no good reason!

The before and after picture of a lovely rural homestead.

Sadly, the new faces that have inherited the Peotone Airport torch have done so without the knowledge of the complex history that came before. They are unaware of the games that were played out in three states, or the deeds of their predecessors. 

Only the loudest noise has stood the test of time. Oh, and then there is the paper trail, as carefully laid as crumbs by Hansel and Gretel, with all those reams of paper containing written words in executive summaries by paid consultants who wrote what they were told, or so many headlines throughout the years. Few told the real story. 

The newbies now serving in government are unaware and don't care all that much that the loudest claims--what they think they know--have little basis in fact, but are inaccurate conclusions stated over and over until they were merely assumed to be true. Perhaps that was the intention all along. I can attest to being told early on that one of the goals was to wear down the opposition. Who knew it would be five decades?

The thing is, there is no new support. No one has managed to convince anyone in the aviation industry that the Chicago area needs another airport. The same voices speak out. They could get points for consistency if they didn't have an obvious vested interest. Politicians who have seen how big projects, that have 'made' their predecessors, have stars in their eyes and want money in their war chests to guarantee a long and lucrative political career. Developers salivate over paving the planet. Real estate speculators have long believed they were betting on a sure thing and hoped to bank their winnings. Of course construction workers wanted job security for life as they have already learned the benefit of converting farmland to urban sprawl. 

Despite all logic, common sense, and good will, the politicians of Illinois continue to use and abuse condemnation laws they write that allow them to take private property for public use, even though there is no guarantee that a new airport will be used by anyone. After all, they have done it before downstate near the little town of Mascoutah, with the unused Mid-America Airport.

It is almost unconscionable that the state would continue to spend millions of dollars to take people to court, where the cards are most always stacked in their favor, to legally rob people of their homes, land, and livelihoods. It is a disgrace of the highest magnitude. And I'm so sorry to say, it continues.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Looking up at the sky isn't always about god

Religion is not for me! I have never been a fan of organized religion. Nor have I ever practiced it.

That said, I see nothing wrong with what anyone else believes. Spirituality, in whatever form is vital to our well being as humans. Just because my beliefs have nothing to do with a supreme being or a book written by men several thousand years ago that has been over-studied, over-marketed, over-translated, and cherry-picked by whoever is reading it at the time, shouldn't matter to anyone but me. That is what freedom of religion, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is all about. We are all free to believe what we choose.

All this came to a head for me recently when I shared a meme on Facebook that all of my friends seemed to take the wrong way--or at least not the way I intended.
Go on, then
Source: The Hunger Site

I meant it as humorous, since weather forecasters were issuing dire warnings about an upcoming winter storm in our area. I included the comment, "P.S. Don't do this if it is sleeting or freezing raining."

I was a bit surprised when many of my friends took it to be a statement, religious in nature, as if looking up at the sky meant looking toward god.

Honestly, I didn't even think that. Only after I saw the comments, did it occur to me that this could be mistaken for a religious statement, despite its origin. It came from The Hunger Site, a site that is about online activism in the fight to end world hunger and which provides support for animals, people, and the environment, causes in which I have long believed.

I finally had to explain myself to my friends, by stating the following:

Funny how this is being interpreted from a religious perspective. That isn't how I meant it, but that's OK. Actually, I meant it with humor, thus the first comment. But to explain--when I look up at the sky, I don't see god because I'm an agnostic. I see the universe, the enormity of life forms here and potentially elsewhere. I see the stars, the clouds, and try to imagine all the possibilities beyond what we know. of course, these are all things that can be interpreted as god to those who believe in that. I just don't.

This brings to light the very uncomplicated notion that my friends and I may have similar imaginings; we may share similar ideals, behavioral guidelines, and means to get us through the rough spots life deals us. In short, we aren't that different at all.

This is the realization that I live by. Our similarities are more apparent than our differences until others are interjected through organized religion. 

Religion complicates things unnecessarily in my view. While there can be like-mindedness in groups, such as in a place of worship, there is also a loss of individuality and the kind of thinking that is uniquely our own. It is easy to be a follower, but not so easy to stand alone.

