Friday, December 05, 2008

Amigo retires from The Sacramento Bee, just ahead of the tsunami

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A friend of mine is about to retire from The Sacramento Bee newspaper, not too far ahead of the tsunami that has been slowly swamping the print industry for the last couple of years.

Howard Weaver, Sacramento Bee
Howard Weaver

Howard Weaver, 58, who has been the top news executive for the entire McClatchy chain since 2001, has opted to pull the plug by the end of the year, a reaction he says more because of losing a younger brother last year - and understanding that life is getting short - than a bailing out on the industry.

Weaver had the fortune - and misfortune - to be part of the newspaper group that went out and bought up newspapers all over the country in the last couple of years, at precisely the moment that the future of the newspaper industry starting looking its most bleak. And just a few days ago, a group that rates the futures of newspapers says its likely that Weaver's home newspaper - The Sacramento Bee - is likely to go into the tank, very soon.

  • Goodbye Bee?

  • Howard was the editor of the editorial pages of The Sacramento Bee in the 1990s when I worked as a fill-in editor at the newspaper, doing the Sunday Forum section, Op-Ed and occasionally the letters to the editor.

    Every day I would have to walk my page proofs by Howard's desk for an ok, which he gave quite perfunctorily.

    Until one day. That day he said, "The only reason I look at these pages is to make sure you don't say 'fuck' in a headline."

    I never did use any epithets in headlines and he never complained about a single page header, page design or editing job I had done in the years I worked with him.

    Howard was a great editor and I missed him when he moved up to the corporate offices.

    I suspect he will be greatly missed by all, now that he has moved on.

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    'Henry Poole is here' - a movie full of miracles

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The film 'Henry Poole is here' is one of those sad-funny-happy-tragic pieces that come along all-too rarely.

    Of course, if all movies were as good as this one, all I would ever do is watch movies.

    But this film is not to be missed.

    Luke Wilson plays the title role and does a fabulous job as a man with a serious problem. He is rarely off screen during the whole movie, but never tiring.

    His interactions with his many neighbors, the local Catholic priest - even a young incredibly myopic young woman in a grocery store - are fun and sad, simultaneously.

    Definitely a movie that requires a box of Kleenex nearby. Maybe two.

    Here are several photos - plus the official trailer at the bottom. Like all movie trailers, it gives away a little too much of the key scenes - which I tried not to do here. But it does not give away the real punch line of the movie, which surprised me.

    The ladies of the milagro
    Henry Poole with his neighbors

    Henry with Esperanza
    With neighbor Esperanza

    Water fight
    A lighter moment in the movie

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    CSU administrative greed makes life tough for novelists

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A novelist writing a tome of fiction would be hard pressed to pen a more unbelievable story than the one that appeared in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

    In the midst of a huge state budget meltdown (not to mention that little problem with the rest of the nation, Wall Street, the Big Three Automakers, et al), the California State University has been handing out pay raises to many of its top administrators like party favors - and adding more administrators, too.

    At the center of this is one very familiar character, Chancellor Charles Reed, who has never met an administrator he didn't want to hire - or pay more.

    Chancellor Charles Reed
    A smiling Reed - and why not?

    Here is a link to the full story:

  • Let Them Eat Cake

  • The pay raises themselves are not that big of a surprise for people who have the gastrointestinal fortitude to follow the mishaps (and greed) of this university system.

    The corruption in the CSU has been evident for years, though the arrogance seems to be growing faster than the national debt. When the faculty at the CSU, Sacramento campus held a vote of no-confidence in campus President Alexander Gonzalez two years ago, the CSU Board of Trustees yawned, despite clear evidence the president took money from the academic budget for public relations.

    Only weeks ago, the same smiling the CSU chancellor voluntarily gave $31 million back to the state without a whimper while simultaneously telling faculty that contracted pay raises were not coming.

  • Reed gives up the cash

  • Ironically, a group formed last year to fight budget cuts - the Alliance for the CSU - is sponsoring a massive rally on CSU, Sacramento campus today to collect sad stories about how the lack of funds is going to impact the quality of education.

    Too bad Chancellor Charles Reed and the rest of the Board of Trustees are so hard of hearing.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla - from the NY Times

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The New York Times has eclipsed The Los Angeles Times as my must-read newspaper of the day, in good part because of the guest columnists they pick up.

    A few days ago, they had a great piece by Dick Cavett, (the former talk show host), about the mangled syntax of former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
    Sarah Palin
    Sarah Palin

    This link will take you to the full original posting:
  • Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla

  • But here are some excerpts:

    "Electronic devices dislike me. There is never a day when something isn’t ailing. Three out of these five implements — answering machine, fax machine, printer, phone and electric can-opener — all dropped dead on me in the past few days

    Now something has gone wrong with all three television sets. They will only get Sarah Palin."


    "What on earth are our underpaid teachers, laboring in the vineyards of education, supposed to tell students about the following sentence, committed by the serial syntax-killer from Wasilla High and gleaned by my colleague Maureen Dowd for preservation for those who ask, “How was it she talked?”"

    "My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars."

    And, she concluded, “never, ever did I talk about, well, gee, is it a country or a continent, I just don’t know about this issue.”

    (A cynic might wonder if Wasilla High School’s English and geography departments are draped in black.)

    Dick Cavett
    Dick Cavett

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Exactly why did California recall Gray Davis?

    ACRAMENTO, Calif., USA
    - It was only five years ago that then-Governor Gray Davis was booted out of office because of looming budget deficits.

    And it was the same five years ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped up to the plate and became governor on a platform of reform, fiscal prudence and, ahem, balancing the budget.

    It's a lot easier to do things in the movies when the script is written your way, right governor?

    Today, Schwarzenegger stepped in front of the television cameras to outline how he thinks the state should deal with an $11 billion problem, a problem that seems to grow every time someone decides to run the deficit numbers again. Maybe they should lock up all the calculators at the Department of Finance and just keep printing state checks. It seems to work for the federal government.

  • The deficit and the tax hike

  • Governor and budget problems
    Governor Schwarzenegger shows the depth of the problem

    The governor is proposing a 1.5 percent hike in the state sales tax - a tax hike which GOP members of the legislature will not approve, even with Schwarzenegger's massive biceps twisting their arms. On the other side, he says it's also time to take another whack out of all education budgets, including $132 million from the University of California and the California State University.

