Tragedy in the 24/7 News Media

by Walter Brasch CNN is the 24/7 media trumpet for news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that is presumed to have crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. On that flight were 227 passengers and 12 crew members. CNN grabbed every iota of information, pumped it full of digital frequencies, and broadcast it to what it thought was a world salivating for every syllable of thought. When there was news, CNN broadcast it. When there was no news, CNN broadcast it. When there were outrageous theories, CNN was the source to find out who was saying what. When there was a rumor, CNN broadcast that, only to have to retract it hours later. Through chatter and repetition, CNN … Continue reading

An Injunction Against the First Amendment

by Walter Brasch   Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning. This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney. The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance. When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s … Continue reading

Lettuce Look at Some Prices

   by Walter Brasch   I was resting at home when Marshbaum called to ask if I wanted to go with him to look at the lettuce. “The supermarket’s got lettuce for less than two bucks a head,” he said enthusiastically. “What’s so unusual about that?” “Because it’s going to be extinct in a few weeks.” “You’re buying up lettuce and selling it on eBay as antiques?” I sarcastically asked. “Don’t be ridiculous! I’m buying the best heads, storing them, and selling them for four bucks in a couple of months.” “What makes you think anyone would pay four bucks a head when they can get them now for less than two bucks?” “Weren’t you listening, Ink Breath? I said, … Continue reading

No Merit Badge for This Scout

by Walter Brasch Rex W. Tillerson, a resident of Bartonville, Texas, like many of his neighbors was upset with his city council. That’s not unusual. Many residents get upset at their local governing boards. And so they went to a city council meeting to express their concerns that the council was about to award a construction permit. The residents were upset that the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. planned to build a 160-foot tall water tower. That tower would be adjacent to an 83-acre horse farm Tillerson and his wife owned, and not far from their residence. The residents protested, and then filed suit to stop construction. The tower would store water to be sold to companies that needed it … Continue reading

Communicating the Atomic Fart

  by Walter Brasch   My son’s best friend bought an iPhone shortly after they were first released in 2007. Not long after my son’s friend got his Apple iPhone, he got an app—the Atomic fart. It appealed to his—and millions’ of others’—junior high school sense of humor, although by the time they could digitally play a series of farts, they were long past puberty. The First Fart was a simple recreation. There were several upgrades, each of which added numerous possibilities. The current app has 30 possibilities, including a whoopee cushion fart, a fireworks fart, a drum solo fart, and the “1812 Overture Fart.” It was only less annoying than dogs barking “Jingle Bells” at Christmas time. For the … Continue reading

The Propaganda Olympics

by Walter Brasch For Vladimir Putin, the winter Olympics is not about sports or international camaraderie. It’s a carefully orchestrated propaganda opportunity to try to showcase the nation’s athletes and show the world a Russia that, even with its great culture and arts, may exist only in the imaginations of those who believe in restoring the country’s previous grandeur. Sochi itself is not typical city for a winter Olympics. It’s a sub-tropical city of about 340,000, located along the Black Sea. Its selection by Russia was to let the world believe that the country in winter is not Siberia but a resort, suitable for tourists. Under Putin’s personal direction, Russia spent more than 1.8 trillion rubles (the equivalent of about … Continue reading

Pets Are Nothing More Than Kitchen Chairs

by Walter Brasch   In Johnstown, Pa., two abandoned puppies died from starvation and freezing weather in an unoccupied house. In Lancaster County, two puppies were left in a backpack in freezing weather. In Centre County, a dog was frozen to the floor of its doghouse. In Edwardsville, a woman abandoned 19 dogs after she was evicted from her mobile home. Seven dogs had died of starvation. The others were near death. In Monroe County, police found three dogs, each in a plastic bag, abandoned along the side of roads. Each was dead. One had been shot. All the cases were reported the past two weeks in Pennsylvania. These aren’t the only cases; hundreds aren’t reported. Four years ago, the … Continue reading

The Boozy, but not Newsy, Mass Media

by Walter Brasch   The Big Story this past week was the Golden Globes awards. The Golden Globes, sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and broadcast by NBC, drew 21 million viewers for the three-hour ceremony, preceded by a one-hour Red Carpet gush-fest hosted by “Today” show personalities. There wasn’t one TV or film personality the hosts didn’t fawn over. Tamron Hall several times excitedly told the viewers that last year she watched the Golden Globes on TV, and now was so thrilled to be on the Red Carpet to interview fellow celebrities. Hosts praised the gowns of the women; the women returned the compliments to Hall and Savannah Guthrie. No one said anything about the spiffy tuxes that … Continue reading