Churches for example are largely run by ministers. How often have you heard, "I go to church because I like the pastor?" I have had many friends in my life that were ministers. Our respect and our friendships were mutual. They understood and honored my beliefs. If they didn't, they wouldn't have been my friends. They didn't try to persuade me to come around to their way of thinking, or push their brand of religion on me.

Sometimes when we have a problem, it is nice to have a third party to talk to. A minister can certainly fill that role, but so can a good friend or family member, neighbor, or doctor.

What I abhor is that other kind of pastor--one that is little more than a con-man, a scam artist--who preys on people for his own benefit. I would hate to think of anyone I care about falling for one of those. We all have periods of need in our lives. It is unconscionable to think that anyone would take advantage at one of those times, but it happens so often. The vulnerable among us need to be protected, not exploited.

Wars have been and continue to be fought over religion. To me, it is crazy to want to kill someone because they have a different belief. It is the extreme consequence of like-minded groups being led by a charismatic but evil-minded person who can lead a group of people to do things they would never do on their own. It is mob mentality and it is dangerous and very often ugly.

Religion is big business. It is more about the money that can be amassed than the souls that are saved. It just so happens that saving souls is the excuse as churches have found the way to acquire huge riches at the expense of not just their congregations, but the states, counties, and locales where they exist. They pay no property taxes on huge tracts of land. Pastors reap huge tax benefits from affiliations with the church. Some are legitimate; some may not be.

So much more can be said on this topic, but my only point is to clarify how I see us all as human beings who are very much more similar than we are different, including our core beliefs.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Politics does not have to be a dirty word

US Constitution
US Constitution (Photo credit: kjd)
Say the word "politics;" people react negatively. Why is that?

There are many definitions of politics in Miriam-Webster, but my favorite is nearly the last definition: "The total complex of relations between people living in society."That is how I see it.

Yet most people think of politics, as it is defined in the first definition: "Activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government."

That definition made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It would rile anyone. There is no hint of cooperation when the words "influence and power" are used. Politics doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be about influence and power. It should be about thoughtfulness and insight, intellect and understanding. And to use a different definition, it is up to us.

I've long been and remain a student of politics. I see it in the interaction among family members, on the school playground, i our communities, and all other places where a group of people are expected to peacefully interact.

I can't help but think that if we cared more about all of the people in a society rather than one political party over another, our government would be more inclusive, thus, run more efficiently.

But even party politics isn't a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary. I see it almost as a team sport with cheerleaders and the ability to win a game played by individual players. But where the rub comes in is after an election, when partisanship continues. It should not. Once an election is over, it is time to govern on behalf of all the people, not just those who voted for one person over another. And politics certainly isn't all about fundraising. Money does nothing for politics except act as a lopsided and corrupting influence.

While it is clear to me that we need to change the way our government responds to the critical issues that affect our society, any change has to be up to the people being governed.

We need to step it up when we select the people to represent us. We must step take personal responsibility with the way things are. If you are happy with that, read no further, but if you are not, it is time to get serious about changing the way we do things.

We need to start thinking, and thinking hard, about public positions and policies that affect our own futures. We must ask questions and demand answers from our leaders. It isn't enough to assume they will do right by us because they won't. They must be held accountable to those of us they represent, not just those who subsidize their decision making. When it comes down to it, corporations can throw millions of dollars at a politician, but it is the votes that count. The responsibility is ours. When we vote, we must know who we are voting for and why. Uninformed voters do a disservice to the rest of us.

Clean air and water, assurance of a healthy food supply, and protection of the health and welfare of all living species on earth are perfect examples of how our government is failing.  

We get the government we deserve. We deserve better. But that won't happen until we change our ways. If we want government to work on behalf of all the people, we need to think of all the people when we make our own decisions about how we feel about issues.

It isn't enough that we draw upon our life experiences to make decisions about how we feel about the ways of the world, our collective problems, and how to solve them. We must have empathy and understanding of those who are not walking in our shoes, the less fortunate, the downtrodden, the under-privileged. While our own life experiences are vital to our decision-making processes, there has to be more. We must look beyond ourselves when we decide about a myriad complexities such as social issues, like religion and abortion, as well as our natural resources, energy, and the environment to name a few. In many cases, we must look past even our locale to think of how the world is affected. We are after all an entire species of human beings and other living things that occupy a finite space. We have to learn to live together for the benefit of us all.