    As mentioned here last week, the Chancellor of the CSU, Charles Reed, already came up with $31.3 million when the governor asked for voluntary contributions to solve the fiscal crisis.
  • Reed hands over the cash
  • Doubtful that the CSU will get much credit for that appeasement payment by Chancellor Chamberlain, er, I mean Chancellor Reed.

    The state is in an ever-tightening fiscal corner, a result of voters approving so many bonds and initiatives over the last 30 years - all of which require special payments here and there. The state legislature and governor really don't have much maneuvering room, except to go after school budgets which represent about half of the state's general fund.

    And schools have their own legal mandate (Proposition 98) for how much money they are supposed to receive from state coffers, a mandate that is in the process of being suspended and/or simply ignored as the legislature and governor watch the budget deficit growing.

    So what's to be done?

    The sales tax hike - the one that GOP leaders are going to oppose and block - is absolutely required. Not that any member of the Republican party will agree and vote for it. Republican Assemblyman Jeff Denham's email to journalists hit my mailbox before the ink was dry on the governor's proposal.

    denham memo
    Denham memo to the press

    But what about reducing spending?

    Can the CSU and the UC take a $132 million reduction? Probably, though there will be plenty of squealing and a dozens of high level administrative conferences (with concomitant travel expenses) on how to handle it.

    Can K-12 (and community colleges) really take a $2.5 billion reduction?

    Doubtful, not if the public expects things to run as they are.

    Run as they are? Hmmm... Maybe it's time for a more radical approach.

    Perhaps we should considering shutting virtually all school-house doors, until, oh, say April 1, 2009 - or how about next September? Turn off the lights, the heat, disconnect the telephones and furlough everybody on half-pay, except for administrators and school librarians.

    The administrators should get a full-time, unpaid furlough. If there's nobody working, then there are no teachers to administer. The teachers on half-pay can catch up on all the papers they haven't been able to grade and hire themselves out as tutors to students whose parents really want their kids to learn.

    And the librarians? Keep the school libraries open and keep the librarians at it on full salary, or maybe with a bonus. If the students still have access to the old technology of books and the not-that-new-technology of computers - and other neat stuff - they will still learn, plenty. Ask any parent of a home-schooled child.

    The students might learn enough, perhaps, to offer suggestions to the Legislature on how to deal with the budget deficit and how to avoid the same problem in the future.

    Maybe they will learn about Gray Davis, too, and why his recall was mostly about politics, not money.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Sarah Palin says 2012 run for presidency unlikely

    - Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told CNN that she thinks its pretty unlikely that she will enter the presidential sweepstakes in 2012.

    In a video interview (included in the link listed below) she talks about that, as well as working with Obama on energy issues.

    This is the same Obama who she said was a pal with terrorists.

    Maybe he'll forget what she said when they are working on those energy issues.

    Here's the link:

  • Sarah says no bid for prez in 2012
  • Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    John McCain was a star on Tuesday, with Obama

    CHICAGO, Ill, USA - The star Tuesday night was not only Barack Obama - though his historic win is the stuff of legend.

    The star was John McCain for giving a concession speech that was so good, most people who watched it wondered why McCain hadn't spoken that way during the campaign.

    If he had (and not had Sarah Palin as a running mate) he might have done sooo much better.

    But that is all history now.

    I have to stand totally corrected. I said in March that I did not believe the nation was ready to elect either a woman or a black man as president.

    Gawd, it's nice to be wrong in this case.

    How much the right-wing nut jobs will let go of their conspiracy theories and other madness remains an issue. But for tonight, let's rejoice.

    We have the first black president in the history of the nation. And we have a president about whom the rest of the world already thinks highly.

    Yes, we can.

    Election fatigue - and the semester - taking a toll

    ACRAMENTO, Calif., USA
    - Election day dawned sunny here in California, which predictably means even more people will flood to the polls today, arguably a good thing.

    But even with that sunny-day beginning, the long drag of this election - coupled with the semester running short already, in terms of what needs to be covered in classes - has induced kind of early week ennui, as the French would say.

    Isn't it nice to be about mention the French again and not be accused of being unpatriotic? I think I will have some Freedom Fries, er, I mean French Fries, with lunch today to celebrate that.

    The election fatigue is in good part because teaching journalism requires very close attention to what is going on in the media (No kidding!) and in this case, trying to analyze how the media has behaved (or not) and how politicians and others have manipulated things.

    This clip of a Minnesota Congresswoman - who seems to suggest we need to root out people she says are anti-American - is the kind of thinking (or lack thereof) that has me reaching for serious caffeine most mornings and room-temperature merlot in the evenings.

    Here in California, the heaviest political action has been over Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage.

    Until recently, it appeared that the measure would be easily defeated. But in these final weeks, the campaign in favor has stepped up the rhetoric - and advertising dollars - to the point where it looks like it might pass. The proponents started using a familiar fear-based bogeyman - that the gay lifestyle will now be taught in schools unless the measure passes.

    Numerous school authorities across the state have branded that as complete bullshit, but, well, the political advertising just keeps coming.

    Over the weekend, I received four phone calls - on my cell phone - from people urging me to vote yes. And it appears that the pro-Prop. 8 forces also made a major buy of internet advertising. My web pages have been flooded with Prop. 8 ads.

    For the record, I have no control over the Google ads that show up on those pages.

    My students are exhausted by the political chatter, too - and frightened by the economic meltdown. While I worry about retirement income, they worry on the other end of the telescope about their ability to get a job when they graduate.

    After today, perhaps we all can get some rest.

    I am reminded of that old chestnut I've heard since the 70s:

    Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

    Amen to that.

    And then there is the old adage from Chicago:

    Vote early, vote often.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    'The Visitor' - a dramatic tale about immigration

    NEW YORK, New York, USA - The film "The Visitor," starring Richards Jenkins, at first looks like its a simple tale about a depressed college professor who is having trouble getting excited about anything, which predictably would lead to his getting, well, interested in something.

    And he does. But it turns out to be way different from what you imagine at the beginning of the movie. And it is anything but simple in Jenkins' performance.

    The Visitor turns out to be a stinging indictment of U.S. immigration policies, with enough carefully understated - and damning - scenes to make almost any American's blood boil at the mindless police-state tactics that the film shows the U.S. government employing.

