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Monday, August 27, 2007


Back to the front (sort of)

I'm back from the vacation from hell. Canceled flights (on United) in both directions (eastbound and westbound) resulted in many hours sitting in airports to bookend a week that would have been spent on the beach had it not rained almost every day, and had a website I manage not experienced a server crash which required transferring the entire site to a new server, from a dialup connection no less (and an inconveniently-placed one at that). To say that even watching the news, much less commenting on it, was farthest from my mind would be an understatement.

For a bit of obvious political analysis of my week, I'll sum it up with this -- capitalism fouls things up. The whole airline situation is such a classic illustration of profits before people. Enough agents to service customers at the counter? Spare planes or spare parts or even proper maintenance of anything other than (hopefully) the engines? No chance. Returning home the flight took off four and a half hours late, and we were offered...nothing. Not a free "dinner" (a cold sandwich), not even a free drink other than the usual. The customer comes first...as long as you count from the bottom. In the last two years, I have spent more time waiting in airports thanks to delayed and canceled flights than I did in the previous ten. Is capitalism completely falling apart, or is it so ascendant that it just doesn't care about looking good? A bit of both, I suspect.

So what did I miss? I arrive home and turn on CNN - the lead story this morning, occupying the first five minutes of the hour, is about Michael Vick pleading guilty. Only after that did we turn to the resignation of Alberto Gonzalez, which was worth less than half the time. Actually the Vick story was interesting, because despite what I had thought, his team owner came on and went into a long song and dance about how they had not yet made a final decision on firing him, saying something about doing what's right for the team's fans. Sure. Doing what's right for his own bottom line.

On the front page of the paper today is an article about how San Jose needs $900 million to fix its infrastructure backlog. The cost of the Iraq war so far is up to $450 billion with an equal amount certain to be spent (on such things as health care for injured veterans) in the future. San Jose, with about 1/300th of the nation's population (and a greater percentage of its income), has paid $1.5 billion already; well over the amount that could have done all those infrastructure repairs. But instead of calling for an end to the war, local politicians are talking about a tax increase.

Inside the paper, we learn that 3,814 Army recruits have been paid $20,000 to show up more or less immediately - $76 million all told. And, although the article doesn't note this, I'm pretty sure that amount (and lots of other things, of course) is not included in the cost of the war, even though it clearly is.

Further back, a letter writer is incensed, and rightly so, about the paper's news judgment. While I was gone, a helicopter "accident" (?) killed 14 American soldiers in Iraq. The news appeared in the last few paragraphs of another article on Iraq, which itself was placed on page 12 of the paper. Wouldn't want anything to interfere with the new "line" about how the "surge" is "working."

Did I miss the news? To be honest, not really.

Well, back to catching up on work and life. And, sooner or later, watching and reading the news. And, yes, commenting on it as well.

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