It is no longer enough to look to tradition to guide our principles. Our parents and grandparents did not have all the answers. And some of the answers they had were just plain wrong. Some of them were right, and need to be revisited.

We don't have to like where we are right now. We always have the ability to change, to move forward to a better place. What is our life good for anyway, if it is not to continually try to better ourselves, to learn more, to be more.

So, while no one likes to talk about politics, it is all about politics--the laws we live by, the happenings that affect our lives every day, the things that make us comfortable and happy or conversely, irritated and miserable.

But think for a moment about the men and too few women that make decisions for the rest of us. Right now, we are in a culture where our government leaders are making decisions for their own benefit and that of their friends. They don't consider us, yet, if we didn't supply the money, they couldn't afford to even take the field to play their games. It is our money that gives them the ability to do their job and our votes that put them there. Don't we have the right and responsibility to demand better?

But in order to demand better, we have to be better. Our public policy needs more thought, more insight, more intellect. Knee-jerk reactions to social ills is not the way to govern a complex society. It is not acceptable to step on the people hovering at the bottom--those who lack the money, education, youthfulness, or good health--in order to reach those with privilege at the top. Everyone has something to contribute in order to be successful. But to contribute, ideas must be well thought out. And everyone needs to participate. The time for change is now. We owe it to our children to make proper decisions, based on as much information as we can glean. We need to demand better and with this being an election year, there is no better time to start than now.
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

I'll always remember Charlie Moore

This morning on CBS Sunday Morning, one of the last vestiges of "good television," the usual end-of-the-year feature to honor those who have died in 2013 was shown.

I generally get a little choked up during this kind of presentation. To lose anyone who has touched us in some way, even if it is just through an infinitesimal connection, I always feel a sense of loss.

As I watched, I had a moment, where I almost expected to hear the name Charles Moore, a man whose loss touched me much more deeply.

Of course, Charlie wasn't a national figure, and he wasn't well-known by a huge television audience, but perhaps he should have been. The world would be a better place if he had been known beyond his rural Grant Park home. It would have been better if folks had listened to him and the common sense he uttered.

I know those of us that knew him were better because we knew him. His sense of humor reminded me much of my own dear father. He liked to make people laugh. I don't know anyone that wasn't fond of him. Most who knew him adored him.

I met Charlie and his late wife Arlene on a fall night in a parking lot outside the Beecher Community Hall, a small town gathering place that served as a venue for weddings, birthday parties, and as a polling place. We, along with several other families  lingered there, talking about what we witnessed at an FAA meeting about the State of Illinois' plan to build a new mega-airport less than a few miles from where we stood. We were drawn together by our opposition to the huge 23,000-acre airport that simply made no sense. That was in 1987, the day RURAL, (Residents United to Retain Agricultural Land) was born. RURAL still endures, in the organization STAND, (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down). In nearly 30 years, the state has still been unable to sell their idea, despite millions of dollars and a huge succession of politicians who have tried and failed.

Charlie and Arlene knew instinctively that building such a huge airport would change the face of their rural homestead and all they held dear. For a long time, they were fierce competitors. Together we attended meetings, held picket signs, and spoke out against the airport. Arlene was more vocal, but she spoke for Charlie too. They were always together, usually hand-in-hand or walking with her arm tucked into his. I'll never forget one day when at a public meeting, she sat in the front row.

She raised her fist as she scolded, “This is about dollar signs in the eyes instead of dirt in the hands!”

The first time I visited them at their farm, I was greeted by a couple of guard geese. When we finally went inside, they apologized for the disorganization. They were remodeling their kitchen. I didn't notice. There was a warmth about the place. Along the far wall was the kitchen table. It was completely clear except for a bouquet of wild flowers. Behind it were huge plant-filled windows that overlooked a blue sky that seemed to go on forever. The foreground was golden with rows of stubble from last year's corn crop. At that instant, I knew what they were fighting for.

I retired and moved away several years later, but the images of the people I cared so much about were never far from my mind despite no longer being in contact. When I learned that Arlene had died, it was like a jolt. Since I was still writing for the local newspaper, I wrote about her. I was surprised when Charlie called to thank me for writing it. We had a lovely talk. It was just like old times. That was the last time I spoke to him, though he had been in my thoughts.