    Richard Jenkins takes up the drums

    The acting in the movie is superb and I won't spoil the intrigue of what happens by giving away the plot twists and turns.

    Suffice it to say that after seeing it, my original idea for a literary journalism piece about immigration has moved way up on the story list. I've heard stories that mirror what the film shows.

    Real people here - and outside the U.S. - are caught up in a weird web that is so Kafkaesque, few people want to believe it is real.

    Danai Jekesai Gurira and Hiam Abbass

    The Visitor - Mouna
    Hiam Abbass

    The Visitor - destined to be an American classic?


    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Education - and the CSU - are bullseye in budget wars

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The budgets of all the segments of public education are squarely in the sights of the state government finance people as the state of California attempts to grapple with a state budget that is badly out of balance and getting more so by the day.

    Among the many time bombs ticking are the ever-lowering estimates of what homes are worth (which translates into lower taxes - if tax assessors do their jobs) and the race-to-the-bottom spiral of sales tax revenues as state residents hunker down, spend less and thus cut the tax revenues that have already been counted by the state - but not collected.

    In the California State University, there is the additional problem of a university chancellor who is all-too-willing to rollover on his own 23-campuses to curry favor with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    CSU Chancellor Charles Reed
    CSU Chancellor Charles Reed

    Reed this week agreed voluntarily to give up $31.3 million dollars when the governor asked for various state-funded agencies to chip in to put sandbags in front of the budget-deficit flood.

    That seems so reasonable, until you consider that the CSU has already taken a $288 million reduction this year. Originally, the governor said the CSU would have to reduce its budget by $386 million, later relenting and restoring the difference.

    And now the governor has gone after a portion of that restoration money, with the likelihood he will come back and ask for more of what he "restored."

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

    The California Faculty Association - the labor union representing the faculty - is furious that Reed simply agreed to give up the money, indicating in a letter to the governor that cutting the additional $31 million (about $1.3 million per campus) will not hurt the instructional program.

    That's bad enough - and arguably untrue - but the union is doubly furious because last year, when budget cuts were looming, the CFA, students, Reed and the CSU Board of Trustees all linked arms and sang a political kumbaya, forming the Alliance for the CSU to show the governor and legislators a united front, spending huge sums of money on public relations in the process, though they didn't gain any real traction with Schwarzenegger, apparently.

    Part of that united front meant that the CFA would keep its criticism muted of administrative goings on, including earlier this year when the chancellor got called out for handing out a no-bid contract for more than $2.45 million several years back - a contract that he engaged in specifically to fight the union over its demands for higher wages for faculty.

    In early October the university system and Reed got slapped with a $7.7 million lawsuit by the whistleblower in that case (fired by Reed in March) who had publicly raised questions about the propriety of the $4,000-per -day, no-bid contract with C. Richard Barnes & Associates, LLC, of Lawrenceville, Ga. for consulting services.

  • Whistleblower story

  • If anyone was surprised by the chancellor's actions this week, they haven't been paying attention.

    Practically since the day he took over his job from outgoing Chancellor Barry Munitz (who annoited Reed and convinced the board of trustees to select Reed without a competitive search), Reed has kowtowed to the administrative branch of government while generally thumbing his nose at the legislature.

    That thumbing this week has now grown to include the faculty and students who set aside their many earlier differences with Reed to form the "alliance."

    And it was only a few years ago that Reed required nearly all the campuses of the CSU to install and operate a complicated computer system called the Common Management System, a software and hardware package that promised miracles but mostly delivered nightmares: cost overruns, technical glitches and conflicts of interest in the bidding process. It even got blistered - along with Reed and many of his staff - in a state audit and was the subject of legislative hearings.

    The software in the system remains such a mess, that most campuses refer to it as a full-employment-for-consultants scheme.

    The other portions of the Alliance for the CSU - the faculty and students - are regrouping, trying to see they can get back the $31.3 million that Reed turned over without a fuss.

    But to do that, they need Reed to agree and tell governor that he has changed his mind and won't turn over the money so easily.

    They might as well start singing kumbaya right now and put their energies into figuring out what to do when Reed says (sometime soon) that the CSU can turn over the rest of the 'restored' money without hurting the education of the university students.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    8-year-old kills himself - while test firing an Uzi

    WESTFIELD, Mass., USA - It was the kind of headline that makes your stomach do a flip-flop.

    An 8-year-old boy at a gun show test fired an Uzi today and had it kick up, with a 9mm bullet going into the boy's head, killing him.

    According to the news reports, the boy was at a gun show with his sixth-grader brother and his father to check the place out. Free firing of all kinds of weapons was available to anyone who walked in and paid the entry fees. The father and two boys were familiar with handling guns, though 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj had never fired an automatic weapon before, police said.

    All Second Amendment arguments aside, what the hell was anyone thinking, allowing a third grade kid to shoot a weapon like that? Or even letting someone that young in?

    Ah, thinking! Yes, thinking. Not much was going on with anyone running the show, or parents who took their children to it for the thrill of blasting a few rounds.

    Uzi machine guy
    Uzi machine gun

    The website that was posted for the gun show has been shut down - no doubt to avoid the hate mail or to serve as possible evidence in a lawsuit.

    Here's a link to the San Francisco Chronicle story:

  • 8-year-old dies
  • Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Christopher Buckley interview on Daily Show - must see

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Christopher Buckley (son of the late William F. Buckley) was a great guest on the Daily Show this week, doing an interview with Jon Stewart that was hilarious at times, and revealing throughout.

    Buckley gave up his column with the conservative National Review magazine after he posted a blog entry - on a publication edited by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown - endorsing Barack Obama.

    Buckley's best line in the interview actually is a paraphrase of something Ronald Reagan said.

    It's worth listening for.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Sarah Palin goes on Saturday Night Live - and is funny

    NEW YORK, New York, USA - The governor of Alaska, GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin, made an expanded cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live this week, showing that she can make a joke.

    Alex Baldwin only winced slightly when he got whacked pretty good with a carefully scripted retort from the governor.

    Tina Fey's sketch - which precedes Palin's appearance - is priceless, as usual.

    Here's the Fey-Palin portion of the show:

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Sarah Palin videos are flooding the YouTube charts

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The YouTube videos about GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin are flooding the bandwidth of YouTube.

    Every day some new video pops up; some are clever, some not so.

    And every day, in addition to my scanning of news wires and YouTube and Google Video, I usually get emailed a few links.

    The link to the video below was in my email box this morning and made me spray my Earl Grey tea on the computer screen when it got to the chorus.

    Interestingly, I felt the same way during the McGovern-Nixon campaign in 1972.

    Look how that turned out.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    More on the Willie Hortonization of Barack Obama

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - The San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli has been following the presidential race closely and has started writing about the not-so-subtle racism that is creeping in as the GOP forces find themselves behind in the polls.

    And getting farther behind by the minute, attack by attack, it seems.

    Here's what Garofoli posted today:

    Garofoli political blog

    Another column, by conservative columnist Kathleen Parker took a look at what she calls GOP code, and how fluent GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin is at speaking in it.

    Here's the link to that column:

  • GOP code and Sarah Palin
  • Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Joe Six Pack(s) debate the merits of Sarah Palin as VP

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The columnists of the world - and would-be film makers - as well as, I suppose, everybody else with a political ax, are writing and blogging and posting videos about the upcoming presidential election.

    This YouTube entry - a couple of guys in a bar debating Sarah Palin's candidacy - should make most people (well, most Democrats anyway) laugh aloud.

    It is long, but worth watching until the end.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    The Sarah Palin wink - what are we to make of it?

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The San Francisco Chronicle is running a guest commentary that suggests that Sarah Palin is actually trying to seduce Americans into voting for her.

    No, it doesn't really suggest it - it comes out and says it for the most part.

    Sarah Palin has the wink
    Sarah Palin gives U.S. the 'wink'

    The column does explain a lot about how Palin behaved in her debate with Joe Biden, and behaves on the campaign trail.

    The nation's top cheerleader? Gosh. Maybe we should be voting on that.

    Here'a a link to the column:

  • Wink if you like Sarah
  • Sunday, October 05, 2008

    Saturday Night Live 'coverage' of the Biden-Palin debate

    NEW YORK, New York, USA - The crew of Saturday Night Live nailed it again in its political coverage of the presidential campaign.

    I listened to the debate on the radio, but the areas that were lampooned were ones I heard and chuckled even as the real candidates were saying them.

    And having Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill!

    They have geniuses writing those scripts.

    Here's the video clip:

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Saturday night live skit with Couric and Palin

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA -
    In case you missed the most recent Saturday Night Live skit with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin:

    Anti-Palin signs from Alaska show real creativity

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska, USA - The Daily Kos ran an article - with great photos - about the recent Sarah Palin rally, that was quite entertaining.

    The signs were really the highlight of the whole piece. If you don't snort a few times and spray some coffee at your computer screen, well, you probably aren't drinking coffee.

  • Daily Kos link

  • In the same vein, I received the cartoon below from amiga Marcia Carlson Hein who lives in England.

    What were the Founding Fathers thinking?

    Constitution cartoon

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Humor in politics or is it the politics of humor?

    SACRAMENTO, Calif,. USA - I have to confess that I get a lot of my political news from Jon Stewart, at least the serious stuff.

    No, seriously.

    I can barely watch any television news anymore, except for Jim Lehrer on PBS. I occasionally get trapped watching the Fox Nut Network when I am at the Capital Athletic Club, soaking in the jacuzzi after swimming laps. Mercifully, the club has the television set up so that the sound is always turned off and the close-captioning turned on.

    I can just sit with my back to the TV, which I try to.

    But this election has brought out a lot of great humor, a good portion at the expense of the presidential and vice presidential candidates. Of McCain and Palin and Obama and Biden, Joe Biden seems to be getting the least comedic flak. Wait until he debates Governor Palin. Or maybe she'll call that debate off like John McCain did today with Obama.

    Palin has been the butt of some pretty interesting stuff ever since being nominated. The 'lipstick-on-a-pig' controversy had cartoonists going wild. But the governor's love of hunting, particularly her desire to drop every Alaskan moose she sees to the ground, prompted the cartoon below, which I saw for the first time today, courtesy of sailing amigo Rennie Waxlax.

    Bullwinkle - oh no!
    Bullwinkle has been shot

    Now I have a real affection for that moose. When I reach into my mailbox at the university and someone asks me if I received anything, I frequently respond with a Bullwinkle quote:

    "Just fan mail from some flounder."

    For those who are musically inclined, here is the Ballad of Sarah Palin on YouTube, which you might have missed in your web surfing.

    The line in there about Sarah Palin trying marijuana - but not liking it - will stick in my mind along with Bill Clinton's quote about 'not inhaling.'


    Even the financial crisis has started generating some humor, too. Earlier today I received this cartoon from Pat Lamont, one of the members of The Four Headlamps.

    Frightened dollar

    Unfortunately, that's kind sums up the way I feel about the massive bailout of the banks and other financial institutions. Even General Motors is getting ready to ask for a handout.

    Check out this link:
  • Save General Motors?
  • But I'm sure everything will be just fine.

    But if the McDonald's Corporation ever even starts showing signs of financial trouble, we'll need to stop making jokes and start worrying.

    Fries with that?

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Thomas Friedman's 'Hot, Flat and Crowded' scarier than anything by Stephen King

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Forget the scary movies on the circuit and whatever the latest Stephen King novel offers up to give you a fright.

    Instead, have some real life terror. Read Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman, a book that chronicles a future that is, well, terrifying.

    The New York Times columnist has spent years traveling the globe, observing the economies of the world and now has come to the conclusion that global warming, the exponential growth of the earth's population and the flattening of the world are combining to deliver a catastrophe.

    No, make that a series of catastrophes.

    Friedman book
    Book jacket

    am only half-way through the book and already I am convinced we made a mistake by not paying more attention to Paul Ehlich's The Population Bomb, written decades ago. His predictions of famine and other problems were averted thanks to a green revolution and advances in technology.

    It won't happened again, he says.

    Friedman's contention isn't just that the world is already overpopulated and headed to more crowding. He says that the biggest problem we face is that most of the world is working towards - and well on its way - to becoming just like Americans, in energy consumption and in attitudes about the environment.