About a year ago, their daughter Colleen and I became friends on Facebook. I was so happy to hear from her, anxious to hear about her dad. Then, almost a year later, on Dec. 10 of this year, I was stung by the news of his death.

It is hard saying goodbye to Charlie. Both he and Arlene tried to never say goodbye, because it was so final. Instead, they insisted on saying, "see ya." That was always our parting phrase. In March 2006 I said goodbye to Arlene. It is with such sad regret that I must also say goodbye to Charlie.

Obituary: Charles Moore

Charles Moore

Charles W. Moore Sr., 84, of Grant Park, passed away Tuesday (Dec. 10, 2013) at Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee.
Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Hub Funeral Chapel in Grant Park and again from 9:30 a.m. Monday until the 10:30 a.m. funeral services at St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Grant Park. Burial will follow in Heusing Cemetery, Grant Park.

Memorials may be made to the family's wishes.

Charles, known to many as Charlie, was born April 17, 1929, in Afton, Iowa, the son of Mable and Joseph Moore.

He was a Korean War veteran, having served his country proudly in the U.S. Navy from 1951-1954 as a gunner and ship baker. Returning from the Korean War, Charlie moved to Illinois, where he met his wife, Arlene "Maggie." They were married in Blue Island, where they started their family. Shortly after their marriage, Charlie began his career with Nicor Gas and became a systems operating supervisor, the position from which he retired in 1989 after 34 loyal years. Maggie and Charlie developed lifelong friendships through Nicor Gas. Maggie and Luke (the nickname Maggie gave her sweetheart) took their family to live the country life in 1970.

Charlie remained in the home Maggie and he created until his passing. Veggie and flower gardening were a passion for Charlie, as well as reading about his fellow shipmates in the military literature he received. Charlie loved the country living, the peaceful evenings with the coyotes "singing," and had a big heart for animals. He also enjoyed taking pictures of nature and attending the activities and events of his grandchildren, which kept him busy. Charlie was the beloved videographer at St. Peter's United Church of Christ, where he and his family attended for many years. After the love of Charlie's life and partner of 52 years, Maggie, passed away, he struggled to see joy in life and lost the twinkle in his eyes.

Charlie received a second chance at joy with Judy Lange. They brought laughter and companionship into each other's lives.
He was a past member of the Grant Park School Board, lifelong member of the Korean War Veteran's Association, active member of the American Legion and the U.S. LST Association. Charlie enjoyed playing on the dartball team at St. Peter's and serving on the memorial and pastoral relations committees. He was a proud participant in the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Community Park in Grant Park.

Surviving are two sons and daughters-in-law, Chuck and Elissa Moore, of Mazon, and Steve and Judy Moore, of Joliet; one daughter, Colleen Martin, of Grant Park; grandchildren, Jessie and Gina Martin, Adam Zickuhr, Andrew (Shelbi), Matt, Nick, Kayla, Anna, Kendra, Angela and Taylor Moore; special friend, Judy Lange; sister-in-law, Marcella Moore; many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.

In addition to his wife and parents, Charlie was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Marie; a sister, Bessie June; and a brother, Joseph.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kudos to CBS Sunday Morning

On Air Force One, 22 November 1963, Lyndon B. ...
On Air Force One, 22 November 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office as President of the United States following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy earlier in the day. Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff at bottom left holds a dictaphone to record the event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CBS News may have bungled the Benghazi story, but as usual, CBS Sunday Morning did the network proud. It always does. This show is television at its finest.

The topic this week, Nov. 17, 2013, was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.

There is something about this news show. I can't help but note what a superb job they do in their news magazine-style coverage.

It is not specifically entertaining as is most of television news these days; instead its real news value is gripping and engaging. After all, there is so much more to the Kennedy story than its sad ending.

It would have been easy to simply cover the horrific, sensational events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. That day is one in which thousands of words have been written. It is a story in and of itself. But CBS News did so much more. They always do.