    Polar bear
    Polar bear on his personal ice floe

    Friedman's scariest passages relate to global warming, and, as the movie The Day After Tomorrow predicted, climate change is happening faster than even the most gloomy of doomsters predicted just a few years ago.

    Let's hope it doesn't happen as fast as it did in that film.

    Hot, Flat and Crowded is recommended reading.

    At least I think so.

    The Day After Tomorrow
    Scene from The Day After Tomorrow

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Hunter S. Thompson movie has all the 'right stuff'

    WOODY CREEK, Colorado, USA - The new movie about Hunter S. Thompson is as good - maybe better - than the reviewers have said it is. If you blinked and missed it in the theaters, check it out on DVD in a few months.

    Hunter S. Thompson
    A young Hunter S. Thompson

    The Admiral and I watched it at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last night with a crowd of, well, maybe 10 people, all of who seemed to be afficionados of the writer, laughing at all the right spots, crying at others.

    For non-HST fans, the movie might not be too charming and it certainly would be somewhat confusing in spots.

    But it focuses on Hunter's early career and answers one big question: What the heck happened to him?

    It turns out (at least according to the film) that after he totally blew his assignment to write about the fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Zaire, he lost his ability to write and create for years afterward. It wasn't necessarily that he missed the assignment, the film hints, he might have burned out right about that time.

    His ex-wife, who is prominent in the film talking about Hunter, gives a pretty straightforward assessment of what happened then as well as insights into his personality and how he may have ended up trapped in the caricature he created for himself and of himself.

    One of the highlights of the film is getting to hear Ralph Steadman, the British artist who accompanied HST on many of his adventures, talking about what it was like to be out on assignment with him.

    Total Gonzo, of course.

    Steadman portrait of HST
    Ralph Steadman portrait of Hunter S. Thompson

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Story with a happy ending - for now, anyway

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The saga of Corti Brothers being forced out of its Folsom Boulevard location ended happily in early September when the people trying to force him out by taking over the store withdrew their offer.

    So for now, at least, it seems like the store will remain.

    The Sacramento Bee's account is here:

  • Victory for Corti's

  • I dropped in to Corti's just twice since being back and the mood in the store is so positive, the already very attentive staff has gotten even more attentive.


    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    When 'just business' isn't a good enough answer

    ACRAMENTO, Calif., USA
    - A small neighborhood grocery store and deli operation is suddenly being forced to move out of a building it has occupied for 38 years, bumped with just a couple of months notice to make way for - another small neighborhood grocery story and deli operation.

    The full story about it is detailed out in The Sacramento Bee here:
  • Corti's gets the boot
  • All of this is distressing for several reasons, not the least of which is that I have shopped at that market for years, as it offers some of the best food in the entire Sacramento area. Its staff are/were professionals and treated customers with a kindness and genuine helpfulness that you rarely find anywhere, anymore.

    Corti's brothers prepared foods were a staple in my household's diet.

    But more distressing is that the store is being forced out in what appears to be a predatory business strategy, the kindest description I can give to it.

    The mouthpiece for the new store that will go in - called Good Eats - just a few months ago touted how he was going to remodel a restaurant called Andiamo's just 20 blocks away. He got lot of free advertising and was played up as being a really 'good guy' because he was going to remodel and renovate the site. Another company, Whole Foods, said if it could get the land, it would level it and build a new modern building.
  • Column on Good Eats

  • But suddenly that renovation seems to be forgotten and instead, Mike Teel has engineered the unceremonious ouster of the one store that would have provided a level of competition, one could deduce.

    'Just business,' I suspect Mike Teel would say.

    Teel is the presumptive heir to the Raley's Grocery Store fortune, news accounts always say, though his rather unceremonious departure as CEO of that chain of stores a few years back has many people wondering if the family would prefer to give all the money to the Hare Krishnas, rather than him.

    Smiling at the demise of Corti Brothers?

    But if anyone was surprised by this, they didn't watch what this same man did at Prosper Magazine last year, the magazine of which he was the major owner/publisher.

    In that unsavory debacle, Teel shocked the staff of the magazine - a very solid group of people - by suddenly announcing last November that it was folding. The staff had no indication that he was about to dump the project. And why would they? It wasn't many months before that Teel stood center stage at one of the most extravagant and well-staged downtown parties I have ever seen in the state capital to announce a redesign of Prosper. And a lot of those comments were about what great future the magazine had, how much faith he had in the staff... and, and, and...
  • A great future predicted

  • The good news out of all this, I suppose, is that the customers loyal to the Corti Brothers store will seek out the place, no matter where it moves. The good people who have worked there - some their entire working lives - deserve to land on their feet. And I think they will.

    And Good Eats? Well, it would be bad karma to wish Mike Teel and his associates in this business any ill. Or to wish that bad things befall Nancy Cleavinger, the landlord who grabbed at getting a higher rent payment, even it meant slapping the community (and a tenant of 38 years) in the face. I think both Mr. Teel and Ms. Cleavinger are about to come under the microscope for all their business dealings.

    Too bad Prosper Magazine isn't still in business. This is just the kind of juicy story the editors like to get ahold of.

    Oh, maybe that's why the magazine was closed down.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    And so it begins - the non-race 'race' for President

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - There have probably been other such stories in recent days, but the one in today's San Francisco Chronicle was the first I had seen of its type.

    Here's the link:
  • McCain can smile now
  • So what's the big deal?

    Well, a month ago, when all the polls showed that Obama was running away with the election, I opined to a group of skeptics that there is no way that the mass media of the U.S. could let that happen. It's just not, well, competitive and fun.

    A nation that believes the Super Bowl is more important, than, well, whatever happens in the rest of the world, is unlikely to allow any political contest to be soooo one sided that there is essentially no contest.

    Thus we are about to start reading stories that say McCain is moving up, creeping up, slowly making progress, showing surprising strength.

    And so on.

    McCain - Obama
    McCain stands toe-to-toe to Obama

    Essentially, what is about to happen, is a huge surge for McCain, not a real surge, not a voter-generated surge, but a media-interprets-the-polls surge that will ensure that the pundits keep punditing that McCain is still in the race and that readers and viewers should keep their eyes glued to the race.

    Oh, and glued to the advertisements. The advertisements!

    A cynical view you say? Perhaps.

    But track the last dozen presidential elections and watch what happened as the months before the actual balloting happened. It looked from the outside as if there were see-saw battles. In truth, that's not what was going on at all.

    I have to digress here, however, to point out that Al Gore probably did win the election against George Bush. The Bush 'victory' was due to voter fraud and manipulation of voting machines.

    That aside, look for McCain to begin a slow climb up to parity with Obama in the next few months so the media can have a healthy (and lucrative) horse race as we approach November.

    It's the American way, at least for the media.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Living in - and with nature - well worth pondering

    VALOIS, New York, USA - First it was Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, then it was a flurry of stories about the food shortages worldwide, then the revelation that one of the major demands on the oil supply is to ship food from one place in the world to another - even though it makes more sense to buy locally.

    My thinking on all this is definitely in process, but in the meantime, I have a small garden planted in the yard (quite popular with the rabbits), our vegetables and fruits are purchased from local growers and as much as is feasible, we are buying things made locally, even if we pay a slight premium.

    Results of 1-minute's worth of berry picking

    This all was brought to mind when I read a review of a book called The Future of Nature, a collection of essays on human ecology selected and introduced by Barry Lopez. The book looks at how it it that so many people live so sequestered from the outdoors. In one essay, one writer laments that our public schools have cut out natural history for the most part. And instead of first-hand experiences with nature, most things are second-hand - computer models, simulations or videos of other people have the experience.

    I'm not suggesting that anyone should be required to have the experience of having a nest of angry yellow jackets right on your ass as you run across the yard to get away. But seeing a video of that fury - and living in it - are very different experiences.

    (I think that's why those videos those they show in driver's education classes are generally ineffective with young drivers.)

    I remember that several years ago, when a comet was passing by at about 4 a.m. one morning (and Admiral Fox rousted the family to watch it), both of our then-teenage sons said you could see it much better on their computer screens, through a livecam from NASA.

    Good grief.

    Another writer, (cited in an excellent review of the book written by Tom Murphy of Mansfield University and published in Mountain Home Magazine), says that what we call the environmental crisis is largely a result of us giving up control. With corporations and governments almost always being the ones taking care of our needs, they go for the cheapest way or product, where they will either save money for taxpayers (government) or be able to reap the biggest profit for shareholders (corporations).

    Not to rag too much on the nation of China or the corporation of Wal-Mart, but I have been very disappointed - over and over - in the quality of most of the things I have been purchasing this summer, sold by Wal-Mart and made in China.

    Tools fall apart after a couple of uses, electrical devices short out, and clothes only make it through the washing machine a couple of times.

    Yes, the tools, electrical devices and clothes were very cheap to buy. Like Captain Ron says in the movie of the same name, "It shows."

    A friend who owns a local auto dealership told us a few days ago he had found a garden rake for sale at Wal-Mart that was Made in the USA. He snatched it up quickly and has been showing it to all his friends, along with the three he had already purchased this summer that broke the first time he tried to put some muscle behind the handle. The USA model is still keeping his yard clean, he says.

    The book is on my reading list for the summer, the perfect time to read it because the whole idea of eating, growing and buying locally is a lot easier to digest (sorry about the pun) in the summer. But even at that, the quarts of berries picked this morning will make their way into jars of jam to be enjoyed long after the winter snow has started flying here.

    Perhaps I'll take The Future of Nature up in the woods and read it by the creek behind our house.

    That will also force me to get off this computer and get out there in nature.

    A great read place to sit and read

    Sunday, June 29, 2008

    Gonzo journalism might be newspapers' last hope

    WOODY CREEK, Colorado, USA - It was here just three years ago that Hunter S. Thompson blew his brains out, unable to face, well, we'll never really know, except that he was afraid of advancing age, worried that his best years were so far behind him in the rear view mirror that he could barely glance at them.

    And then there was the drugs and the booze, of course. There was always the drugs and the booze.

    Thompson haunts many journalists because he broke every rule ever taught and in doing so produced some incredibly brilliant writing, brilliant enough that his work flew off the shelves in the late 1960s and through the mid-1970s when the world suddenly became as strange as anything Hunter could imagine.

    It was almost as if what many novelists said in the 80s and 90s - real life was so bizarre, who needed fiction?

    But a San Francisco Chronicle review of a documentary "Gonzo" - plus the forced 'retirement' of an amigo at the Sacramento Bee - made me wish Thompson were alive to comment on the sad state of journalism in the U.S., and how those in charge of 'saving' it are so unlikely to do so.
  • Gonzo review

  • Hunter S. Thompson
    Hunter S. Thompson

    Thompson had something nearly every journalist/writer today lacks - a voice. You could read a piece of his and know it was him without glancing at the bylines or any of the illustrations Ralph Steadman frequently published with Hunter's scribblings. He had many imitators, but they were just that, imitators.

    Today's journalist/writer - with few exceptions - are mostly worried about mortgage payments, alimony, how their mug shot looks with their column - and simply ensuring that their corporate masters don't get angry and outsource their job to some conglomerate in Bhopal.

    Not that it will make any difference, because in the world of corporate journalism, the emphasis is on corporate, not journalism - profitable corporate, profitable at an overall rate that oil companies envy.

    And so readers are left with such predictable journalistic Pablum that it seems almost like an insult to that bland breakfast cereal.

    Which brings me to my amigo, Bill Moore, who a few days ago left the Sacramento Bee newspaper, a bit of collateral damage to the colossal blunder of that corporation to go into deeply into debt by buying a newspaper chain, then suddenly realizing it was grossly overextended and starting selling assets like at a desperation garage sale.

    It's stock went down so fast after that purchase it made Rite Aid look like a winner.

    So, as it is with corporations, the people making the biggest salaries find a way to cut the jobs of the people way down the food chain, hoping the stockholders will think that these tiny economies - coupled with redesigns, re-packagings and more public relations - God yes, more and more public relations - will somehow fool readers and the public into thinking that less news, written by more timid (and usually largely uninformed) writers into smaller news pages will be worth looking at.

    Yeah, right.

    Hunter S. Thompson would probably admire the balls of these people to sell less for more, even though he would hate what they are doing.

    So what about this fellow named Bill Moore? Who the hell is he?