In their coverage, they painted a picture of the time. They covered Kennedy's Presidency, including the Cuban missile crisis and the cold war with Soviet Union, and the enormous appeal and presence of Jacqueline Kennedy. They even touched on the huge, though slightly lessening number of Americans that don't believe the official Warren Commission Report identifying Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunmen that killed the President. They spoke to the niece of Jack Ruby, the man who assassinated Oswald while America watched. They even talked about the late Vaughn Meader, the hilarious comedian who impersonated Kennedy, whose rapid rise to comedic fame died the day Kennedy was killed.

I was just a child, and our family was not very political, but I remember Meader's comedy album. In those days making fun of a President was done with good humor. Even Kennedy joked about it. What a contrast with today when making fun of the President is done in the name of hatred and malice.

The day Kennedy died was the day America lost its innocence. There remains a glimmer of it now and then, but so much more than a President died that day in Dallas. One of the country's greatest losses has been trust.

But every Sunday morning, I am reminded of the sustaining quality of the kind of television I grew up with. CBS Sunday Morning does a good job. This is a good journalism that I think is still worthy of my trust, with much credit to Charles Osgood who is a quality, old-school journalist. So in these dark days of television, may this shining light continue.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Farewell iGoogle, my longtime friend

my sunflower pic
One of my favorite flowers from my own backyard
I signed onto my computer this morning just as I always do. After Windows sang its Good Morning song to me, in the form of its single-note repertoire, I watched as all my applications loaded. I thought to myself, as is customary, that I really must streamline my start menu. Finally, my day was about to begin. I clicked on my browser icon—Chrome--in the task bar. I saw the familiar Google search box. BAAAAAAHHH! I pressed the home button on my toolbar. There it was again. My old friend was gone!

Then I remembered what day it was—November 1, 2013.

Today is the day I’ve dreaded—the day my iGoogle was to be killed and buried, in one fell swoop. It is never to be seen again. Gone are my three separate pages filled with links I loved. Granted, I didn’t use all of them all of the time, but I liked having them around. Like comfortable shoes, these were some of the bookmarks I’ve had since I first created my iGoogle page in 2005. I’ve lost an old friend.

I fondly recall there was no better day than one when Google would announce it had added new features to upgrade iGoogle. I loved the themes, the many ways to customize my start page. It always made me feel like I had brand new software.

You know that feeling. It is almost euphoria. The very first thing I do when I get new software is change the colors. iGoogle was highly customizable, and I liked that a lot. My desktop often displays one of my favorite photographs. I used to coordinate my iGoogle to match. I like matching color schemes in all things, but especially on my computer where I devote so much of my day. That’s just me!

For the last several years I have had a sunflower photo on my computer, one that I took in my own back yard. There is a little ant on one of the petals. The yellow petals stood out from the background that was a blur of green tones. The only iGoogle theme I could find that matched was one that displayed greenery with water droplets. The combination was beautiful. The most important part of picking a theme was not so much the picture, but the overall color of the page. In my case, it had to be yellow. The yellow and green tones matched my sunflower well.

The only thing that ever bothered me about iGoogle was that I couldn’t change the color of the links. They were always that ugly bright blue color. The ideal would have been to make them dark green, but I could never figure out how.

Months ago, because Google gave us iGoogle aficionados fair warning of the death of our favorite start page, I began to look around for a replacement. I settled on Startific, which came highly recommended. It is a different concept entirely, but is also highly customizable. I created my page to include the same sunflower picture that is on my desktop. It is really quite lovely.

This morning I changed the link on my home button to the Startific page. Such finality!

If I have to be completely honest, it is really a more attractive page than iGoogle was, and is even more customizable. I haven’t really played with all the icons and widgets, although I had already put the ones I use everyday onto the page. I have a Facebook button, a Twitter button and buttons for all of my blogs and web page.

There is one button though, that was the most important to me. It was the one I used on iGoogle the most. It was the first one I put onto my new page. It is the Intellicast weather page. By inserting the correct URL, one click and it opens right to a radar loop in my home state. As far as I’m concerned, Intellicast has the best weather info. I’ve used it for years.

Startific still has a few kinks that need to be ironed out. The worst is the Amazon ad that shows whenever the browser opens. It takes up a large chunk of real estate on the right side of the application, but it can be clicked off. I keep telling myself, change is good. It will keep me young. The older I get though, the harder I have to work to convince myself.
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