    Bill Moore had a long career with the newspaper, spending some time out on the news desk before making a gaffe one Sunday many years ago in story choice and placement, a gaffe that eventually pushed him out of news and into the editorial department where he eventually took over as editor of a Sunday section that looked at the world - Forum it was called.

    And, as the expression goes, when it was good, it was very, very good. And when it was bad, it was awful.

    But Bill had a quirky creative mind and it scared a lot of corporate journalistic types. He fell from grace again a few years ago in change of editors and ending up shuffling letters to the editor in the editorial section of the newspaper, keeping his head down, doing his job, working hard.

    And now he is retired, but really just shoved out the door - just when the newspaper needs him the most.

    Needs him the most?

    This morning, as I was reading the latest batch of 'save-the-newspaper's-ass' columns from various editors:
  • The new Forum
  • From The Editor
  • I was struck by how at the exact moment they were turning Bill Moore loose, he is exactly the kind of creative lunatic the Sacramento Bee needs to get them off their collective, smug asses and start publishing stories and photos and information that people would really want to read.

    Could he produce, edit, suggest true Gonzo journalism to make the Sacramento Bee readable? I don't know for sure. But I think so.

    But now that that the newspaper has sent him to the unemployment office, it won't either.

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Too many deaths of too many good people

    PUERTO VALLARTA, Jalisco, Mexico - The last few weeks I noted the passing of two people who influenced me greatly in my life: Norman Mailer and Robert Mondavi.

    Mailer influenced me by his writing and his overpowering intellect. I believe that he was one of the smartest people in the nation. Certainly among the top one-tenth of one percent. I will be using some of his books this fall when I teach a class called Literary Journalism. (No, it is not an oxymoron.)

    I read almost all of his books and magazine articles, with his 1965 novel, An American Dream, being my favorite. I read it while at Villanova and parts of it still haunt me.

    I met Mailer once in the early 1970s after he had given a great speech at the College of Marin in California about the dangers to democracy posed by the Republican party and the lunatic right wing. I took my well dog-eared copy of An American Dream to him for an autograph and in one of those moments, he and I locked eyes in full battle mode. If you read much Mailer, you will understand that we disliked each other instantly. We had a psychic punchout.

    And this was after my years of admiring his writing. Later, I still read every word he published and came to see his true genius was as a social commentator, not as a novelist. Had we shared a few cocktails together, we might have become friends - or duked it out in the parking lot.

    Norman Mailer
    Norman Mailer

    The death of Robert Mondavi, the grand old man of vinters was sad, too, because I admired his empire and his dedication to the craft of winemaking.

    I met Robert at a his Christmas party at his winery in 1972. I walked up to the open bar and ordered my favorite drink at the time, a Tom Collins - an act that almost caused the bartender to faint.

    The bartender told me they had probably 25 different varieties of wines, and that I could have all I wanted of any of them. But never, he said, never, mention hard liquor again inside the winery walls.

    An hour later, I told this same story to friendly white-haired fellow sitting next to me at the dinner table who laughed very loud. He later stood and offered a Christmas toast for the health of everyone - a toast that included a funny story about the young newspaper reporter sitting next to him who had asked for a Tom Collins at the Robert Mondavi Winery Christmas party.

    Yes, it was Robert Mondavi.

    And yes, he really did think it was funny.

    To this day, I drink Mondavi wines from time to time and think about that even and how gracious he was then, and until the day he died.

    Robert Mondavi
    Robert Mondavi

    Rest in peace, Robert. Have a sip of some celestial wine - or break down and have a snort of hard liquor. Tequila is worth the change.

    And rest in peace, Norman. Perhaps now you understand how important that copy of An American Dream was to me so many years ago, and why I still keep it locked in safe place.

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    As Time Goes By: Actress from 'Casablanca' dies

    CASABLANCA, Hollywood, USA - The woman who played a young refugee in trouble in the 1943 film Casablanca has died, prompting me to watch Casablanca again last night.

    It is still my favorite movie, by a loooooong shot.

    Joy Page
    Joy Page

    Her part in the film wasn't huge, but pivotal, because it prompted Humphrey Bogart to get out of his slump and do the right thing, kind of the theme of the entire movie. More on that in a moment.

    From reading most of the obituaries of Page (I read five), you would think she peaked at 17 when she was cast in Casablanca and didn't do much else as an actress. Not true. She had a pretty good career through the 1940s and 1950s. A quick Google search shows she was very successful.

    Here's the story about her from the Los Angeles Times:
  • LA Times story about Joy Page

  • I wouldn't hazard a guess of how many times I have viewed Casablanca, but at least annually for, maybe, 30 years. I saw it the first time on the recommendation of my amigo John Norton, now a newspaper editor in Pueblo, Colorado. For years we have exchanged letters and emails using various bits of dialogue from the film. We own books that contain the complete dialogue with photos from most of the scenes.

    Yes, it's a little nuts. But so is collecting Hummel figurines. And golf! Don't get me started on golf!

    humphrey bogart & dooley wilson - casablanca 1943
    Bogart at the piano with Sam

    Unless you have been living in Tibet for most of your life, you probably have seen the movie and/or know the plot details. In the photo above, Bogart has just hid the 'letters of transit' he obtained from Peter Lorre early in the film. When John Norton and I would get new jobs, or have signficant changes in our lives, our letters (and later emails) would refer to 'getting our letters of transit.'

    I felt like I got mine when I left the university in December to move to Mexico.

    Ultimately, Casablanca is a romance and a lesson about how important it is to do the right thing. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman separate at the end of the movie, Bergman going with her husband, Bogart to fight the Nazis.

    Although it is the right thing, I practically shout at the screen every time I watch the film: Get on the plane with her! Run, Run!

    You're getting on that plane with Victor, if you don't you'll regret it...

    Most of the actors and actresses, major and minor, who started in Casablanca have passed away, but thanks to modern technology, the film will be with us for a long time. I'm thinking of watching it again tonight.

    Rest in peace, Joy Page, you have your 'letter of transit.'

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    Who is the hardest worker - and who wants work?

    LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - Since coming to Mexico in December (and during other forays south of the border), I've observed that Mexican workers on the job here are incredibly hard-working.

    These people (men and women) seem to go at it steady, take very few breaks, and have great attitudes.

    After all "We have work," I've been told by many workmen.

    It is such a contrast to the stereotype most Americans have of Mexicans.

    Regardless, here's a pretty funny video, sort of related.

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Movie 'Stardust' made for the hopelessly romantic

    OVIELAND, Earth
    - I watched the movie Stardust tonight, featuring Clare Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert DeNiro and a raft of other excellent actors.

    Michelle Pfeiffer is, well, unbelievably good - as a witch.

    My recommendation?

    If you have an ounce of the romantic in you, watch it... The plot is pretty straightforward, the acting excellent, and the humor? Well it's dry and exceedingly funny at times. It's not science fiction, it's fairy-tale style fantasy. But the action moves so fast it won't let you step away without hitting the pause button for fear of missing some detail.

    In a world so full of despair, this movie should make you forget it all for awhile. Maybe even give you a little hope. Magic and all that. I'll be looking at the stars in a new way from now on.

    Here's a couple of photos from the film and a Youtube music video that gives quite a few film highlights. Of course, like all trailers, it gives away waaaay too much of what's in the movie. But the song is worth hearing.

    Stardust one
    Clare Danes, Robert DeNiro and Charlie Cox

    Stardust II
    Charlie & Clare

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    Oklahoma's Sally Kern puts her foot in it - deep

    - A few days ago I ran across an item posted on (a great video site, excellent quality and good choices, generally) about an Oklahoma representative (Sally Kern) who was recorded giving a pretty ignorant, pretty hateful speech condemning homosexuality.

    I'm deliberately understating what she said.

    It sounded a little like the rants you used to hear in the 1950s and 1960s: Godless Communists are trying to take over our nation. Watch out, Watch out!

    Here's a direct link to the clip:
  • Gay-bashing speech
  • I forwarded it to a few folks, but today her speech was being covered in all the major media. Oklahoma - a state that already gets a black eye generally for being backward - got whacked again for having a wacko legislator. (I did like the musical Oklahoma, but that's another story.)
  • San Francisco Chronicle story
  • I am amazed, not so much that a legislator from Oklahoma gave an anti-gay speech, but at how powerful the internet is that major media could not ignore this relatively small incident. It also raises an interesting specter regarding free speech.

    Sally Kern will now become much more careful about what she says in public. Ok, maybe not Sally - she will now hit the talk show circuit - but certainly her like-minded legislators will.

    So the question is: Is it better to have her position known? Or better to have her keeping it hidden?

    Perhaps that intellectual giant Bill O'Reilly can ask her directly.

    Bill O'Reilly
    Bill O'Reilly

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Getting your news from the Fox Nut Network

    LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - It's a been such a nice time in Mexico, never seeing a television screen, but instead reading the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, the New York Times.

    You get the idea. No soundbites.

    My last exposure to television was in the states, watching a moment - thank God it was just a moment - of the Fox Nut Network, er, I mean Fox News Network.
    Fox Nut Network
    Fox News personalities

    But today in my perusing of various video sites I ran across the piece below about Barack Obama and how he is in the sights of the conservative network.

    Fox News: Fair and balanced ... Uh-huh.

    I hope this presidential election the ballot you cast actually gets counted for the candidate you vote for.

  • Getting Obama
  • Monday, February 11, 2008

    Actor Roy Scheider passes away

    MITYVILLE, New York, USA
    - Actor Roy Scheider has died, leaving a legacy of great films and performances.

    My favorite Scheider film is Jaws, a movie I still watch occasionally.

    The story, more about people than the giant shark that terrorizes the village, always reminds me of the Henrik Ibsen play, The Enemy of the People, must reading to understand how people can confuse economic well-being with what's best for a town.

    A good story about Scheider's life is here:
  • From SF Gate

  • Roy Scheider
    Roy Scheider (center)

    I don't have a copy of the movie Jaws in my video library - though I do have the music and play it occasionally, or add it to a rockumentary.

    R.I.P. Roy...

    Shark on!
    Trolling for Jaws

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Another missed opportunity for the CSU

    - The budget of the California State University - with 23 campuses and a dozen or more satellite operations - is in jeopardy, like all of public education, because of the budget problems of the state of California.

    No surprise there.

    And the CSU top-dog's response? Shut off applications at all campuses and centers early, so there are fewer students who can actually enroll.

    Not a bad move on the surface. Every student costs $$. But when you realize that what money the CSU does get from the state is tied quite neatly to the number of students enrolled across all the campuses, well, it's not a very smart strategy.

    To save space, I will not dwell on how many times the California State University Trustees have shot themselves in the foot. Even the Internet has its limitations. Instead, I would point out that this 'crisis' could be (or could have been) used a way to help save a CSU campus that's in trouble. (Oh, is that why the dateline on this article is from Humboldt State?)

    Humboldt State - a jewel of small university, but geographically challenged in the far north Redwoods - has had a serious enrollment slump for the past few years, giving its administration the chance to go in and whack academic programs to downsize the university. Its adminstration, however, seems to soldier on, well-paid and secure. Most of the eventual cuts will probably smack more of political payback than real economies designed to make for a better Humboldt State education.

    But no matter what, the Trustees - and Chancellor Charles Reed - missed a huge opportunity here to boost that enrollment back to better levels - and avoid turning away at least some of the people who will now miss out on getting enrolled at a CSU campus this year.

    Charles Reed
    Why is Charles Reed smiling?

    Instead of shutting off applications at all CSU campuses, the CSU should have left the door open at Humboldt (and perhaps Stanislaus and Dominguez Hills).

    The 10,000 students that Charles Reed says the CSU will not have space for this year could potentially solve the enrollment problem at all three campuses. Certainly leaving Humboldt as the one campus taking applications until, say, April 1, would help it from having to terminate entire majors, lay off faculty, and push the school further on a downward spiral.

    Of course all 10,000 potential students are not going to flock to Humboldt - but even a thousand would tip the scale and revitalize their numbers.

    Because I have been a consistent critic of the CSU administration (with good reason), it's doubtful that anything I say would be taken seriously.

    But anyone reading this blog - who thinks this notion could help keep Humboldt State University afloat - should consider contacting Reed and members of the board of trustees, including Robert Achtenberg, who as chair last year led the university in strategic planning effort called "Access to Excellence."

    Let's see how serious she - and the rest of the board of trustees - really are.

    Roberta Achtenberg
    Robera Achtenburg